Preparing Surfaces for Tiling

chipping away brick

Preparing a floor, wall, or countertop for tiling may account for more than half of the work your project entails. Careful preparation pays off -- the installation will go more quickly and the results will look better. Different surfaces and different kinds of tile require different steps of preparation.

Projects in Project Prep

Structural requirements
If you are setting tile in new construction, it's easy to ensure the surface is ready for tile. If you're renovating an existing room, you may have to retrofit the surfaces to make them plumb, flat, and level. Such corrections generally require only basic tools and skills, and a bit of patience.

Ceramic and stone tile add substantial weight to a floor. Some methods to strengthen floor structures are included in this chapter. Other floors may require more extensive work better left to a professional contractor. Consult an architect or contractor if in doubt.

Organize your work
Plan the work in sections. When possible, do the easier tasks first and work your way up to more difficult chores. Most projects begin with removing trim or moldings or moving major appliances. The topics in this chapter are presented in the general order in which they should occur. Read through the chapter in its entirety, then make a list of the tasks that apply to your installation.

Take your time and work carefully. It's difficult and expensive to undo mistakes.

Tools and materials
For each project, make a list of the tools and materials you need and bring all of them to the work area before starting. Nothing will slow you down more than repeated trips to the basement, garage, or hardware store.

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