How to Install Ceramic Floor Tile

Ceramic tiles are made from clay that is known for their decorative look. They have excellent durability and water resistance property, and with their aesthetic looks, they are a perfect choice for any space from the bathroom to the hall.

While professionals come great as tile-setters, installing ceramic floor tile can also be possible using DIY. Doing it yourself can make the tile installing project pretty cost-effective that a person can save a whole lot on labor costs.

Successful floor tile installation takes an understanding of specific steps, so the job can be straightforward. Let’s have these steps here-

Tools you are going to need:

  • Tile cutting tools such as a wet tile saw or a snap tile cutter
  • Tile nipper
  • Rubber tile float for grouting
  • Notched tile trowel for applying thin-set mortar
  • Flat margin trowel
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tile spacers
  • Large sponges
  • Buckets
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line for snapping a line on the floor
  • Bubble level
  • Two-by-four lumber
  • Safety glasses
  • Framing square
  • Rubber gloves

Materials

  • Tile
  • Thinset mortar
  • Grout
  • Grout haze remover
  • Grout sealer
  • Cement backer board and fiberglass seam tape (optional)

Decide The Tile Pattern

The tile pattern has a lot to do with the number of tiles you are going to need. Narrow designs will need you to buy more tiles than broad tiles design to fill up space where you want tile flooring. There are many more designs for ceramic tiles these days and you can choose as per your budget and appearance of the stone.

To have a close idea about how many pieces you are going to need, there are tile calculators online.

Prepare The Substrate

Ceramic tiles function the best and serve or its durability when laid on a firm surface. As the traditional method, the use of wet mortar has been in practice, however, if you are someone who doesn’t want to practice with that, you can opt for the backer board.

If you want to go with the traditional method which is equally useful,  create a thin layer of mortar and place the cement board panels. Make use of the fiberglass seam tape to fill any seams and let the things settle down.

Plan The Positioning

In this step, you need to strategically place the tiles onto the walls. This is not going to be an actual placement, but just to have an idea. Determine the center of the walls for which you can use chalk to mark things. The reason behind this is to eliminate the cutting of the tiles for an uneven appearance.

Make a cross-like sign in the center of the walls and that way each will be symmetrical with respect to another wall.

Spread The Mortar

Now it is time to spread the mortar before you can place the tiles. Pick up the margin trowel and spread the mortar on the cement board. Spread the mortar in a way that it extends a bit as per the size of the tile while holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle.

Generally, a trowel has a mark in the between to let you pick the right amount of mortar to spread. Use the mark and you will get the right amount of mortar from both sides.

Lay The Tile

Lay The Tile

Now, that you have got the mortar on the wall, it is time to finally set the tile on it. Get the tile and gently press it on the mortar while pressing the tile into the wall deeper. Your aim should be to fill up any gaps in any ridges that are in the mortar. For assurance, you can lift the tile and check if the fit is proper or you may need to push it a bit more.

Leave a 1/4-inch expansion gap between the tiles, and do not fill this gap with the mortar. You can also use tile spacers for that purpose. Make sure you level the tiles equally; lightly tap the tiles with the rubber mallet to settle them further in line.

Cut The Tile

Cutting Tile

When you are done placing the tiles, you would encounter some extra space left where the full-size tile doesn’t go. To fill up this space, you would need to snap the tiles accordingly. You can get a wet tile saw on rent or you can use a tile snapper.

If there corners where you think curved tile would work, a tile nipper would be a great tool in that case. However, while using any of these tile cutting tools, always wear eye and hand protection such as gloves and goggles. This will keep you from getting injured due to those flying tile particles and debris.

Grout The Tile

Those tile spacers that you previously used, it is time to remove them. Grout all the spacing between the tiles. Keep the tip at a 45-degree angle for the fine placement of grout, so nothing of it comes out. Follow this solution for all the walls and wait for at least an hour.

Afterward, take a sponge soaked in clean water and remove the excess grout. Use a circular motion for easy removal of the excess.

Remove The Grout Haze

After the grout has completely dried out, you will notice a milky-white grout haze. This grout haze can be cleaned easily by wiping with a clean sponge and water. Next, you need to use haze cleaner and mix 3 ounces of haze cleaner per gallon of water. Just wipe down the surface using this solution with the sponge and the haze gets disappeared.

Seal The Tile Grout

As the finishing step, you should seal the grout else it will keep soaking up water and that would affect the overall installation. There are sealers available in the market that you can use to properly seal the tile grout or you can use a sealer that comes in the spray form and wipe the excess.

Ending Up

If you are confident about using the tile cutting tools, DIYing the tile cutting process is not very troublesome. So, keep all your tools and materials handy before you start the placement.

How to Cut Ceramic Tile With a Snap Cutter

best tile snap cutter

Those who opt for the DIY way with the tile cutting job can have a snap cutter handy. Additionally, a wet tile saw comes as another important saw that makes tile cutting possible, effortlessly. Both snap cutter and a wet tile saw slice the tiles: the former being a manual saw and the latter being an automatic saw.

Let’s see how both of these saws work that you can bring to use for tile cutting-

How Do a Wet Saw and Snap Cutter Work?

A wet tile saw can most likely be considered as a table saw. However, as its name implies, the saw adds up a water reservoir that continues to flow the water through the saw. As a result, the saw performs very quietly and with much less dust if we compare this to a table saw. So, it is like a table saw but with a water source added.

Snap tile cutter on the other hand majorly resembles a glass cutter. The user puts the tile in the given space and snaps it down. As the blade cuts the tile, it gets off the surface into a straight cut piece.

Cut Ceramic Tile With a Snap Tile Cutter

The snap tile cutter consists of three major parts the score, snapper, and the lever. Once you insert the tile into place, you make the mark using the score and snap it down using the lever. So, with a snapper, it is a manual job rather than machinery.

A snap cutter can work as your only needed tool when you have a small project to work on and there you need only straight cut tiles. The saw works with ceramic or porcelain tiles.

However, when you have large projects to work on where you would need curved cuts as well, snap cutter alone is not going to help you much. The saw doesn’t cut as straight as a wet tile saw, and hence the wet tile saw is always used by the professionals. Also, when a tile comes larger than12″ to 16″ it is difficult to cut the piece using the snap cutter.

How to Use the Snap Cutter in the Best Way Possible?

Learn how to make the score: as above stated, a snap cutter works using three major parts the core, snapper, and leaver. First, you place the tile into space and draw the cutting wheel over it using the score. Secondly, you position the snapper on top of the tile, and finally, you press down the lever that slices down the tile and puts it aside.

Practice on cheap tile: practice is the key here with any machinery whether manual or automatic. If you want the finest cuts out of the snap cutter, you need to practice beforehand. For the purpose, you can take any paper sheets or the cardboard and hone your skills.

The first score matters: the total time of scoring matters too. In the first attempt, you should score the tile forcefully, but not too much as it will break the tile. In the second attempt, go a bit deeper which then by the third attempt break the tile. You should not make more than three scores if you want to have a finely sliced piece of tile.

Always keep in mind that cutting the tile using the snap cutter will not be very much clear or professional-grade. The sides may be uneven slightly, but that doesn’t create any significant problem while placing the tiles.

Summary

A snap cutter doesn’t give better results than a wet tile saw and you should always expect some redundancies. However, a snap cutter is a much cheaper tool that costs you around $20. Though you can go pretty expensive with it too such as around $100, it would be best to buy or rent a wet tile saw if you can spend an amount close to $100.