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By Charles Hopkins Published 05/7/2006 | Home Improvement

Who says ceramic tiles are for the bathroom and kitchen only? They look great in any room, and they have the added advantage of being water-resistant and easy to clean. However, the best thing about ceramic tiles is that they are also easy to install. No, contrary to popular belief, installing them does not require a professional, and in this article, well tell you all about how to install ceramic tiles.

As you probably know, there are two main kinds of ceramic tiles: glazed and porcelain. Glazed tiles are more suitable for heavy foot traffic areas, while porcelain is most commonly used in bathrooms. However, porcelain is more expensive, so if your tiling area is a large one, your budget may not permit installation of porcelain tiles.

So let us begin without further ado. First, decide what the size of your tiles will be, though the commonest size for flooring tiles is 12 x 12. Because they are relatively large, tiles of this size also make it easier to install for a beginner.

Step 1: To begin with, you will have to prepare what is called the underlayment, or the base foundation. This is in many ways the most important aspect of laying ceramic tiles, because the underlayment may well determine the outcome of your tile-laying project. Anyhow, the underlayment usually consists of plywood, between -1 thick.

However, you can as well install ceramic tiles directly over a concrete base. In that case, you have to ensure that floor is absolutely level and dust-free before you begin installation. The best thing would be to use a leveling compound to smooth the floor.

Finally, you can also tile over linoleum or another existing tile, but the previous floor must be solid. Also, when tiling over linoleum, it is best to first apply ring nails of about 6 on center over the entire area.

Step 2: Do a dry run before you actually install the ceramic tiles. That is, lay it out on the floor for a preview of the final outcome. If the room has many corners, irregularly angled walls, or doorways, make sure you take note of them so there arent any gaps when you actually install the tiles. Of course, you will have to cut and resize a few of the tiles in order to fit them into awkward gaps, but those adjustments should ideally be made in the least visible parts of the room.

Next, draw two lines at the spots where the two centermost tiles will be located. The lines should be perpendicular to each other. Remember, you will work from the center outwards. Now remove the tiles and draw a line perpendicular to the most convenient wall in the room, in line with one of the two earlier marks.

Finally, reposition some of the tiles along the perpendicular lines and see if you can keep cutting tiles down to a minimum.

Step 3: Now comes the actual installation. Once you have made sure that the floor is dirt-free, apply the ceramic adhesive (mastic) to the flooring, starting in the center. For beginners, it is best to cover not more than an area of 4 sq ft at one time. For veterans, the area can be as much as 10 sq ft. When you start small, you make sure that you have a chance to find out how many cuts are needed as you go along.

The coating of mastic that you apply should be about 1/8 thick, to be spread with the flat end of a trowel. Next, use the serrated edge of the trowel to form ridges on the mastic, as this will ensure better adhesion for the tiles. For larger tiles, make larger ridges. But be quick, because the mastic will harden in about 30 minutes. As you lay install the ceramic tiles, use a wet saw to cut the tiles when required. Make sure you use lugs or spacers to create uniform spaces between tiles. Usually, this space should be no more than .

Step 5: Once you have installed all the tiles, allow them to set for 24 hours before you apply the grout, which you have to mix with water or a special adhesive agent. After you have applied the grout, wipe off the excess completely, using a wet sponge. DO NOT leave excess grout on the tiles to dry. Once the grout has set, usually after 24 hours, your tiles are ready for you walk all over them!

So now you know how to install ceramic tiles, arent you just raring to go this weekend? Who knows, you may make such a great job of it that your services could be in demand as a professional!