Your home is your castle and your sanctuary. Pulling into the driveway puts you into a good mood. Everything from the landscaping to the front door contributes to that feeling. You can take the elegance factor up a notch by adding tile. It will give you a place to display that Savonnerie rug you always wanted. You can install your own if you are willing to work hard and learn some basic rules of thumb.
Tile comes in many different designs. Considering all of them would be a major undertaking. My advice is to look at what’s available, choose something you can visualize living with for a long time, and then price-shop your selection.
Preparing what goes under your tile is the most important step. The success of the job depends on it. You need a flat, smooth surface.
When installing tile on concrete, repair uneven areas. You can lay tile on other surfaces, but you must prepare the floor by first installing cement backer boards. It is fine to install this over the top of an existing vinyl floor. Use tile thinset mortar to install the panels; finish the job by screwing them down. Make sure the screw-head counter-sinks into the backer board.
Supplies and Tools
You need thinset mortar; ask how much the manufacturer recommends for the square footage of your project. Spacers provide a uniform gap between tiles. Purchase a spreader and a grout float. The thinset spreader has wide teeth. I recommend using grout of a contrasting color. You also need a tile saw.
The first tile will go down somewhere in the middle of the installation. Plan ahead, by dry-laying tiles. Use the spacers without thinset for this step. Your installation is going to have some partial tiles. These look best if you can cut them to half or more of their original size. Square the pattern to the longest and most visible wall.
Mix your thinset stiffly. It should stick together easily while remaining flexible. It dries quickly, so you need to mix it in small batches. Spread it in a small area leaving ridges of mortar. Set your tile one square at a time. Lay each one using the spacers for accuracy. Give it a final, firm push to place it in contact with the subfloor.
Mix your grout to the consistency of potted meat. It dries quickly so only mix what you can spread in 15 minutes. Your grout tool is smooth. Use it to push the grout into place, wiping the tile surface as you finish each batch.
Laying tile is rewarding work. It is relatively easy to master. Decide what tile is right for your home. Choose the color you love and get busy. Before you know it, you will have a living space worthy of a Savonnerie rug.