Ceramic tile is a beautiful and durable choice for some of the most high-traffic areas in your home. Your kitchen, bath, or laundry room could benefit from ceramic tile's strength, water resistance, and simplicity.
In most cases, homeowners will choose to have a professional install their ceramic tile. However, it isn't out of reach for ambitious DIY-ers who want to try their hand at laying tile and grouting. Whether you want to install ceramic tile yourself or just get a behind-the-scenes look at how installers will create your new floors, this guide is for you!
Gathering all of your materials and preparing your space is truly the key to gorgeous ceramic tile floors. The first thing to do is choose your tile and tile pattern. A grid pattern is the most straightforward and may not require much tile cutting. There are a variety of tile options, including colors, decorations, and sizes. You'll also need a handful of tools, including a trowel, a mallet, spacers, and grout and mortar. Before you start, take measurements, then use an online tile calculator to figure out just how much you'll need. You can then compile your list to ensure you have all your materials.
Preparing your space is also a necessity. If you have a concrete subfloor, it's likely well prepared for laying tile. However, if you have a wood-framed floor, you may need to do some work before laying your tile. Cement board panels make an excellent layer of substrate that's strong and level. You'll need to apply and secure it before taping the seams and letting it cure.
Snapping a chalk line can help orient you in the room and assist you in figuring out your pattern. Lay out your dry tiles with spacers to see how the design fits your space. Creating your pattern dry will allow you to ensure none of your tiles are cut too small near the edges of the room, which can be visually unpleasant. Once everything looks pleasing, carefully pick up and stack the tiles in a manner that helps you remember where each piece goes.
When you spread the thin-set mortar, you'll use your trowel to spread a layer and comb it out. The flat side of your trowel should be used to scoop the mortar and spread a thin, even layer. You'll need to switch to the notched side to comb the mortar into straight lines.
Next, you'll need to carefully press each tile into the thin-set. You can wiggle it slightly to get it deeper into the mortar. After you lay a tile, place spacers to maintain consistency in the spacing of your pattern. An expansion gap should be left along walls and cabinetry and devoid of mortar. Edge tiles will need to be measured and cut. Using a bubble level across a handful of tiles helps to ensure your floor is level. If you need to level a tile, lightly tap it with your rubber mallet.
The mortar under the tiles will take twenty-four to forty-eight hours to cure. Then, to fill the spaces between tiles, you need grout. Remove the spacers and use a rubber float to get grout into the gaps. Carefully work small sections of the floor to avoid pulling out grout as you move down the seams. Excess material can be removed with a wet rag after the it has cured for an hour.
When it's fully cured, you may notice a milky-white or grayish haze on the surface of your tiles. This grout haze should only be wiped away after the floor has set completely. A sponge and warm water can be followed with haze cleaner. The last step is sealing the grout. You can use a brush applicator to apply a sealant to each grout line or spray the entire floor and wipe the sealer off the tiles afterward.
Let your tile floor dry and cure for the recommended time. When it's finished, it should be watertight and have a gorgeous appearance.