Tile Installation Tips

Ceramic tile is easy for even someone who is not a regular do-it-yourselfer to install, whether on the floor, the walls, or a tub surround.  Its popularity stems from the fact that tile is very hard, water-resistant and easy to clean.  It does take a bit of patience and diligence and a fair amount of measuring.  So, keep in mind the traditional credo of carpenters:  Measure twice, cut once.

Here are some other tips for tile installation:

  • There’s a difference between floor and wall tiles.  Wall tiles are thinner and smoother than floor tiles.
  • An installation job will need two types of tile. One is filler tile, which will take up most of the surface, and the other is trim tile which goes around the edges of the room and around the corners.
  • Shower stall walls or a tub surround should be prepared with a cement backboard or a waterproofed drywall before the tiling begins.  Make sure to take out any old material at the point where the tile will touch the top of the tub or the base of the shower.  Leave a quarter-inch space for caulking.
  • Be sure to lay out the job precisely.  Ideally, tiling should start in the center of the wall or in the center of the floor.
  • Must-have tools for a tiling job include a tile cutter, a notched trowel, a notched spreader, a level, a rubber float, nippers, roofing felt and roof cement, a stapler and staples, silicone caulk, soap dishes or other accessories, painter’s tape, mastic, grout and grout float, grout saw, hammer and cold chisel, shims, drop cloths, a rod cutter, a sponge and a glass cutter.  A rented wet saw is optional.   You should use some of the tools to experiment on some old tiles, perhaps the ones taken off the wall to make way for the new ones, before the real job begins.
  • Apply adhesive in sections of small squares until you feel comfortable setting the tile.  Keep the room as well-ventilated while you work, to prevent over-exposure to the fumes of the adhesive.
  • If a tub surround or shower stall has been freshly tiled, neither the tub nor the shower should be used for at least two weeks.  If the tiles have been put on the floor, they shouldn’t be stepped on until the mortar is hardened.  If you decide you need to adjust a floor tile that’s too far to reach, find a sturdy piece of plywood to step on.

And, of course, if any of this just seems too overwhelming to tackle, you can always contact Handyman Matters to have a professional complete the work for you, call 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find the location nearest you!