How to install tile yourself - East Valley Tribune: At Home

How to install tile yourself

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Posted: Friday, July 27, 2007 4:05 pm | Updated: 6:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

One way to save money on tile and still get the room you love is to install the tile yourself. “This might not always be practical for large areas, but if the do-it-yourselfer saves $2 to $5 per square foot in labor costs, they can invest that money into a more upscale tile,” says David Holcomb of A World of Tile.

One way to save money on tile and still get the room you love is to install the tile yourself.

“This might not always be practical for large areas, but if the do-it-yourselfer saves $2 to $5 per square foot in labor costs, they can invest that money into a more upscale tile,” says David Holcomb of A World of Tile (discover tile options).

Elijah Gray, owner of Santa Fe Tile, located in the East Valley, installs tile for a living. He offered some tips for the weekend warrior. (He also offers his services to any DIYer who gets in over their head.)

1. Using thin-set mortar to adhere your tile to the surface is easier for most do-it-yourselfers than using mastic, which dries much faster. When you mix the thin-set, it should have the consistency of peanut butter.

2. Keep your trowel at a 45-degree angle while applying the adhesive to ensure that you have the right amount of thin-set on the tile. Apply the mortar to the tile, not to the wall. You don’t want the adhesive to dry before you’re ready to set the tiles.

3. Use rubber spacers to make sure tiles are spaced evenly. Make sure the first row is straight and even and the rest of the job will flow smoothly. Gray recommends letting the first row dry completely before proceeding. “Once it’s dry, you’re basically just stacking, and that’s easy,” he says.

4. When cutting tile, mark both sides where you want it cut, go back and forth with the cutter to score it, and it will easily snap in two. Porcelain is harder to cut than ceramic. It’s easier to use a wet saw with porcelain. You can rent a saw, or some stores will cut the tile you’ve purchased from them.

5. Use a rubber grout float to apply a liberal amount of grout and “mash it in there,” and move it across the tile at a 45-degree angle so you don’t take the grout out of the cracks.

6. The tile is ready to be cleaned when you lightly touch it and nothing comes off on your finger. Use a damp sponge and wipe at a 45-degree angle. A heavy-duty tile cleaner or haze remover can be purchased at home improvement stores.

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