What should I look for when tiling a floor?
When tiling your bathroom or kitchen, you want to see beautiful, professional results: the look of an established tile pro, not that of a fledgling do-it-yourselfer. A few simple tips will help you install gorgeous, long-lasting tile on walls and floors.
Use Grout to Your Creative Advantage
If you think of tile grout as merely a filler for tile seams, you might want to think again. Grout can be used to enhance the look of the tile. Dark grout against lighter colored tile gives the room a stark, imposing look. Grout that matches the color of the tile melts away invisibly. Or you might decide to install grout of the same color but slightly darker or lighter.
Use Proper Underlayment
Your tile installation is only as good as the substrate below the tile. A subfloor that flexes or is otherwise unstable will quickly transfer to the tile. Installing cement board is typically a good choice before laying down the tile. Cement boards, each 3 feet wide by 5 feet long, form a solid base for tile and will not expand or contract.
Other acceptable tile underlayment materials include exterior-grade plywood, slab concrete, and even sheet vinyl flooring in good condition.
Minimize Tiles Less Than Half-Size
Skinny tiles call attention to themselves since the eye is naturally drawn towards things that are out of the norm. Always try to use cut tiles that are between half- and full-size. Anything less than half-size will only look like a sliver in comparison to other, larger tiles.
One way to fix this is to anticipate the amount of space you have left as you near a wall. If you are a couple of feet from the wall, you can begin to tweak the joints between the tiles ever so slightly that it will be imperceptible to the eye, but will bring you to a final row of half-size or greater tiles.
How to Square a Room for Simple Tile Installation
For most simple applications, floor tiles can be laid out in a grid pattern that starts at the center of the floor, so that cuts at the edges of the floor will be consistent at opposite walls. To achieve this, one method is to divide the floor into four quadrants that intersect in the middle of the room. These quadrants should be square to each other, however, this may be an issue in older homes where the room itself is unlikely to be truly square. Don’t rely on the wall positions to set up your grid, but rather square it yourself at the center.
- Measure one side of the floor, find the middle and mark it with a pencil. Do the same along the opposite side of the floor.
- Snap a chalk line across the floor, from one mark to the other. Spray with hairspray to keep the line from smudging.
- Measure and mark the middle for the two remaining sides of the floor. Lay the snap line from one mark to the other so it intersects the first line in the center of the room. Don’t snap the line.
- Lay a carpenter’s square at one of the four corners of the intersection created by the chalk line that you laid first and the string. If the line and the string are truly perpendicular, then each will run right alongside one edge of the carpenter’s square.
- Adjust the string, if necessary, so it is completely square against the chalk line. Once the string is square to the line, snap the string. Spray with hairspray to keep the line from smudging.
- Start laying your floor tile, using the center + as your starting point. If you’re laying tile, you don’t have to leave any buffer space around the edges, as tile does not expand or contract like other flooring materials would.
MEASURING & CUTTING TIPS
- As you reach the edges of the room, you will need to begin cutting tiles to fit. You have two choices for how you want to do this. The first is to tile as much as you can using full tiles, save all of the cuts for the end and let the floor cure. That way you can walk on the floor as you install the edge tiles. Or you can choose to cut and install edge tiles as you go.
- Refer to the manufacturer’s recommended cure time before walking on your tile or beginning to grout.
- Measure the space you need the tile to fit into before you cut, and don’t forget to take the grout joint into account.
- You’ll typically want to leave at least an eighth of an inch where the tile meets the wall to allow for any expansion, contraction or shifting of the house, which is natural. This space will usually be covered up with wall tile or trim and caulked.
How should you clean your tile floor?
One of the most important aspects of cleaning your tile floor is making sure dirt and spills do not have a chance to get comfortable.
These things happen; instead of banning everyone but yourself from walking on your floor, clean up spills or tracks as soon as possible.
This is easy enough to do with a mop or cloth, hot water, and a mild household detergent (be sure to do a spot test with any detergent before use and/or get recommendations from the italian tile manufacturer).
Regular maintenance is important as well. The easiest, quickest, and most effective step you can take is to regularly sweep, vacuum, and damp mop your bathroom, entryway, or kitchen tile floors.
A quick sweeping or vacuuming removes dirt and debris before it can become embedded in the tile or grout. Mopping with warm water and using a manufacturer-recommended cleaning product also enhances your tile’s gloss, shine, and color.
One of the best floor cleaning products, though, is one that is readily available in your home. Water is effective in keeping your tile floor looking great.
You can also mix a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of water for a wonderfully effective, odor-eliminating cleanser. If you have children or pets, you may not want to use harsh chemicals, and this is a wonderful alternative.
How to Remove Tile Flooring
Remove the Trim
Remove baseboards or trim work around the room. Taking care when removing the trimwork allows it to be reinstalled when a new floor is installed after the tile floor is removed. Remove any appliances or built-in furniture like cabinets, if possible. Cover any vents with painter’s removable tape and plastic to prevent dust from entering the ventilation system.
Remove the Tile
Break up the first tile with the blunt edge of a hammer (image 1), and then use a chisel to pry up the remainder of the first tile. Once this first tile is removed, place the chisel against the bottom edge of adjacent tiles, apply pressure with your hammer and the tiles should pop up easily (image 2).
remove the underlayment
Remove the Underlayment
Once finished with the tile, remove the tile underlayment if it is deteriorating. Using your screw gun, remove any screws that might attach the underlayment to the floor. Pry up the edges of the underlayment with the roofing rake and flat shovel.
clean subfloor of adhesive
Clean the Subfloor
Once the underlayment is gone, remove any adhesive with the flat edge of the flat shovel or a carpet scraper for large areas and a scraper or chisel and hammer for smaller areas. Clean up any remaining screws and adhesive using a broom and shop vac. The wooden subfloor should be completely smooth before installing a new floor.