If you’d like to decorate your floor with ceramic tiles, you have a bunch of decisions ahead of you: color, style, types and designs. But first, you need to decide whether you’ll do it yourself.
Laying ceramic tile is painstaking… one of those jobs that requires lots of boring, detailed work before you see any results. But it must be done right or you’ll have a disaster on your hands.
While tiles wear well and last for ages, they’re fragile and can’t handle stress. So a good solid base is important.
Some say the subfloor should be level, smooth sandcoat (cement, sand and water), but for most residential use, you should be able to use plywood. If your existing floor is fairly sturdy, use sheets of 5/8″ exterior grade. This thickness means no flex — which can cause tiles to break or buckle — even if your actual floor isn’t perfectly smooth. (You can shim the floor to level, as long as shims or furring strips are no more than 16″ apart.) Firmly attach the plywood to the floor below… to joists whereever possible. Screw it in at 16″ o.c., at 6″ intervals, countersinking the screws slightly.
Next, snap chalklines on the floor to guide you, and lay out your tiles to minimize cutting. Follow the manufacturer’s specs for adhesive, and apply it in a small area at a time with a trowel. To set the tile, press it onto the adhesive and twist it slightly back and forth. Align joints carefully, using tile spacers if you wish, and clean off excess adhesive immediately.
Apply grout with a trowel, and wipe off excess with a damp sponge. When it’s dry, polish with a clean, dry cloth.
Sound easy? Now, about those colors…