When planning to lay ceramic flooring, you should first start by carefully planning your layout. Once you have checked that your subfloor is appropiate for the installation of tiles, you must find the center of the room and guide lines so that the tiles you set do not make the room look unbalanced. When you finish your layout strategy, and have tested it by placing tiles where they will finally be set, you can start laying ceramic tiles.
- Be safe when working with ceramic tiles
- Mix your thinset mortar properly
- Apply the thinset mortar evenly
- Laying ceramic tiles
- Apply grout and seal the joints
It is important that you wear rubber gloves and safety glasses when laying ceramic flooring. This is because the thinset mortar is a powerful chemical, with which you should minimize contact. Also, once you are done laying all the tiles, and need to cut partial tiles for spaces where full tiles do not fit, you should be careful to protect your eyes against flying pieces of ceramic.
Using a drill and a mixing paddle, mix the thinset mortar that will be required to attach the tiles to the subfloor. For ceramic flooring, you will need to add a latex polymer mixture to increase the bond strenght of the mortar, and improve its performance. This applies for both interior and exterior instalations. You should allow 5 to 10 minutes after mixing the mortar before using it, since you need to allow some slake time for the chemicals in the mortar to activate completely. Also, make sure you only mix a small amount of thinset at a time, as it has a limited working life; you do not want the mortar to start hardening before you use it all up, or you will have to throw it out and mix some more.
Start applying thinset in the center of the room, and work your way out from there; you should avoid tiling yourself into a corner. To apply the mortar, you should use a trowel. Use the notched end of the trowel to apply the thinset. Different types of ceramic tiles will need different sized trowels, since the depth and width of the trowel’s teeth depend on which tiles you are using. Check what the tiles you are using require before you start applying the mortar, or you will end up applying either too much or too little thinset onto the tiles. The general rule is the bigger the tile, the bigger the notches will need to be. Spread enough mortar for a couple of tiles at a time.
You should carefully place your ceramic tiles using your guidelines to make sure they are straight, placing one at a time. After you have placed the first tile, you should wait a few minutes and remove it, so you can check the mortar you are setting will work with your tiles. When you lift your ceramic tile, every part of it should be covered in thinset mortar. If a corner or any area of it do not have mortar on them, then the tiles will not adhere completely to the subfloor. In this case, you should remove all mortar and start over either with a different thinset or by using a different trowel.
After you have checked this, and if everything is ok, you can start laying your ceramic flooring. Lay one tile at a time, and place plastic spacers between the tiles to ensure you have the same space between all the tiles. Once you have done lay all the full tiles onto the floor, you should allow 24 hours so that the mortar hardens completely and it is safe for you to step on the tiles. Then, measure and cut partial tiles in order to fill in any missing spaces in the room.
Finally, after the remaining partial tiles have been set, you should remove the spacers and apply grout into the joints. Remove any excess grout and allow it to dry completely, before applying a silicone sealer into the joints. If you follow this simple instructions, you should be done in a couple of days.