Read these 11 Ceramic Tile Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Flooring tips and hundreds of other topics.
Ceramic tiles are made from very hard materials. In order to cut these into smaller or shapelier pieces, you must use a wet saw. You see, when cutting such a hard surface, the saw and the material will get extremely hot. Unless controlled, this heat will cause the tiles to break and your say blade to dull.
Wet saws are very simple. They are basically comprised of a normal table saw with either a water reservoir or a hose that will constantly wet the blade. The saw blades for cutting ceramic tiles are typically made of diamond tip shavings for longer lasting lives and more total cuts.
Wear safety goggles when operating a wet saw. They move at extremely high RPM and can easily shoot particles in your eyes. A safety mask is also advised to keep you from inhaling too much of the ceramic dust that will be created when cutting.
When buying ceramic tile, you should consider the texture and surface finish that you would like for your area. The difference in surface finish and texture matters for many reasons. Here are a few. First, a smooth surface ceramic tile will need less scrubbing for cleaning but more polishing. As opposed to a textured ceramic tile which will need more scrubbing and less polishing. Dirt will get into the textures of a non-smooth surface which will need to be scrubbed out, while the smooth surface won't absorb dirt, but will need polishing to keep the mirror finish. You should also consider the comfort of your barefeet across the surface. Would you rather walk on a textured floor or a polished ceramic tile? Keep this in mind because you will be walking on this surface for a long time after you finish. Lastly, what matches with the rest of your area? At chief, your floors should match with the rest of your room and/or home. Select the texture of your ceramic tile based on how it will fit with the rest of your space.
You can often see walls tiled with a border of ceramic tile. Many people do not understand that these tiles are not the same. Their characteristics are very similar; however, there are major differences that make all the difference in the world. Before trying to apply ceramic floor tile to a wall, take note of some of these differences. First, wall tiles are thinner than floor tiles. Because of gravity, wall tiles are made slightly thinner to make adherence to your wall easier. Wall tiles are also often more porous on their adhesive side than ceramic floor tiles, again for ease of installation. Ceramic floor tile on the other hand is made thicker for application to flat surfaces. It is also set with a different mixture of thinset mortar. You can find most styles of floor tile made for walls as well so that you can match your border to your floors. Consult with a ceramic floor tile specialist to see if they can find the style you are looking for in both ceramic floor tile and ceramic wall tile.
Putting the finishing touch on any ceramic tile floor is done when you set your grout. Choosing the right color and grit of grout can make the difference in a beautiful floor and a mismatched mess. Here are some ceramic tile tips on choosing the right grout for you: • Select from a Large Color Pallet – There are thousands of colors available in grout and you should not limit yourself to the selection that only one store has to offer. Match your color the tile as well as the surrounding walls. • View Examples of Finished Projects – The color of grout changes from a dry powder, to a wet grout, to a finished product. Be sure the color you choose is the right one only after seeing a finished line of it for yourself. Do not rely only on the pictures provided by the manufacturer. • Choose Your Grit Carefully – The grit of a grout in ceramic tile can make a big difference. This should be based on the size of the gap you will be filling with the grout. For larger gaps, go with a grittier grout and thinner for thinner. The right grout can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your ceramic tile floors. Choose wisely.
Many times, a single tile in a large floor will sustain some damage. Plenty of homeowners will get overly excited thinking that this means needing to replace a large portion of their floors. This is not the case. Ceramic tile repair is fairly easy and requires few steps. Here are some ceramic tile tips on maintenance and repair: First, locate the tile that needs to be removed. Next, take a hammer and fine chisel and slowly begin to chip away at the grout that lines the specific piece of ceramic tile. Take your time with this to avoid damaging nearby tiles. Once you have the grout up, begin chipping away at the piece of affected tile from the outside in. By clearing out the grout, you have given yourself a gap with which you can cleanly break away the bad piece. Once you have fully removed the bad piece, chisel away at the thinset mortar underneath. This will come up fairly easy with a good hammer and flathead screwdriver. Now that the area is open, you can mix a new batch of thinset, lay it down, and insert your new tile where the old one used to be. Once the new ceramic tile has had 2 days to set, you can re-grout and match your colors.
After they are set in place, grouting ceramic tiles is an easy process that requires no special skills. Here is a quick rundown of the process to help you try it for yourself. First, select your grout and mix it properly according to the directions. Begin by undermixing with less liquid and then add until you have the desired texture. Adding too much to start can ruin an entire batch of grout. Next, put on some kneepads. Ceramic tiles are pretty hard surfaces and you will find your knees black and blue in the morning without kneepads. After your grout is mixed, use a rubber grouting trowel to firmly drag the grout in between the ceramic tiles. I say ‘drag' the grout because you will want to start away from your body in a crack, and pull the grout towards you rather than pushing it into place. This will ensure even depth of the inserted grout. Keep moving with this process until the whole floor is properly filled. Next, to protect both your ceramic tiles and your grout, apply several layers of sealant using a paintbrush for the grout and a sponge mop for the ceramic tiles. This sealant will extend the life of your ceramic tiles and grout for many years without stain.
If you have an area where you would like to put in ceramic tile and it is not too intricate of a shape, don't be afraid to try ceramic tile installation on your own. I have laid my own tile in my house and I can tell you, it was easier than I thought and far less expensive than paying someone to do it. Here are some ceramic tile tips on installation: First, get your supplies, including tile, saw, spacers, chalkline, trowel, mortar, and grout. Next, map out your pattern by measuring and applying chalkline to determine your center. After you have your basic pattern, start mocking up the design. Mock your ceramic tile installation by laying out the tiles in the places where they will end up. Use spacers to separate the tiles accurately. Once laid out, make your necessary cuts on end pieces. Now that you have the pattern set, begin mixing your thinset mortar and applying a thin layer to your surface. Only mix and lay as much as you immediately need as thinset hardens quickly. Once you have the mortar in place, begin setting your tiles and applying your spacers. Once you begin, you will see that you will finish in no time. Let the mortar dry for 2 days before beginning grout. You will find that ceramic tile installation is far easier than you anticipated and will save you money to use on other parts of your house.
Unlike vinyl floor tiles which meet end to end with one another, ceramic floor tile require a gap between tiles to account for expansion and contraction from the elements. When laying your ceramic floor tile, choose first what size gap you will leave.
Spacers are available to create universal size gaps across your whole floor. When initially laying out your tile patterns, use these spaces to get accurate measurements for you wall and corner cuts. When you begin you application, insert the spacers as you go in order to get the proper seal from your mortar.
After the ceramic floor tile dries in place, you can go back through your floor and remove the spacers prior to adding grout. You will find that these spacers will save you from many instances of having to redo a tile here and a tile there.
Want to know one of the little-known ceramic til tips? Anyone with a hammer and some glue can use ceramic tiles to make beautiful mosaics as a fun project. Here are a few steps to making a great project for any classroom or weekend with the kids. First, get a few pieces of plywood from a local store. Plywood is great to adhere to and is easy to cut into any shape or size with the right saw. Determine the shape of your mosaic and cut the pattern out of the plywood. Next, find low priced ceramic tiles from the clearance shelf at a floor outlet. You can even use scrap tile from an old project. Choose the colors you will want in your design and start hammering. Try to shatter the tile cleanly to give yourself good pieces to work with. You can buy a pair of tile cutters to make more precise shapes out of your pieces of ceramic tile. Now, draw your design on the piece of plywood, with a pencil. Once your pattern is in place, you can start cutting and placing the right pieces of tile on the pattern. Remember to leave gaps for grout. After you have the layout complete, lift one piece at a time and use a strong glue to adhere each piece in place. Allow the finished design to dry for a few hours before returning to apply the grout. First scrape excess glue away. Then, using a flat but flexible edge, begin filling your grout into the cracks between the pieces of ceramic tile. When you are done, let dry for the recommended time on the grout container. In just a day or two's time, you can have fun creating a new piece of artwork made with your own hands.
Very few tiling projects work out to be perfect squares. Most projects will require a large amount of cutting in order to get the perfect fit around corners of a room. Here are a few ceramic tile tips for making good cuts around your room: • Get a Wet Saw – Ceramic tile is a much different cut than wood or most other materials. You will want a wet saw to keep the surface from overheating as you cut. • Measure Your Angles Precisely - You do not want to be filling big gaps with grout to fix a bad cut. Measure precisely, and then measure again before making your cuts. • Undercut – It is far easier to go back and cut more off of a large piece of ceramic tile than it is to have to scrap an entire piece because you overcut. Be conservative in your cutting and you will throw away fewer whole pieces in the end. Be sure to use care when cutting ceramic tile. Wear safety goggles and always cut away from yourself to avoid shooting particles.
While ceramic tile installation is not the hardest of home improvement projects, it is time consuming and for many people this rules it out as a ‘do it yourself' project. If you are one of these people, you can find professional experts to perform your ceramic tile installation. Most general contractors do ceramic tile installation. Start with friends and family to see if anyone has used a contractor recently that they would recommend. This is always a great place to start because you can trust the opinion of those you know more than any advertisement. If that doesn't yield anything, pick up the phone book and look under “flooring”. You should find several tile contractors there. Be sure that you get references from anyone you are thinking of hiring. Without these, you are relying on the word of the person selling you and that can often lead to problems. Also make sure that they are crystal clear on the layout you are looking for. Many may have suggestions based on their experience that you like or do not like. Choose what is best for you and negotiate your price with them. Ceramic tile installation only takes a qualified contractor a few days and will have the finished look that only a professional can provide.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|