Applying a mud base and installing tile flooring is a labor intensive, messy job that can be tough on your knees and back. It takes good deal of patience and a sharp eye if you want to end up with professional results. However, there’s no need to panic about the cost of hiring a contractor. With a few rental tools and the right knowledge, you can tackle this project yourself.
Step 1 – Prepping the Floor
In order to properly lay the mud base you need to make sure you have a clean sub-floor whether it’s wood or concrete. You can use a heavy duty vacuum to remove all of the dirt and debris from the floor. Dirt and dust in the mud base will cause an improper bond between the mud and tile.
Step 2 – Laying the Mud Base
This is probably the most important part of installing tile flooring since a properly installed mud base will ensure a long lasting floor. To mix the mud base you’ll need a 5 gallon bucket and a water supply along with your drill and mixing bit. You’ll need to mix the water and mortar until you get a consistency of thick mud. Before you begin laying the base, it’s important to layout the tile to ensure a symmetrical pattern with even cuts on both sides of the room. You can do this by finding the center point of the room and laying out your tile from there. It helps to lay the tile out before you apply the mud base so you can visually check the layout. Now you can begin spreading the mud base with the ¼ inch trowel. Start in one corner and work your way from the back of the room to the front. Make sure that you only lay a small section of mud at a time since it dries out very quickly.
Step 3 – Installing Tile Flooring
As you’re installing the mud base you can also begin the install of the tile flooring. Begin in the area that you just installed the mud base in and firmly press the tile into the mud. Pay particularly close attention to the corners of the tile. You’ll want to make sure the corners are secured in the mud base to prevent the tiles from popping loose in the future. Use the tile spacers to ensure that the grout lines between the tiles are even. After you’ve installed a few tiles, place a straight edge across the top to ensure the floor tiles are level and even. Repeat the process as you work your way to the front of the room.
Step 4 – Making the Cuts
Once you get started installing the tile flooring, you’ll eventually need to cut the tile to complete the installation. To make sure you keep the grout lines consistent you’ll need to take into account the width of the grout line. For example, for cuts along the wall you’ll need to take the measurement from the wall to the edge of the tile. If the dimension is 9 inches, then subtract the width of the grout line you’ve chosen. Common gout line sizes are 1/8 inch or ¼ inch. If you’ve selected a 1/8 inch grout line, then the tile should be cut at 8 7/8 inches to allow for a tight fit while still maintaining the grout line. You can use the wet saw to ensure straight and even cuts.
Installing tile flooring can be hard work but with a little confidence and the right tools, you can lay a tile floor like a seasoned veteran.