Alan Fletcher - Flooring Expert and Consumer Advocate
many different types of floor tiles for many different purposes including
Ceramic, Porcelain, Vinyl and Carpet Tiles to name just a few.
No matter what type of
flooring you choose you must follow the manufacturer's installation
instructions and procedures to the letter to make sure your new floor will
look great and last as long as possible.
of floor tile will have its own set of manufacturer’s instructions to
follow to ensure proper installation. These may include such aspects
Accepted use or application
Testing for moisture issues
Adhesives, or mortar and grout specifications
Trowel notch requirements,
Set up and drying times
Proper use of sealers
Expansion space requirements,
Proper floor preparation,
Material acclimation guidelines
Maintenance and care instructions
critical that you follow the manufacturer’s installation guidelines to the
letter or you risk ruining your floor and voiding the manufacturer's warranty.
plenty of extra material
If you have
already ordered your new tiles I hope you ordered some extra materials too. This
is very important because there is always a assumed amount of breakage with
flooring materials, there are always some mis-cuts when installing any type of
floor tile, and there will always be a need to replace some worn, stained or
damaged tiles in the future. Having some extra material is just a wise thing
Don’t expect to be able to order more tiles
of the exact same type or color next week or next year, they may not be available and
even if they are, there is no guarantee the color will match the tiles you
already have. How many tiles to order extra? I suggest you add a minimum of 10-15%
to your initial order. Most salespeople will also suggest this and if they
don't then you should be asking why?
linoleum, V.C.T. rubber and carpet tiles are designed to be butted closely together, most
ceramic floor tiles are designed to have a gap between each tile to leave room for
a color-matching grout.
Smaller tiles (4” x 4”) usually have a smaller grout line of
Medium sized tiles (6” x 6” or 8” x 8”) might look best
with a gap of 1/8” to ¼”,
Larger tiles (12” x 12”) would
typically have a grout line of ¼ to ½””.
You can choose the size of the grout line to suit your fancy but you
need to be sure include the desired grout line measurement into your room
layout calculations. Ceramic tiles range from 3/8” to 5/8” thick.
ready to install tile flooring
tiles will surely crack if the sub floor is unstable or if the material is
exposed to freezing temperatures. Ceramic tile is porous and will absorb water.
It will crack if it is outdoor and temperatures drop below freezing. Porcelain
tile are more impervious to water absorption and therefore less likely to crack
when exposed to freezing temperatures. This does not mean that porcelain tile
should be used in outdoor applications. Check with the manufacturer to make sure
whether outdoor applications are recommended.
The larger the tiles, the more stable the
sub floor needs to be.
Obviously a concrete slab will be the most stable of all, but wood floors
that are not properly supported from below can be a major problem.
buildings do not have enough floor support to install ceramic tiles. If the sub floor
is not supported properly, ceramic tiles will quickly crack, tiles will come
loose and the grout
will crumble. The size and spacing of the floor joists is the key to floor
The floor joists need to be properly spaced and sturdy enough to
prevent the floor from moving up and down. The typical floor joist is 2” x
10” and spaced 16” apart on center. This
is usually sturdy enough for most ceramic tile applications as long as there
is a sound underlayment installed.
your floor joists are spaced farther apart than 16 inches or if your joists
are less than 10” tall then you may want to consider your options.
You can either shore up the existing floor joists by installing
taller joists or adding another beam or change the type of flooring you
install to something more flexible. If your floor bounces when you jump up
and down on it, then you need to be concerned about installing ceramic floor
tiles that are 12" x 12".
your joists are sturdy enough to keep your floor from bouncing up and down,
you still need to have a sturdy underlayment installed. The underlay needs
to be thick enough to prevent the floor from bowing between the floor
joists. Depending on what you already have installed over your joists, a
good choice might be ¾” plywood.
You will want to buy a grade of plywood
that has one side that is smooth and free of knotholes. (This is called A
Another good choice would be to install specialty plywood like Sturd-I-Floor®
by Georgia Pacific, or use Wonderboard®,
lay the first tile?
install your floor tiles straight
Rarely do I
find a home with perfectly square rooms. For this reason we have to measure
to find out if the room is square and if not, what wall will be want to use
to lay the tile as straight as possible. There are two schools of thought to
Some might want to start at the absolute the center of the room
and let the tiles be a little bit of square with all walls, while others
will want to have the tile set straight with a particular wall and the be a
bit crooked with the rest of the room. Each room and application is unique
and you need to make your own mind up about setting the tile straight.
Do a dry
layout of your tile floor. Read the instructions, do they recommend mixing
up the boxes to avoid noticeable color variances? Too many DIYer’s are in
a big hurry to get the job done. Preparation is the key to a successful
installation. Lay out your tiles without glue to see what they will look
like after they are installed.
layout? Yes! Sure it’s a bit time consuming but I guarantee you will be glad you did.
This will help you get a feel for how the tiles will look and if you need to
mix up the tiles or rearrange them to get a more even color or texture
appearance then this is the only way you will be able to do that
Once you have the tiles
laid out the way you want, use masking tape to number the tiles so you know
the order that you want them installed permanently. You may also find that
you want to add something extra like a border or a pattern to give your new
floor a unique look.
decide which way you want to lay the tiles down, it’s time to measure for
a starting point. Lots of questions need to be answered before we can move
Use a tape
measure to mark the floor near the center of the room at both ends. Snap a
chalk line making a mark all the way down center of the room.
It’s important to know the size of your tiles
and the width of your grout line if you are doing ceramic tiles. (Using
grout spacers is a smart idea)