How to Choose and Install Tile

Are you looking to change up your floors? Tile is a great option for high-traffic areas and floors where moisture is a concern. We carry ceramic and porcelain tile, two of the most popular and durable types of flooring. They are low maintenance, easy to care for and meet strict air quality standards, resisting mold, fungus and bacteria.  How to choose and install tile may seem daunting, but we can help with both.

There are advantages and disadvantages to any flooring solution, tile included. Below are the benefits of porcelain and ceramic tiles to help you decide which is best for your home and budget as well as some tips if you do decide to install your tile floor yourself.

Benefits of Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is made from very dense clay and is known for being highly uniform and non-porous. This makes it great for spaces with fluctuating temperatures and a more reliable option for rooms with radiant heating. Porcelain tiles are offered in more shapes and styles than ceramic tile and tend to last years longer. While porcelain tiles can come at a higher price point, they are also low maintenance, excellent for high traffic areas and highly durable. Because porcelain tiles are highly liquid-resistant, this makes them ideal for damp locations like bathrooms, kitchens and basements. They can also stand up to heavy furniture, and could therefore be used in a living room or bedroom. Of all the different tile flooring options, porcelain has the longest lifespan overall.

Benefits of Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles can be one of the more affordable flooring materials and are easy to care for. Glazed ceramic tiles are even more durable and have a hard protective top layer that makes them resistant to water and most stains. Ceramic tile is also environmentally friendly, often made from recycled or recyclable content. Being water-resistant, this tile is also great for use in bathrooms, kitchens and basements or in spaces housing hot tubs or swimming pools.

Tips for Tile Installation

Once you choose the tile that is best for your budget and lifestyle, it is time for installation. We can help with professional installation or answer any questions you have along the way. While we highly recommend having a professional install your tile, if you choose to DIY your installation, we have some tips to make sure your project is successful.

What you’ll need:

  • Tiles of your choice
  • Tile trowels
  • Tile spacers
  • Mallet
  • Tile Cutter (manual or wet tile saw)
  • Tile nippers
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk reels and chalk
  • Knee pads
  • Bucket
  • Drill with mixing paddle
  • Sponges
  • Backer boards
  • Tile mortar
  • Floor leveler
  • Tile trim
  • Grout
  • Rubber float
  • Tile and grout sealer
  • Spray bottle
  1. Prep the space. First, be sure the area is clean and dry. Then fix any cracks, dips or uneven places with a floor leveler to prevent your tile from buckling.
  2. Choose and test your layout. Create a grid on the floor to find the center of the room using chalk. Make sure the lines are square to prevent your tiles from being crooked. This is especially important if your tiles have a design. Start laying tiles down as a dry run with spacers in between them to check measurements. This will also allow you to determine how many tiles you will need to cut and allow you to adjust the design before you start applying mortar.
  3. Mix and apply mortar. Mix your mortar in a large bucket using a drill with a mixing paddle, following the package instructions. Do not mix too much, it will harden quickly. Use the notched side of your tile trowel (see manufacturer instructions for recommended sizes) to spread enough mortar for one or two tiles at a time. Avoid circular or swirling motions. The combed patterns should flatten out beneath the tile if you have applied the right amount.
  4. Lay tiles. Place tile down, making sure it lines up with your chalk lines. Place two spacers on any side of the tile that will meet with another tile. Use a damp sponge to clean mortar off the front of sides of tiles as you go; it is extremely hard to remove once dry. Every three to four tiles, place a piece of wood like a 2X4 on top of the tiles and tap lightly with a rubber mallet to level them and embed them firmly in the mortar. Step back and look at your work often to check on your alignment.
  5. Measure and cut tile. Once you have placed all the full tiles, you will be able to cut the tiles to place along the wall or other objects. Leave an expansion gap between the tiles and the wall (this will be recommended by the tile manufacturer and will differ between tiles) to allow for the floor and grout to expand without causing cracks. Layout, mark and cut small groups at a time and measure twice before you cut! Install in small groups using the same technique as above.
  6. Apply grout. Remove all your tile spacers and protect any baseboards, trim and neighboring floors with painter’s tape. After the grout is mixed, spread it in sweeping arcs with a rubber grout float, pressing it into joints. Clean excess grout from the top of the tiles with a damp sponge. Apply grout sealer three days later.

If how to choose and install tile seems like too daunting of a task, our professional installers have you covered and can create the floor of your dreams. Contact us to learn more about our porcelain and ceramic tile options or come see them for yourself at one of our two locations.