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How to Install a Tile Floor

When you are redecorating your kitchen or bathroom, don’t forget to replace your old tile floor.

Level of difficulty: Intermediate

A new floor can modernize any room and give it a whole new look. You can choose a pattern that will blend subtly with your decorating ideas or one that accents the whole room. Installing vinyl or wood tile floor can be very beneficial and cost efficient. These floorings are durable and low maintenance and easier to replace than ceramic if damaged. Keep in mind the type of tile you are using and follow its specific guidelines. This technique does not apply to ceramic tile, which has added requirements for installation.

Preparation is key
As in most projects, preparation is the most time-consuming part, but the most important. If the surface is prepared right, installing the tile will be much easier. Before you remove or install tile, the area must be prepared. Preparation includes removing baseboards and undercutting the casing of the door to make sure the new tiles will fit. Sweep or vacuum the room thoroughly to ensure the tiles adhere to a flat, clean surface. Bumps will appear as a result of any debris. Let the tiles sit in the room you are tiling for at least 24 hours prior to installation. They adhere better to the floor when they adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room first.

When installing solid wood flooring, follow the humidity restriction from the manufacturer. Wood tile is also much thicker than vinyl tile, so make sure all your appliances will still fit with the added height of the wood.

Tools and Materials needed:
Heat gun (or warm hair dryer or clothes iron)
Electric Floor Stripper
Odorless mineral spirits
Putty knife
Chalk line
Replacement floor tiles of choice
Floor covering adhesive
Notched trowel Hammer (for installing wood tiles)
Roller (or rolling pin)

Removing Old Tile Floor

1. Warm the Tiles With a heat gun, warm one tile at a time to loosen the adhesive. Use a wide putty knife to pry up the warm tile. An electric floor stripper will make the job substantially easier.

Tip : If you do not have a heating gun, a warm hair dryer or clothes iron set on medium heat will work just as well. If you use a clothes iron, cover the tile with a piece of foil first.

Caution : Wear a sanding respirator when removing any type of tile to protect yourself from dangerous fumes. Older tiles made of asphalt may contain asbestos fibers. Have a professional remove asphalt tiles since asbestos poses health risks

2. Remove Old Adhesive To soften the remaining adhesive, apply mineral spirits to the floor. Scrape the old adhesive from the area using a putty knife. Repeat this process until the entire floor is completely free of tile and adhesive. You may wish to use a floor polisher with a sanding attachment and coarse grit sandpaper to make this task easier,

Installing New Tile Floor

1a. Separate the Floor into Quadrants Measure the midpoints between all four walls and snap a chalk line between each parallel wall. Do the same for the other two walls.

1b. Snap Chalk Lines.   If your room is not a perfect square or rectangle, measure from the most rectangular part of the room and snap chalk lines for tiling there. The tile will be installed in quadrants, so the two lines that intersect must be at a 90-degree angle. For diagonal tile installation, snap the chalk lines from corner to corner still creating perpendicular lines as seen in figure 1.

2. Test Your Guidelines.   Lay down a row of dry tile on one side of both perpendicular lines. Adjust your lines until each border will fit a full tile or at least half of a tile. When using wood tile, leave an additional 1/2 inch at each wall for tile expansion.

3. Apply Adhesive.  Spread adhesive to the manufacturer’s recommended thickness with a notched trowel. Please Note : Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on use of tools for applying adhesive. Many types of adhesive are better applied with a paintbrush or roller

4a. Lay the Tile.   Install the tiles starting at the 90-degree angle and working outward to form a pyramid, following the chalk lines. Work on only one quadrant at a time. Drop the tile into place, do not slide, or the adhesive will ooze between each tile. If you are installing wood tile, fit the tiles together by the grooves on the edge of each tile, then drop the tile into place.

4b. Hammering New Tile.   Use a scrap piece of tile when hammering the new tile into place. To protect the wood tiles from hammer marks, fit a scrap wood tile into the grooves of the placed tile and tap the scrap tile to ensure a tight fit.

Tip : Sticky Situation: Some adhesives dry quicker than others do, so be sure to read your manufacturer’s instructions on application. Every adhesive has a different open time, which is the period of time that tile can be laid before the adhesive becomes too dry.

What You need: While working on other quadrants, you will be kneeling on newly installed tile. Kneel on a piece of plywood to distribute your weight evenly over the tiles. Wear kneepads for comfort if you prefer.

5. Cut Border tiles.   Once all full-size tiles are installed, cut the border tiles to fit against the wall using a utility knife. Mark the tile by placing it upside down on top of the fixed tile. Place a second tile on top of the upside down tile, and push it against the wall. Use the second tile to mark the upside down tile and cut it with a utility knife. If you are cutting a tile to fit a corner, use a cardboard template to cut the shape.

6. Roll the Tiles Flat.   Use a rolling pin or rented 100-pound roller to press out any air bubbles and ensure that the tiles adhere to the floor. Roll in both directions and do not walk on the floor until the adhesive is set. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on drying time..

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