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Tile Floor

Tile floor installation on a do-it-yourself basis

When installing tile flooring, or any hard surface flooring such as granite and marble flooring, proper installation and purchasing quality products is essential. If properly selected, installed and maintained, a tile floor in your bath will last for many years.

Tile, granite and marble are all hard substances with little give. They are very durable, but must be applied over proper support, and a flat even surface, to avoid cracking.

Be sure to get proper care instructions. Marble in particular can be etched if the wrong cleaning products are used. Always read instructions before using cleaning products. They are not right for all surfaces.

A good floor installation begins with quality product choices

Don't purchase tile just because it costs less money unless you have looked it over and determined the quality. One thing to check is that the size of the tiles are uniform. If you have a variance in size, when you lay your tile floor and apply grout, your grout lines will be off and you will definitely have a very unprofessional looking tiling job.

You can pay a little more for the tile and have uniformity, or you can buy cheaper tile and end up laying some aside because the size is off, and come up short. If you have to buy more tile to finish your floor, you may end up paying as much in the long run.

Installing floor tile


Installing a tile floor can be done on a do-it-yourself basis if you are handy. Do some research on the process of laying a tile floor, and don't take shortcuts. Know what you should be doing before you start.  

Research how to lay a tile floor, what tools you'll need, and expect to put some time into it. Each process in the laying of tile takes time and then needs time to cure before going on to the next step. Don't take shortcuts.

Make sure subfloor is strong enough to support weight of tile. Subfloor should be minimum of 1 1/8 inch thick.

If you are laying your new tile floor over an existing floor covering, make sure it is tightly glued down. If the old floor is loose at all, it needs to be removed. Patch and sand any holes.

If the older flooring has to be removed, and you suspect asbestos, get it removed by a specialist. Do not try to remove it yourself. Special precautions must be taken. If disturbed, the asbestos is a major health hazard.

If the old bathroom flooring is firmly affixed, most experts suggest leaving it and covering it over. You may want to seek further advice on this issue to be on the safe side.

Assuming the floor is okay, cover over it. If the old floor is cushioned vinyl you will need to cover over it with plywood to provide a solid surface for your tile. Exterior plywood is recommended. Secure with drywall screws. Drive screws down so there is space above them, fill and sand flat. Be sure the surface you're laying over is level.

Leave 1/8 inch between sheets of plywood , and about 1/2 inch next to walls to allow for contraction and expansion. In a bathroom area, you should apply an isolation membrane that will protect the tile as the wood expands or contracts with humidity and temperature changes.

Choose a good grout that boasts both acid resistance and stain resistance. The first will make it safer to clean without harming the grout. The second will keep the grout looking good.

Aside from securing the tile, the grout serves another purpose. Some space is needed between the tile to allow for when the inevitable happens and the floor settles a little.

If you live in an area where the weather is cool, you might consider adding heat to your floor. This can be done, when you are putting your floor down. Heat producing units can be installed under the tile before you lay it.  

Laying a tile floor does involve some work, but it is not difficult to understand the process.


Laying tile is basic math, keeping lines straight, using uniform tiles and allowing time for each stage to cure. It is work, but laying it as a do-it-yourselfer can save a sizable amount of money. And, you might want to invest in a good set of knee pads.


Finally, when laying a tile floor in an existing bathroom, keep in mind the finished floor may be 1/2 inch higher and adjustment may be needed elsewhere. Also consider height of floors that adjoin this area. If there is a variance in height, there are transition pieces which may be installed in doorways, or where it meets other flooring to handle this variance. 

These are just a few hints about laying a tile floor. If you are going to do-it-yourself, you should get more extensive information and the necessary tools.

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