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Laying Ceramic Floor Tiles

Skill Level: Intermediate

Introduction

Ceramic floor tiles not only look beautiful but provide an easily cleaned surface, just right for the kitchen or bathroom - so easy to run a mop around the floor. These tiles can be laid on wooden or concrete floors as long as the existing floor is level. Older concrete floors that are damaged or slightly off level will need a layer of screed poured to give an even surface. After calculating how many tiles are needed for your project add a few more on top for damages or to practise on.

 

Getting Started

Find the mid point of each end wall by measuring accurately and knock a pin in at these two points. Attach the chalk string to the pins and snap the cord to leave a chalk mark down the middle of the room. Measure this chalked line and make a mark with the felt tip pen at the half way point. Using the square, draw a right angle here so you can repeat the process with the pins and chalk string along this second line. The result will be perfect quarters and you should work on each quarter of the room in turn. Start on the quarter that is the furthest away from the door as the adhesive needs to dry for about 24 hours before walking on it.

Laying A Bed For The Tiles

Mix the adhesive as per the manufacturer’s instructions and beginning at the centre of the room, spread it over about 0.75 of a square metre in your first quarter. Use the teeth of the spreader tool to give a “grain” on the adhesive. Lay the first tile in the angle where the chalk lines meet, pressing it firmly and giving it a slight wiggle so the bottom of the tile has a good contact with the adhesive. Insert the floor tile spacers around each corner of the tile ensuring that the middle of the appropriate spacers lie on the chalk lines.

Lay Only The Whole Tiles First

Carry on laying tiles in the same way until all the adhesive has been covered making sure that you scrape off any excess as you go. Spread another 0.75 metre of adhesive and carry on until you have the first quarter of the room complete. Don’t forget the spacers including the ones along the sides nearest the edges of the room. However, don’t start cutting any of the tiles at the moment; stop when you cannot use any more whole tiles. Repeat this process for the other quarters of the room ending with the quarter nearest the door. Leave to dry for 24 hours.

Measuring Part Tiles

 

An easy way of measuring the tiles for the edge of the room is to use two whole tiles. One that will be cut to size and another one as a “helper”. Put both tiles on top of the end tile; the “helper” above the one that will be cut. Ensure that the middle tile is exactly on top of the edge tile and in the same position. Carefully slide the “helper” forward until it meets the wall. With the felt tip pen, make a mark on the middle tile (the one you will cut), using the edge of the “helper” as a straight edge. To accommodate the spacers you should add 4mm and make a second mark. Remove the middle tile and mark the cutting line across it.

 

Cutting Tiles

 

Now comes the intricate part of tile laying, cutting the tiles. For a straight cut across the tile use the tile cutter. For an angle or curve use the tile saw. Tile cutters are fairly easy to use and mainly employ the same principle of scoring the tile then putting pressure on the score to snap it. Curves and angles are a little more difficult. Always remember to allow for the kerf (the width of the saw cut) as tile saw blades are wider than a tile cutter. Clamp the tile to be cut on a flat surface and work slowly, periodically checking that your cut line is accurate. Tile saws leave a slightly rough edge so use your carborundum stone to smooth this away. Cut all your tiles then spread the adhesive as before and finish laying your tiles. 

 

Grouting

 

Remove all the spacers between the tiles and start spreading the grout with the grout spreader. Only try to work about 1 sq metre at a time and make sure that the grout reaches all the gaps. Wipe off any excess with a damp cloth.
 
To guard against the grout being damaged, it is important that its level is slightly below the level of the tiles. Use the grout shaper, which came with the grout, to achieve a smooth, even profile on the grout. Wipe off any excess.  

 

Finishing Off!

 

Repeat previous step until all the floor is finished and as before, grout the floor by the door last of all. Leave the grout to dry and give your floor a final polish with a soft, clean cloth

 

Tools you will need:
Vitrex 10-2120 Soft Grip Tile File
Vitrex 10-2120 Soft Grip Tile File
- Vitrex 10-2207 Tile Saw - 150mm Tungsten Carbide Blade
Vitrex 10-2207 Tile Saw - 150mm Tungsten Carbide Blade
- Vitrex 10-2400 Versatile Flat Bed Tile Cutter
Vitrex 10-2400 Versatile Flat Bed Tile Cutter
- Vitrex 10-2928 Wall Trowel & Squeegee
Vitrex 10-2928 Wall Trowel & Squeegee
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