﻿ Laying Ceramic Floor Tiles | The Self-Sufficiency DIY Info Zone

## Laying Ceramic Floor Tiles

Ceramic tiles are ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, but they are heavy, and so you first have to check that the floor can bear the weight.

Because the tiles are hard and rigid, they must be laid on a flat, stable surface that is also clean and dry. Also, the floor must be well ventilated. Strengthen wooden floors by first covering with sheets of plywood at least 1cm/1/2in thick, laid in staggered rows and fixed with screws at 30cm/12in intervals. Ceramic tiles can be laid straight onto concrete, assuming it is level.

### Calculating Quantity

To work out how many tiles you need, measure the length and width of the room using the dimensions of the tile (adding on the width of a join) as the unit of measurement. Round up both distances to the nearest tile-width and then multiply the two figures together to give the total number of tiles you need.

Alternatively, you can work out the floor area and then divide by the area a pack of tiles will cover, thereby establishing the total number of packs you will need. (Many tiles come in packs which state the coverage.) Whichever method you use, remember to allow for extras in case of damage. For a complicated area it may be best to draw up a scale plan.

### Finding a Starting Point

First establish the mid-point of the room.

Dry lay the tiles from the middle to the wall and from this point out to the furthest corner from the door. Arrange the tiles so that at least half a tile width is left around the edge, then lay a wooden batten along the last row of tiles and nail temporarily. Lay another batten across the adjacent wall, at an angle of 90 degrees. The point where the battens meet is your starting point for tiling.

* Make a tile gauge using a length of wooden batten marked with the tile widths and spaces.

* Remember that tiling will raise the level of the floor. You may have to plane off the bottoms of doors.

### Materials and Equipment

• ceramic tiles

• string and chalk

• spirit level (carpenter’s level)

• wooden battens

• hammer and nails

• spacers or pieces of stiff cardboard

• heavy-duty tile-cutter

• squeegee or sponge

• grout

• clean cloths

• rubber gloves

### METHOD

1. Find the mid-point of the room and dry lay tiles out from it, along one wall to the corner furthest from the door.

2. Nail a batten along the last row of tiles. Lay a batten along the adjacent wall at 90 degrees and nail. Where the battens meet is the starting point.

3. Remove the tiles. Using a trowel and notched spreader, lay a bed of adhesive over an area about 1 m/1yd square. Follow manufacturers’ instructions: you may need to apply adhesive to the tiles as well as the floor.

4. Place tiles in position, twisting slightly to improve the bond with the adhesive. Insert spacers or pieces of cardboard to keep an even gap for grouting. Work towards the door.

5. Ensure that tiles are level and square— use a spirit leve1 to check as you go along. Lay all whole tiles first and leave for 24 hours to allow the adhesive to set. Remove battens.

6. Finally, lay edge tiles. To cut an edge tile, lay it over the last whole tile in the row, covering it exactly. Place another tile on top, pushed against the wall over the gap. Draw a line where the top tile crossed the one below. This is the line for cutting. Allow a margin for grouting.

7. Ceramic tiles are thick and difficult to cut. Hire or buy a heavy-duty tile-cutter.

8. After the adhesive has hardened (about 24 hours), use a squeegee or sponge to grout the floor. Work into the joins, finishing flush with the tiles. Clean up joins with a cloth.

9. Wipe off excess grout. Buff with a soft dry cloth. Avoid heavy traffic on the floor for 48 hours.