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Installing a Ceramic Tile Floor

Installing a ceramic tile floor is not beyond the abilities of most homeowners. In fact, most home DIY'ers can handle this job. Be patient and get eh correct tools and you are well on your way to a brand new ceramic floor.

You should only install ceramic tile over a sub floor that is no less than 1/8" thick. If the sub floor is thinner, the tiles may cause the sub floor to flex under the weight of the tiles and can cause cracks. Most tile manufacturers recommend using cement backer board instead of any other underlayment like plywood. These boards come in 3X5 feet sheets and are sold where tile and grout are sold.

To ensure you get all the tiles at perfectly 90 or 45 degree angle to the wall you will need to use a pair of perpendicular reference lines and not the wall as these are neither straight or square to each other. 

To ensure the reference lines are square, use the 3-4-5-triangle rule as follows.
  1. Establish your reference line by measuring across opposite sides of the room. Mark the center of each side and then snap a chalk line between the two marks.

  2. Measure and mark the center of that line. Use a pencil, a framing square and a straight edge held against its shorter leg to mark a second 4 ft line perpendicular to the first line.

  3. Measure out 3ft from the intersection and mark the penciled line. Measure out 4ft from the intersection and mark the spot on the chalk line. Measure the distance between the 3ft and 4ft marks. This distance should be 5ft. Now chalk a line across the room that falls directly over the penciled line.

Now, use the reference lines to establish layout lines that will actually guide the tile placement. After you install your guidelines or layout lines, its time to install the tile.
  1. Make sure the layout is even from side to side in both directions. To do this, dry fit the tiles along the layout lines in both directions and make sure that the finished layout looks good to you.

  2. Pick up loose tiles and set the woods.

  3. Spread thin set mortar using a notched trowel over a 3X3 section at the intersection of the layout lines.

  4. Begin laying tile at the center point of the two layout lines, setting each tile into the mortar by tapping it gently with a rubber mallet.

  5. Continue laying tiles until you've covered the mortared area.

  6. Continue the process by applying mortar to another section and then laying tiles.

  7. Fit the last tile in the row at the wall.

  8. After the tiles are set in the mortar, mix the grout according to the manufacturers instructions and install it using the rubber grout float.

  9. Wipe away the excess grout with a grout sponge. Allow the grout to dry slightly and then wipe off the haze that appears.

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