How To Tile
Whether you are laying flooring tiles, wall tiles or bathroom tiles you first need to establish your tile layout and pattern which will help you work out your quantitiesand the best paces to make your cuts.
It is usually best to have a full tile at the doorway and a cut tile where it will not be noticed as much. Most DIY tiling enthusiasts fail to do what is called a dry tile layout. Place a full tile at the doorway and continue dry laying your tiles all the way back to the opposite wall. Hopefully this will leave you a minimum of a half tile at the back but quite often you will either be left with a third of a tile or worse, a small sliver after your last full tile.
Rather than leave a small strip of tile, Brisbane tilers will cut the previous tile slightly so the small sliver becomes a more respectable size. By doing a dry layout you can plan your cuts for the best look and will have no nasty surprises. Tip; Aluminium tile strips should be placed in doorways and areas that ajoin. Ensure your tile fits flush with the top of the tile strip.
Tile Set out
The popular way for setting out your tile is called the grid method where the middle of the four walls is established and lines are made (using a chalk snap line is easiest) which then intersect in the middle of the room. Establish that your set out is square by measuring the distance from the centre along all four lines and then measuring diagonally from one line to the other. A professional Brisbane tiler will ensure these distances are the same. Important; Never lay your first row of tiles against a wall as walls are rarely ever straight (you can cut a tile but you cannot add to one).
Tip; When dry laying out, ensure you allow space for your grout joins, by using spacers, and any expansion joints which are usually required every 5 meters and allow tiles to expand & contract.
- Order extra 10% tiles to allow for breakages and replacements.
- Ensure you order enough tiles from the same batch as they may become unavailable.
- Check that you have the correct wear rating tile – floor tiles can go on walls but not the reverse.
- Check your tile for slip with wet shoes (or bare feet for bathrooms) before you buy.
- Layout your tiles dry to establish best cuts.
Tip; Before you settle on a large tile format size like 300x600mm or 600x600mm buy or borrow one or two to help establish levels on uneven surfaces.
Preparation For Tiling
- Use a aluminum straight edge or straight piece of timber to check for high and low spots. Mark areas of concern.
- High spots like cement blobs etc. should be removed with a hammer and old chisel or a long handled floor scraper.
- Use floor leveler – a self leveling cement based compound that you mix – to fill any low spots.
- Ensure surface is clean and dust free. If surface has plaster dust (which is common on a building site) – seal back with a water based concrete sealer.
For bathroom tiles and wet areas, a waterproof membrane should be applied to the floor and any splash areas on the wall paying special attention to the shower recess.
- Seal any gaps or cracks in fibre cement or concrete floors and walls with natural cure silicon making sure that there are no raised edges. Use water and washing up liquid on your finger or sponge to smooth.
- Use a bond breaker tape (allows flexibility in the corners and reduces cracking) Follow the manufactures application instructions.
- When the waterproofing membrane is dry – place cardboard or similar on the floor to protect the membrane from damage until the floor tiles are laid.
Tile adhesive comes in many varieties depending on the application and are described as thin set or thick set ( or both thin & thick set ). Brisbane most homes are of a timber frame construction and have some natural movement so flexible tiling adhesives are popular. For DIY tiling applications a cement based high build flexible adhesive would be suitable for most applications. A high build (thin/thick set) adhesive provides the advantage of being able to use a 12mm notched trowel to more easily level and bed large format tiles.
Tip; When applying tiling adhesive with a notched trowel, keep your trowel at about 60 deg when laying off your adhesive so your tile can bed down on the full notched depth of adhesive.
Tools required for tiling include;
- Manual tile cutter – Powered mounted wet Diamond saw (available at Bunnings for about $80.00) This is a must if cutting porcelain tiles which are extremely hard.
- Notch Trowel – Gauging Trowel.
- Sponge – pencil/marker – measuring tape – rubber grout squeegee – tile nippers – heavy duty round plastic bucket – scrubbing brush.
Laying Floor Tiles
In the following example we have used large format porcelain floor tiles for a Brisbane bathroom as they are considered to be the hardest to lay well.
Brisbane Tilers usually charge more for laying large format tiles, especially if they are porcelain because they are more difficult to cut and lay. The modern trend toward natural stone and rectified porcelain tiles means that it is important to engage a Brisbane tiler with experience in this area. For the DIY tiling enthusiast there are a number of things that require extra special attention when laying large format tiles and this laying process is summarised below.
- Important; Make as many of your cuts as possible prior to mixing the tiling adhesive. Tip; For critical cuts it is recommended that you measure up your tile for the cut after you have laid the adjoining tiles.
- Only spread you glue (tiling adhesive) out to an area that you can easily reach which should also be roughly the same size as the number of tiles.
- Make sure your glue is laid off to the depth of your notched trowel and run the edge of a scraper along any adjoining laid tiles to remove about 20mm of glue. This will limit any glue being pushed into the join (where the grout belongs) and makes for a cleaner, faster job.
- Rectified tiles have a machined square edge which can be a trip hazard unless laid absolutely flat. Tip; In addition to laying by sight use your fingers and a square piece of timber to run through the joins checking for raised edges. Remember, if your glue is flat (lay off glue at the same angle with your trowel) then your tiles should be as well.
- Use spacers for consistent grouting joins and make sure you clean off any excess glue.
It is good practice to leave floor tiles for 24 hours before you walk on them. Floor tiles should be grouted as soon as possible as the grout has the effect of locking the whole tiled floor together so please resist the temptation to walk on them until you have grouted.
The type and colour of the grout you use will depend on the colour and location of your tiling, the width of your grouting joins and whether you require a sanitised, mould resistant finish. Please seek advice from your tile shop regarding this and other questions that relate to your project.
- Before grouting – remove any spacers and tile adhesive from the joints and vacuum.
- Pour a small amount of water into a bucket and slowly add your dry grout. Mix your grout to a toothpaste consistency by adding any further water required slowly.
- Using a rubber squeegee or rubber trowel, work the grout diagonally through the joints until the grout is flush with the tile .
- Every 1 meter or so use a damp sponge to gently wipe off any excess grout. Rinse the sponge, taking care to ring out all the water, and repeat this until all excess grout is removed and the grout lines are flush filled and clean.
- Continue this process in the next area until the job is completed making sure you change the water frequently.
- When grout is dry a fine powdery dust will remain and this can be easily wiped off with a dry rag.
Tip; An overly wet sponge can wash the grout out of the tile joints, so make sure you rinse your sponge well and ring it out so it is just damp.