While there are many times when a tiling job should be completed by a professional, there are many more times when a homeowner can tackle the job himself. Those wondering how to install tile in many applications, may find that the same rules will apply for many tiling jobs and applications.
The most important thing for homeowners pondering a tile job is determining how much tile to purchase to complete the job. This is done through proper measuring of the space. Begin by breaking the area to be tiled into smaller pieces. For example, if a shower is being tiled, each wall will be measured separately from the next and the three areas added together. A room with bump-outs and angles in the floor will be broken into sections so that an accurate measure can be obtained. Measure each bump-out separately from the rest of the floor, so that each area measured can form as close to a rectangle as possible.
Measure each section in inches, for example a measurement of 6 feet, 4 inches should read 76 inches. When the length and width of the area have been measured multiple the numbers together and then divide by 144 to obtain the amount of square footage needed. For example, a foyer measuring 76 inches by 146 inches will come in at 77.06 square feet. Additional tile will be required for waste, cuts or breakage. If the tile pattern being considered is just straight laid squares, add 5% more tile for waste. If the pattern is on the diagonal, add 20% more for waste, due to the additional cuts. Slate tile and most other patterns will require approximately 15% more tile for waste.
Once the tile is on site and the surface prepped for installation, the next step to take is a dry-layout or dry-fit of the tile. This is done to determine how many cuts need to be made, and where these cuts should be placed.
Always begin in the center of an installation with a full tile. This means for a floor, a full tile should be laid in the exact center of the furthest wall from the door. For a wall tile application, a full tile should be laid in the exact center of bottom of the wall. A fireplace hearth should have a full tile laid in the front center of the hearth.
Lay the adjacent tiles equally out to each side so that the tiles will be balanced when they get to the edges of a tile run. Cut any tiles to fit that require cutting, and return them to the dry-layout before continuing to ensure that the fit is correct.
If installing natural stone or a tile with a lot of variation in color from piece to piece, lay the tiles from several boxes at once, and blend the colors as they are laid. This will keep colors and patterns from bunching up in places, and will ensure an even layout.
If laying borders, decorative tiles or cut-in tiles, make all the necessary cuts and double check the dry-fit to be sure they fit together correctly. Then install the field tiles first, let them set up and then go back and install the decorative tiles into the place left. This is done so that if the decorative tiles are thinner than the field tile, they can be built up properly to ensure an even layout.
If installing a multi-piece tile pattern, a dry-layout is essential. Start with a full tile in one corner of the room, and work outward from there. The entire layout may need to be moved from one place to another to ensure a pleasing layout. Some patterns draw the eye in the direction the tiles move, so lay out the entire pattern, and step back to be sure that this is the desired direction. If not, re-lay the tiles before making any cuts.
Once cuts have been made, leave the tiles where they are in the pattern, taking up only a few at a time to install. This will ensure that the pattern gets installed in the same direction that it was originally laid, and that no mistakes are made.
The most important thing to do is double check each step as it is done. The old saying, “measure twice, cut once” applies to nearly every stage of a tiling job. Be absolutely certain with a dry-fit before laying a single tile, and the job should go over without a hitch.