Ceramic Tile - Can I really do it myself?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Kevin Alexander, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    Anyone ever tried this themselves? If so, I could use a few tips. Tricks of the trade? What to avoid? What to remember? I will be applying the tile in my kitchen which is over my crawl space. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Very easy to do. My wife and I did our guest bathroom with 12x12 tiles, roughly 100sf. We bought a how-to video and had at it. Hardest part is cutting the tile (unless you have a electric tile saw, which we did not).
    Get yourself a good 4' level so you can run it across several tiles at once, making sure they are all level.
    The easiest thing to do is go buy or rent a how-to video.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  3. ben hunt

    ben hunt Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin, you most likely can do it. Lets put it this way, my wife got in a horrible car wreck 3 years ago, brain injury, amnesia, the works...Last year she retiled out basement bathroom.
    Thats a testament to both her progress and the ease of tiling a floor with a little instruction. [​IMG]
    you can do it!!!
     
  4. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    There's a room in our house that I think is tiled badly. I'm guessing it was a DIY job. We hired a professional to tile a different room. The main difference between the two is that it is obvious that the professional meticulously planned the layout while the amateur did not. The amateur job has a lot of funny cut tile shapes and the joints are not of uniform width. There are some tricky cuts and angles in the pro room and they all look fabulous and uniform.
     
  5. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

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    I'd love to try it in my kitchen but I'm not sure about the subfloor strength. I live in a townhouse and my current floor is vinyl overtop basic plywood subfloor. I can tell that there is some flexing in the floor which is a big problem for ceramic tiles.


    Jeff
     
  6. Lee L

    Lee L Supporting Actor

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    It is not hard at all. When you are saying it is over a crawl space, it sounds like you have a wood subfloor. If that is the case, I would definitely suggest installing Durock or Wonderboard cement board panels before you do your tile. This will add about 1/2" to the floor thickness but will keep the tile from breaking and coming loose down the road and give the floor the nice solid feel.

    If you can't find a video, you can go to a Lowes or Home Depot, they usually have demo classes for tile at least once a month.

    Also, you should be able to rent a wet saw at a tool rental place in your area for $50 or so for the weekend, they are very handy and the only good way to cut certain types of tile.

    Some of the technique depends on what type and size tile you use but definitely buy the little + shaped rubber pieces to keep you grout lines speced evenly if you go with grout lines more than 1/16", which you should do unless you are using the 4x4 tiles that have the bumps on them to keep the spacing.

    Also, make sure make accurate measurements and that you then lay out a bunch of tiles with spacers in both directions before you start. You need to be sure that the layout you chose is going to work in all the corners and doorways, etc that are in the room. Sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two evils but you want to avoid cutting tiles to less than 1/4 of their original width if at all possible. You can always shift the whole layout over 1/2 a tile to make your edges larger.

    Also, I can guarantee that the grout will not stay totally clean, so don't pick white grout.

    I'm sure I can give you some more tips if you let me know what type and size tile you are considering. I'm not a tile guy but I am a general contractor and I have seen plenty of good and bad installations and have done few rooms aof ceramic tile myself.
     
  7. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    As others have mentioned, this isn't overly difficult if you have a bit of instruction first. Most home centers have enough educational material available to make the job relatively painless. Unless you have a lot of inside corners to deal with, or are trying to work around electrical fixtures (you didn't mention if this was a floor or wall job), it's pretty straight forward.

    If doing the floor, you should first find the center of the room, and run a chalk line in both directions. Figure out how big your tiles are and do a dry layout of one row of tiles to see how they fit, and make sure to leave room for the grout (you can buy spacers to make this easier). Undoubtably you won't get an even number of tiles across your room, so you may want to adjust your baseline so the most visible walls get full tiles, or you may not, depending on the layout. Once you decide how things should fit it's simply a matter of applying the glue with a proper trowel (ask your retailler what to use), and follow the instructions for application, only working on a few tiles worth at a time.

    I always found grouting the most difficult task in tile work, especially avoiding voids. Cleanup is a bit of a pain as well, since you'll have grout all over everything, which needs removing before applying the grout sealer.

    With a lttle patience and foreknowledge it isn't that hard, just take your time in the planning to make life simpler when you get down to laying the tile.
     
  8. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    I agree with Jeff, grouting is the hardest part. I tiled our small front bathroom a couple months ago, and it was a pretty easy job...err...I mean it was easier than I expected. But it was a small space, only about 30 sq. ft. I learned a lot and wouldn't mind doing anything larger, but I think 100 sq. ft. would by my limit. It's just so messy and there's a lot of waiting for things to set up.
    There's been some great advice so far. One thing that hasn't been mentioned: be sure to remove the grout spacers before you grout. They aren't meant to be left in.
     
  9. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    It's not mentally challenging, but it is back-breaking work. I've laid about 1400 sq. ft of tile in my house- all rooms except the bedrooms, and the outside covered porch (10x30). I did them all at a 45 degree angle- lots of cutting!

    -Choose the right size. 18x18 tiles in a 6x8 bathroom don't look any better than "chicklet" tiles on your kitchen floor.
    -Make sure the subfloor is solid. Cement board will help, but make sure the whole thing is solid underneath that, too. If the floor bows down one inch as you walk across, fix that. Whatever you do, don't buy into the "we make thinset for laying tile over linoleum." My neighbors are doing this, as we speak. They'll be sorry.
    -Make sure you get the tile down correctly. This means make sure you drop some good chalk lines, and follow them. Drop a few lines perpendicular to one another, then check them square against the wall and each other. You'll find that some walls might not be straight, so choose your "reference point" as the one that will make the job look the nicest. I always start tiling in the middle of the space, and work outward. I try to "center" the job, as much as possible.
    -Sweat the details, even if it ends up taking twice as long. Get the fitment exactly correct around/under doorframes, etc.
    -I used 1/4" + spacers for my 13x13 tiles, and the grout line is just the right size.
    -I'd tend toward grout that's a shade or two darker than your tile choice (or way darker, in the case of white tiles). Sealer will keep out stains (e.g. Hawaiian Punch), but it not keep out dirt. If you go light, the high traffic lines will be darker by next year, anyway.

    Take the time to make it look professional. When I do home improvement jobs, my motto is "if it looks like I did it, it needs to be redone." Meaning, me, the non-professional.

    Todd
     
  10. D. Scott MacDonald

    D. Scott MacDonald Supporting Actor

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    I'll pretty much agree with the main advice given here:

    1) Plan well so that everything is centered correctly, etc.

    2) Make sure the joints are uniform and straight. Get a good 4' level. Most tile come with built in spacers, but when working with cut peices where the spacers didn't exist, we found that broken toothpicks work well as spacers.

    3) If you are doing a fair amount of cutting, definately rent a good tile saw in advance.

    It's not very hard to do, but it will probably take longer than you plan.
     
  11. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    All of you have infused me w/ confidence! Thanks, I'll let you know how it goes....
     
  12. Jonas Pearson

    Jonas Pearson Stunt Coordinator

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    I've done several tile jobs myself, and my brother has done several for me (he's a tile setter). My jobs look good, his look excellent! It certainly can be a do it yourself project, although it's not as easy as it looks. Some advice:

    1. Don't put tiles on top of wood. Put down Hardibacker or Wonderboard. My brother has de-glossed linoleum and then thinsetted and screwed backer board to it.
    2. Don't grout corners, where floors and walls meet, or between tub & wall. Use silicone caulk here, or it will crack.
    3. Clean up grout haze ASAP, or it will be difficult or impossible to remove later, especially if you use a porous tile.

    Good Luck
     
  13. CapnSharpe

    CapnSharpe Stunt Coordinator

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    For the best advice on tile setting on the net, see John Bridge's forum. You'll be glad you did!!! [​IMG]
     
  14. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I've done tile before, and NEVER been happy with it. As mentioned the layout isn't ever as good, nor is the grouting or spacing. those little plastic spacers piss me off, too.
    there's a reason it's expensive to have it professionally done [​IMG] it's pretty time consuming..
     

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