Spotless and Elegant: 5 Essential Tips for Laying Tile the Right Way

Tiling is one of those jobs that the average handyman often shies away from. Tiling is an art that offers very little room for error, which is why most people aren’t keen on taking it on. A badly installed tile floor will come back to bite you with split or cracked tiles, uneven surfaces, or cruel corners that will catch toes.

Tiling experts like to say that you should be able to slide a dime across a tile floor without it bouncing–but how is that achieved? Tiling is hard work that is messy and quite involved, and it doesn’t suffer any fools. If you’re in need of tile work and can’t afford the pros or you’re just looking to try your hand at it yourself, then I have some tips for you. While I can’t promise that you’ll be a tiling pro at the end of this, following these seven essential tips will put you in a better position for laying a serviceable tile floor.

1. Let Your Grout Stand Before You Start

Rushing your grout is a guaranteed way to end up with a lumpy mix. To get smooth thin-set or grout, mix up the grout and then let it sit for ten minutes. This will give dry chunks you haven’t spotted time to absorb water before you give it a final mix to get it to its smoothest consistency.

2. Use A Laser Square

When you’re laying tile, you want to use the best laser square you can get your hands on. Tiles will show wonky lines worse than any other material you can work with, so you want to make sure you are following the straightest, cleanest lines you can. A laser square will give you the best chance of achieving this over manual measurements.

3. Make Sure Your Floor Is 100% Level

No matter how good your tile job is, it won’t matter if your floor isn’t level. Before starting your tile job, check how level the floor is and fill any dips with floor leveling compound. Yes, it will extend the length of your job, but it will also prevent tile lips or air pockets that can cause tiles to crack.

4. Remove Your Baseboard

Sure, you can leave your baseboard or trim in place, lay tile along it and caulk the gap, but it’s going to look like second-rate work (which it is). Professional tilers always remove the baseboard to lay tile. This also gives them more wiggle room since the baseboard will cover imperfect cuts along the wall line.

5. Don’t Wait To Clean Up

Just finished a long hard job and want to relax with a beer? Not a chance. Tiling jobs need to be cleaned up ASAP. First, stick your dirty tools in a bucket of cold water to start dissolving any thin-set stuck on them. Then you’ll want to inspect your inspect all your joints for any thin-set that’s oozed out onto the tiles. Wipe it down with a damp rag right away so that it doesn’t harden. If it has hardened, you’ll need to use an abrasive pad (like what you use in the kitchen) to get it off. But don’t rub too hard! You may take off some of the tile glaze.

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