Many homeowners who want to improve their homes inexpensively often look for projects to tackle. Tilework is one of the most popular DIY projects. Adding a new tile floor or backsplash is relatively inexpensive if you do it yourself, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to wind up with something beautiful.
Still, there are many tricks when it comes to laying tile, especially when walls and floors are out of square. Here are some tips to help you create a tiled surface like a pro.
Tip #1: Identify the problem
Use a framing square to determine whether walls and floors are out of square. Small amounts, such as 1/8” over two feet, is considered ok and should not cause an issue. Anything larger than that can cause problems during the layout.
Tip #2: Measure carefully
Carefully measure all walls, floor width and length, and the location of doorways, cabinets, or other built-in features like kitchen islands. Sketch a layout on a piece of graph paper so you have a good idea of the tile layout itself and can estimate the amount of materials required.
Don’t be afraid to try different layouts on your graph paper. It is easier to start over on paper than to discover midway through the tile project that your layout isn’t working!
Tip #3: Transfer your layout to the surface
Once you are satisfied with the layout you’ve developed on paper, it is time to transfer it to the floor. Use masking tape to create a grid on the floor to help guide you as you begin the tiling and mastic process.
Tip #4: Cut tiles to fit
One trick that professional installers use is to start in the middle of a counter or floor and lay tiles there. When the edges are reached, tiles are cut to fit the remaining space. Cutting your tiles this way helps to hide the cut areas since most of the focus is on the middle of the tiled surface. Remember also that decorative trim like baseboards and quarter-round floor trim can hide some of the cut areas.
Tip #5: Don’t forget spacers
Many tiles come with plastic spacers to define the distance between adjoining tiles. There’s no shame in using them; in fact, many professional tile installers use them to ensure perfect spacing and layout. Once the tiles are laid and the mastic has hardened, remove the spacers before applying grout. Spacers simplify the process, and the result is a tiled surface you can be proud of!