Installing Floor Tiles – A Fundamental Guide

Laying floor tiles is a job for a professional tiler or a very competent DIY enthusiast because it usually requires particular tools and a specific amount of skill to get it looking perfect. Laying a square or rectangular formed tile may seem relatively straightforward however the difficulties come up when tiles must be lower (as they always do) and shaped round obstacles in the room. Cutting hard tiles resembling porcelain floor tiles or some types of natural stone is a job that only professional equipment can do properly. It’s possible to hire the correct equipment however that can be costly and there is still a risk of ruining costly porcelain tiles with a bad cut.

If you’re confident enough to put in your floor tiles yourself, or whether you have employed a professional tiler, a very powerful thing to do first is put together the surface onto which the tiles will be laid.

If the existing floor is concrete then the job will be quite straightforward – the mortar could be applied directly to the floor and the tiles laid on top.

If the prevailing floor is wooden then the answer is less simple – cement backer units (CBU) used with a moisture-proof membrane are a good selection for a wall tile substrate in wet areas and are sometimes also used with the intention to strengthen a floor and provide a moisture barrier between the tiling and underlying wood. However cement backer units will not fully forestall bending of a wooden floor under the weight of very heavy floor tiles. For very heavy tiles being put in over a wooden floor a plywood substrate will be needed.

As soon as the substrate is prepared the area should be measured and the format in your tile size deliberate and marked out. A cement based mostly adhesive (thinset mortar) is then applied in sections to the substrate with a trowel and each floor tile laid on top using the marked guidelines and plastic tile spacers to take care of even gaps between the tiles for the grout. The advantage of a thinset mortar is that it does not dry too quickly so you possibly can shift the tiles slightly to get the right layout.

As each section of floor tiles is laid the level should be checked with a large spirit level because floors are rarely completely flat. Extra mortar can be used to even out areas where there is a slight difference in level.

For hard tiles akin to porcelain tiles a wet saw with a diamond blade is used to cut them around fixed obstacles such as sanitary ware, pipes and doorways.

Once all the tiles have been laid leave the mortar to dry totally before starting to fill the gaps between them with grout. There are three totally different types of grout available:

Unsanded – for grout joints less than 3mm wide

Sanded – for grout joints with a width of 3mm or more

Epoxy – a waterproof and stain resistant grout for any width of grout joint

Choosing the proper type of grout for porcelain floor tiles will give a professional finish but will additionally reduce the amount of maintenance required, and if it is properly sealed it will final for so long as the porcelain tiles themselves.

Avoid walking on the floor until the grout has utterly dried – this can take as much as 2 days depending on the thickness of your tiles and on the width of the grout joints.

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