Mastering Tile Installation Techniques

man holding tiles

Not too long ago, setting ceramic tile was beyond the skills and abilities of most homeowners. Ceramic tiles were soaked in water overnight and set in thick mortar. With the introduction of thinset adhesives and backerboard, installation of ceramic tile moved well within the reach of any do-it-yourselfer. The same holds true for other kindsof tile. Techniques for setting parquet, resilient tile, carpet, cork, and laminates are simple and easy to learn because they're repetitive.

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Practice makes perfect
If you are starting a ceramic project for the first time, practice each step before applying it to your floor, wall, or countertop.

Create a practice station with a couple of pieces of backerboard. Mix and spread a small amount of mortar, set the tile, cut a few tiles for the edges in your mock-up, then grout and clean it. If your results don't satisfy you, pull up the installation or start a new one and try again.

A day's work
If you're tiling a floor, you'll discover that it's easier to lay the field tiles and come back the next day to lay the cut tiles on the edges. That way you won't have to walk on freshly laid tile and risk dislodging it, and you can measure the edges precisely and cut tiles to fit. You will also save money on rental tools by limiting all the cutting to one day.

If your tool box does not include tile installation tools, purchase the best you can afford. Most tools have many applications, and you'll use them for years to come. Gather all tools and materials ahead of time, think through the installation steps before you start, and take your time.


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