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A guide to floor tile installation

Floor tiles come in handy sizes which make them a favourite flooring material for DIY projects. Saving labour costs by installing a floor on your own can make the tile floor a cheap floor option and can be a rewarding experience. Here is a guide to floor tile installation for information on material and tool requirements, sub-floor preparation, reference mapping and tile fixing tips.

Materials and tools required

Apart from tiles, you will need adhesive, silicon caulk and silicon grout sealer. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for associated adhesives required. Carpenter’s square, tape measure and level are needed to set out the floor. You will need a grout float and notched trowel for laying and spreading grout, hammer and mallet for fixing tiles and a glass or tile cutter for trimming them. Cleaning rags, sponges and solvents are needed to clean adhesive smears.

Preparing sub-floor

Good installation depends on quality of sub-floor. Existing floor finish may have to be removed though some tiles are installed on existing floors provided they are in a good condition. Sub-floor must be rigid to prevent tiles like ceramic flooring from cracking. Floor rigidity may be improved by nailing sub-floor to joists and adding bridging members. Underlayment may be required in some situations. Clean all debris, dirt and grease to facilitate tile adhesion.

Designing layout and mapping reference guides

Though you may already have decided on a tile pattern, doing a dry fit with tiles is recommended. Tiled floors are often centred in the room so that cut tiles appear symmetrically on the perimeter. Alternatively, you may align tile joints with an important room feature like a large fireplace. Mark pattern references with a chalk line using carpenter’s square and tape measure for geometrical precision.

Tile fixing

To facilitate bonding, spread the tile adhesive to create ridges and an uneven surface using the notched trowel. Procedures Lay the tiles. If the tiles do not have spacer lugs, you can add plastic spacers to maintain uniform grout lines. Remove them prior to setting. Tap the tiles in place using a mallet after laying a few rows of tiles. Once you are done laying all the full tiles within the room centre, you may need to cut tiles which are placed near the perimeter. Use glass cutter in one stroke to get a neat edge. Apply grout with a rubber trowel to force it to enter tile joints. Wipe away excess and use a pointer tool or toothbrush to shape the grout. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for grout cleaning and curing. Allow a week for drying and curing, and seal grout lines with a silicon sealant to prevent discolouration. Refer to online DIY sites for further information and assistance in tackling tricky situations.

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