Tile floors are one of the best investments you can make in your home. Tile is most often used in entry ways, bathrooms and kitchens. Tile is used in these areas because of its great ability to stand up to foot traffic and withstand water and soiling. Even the hardest wood can become discolored and warped from standing water or moisture. Even the best quality carpet will get worn down even with regular cleanings. Tile, on the other hand, can outlast wood and carpet and be just as beautiful. Tile comes in a huge variety of colors, designs and sizes. It also comes made from a wide variety of materials from ceramic to stone.
One of the best parts about tile is that it can be a great do-it-yourself project. Installing flooring in your own home can not only be satisfying but can save you a significant amount of money on labor while adding even more value to your home.
Installing tile yourself starts with selecting the kind of tile you want in your home. Tile selection is a personal process that allows you to decide what you want your home to look and feel like. You can always start with an internet search to start to narrow down the color and pattern you want, but when it comes to the final decision, it is best to see the tile you are considering in person. In the Charleston area, stop by Carolina Flooring’s showroom at 3830 Dorchester Rd. in North Charleston. Our showroom showcases a wide variety of tile and can help you make the final decision for your home. Once you’ve chosen your tile, our cash and carry option is perfect for you to take it home and start your project! We also offer free in-home measurements to make sure you purchase the correct amount of tile the first time and are ready to complete your project.
With your tile in hand, you need to collect some of the other tools you will need for the job. This will include thinset mortar or mastic, a trowel and mixing buckets. With all your materials, you can next move to prepping your space. You need to make sure the subfloor you are laying over is level and sturdy enough to not flex or your tile will crack. You also need to remove any baseboard trim and trim the bottom of door jambs to make sure the tile will fit underneath. Next, start your measurements or lay the tile dry on the floor to find the starting point of your pattern. Your goal is to maximize whole tiles and make sure you don’t have any cut tiles that will be less than 2” wide at the walls. If there is a doorway or transition to another type of flooring you may also want to consider centering a tile joint on that doorway or opening.
Once you’ve got your starting point you can start laying your thinset. Using your trowel, spread the thinset on the floor with the trowel at a 450 angle. As much as possible, you want the furrows the trowel creates in the thinset to go in the same direction to ensure the best adhesion. Use a straight edge or chalk line to make sure your first row of tile is perfectly straight. If your tile does not have built-in spacing notches, use tile spacers to keep your lines and spacing consistent. Work in small areas, like a 3’ square, and check your lines and angles with a tape measure or straight edge often.
Once you’ve laid all your whole tiles you can lay your cut tiles. If your cuts will leave less than 1” of tile use a wet saw to make your cuts, otherwise you can use a tile snapper. Measure each tile individually and lay it right away, then move onto the next cut piece.
With your whole floor tiled, let it cure for 24 hours without walking on it. Then you can remove all your spacers and you’re ready for grout. You can get grout premixed or in powder form and in a variety of colors. Start by mixing enough grout to cover a small area, maybe 1 to 2 quarts. Then use your grout float to work the grout into the joints and remove the excess grout from the top of the tile. Move the float diagonally over the tiles to ensure all the tile joints are evenly filled.
After a few minutes the grout will begin to harden and it is time to wipe up the excess. Using a damp sponge in a circular motion, remove the excess grout from the top of the tiles. In this step be extremely careful to not remove the grout from the tile joints. Once the grout has dried there will be a haze over the tiles. You can remove this by using a damp cloth to wet the hazed grout and then clean it up with a dry cloth. If you are going to seal your grout, now is the time to do that. Also, if you are tiling a kitchen or bathroom consider using caulk along edges that will see a lot of water such as near the sink or along the tub and toilet. Depending on the type of grout you used, drying times can vary so follow the manufacture’s instructions before walking on the floor.
Now all you have to do is enjoy your beautiful new tile floor! If you need help or have any questions about your tile floor, don’t hesitate to contact Carolina Flooring Services at 843-225-0700 or visit our website for more information about our tile flooring options.
Pictures provided by: