Advice for Laying tile?

  3 answers
  • 27524803 27524803 on Jul 04, 2018
    Many of the large home improvement stores have workshops on laying tile.. where you can actually go and do a small portion... with people to assist and instruct you.
    Advice, don't get in a hurry

  • Lisa B. Lisa B. on Jul 06, 2018
    Marty's advice is really good. Do that!

    Don't be scared. It is not hard to do a good job of laying tile. Physically, it is a little strenuous, though, so don't try to "kill the job," as my dad used to say. For your first project, mix a small batch of thinset so you can get a feel for how much you want to do in a day. (I used to be able to lay about 35 square feet in a day, but health concerns have me down to about 12. That is ok. Better to take longer and not break my body.) Budget way more time to any project than you think it would reasonably take.

    Plan your strategy--for example, I just tiled the hallway. You do not want to walk on freshly laid tile for 24 hours but I kind of wanted to be able to get to my bedroom, ya know? So I tiled the left side first, then the right side next. I marked the newest tile with chalked Xs to remind myself and others where not to walk.

    Let the folks where you buy your tile steer you to the right products and tools (for example, the size of your trowel teeth and gaps are predicated on the size of your tiles). Ask about grouts that don't need to be sealed--more work now, lots less later. Get a mixer that attaches to your drill, they go for as low as $14. Look into renting a water saw--but if you're going to do a big area it would be cheaper to buy one. I think you can get one for around $65, maybe less.

    Wear good knee pads! Your joints will thank you. Wear rubber gloves! Your fingertips need their skin. Put your bucket of thinset and your bucket of water on flattened cardboard boxes--easier to drag along while you work. Keep a clean rag and at least a couple big sponges in your water bucket.

    It's a really nice thing to have some help. Someone to dump your gunky water buckets and bring you fresh, someone to cut tiles at your marks while you keep laying, even someone to run your marked tile to your cutting helper. (I find that getting up and down wears me out much more than staying on my knees and working steadily.)

    Pick one or two old t-shirts and pants to relegate to tiling. Clean as you go--everything--from your mixer to your sponges, and any glops of thinset or grout that go astray. A strong hose stream and a scrub brush does most of the job, and occasionally, a paint scraper (for the glops). Do NOT EVER rinse thinset or grout down your drain. It will still harden, even submerged in water, and you do not want that in your pipes. This includes your dirty clothes, hose them off too. We do our clean up on our dirt driveway on the theory that eventually it will end up paved with rinsed out mortar. But if you don't have such an area for clean up, do it in a big trash can--the mortar settles and you can dump the clear water off the top.

    If you find you are not going to use a tile that has thinset on it, drop it in the water bucket and scrub off the back at some point soon so that you can use it later. Keep all cut tile remnants organized--you will be able to use many of them at some point instead of cutting a fresh tile every time. Careful! The edges are sharp as scalpels.

    At the end of the workday, take a nice shower (scrape off the dried bits of thinset and throw them in the driveway later), and when you get out, have a cocktail while admiring your labor. That feels soooo good.

    Buy extra tile to squirrel away for later unforseen purposes like replacing a broken tile or in the event of room layout changes. (When we remodelled our kitchen, for example, we went from a peninsula to an island and had just enough leftover tile to bridge the gap. Design decisions were made based on how many tiles we had left.) Even a year down the road, you are unlikely to be able to find more tile that matches what you have already got.

    Sorry I'm so wordy! This is pure stream-of-consciousness, and even still, I have no doubt left all sorts of useful tips out. I cheerfully invite others to add to it.

    Again, don't be scared. Go for it. It is not hard to do it right, and I gotta tell you, there is no other job you will ever do in your home that gives you more immediate gratification.