Ceramic and porcelain tile can breathe new life into any space, be it your bathroom, kitchen, or living room. Aside from being cost-effective and durable, there are millions of options to choose from in terms of color, size, finish, shape, and installation patterns.
Installing ceramic or porcelain tile may seem to be a difficult task, but a lot of DIYers say that it’s completely doable. All you need is to do a bit of research first and have a lot of patience to get the job done right. When it comes to tools and materials for floor and wall tile installations, most are relatively safe and easy to work with, especially when you use products from DalTile. Not to mention, you can rent some of the machinery you need.
What you need:
- Carpenter’s square
- Chalk line
- Rubber grout flat
- Tape measure
- Notched trowel or spreader
- Tile cutter, tile saw, and/or hand grinder
- Rubber gloves
- Tile adhesive
- Spacers (sized for desired grout joint size)
- Color matched latex caulk
- Silicone grout sealer
- Cleaning Cloth
Preparing to install floor and wall tile
- Make sure the floor or wall is clean and prepared properly before you start laying the tiles.
- Remove tile from the different boxes you ordered from DalTile. Whether you’ve ordered a single color or patterned tile, lay them out randomly on the floor to check the blend and to see if there are any undesired color differences.
- Locate your starting point and chalk a straight line to use as a reference. Many installers simply find the center of the room (or wall) and work from there letting the walls determine the cuts. Although it’s a more advanced method, I prefer to place reference lines that will minimize tiny cuts while maximizing the beauty of the finished floor (or wall). Either method will assist you in visualizing what the finished product will look, giving you an opportunity to make changes before you begin. While you’re at it, it is always a good idea to chalk another line (secondary reference) that is squared to your primary reference line.
- Mix the Custom polymer-modified thin set mortar in a pail to a consistency as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Spread the thinset mortar mixture with the flat side of the trowel in manageable area around 3’ x 3’, starting from the chalked reference line in the middle of the room or adjacent to a wall you are starting from. Be sure to insure the reference line is not obscured because you will want to refer back to it throughout the installation.
- Then, while pressing the notched side of the trowel firmly down, comb the thinset mortar at a 45-degree angle. Make sure you’re trowel is creating consistent furrows to ensure uniformity. These furrows are what allow you to adjust the level of the tile.
Installing floor and wall tile
1. Lay the first porcelain or ceramic tile from DalTile at the intersection of two of the reference lines while lightly pressing and twisting the tile into the mortar. I commonly use a rubber mallet to tap the tile down and move into position.
2. After you have laid the first row of tile, place spacers into the joints between tiles to assist in keeping straight and consistent grout joints.
3. Once a section is finished, use a carpenter’s level to check levels and your mallet make the final minor adjustments to the tile.
4. Take a damp sponge and remove any excess mortar, making sure it is well below the tile surface.
5. Continue by applying more thinset mortar, and repeating the above steps 1 and 2 in the same manner until the floor is completed. If needed, make the necessary adjustments to straighten the tiles, adding additional spacers, and extra thinset mortar as needed to level.
6. Let the thinset mortar dry for at least 24 hours or as recommended by the manufacturer before proceeding with grouting.
Cutting and fitting the tile
You will likely need to cut some of the floor and wall tile when installing near adjacent walls, doorways, cabinets, or other obstructions. To make straight cuts, use a tile cutter; a tile saw for cutting small cuts and right angles, along with thicker tile; and tile nippers or a hand grinder for the curved cuts.
Smoothing visible tile edges
- Where cuts are visible, use tile nippers or pliers to smooth out jagged or uneven edges of the cut tile.
- A file or a course rubbing stone can also be used to smooth rough floor and wall tile edges.
- Rubbing edges against a sheet of 80-grit aluminum oxide sandpaper will make the edges extra smooth.
Grouting the tile
- Take out the spacers you previously placed between the tile.
- Select the perfect color from one of Custom’s grout selections. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when mixing the grout, making sure that you follow the proper water-to-mixture ratio to achieve the right consistency.
- Using a rubber grout float, apply grout by dragging the float diagonally across the tile, forcing the mixture fully into the joints.
- Leave the grout for 5-15 minutes (depending on temperature and other factors) to firm. Be sure not to apply more grout than you can easily clean off the excess before it drys.
- Use a water dampened sponge and wipe across the grout lines in a circular motion till the grout is flush or just below the tile surface. Repeatedly rinse the sponge and gently wipe across the surface until the tile is mostly clean purposing not to remove grout from the joints (Note: a light film is commonly left at this stage). In the next day or so, do a final clean of the tile with a grout haze remover.
- Let the newly installed floor and wall tile completely dry and avoid heavy traffic on the area for at least three days.
- After three weeks, seal the joints with a grout sealer. Thereafter, you may install transition strips or any trim work you like.
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