Tile Installer Trade Secrets You Can Use

Tile installers have a number of great insider secrets. They are consummate professionals, so they’ve developed systems and even shortcuts that work well. Often, they’ll try to keep their tricks to themselves but nothing can truly stay secret for long. Knowing some of those secrets can make your tiling job a lot easier. You might imagine that most tilers will have superb secrets regarding the laying of the tile itself. In fact, their greatest secret is in the preparation they do before a single tile is laid.

Secret 1: Preparation

The biggest key to making a job go smoothly is good preparation. In the case of large jobs this can mean days of preparation. Check the rooms to see how square the walls are, how even and smooth the edges appear and how level the surface is that you’ll be covering with your tiles.

Once you’ve established this, begin work your preparation methods out. If necessary, build up floors a little, using mortar rather than self-leveling compound. Where walls are being tiled, especially if they have concave bows, use thinset to level them out. With convex bows, remove the board and use a plane on the wall studs before replacing.

This can take longer than the actual tiling but it’s definitely worthwhile. Not only will the tiling process go smoothly, but you'll have a much better outcome. Starting with a level floor spares you having to deal with a problem called lippage, which effectively means the tiles aren’t quite even.

Secret 2: Layout

You’ll save a lot of time later if you establish lines parallel and square to the longest wall in the room. Next, lay out a run of tiles about 6 feet long, including spacers. This will let you know if you’ll end up with slivers around the room edges. If that’s the case, you can make adjustments so it doesn’t happen.

Lay out tiles from the center of the room, going in all directions to ensure the perimeters will all be the same. When you’ve done that, re-check everything thoroughly to avoid mistakes later.

Secret 3: Installation

To avoid boxing yourself into a corner and having to wait while the mortar dries, move from the field which is classed as the center of the room and work outwards to the perimeter of the room. Set the tile in the thinset then take the time to level it in all directions. This ensures you’ll have a perfectly level floor.

If you’re tiling more than the floor, complete the other surfaces such as countertops and walls first. This means that you’ll never be stuck for a surface to work on.

Some tiles, such as ceramic, porcelain and terra cotta, will require grout. However, you should still take the time to make sure they’re flat and even rather than relying the grout to make things look good. It’s a matter of pride and craftsmanship.

Secret 4: Grouting

When you’ve grouted the tiles, use clean water and thick sponges to clean up and do so thoroughly. When you caulk areas with splashbacks or where two different surfaces join, use latex caulk that’s matched in color to the grout. To get a good bead, work the caulk into the joint carefully and firmly.