Tiling a Floor

Tile is a beautiful thing. It always looks good, and it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Tile is beautiful—but those lovely thin fragile ceramic pieces do need special care and preparation when you put them down on a floor. If yo u don’t, then the floor won’t survive the beating that it will inevitably take, not to mention the sudden spilling of liquid in kitchens and bathrooms, which is pretty much inevitable.

Contractor Mark Le Mon has created this video to teach you how to tile a floor. You’ll need these tools: a box of tile, a pencil, a tape measure, a level, a speed square, a notched trowel, a rubber float, a grout sponge, tile spacers, a power drill, a mixing paddle, a couple of five-gallon buckets, kneepads, safety glasses and earplugs, a scoring cutter or wet saw, and a handsaw or jamb saw. Materials include tile, thin-set mortar, a cement backer board, cement board screws, grout and sealer.

Getting started

You’ll want to measure your floor carefully so that you can calculate the number of square feet needed. For square or rectangular rooms, you’ll want to multiply the length of the room by the width, rounding all measurements up to the nearest foot. You’ll divide odd-shaped rooms into square or rectangular sections. Calculate the square footage for each section and add them together.

The first thing that LeMon does is a dry fit. He puts the tiles on the ground and places the spacers in between the tiles so that he can measure his cuts. As any work person will tell you, a good craftsperson measures several times before they make any cuts. LeMon is creating cuts around the angles to make sure that they’re just right. The spacers, he emphasizes, are essential when setting tiles so that they fit neatly and tightly together.

Cutting out the corners

Next when everything is ready, it’s time to cut out the corners. You have to start by washing down the floor and making sure that all the dust is eliminated or it will affect the

tiling. LeMon uses his 1/4-notched trowel, and he spreads evenly in a quarter-moon pattern. The most important part of this stage of the job is to spread everything as evenly as possible.

Laying in the spacers

The spacers are critical because they’re what will set the distance between the tiles. Again, smoothness and uniformity is essential. Follow this process: set a spacer, keep it uniform, then set another spacer on the outside edge as a temporary measure, press it into place, pound it in, check it for fastness, and then repeat the process. Set, pound, check, move on.

Finishing it off

LeMon finishes off the setting with a wet sponge. The point of this step is to clean off any extra Thinset that remains on top of the tiles. Make sure that you get all of the excess. Sometimes it’s hardened and you’ll need to work hard to get it off, but don’t skip this step. You really have to clean all of this as much as possible, because you have to prepare it for the grout stage.