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Ceramic Tile Installation in Your Area
Ceramic tile is a very old, very beautiful material that has both classic appeal and contemporary charm. It is very durable and performs excellently in places where other materials fall short. Ceramic tile installation is a process that, when done well, will result in a surface that is moisture-resistant and long-lasting. When done hurriedly or improperly, however, the results can be far from spectacular.
Ceramic Tile Installation Basics
- Choosing an Adhesive: Picking the right adhesive upfront will save a lot of hassle later on. There is no perfect adhesive for every ceramic tile installation, so you'll have to do your ceramic tile research. Some work best on concrete, others work best on wood. Some adhesives work well outdoors or in industrial settings, but are just too expensive for covering a countertop. It is worth the time to go and talk to a professional, tell him or her the specifics of your project, and follow any advice that's given.
- Preparing a Surface: Prepping is an important part of ceramic tile installation; almost as important as the kind of adhesive and tile you choose. No matter what kind of surface you are dealing with, it must be clear of any debris, extremely flat, and moisture free. If any one of these elements is missing, problems are likely to arise after the tiles are put in.
- Installing Ceramic Tile: Easy to learn, but hard to master, tile installation is a job that takes a lot of practice to get just right. You start with whatever adhesive you will be using (grout, thin set, etc.) and apply a layer of it onto the desired surface. Next, you gently work the tile into the adhesive until it is straight and its back is sufficiently embedded. When you reach an edge, unless you are uncommonly lucky, the tile will need to be cut to fit into place. If you're doing a floor tile installation, since you won't know how small the end tiles will need to be cut until after you've laid down the rest of the tiles and since you're not supposed to walk on the tiles you've already laid down for up to a day, take your measurements and cut the tiles while the others are setting.
- Spacing Ceramic Tile: Make sure to lay down only enough adhesive to cover about two square feet at a time so that it doesn't start to dry without a tile attached to it (beginners might even want to start off with one square foot until they get the hang of it). One of the easiest mistakes to make is forming a grout line that isn't straight. Keep your tiles in line while putting them in or you could get stuck with a very unprofessional looking surface. On this note, it's a good idea to use a spacer to make sure that the lines between the tiles are even. You can find spacers ranging from 1/8" to 3/8", but most experts will tell you to stay in the middle with 1/4". You might be able to get away with a smaller spacer and tighter setting if you're using stone tile, one of the key differences between the two materials.
- Don't Skimp on the Sealant: After the initial tile installation is done, floors, walls, and countertops that will be exposed to a lot of moisture should be sealed. Actually, you'll need to seal the grout, not the tile itself. Not doing this can lead to deep setting stains as well as mildew. Tile is very easy to clean; grout, on the other hand, is notoriously difficult. Your best bet is to stop any permeation before it starts.
Professional Ceramic Tile Installation
We know that many homeowners are working with a tight budget, and we want to encourage you to complete home improvements as affordably as possible. Still, we would be remiss if we didn't tell you that installing ceramic tile is a lot harder than most people imagine at first. Even this tutorial isn't nearly enough to prepare you for the potential obstacles and near-certain hassles you'll face. If you're determined to give it a go on your own, find a steady hand and a patient demeanor and you may be pleasantly surprised with the end result. On the other hand, you should at least consider hiring a tile professional. According to data from homeowners across the country, the average cost of ceramic tile installation is right around $2,000, already making it one of the most cost-effective flooring options out there.
Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.