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DIY: Tips For Laying Floor Tile

Today, I’m going to teach you all about laying floor tile. Laying floor tile can be a different experience for those laying large format tile vs. smaller tile, or laying in big spaces vs. small spaces, but ultimately, the steps should be very similar. I hope it’s helpful!
First, we need to be prepared. That means having all the materials so that you don’t have to run out and get them mid project, because lets face it, that’s the worst.

Below are a few things (and resources) you’ll need for laying floor tile:

shop-ad-bathroom-tile

1st: Prep Your Surface & For Tile Type!

This is very important. Inspect flatness before you begin. Is your surface clean and dry? Do you need a leveling compound? Take the time to repair anything that is damaged or uneven before you start. We took out old tile, so there was some dried mortar on the floor for me. I took my chisel and mallet and chiseled it up before I started. I took a shop vac and vacuumed everything up very well.
Make sure baseboards and moulding is off, check out your door jambs to make sure that the tile has enough space under it. If not, you will need to trim. It’s always better to identify this BEFORE you start as opposed to after.
If you are laying large format tile, do research on the unique challenges you may encounter. I laid large format tile in this bathroom, so I had to buy a mortar for large format tile (any tile over 15″ on any side), I decided on a tile leveling system (awesome by the way) to prevent lippage. Click here to learn what to think about before using large format tile.

2nd: Lay it out before you lay it

To make sure your layout works, you want to do a dry layout first. This is when you lay out all your tile and you’re happy with the way that it looks, how big your grout lines will be, get an idea of where cuts will be on certain tiles, and any other issues you may encounter.
It’s important not to simply follow the walls to get a straight layout. Many walls are not level, and if you are following the wall, you could end up with a crooked first row, making all of your subsequent tile crooked as well. Mark the center point of each of the walls in the room. Next, snap chalk lines between the center points of opposite walls to pinpoint the center of the room. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure that the intersection creates perfect squares. Starting at the center point, lay a row of loose tiles along the center lines in both directions, using tile spacers as you go to for even grout joints. Once you reach the walls, you’ll need to cut tiles for a proper fit.
I didn’t take pictures of my dry layout, but it worked out very well and I was able to use this to go ahead and cut a lot of my tile!

3rd: Time to Tile

I used premixed adhesive, so I didn’t need to worry about how much I mixed going in. This is why I like it. It won’t dry up. If you run into complications and can’t finish right away, you’re not wasting. Using the flat side of your trowel (see above to make sure you’re using the right size for your tile) lay down your adhesive on the wall farthest from the door. When laying floor tile, you want to make sure you work from back of room to the front, because you will not be able to walk on the tile once it’s laid to get out of the room. This may seem like common sense, but not everyone realizes this until it’s too late!
When laying floor tile, I put adhesive down one row at a time. I make sure I come out at least an inch or two so that on my next row, I can easily see the thickness of the mortar that was used and can use the same amount. Using the notched side of our trowel, comb in the ridges. This removes excess and gives you a uniform surface. You can go ahead and make all cuts for that row based on your dry layout or cut as you go. Make sure that when cutting out for a toilet flange, you measure your toilet’s width so you know how wide your cut can be.
toilet-flange laying floor tile
Make sure you “butter” the back of your tile when laying floor tile. This is rubbing a thin layer of mortar on the back of your tile in addition to the mortar on the floor. This ensures a better hold. I have made the mistake of not doing it in the past and found several loose tiles. When I use this method, they adhere. If you are using a tile leveling system (see how to video above), set them as you go from one tile to the next, along with your spacers.
Always start at the center of the row and work your way out. This gives you a better end result. If you’re doing a brick pattern, your second row should start in the center of your first row’s center tile. This gives you the perfect brick pattern! Press tiles in firmly or use your leveling block and mallet. With the tile leveling system, you don’t really have to worry about the leveling block because they are going to lock your tiles in place.

center-tile laying floor tile

Make sure you remove any excess mortar around the toilet flange after setting.

Continue your pattern of laying floor tile and move through the rest of the room in the same way, making sure each tile has spacers appropriately applied and is pressed in firmly.Lastly, allow your tile to set at least 24 hours to set before walking on it. Some people recommend more, but I like to see if there are any loose tiles right away. After 24 hours, you can still reset them fairly easily.

laying floor tile

This last row was done the next day. I was dry laying my last tile for the complicated cut around the floor vent.

 4th: Grouting

When laying floor tile, decide if you’re using premixed or you’re mixing yourself. If you are mixing yourself, make sure you only mix enough that you can use in a 1 hr time period. A small room such as this typically doesn’t take much time so I just mixed mine all at once. I used a grey that was very similar to my tile so that it would be lower maintenance than a white, and it would hide any minor imperfections better (grout has this amazing way of doing that). Remove tile spacers and your tile leveling system.

After you mix, make sure you have a bucket of clean water and a sponge ready. Spread grout on the tile surface, use a rubber grout float or a squeegee to force it down into the joints. I used a sanded grout from North American Adhesive because of the size of my tile and grout lines (see link above to determine yours).

Tilt the float at a 45-degree angle and with the edge of the float, remove the excess grout from the surface immediately. Now tilt the float at a 90-degree angle and scrape it diagonally across the tiles. After you’ve done an area, use your wet sponge and wipe the surface clean. See if any areas need extra grout. Rinse out sponge and repeat. Change water as needed.

Polish with a soft cloth when the grout has dried and a haze forms on the tile surface. Rinse again with sponge and clean water if necessary. Give your newly grouted floor 72 hours before any heavy use and at least three weeks before applying sealers or polishes.

Admire your new tile and give yourself a pat on the back for laying floor tile!

finished

Before thoroughly cleaning grout joints

finished-2

bathroom-12
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Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are one of the leading providers of ceramic, porcelain, and large format tiles in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!

Written By: Allie Bloyd

What's the REAL difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?

Many people have heard the terms Ceramic tile and Porcelain Tile throughout their life and home renovating experiences, but they don’t know the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile. Some think they know the difference, but do they really? Strictly based on prices, it seems that porcelain is of a much higher quality, but is that the case? We are here to determine just that, among other things, in this blog today.
First of all, you’ve got the tricky situation that you used to hear when talking about fingers when you were young. All thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs. All Porcelain Tiles are Ceramic, but not all Ceramic Tiles are Porcelain.

the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile

Porcelain Tile

Difference between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Manufacturing

The one of the main difference in the manufacturing of ceramic tile and porcelain tile are in the clays that are used. Ceramic tiles are usually made with brown, white or red clays. Refined and purified white clay is what will make up your porcelain tiles. The clays used in porcelain tile tends to have fewer impurities than clays used in ceramic tiles. This does more than just making it more visually appealing. This will create a stronger, denser and more durable tile. Ceramic tile is baked in a kiln to remove most of the moisture. Porcelain tile is also baked, but it’s baked at a much higher temperature and is left to dry  longer, meaning that there is virtually no moisture left in the tile. This leaves you with a harder and more durable tile.
Tile-Shop-Ad

Difference between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Appearance

Obviously due to the different kinds of clays that are used in the manufacturing process, the appearance is going to be different as well. Ceramic usually reflects the terra cotta color of it’s clay, or can also be white. Porcelain tile is almost always going to be white, grey or cream/tan. Ceramic tile is sometimes glazed and occasionally has different patterns on it as a result. Porcelain tile is almost always left unglazed. Chips can be much more noticeable in ceramic tile than they are in porcelain. This is because porcelain tile is the same color all the way through. If a ceramic tile has been glazed, the chip will reveal a different color internally. This is a big benefit for many people when choosing porcelain over ceramic.

Difference between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Durability

Ceramic tile is not as strong as porcelain tile due to the manufacturing process. This means that it cannot be expected to hold up nearly as well. You typically don’t want to put ceramic tile anywhere that is a high traffic area or that will be exposed to a lot of wear and tear. Ceramic flooring in an entryway, for example, would be a bad idea. Not only will it much more easily chip or crack if you drop something on it, but those imperfections are going to be pretty noticeable. Porcelain tile is denser and less porous than ceramic tile and doesn’t show its imperfections easily. Because porcelain tile is baked at a higher temperature, as well as the extended drying process time, porcelain tile is much more water resistant than its ceramic counterpart.

the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile

Ceramic Tile

Difference between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Uses

Porcelain and ceramic tile is never recommended for outdoor installation. While porcelain is more water resistant than ceramic, you still don’t want them exposed to that level of damage from the elements. Because of the water resistance issue, porcelain is a better choice for flooring in bathrooms or on shower walls, but ceramic could be used as well. Backsplash can be used with both, as water is not a huge issue. Porcelain would be a better flooring choice for most areas that get a high amount of traffic due to their increased durability. You can use either for wall covering, ceiling covering or countertops.

Difference between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Installation

The consensus is that ceramic tile is easier to install than porcelain tile. Porcelain tile is harder than ceramic tile, so it is harder to cut, especially when the cuts are not a straight line. Porcelain can also require special tools to install. If you are a DIY tile installer or a novice tile worker, I would say choose ceramic over porcelain.

Ceramic tile backsplash

Ceramic tile backsplash

Difference between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Costs

Porcelain generally costs more than ceramic tile. At the same time, porcelain is more durable and longer lasting, so it may be the cheaper of the two over the life of the installation. Porcelain is also less porous, making it easier to clean and less likely to stain. Stained ceramic may require replacement due to the difficulty of removing stains from porous tiles.
Tile-Shop-Ad

I hope this has helped you decide between porcelain and ceramic tile for your next tile project!

Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!

Written By: Allie Bloyd

Mesh Back Tile: Backsplash Made Quick & Easy

Why Use Backsplash Tile:

Nothing makes quite a statement in such a small space like mosaic backsplash tile. So if your kitchen’s down in the dumps, give it a quick boost of beauty with a tile backsplash. Backsplash tile is usually fairly inexpensive, although you can get into some very pricey pieces if you look at a high end store. I’ve seen $74 per square foot backsplash tile, all the way down to a few dollars a square foot, like we carry here at Builders Surplus. Most people don’t have a ton of square footage above their cabinets, so this is a very cost effective project that will be worth it’s weight in RIO gold.
Mesh-back-Tile Options Builders Surplus Cincinnati Newport Louisville

Why Some People Think Backsplash Is Expensive:

Some backsplash can get expensive, depending on the type that you choose. But where it can get even more pricey is when you factor in the labor of installation. I know some installers that charge a flat rate of $400 or $500, regardless of the size of the kitchen. Other professionals charge about $20 per sq. ft. in addition to the materials, so learning how to tile yourself can be a big money saver!
Shop Backsplash Tile Builders Surplus Cincinnati Newport Louisville
It can be a pretty intimidating project if you’re a renovation newbie. If you are new to tiling, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but you should choose an easy and DIY friendly tile for your first crack at it. Stay away from materials like slate that will crumble easily when you cut them. A ceramic, porcelain, stone or even glass tile will all be solid choices for this. Don’t choose an intricate pattern, such as an arabesque. Even though it may be a mesh back, the cuts will be complicated and you will likely get frustrated and quit, or worse, do a haphazard job that you have to live with for years to come. If you don’t own a wet saw, you’ll need to rent one, but you can do that from a Home Depot of Lowes for a decent price.

Mesh Back Tile: The Best For The Job

Most mosaic tiles are now what they call mesh back tile. Mosaic tile can look difficult to install because there are so many small pieces, but it’s quite the opposite, actually. Mesh back tile and mosaic tiles typically come mounted on 12 x 12-sheets, which makes your installation super quick, especially compared to other types of backsplash. You can install the tile on Saturday and then grout it on Sunday.
 
Mosaic-Mesh Back Tile Backsplash-
 
These mosaic patterns are mounted together with a mesh backing. Why is this good for you? Easy. Because the mesh backing comes to about 1 square foot each, your working with a much bigger “tile”, meaning that you have less tiles to place. This makes the job go much quicker. When you’re using a backsplash tile, you may have to lay about 6 tiles to cover what one mesh back tile sheet would cover. When you factor in getting your tile adhesive on each one, adding multiple spacers, and adjusting each tile individually to make sure that they are completely straight, you’ve spend quite a lot of time. With mesh back tile, it’s line up, press and move on. Not only does mesh back cover a larger space, but it’s usually easier to cut. Sometimes you get lucky and you don’t have to do much cutting with a tile saw. If your mosaic is the right size, you might get away with just having to use a utility knife to cut the mesh backing to make the sheets fit. However, you rarely get away with zero cuts, but you do have a chance of cutting much less with mesh back tile.
Some mesh back tiles need grout, while others don’t. If you choose a mesh back tile that doesn’t need grout, you’re already saving money. Cutting down on your installation costs has already got you backsplashin’ on a budget, so that’s just another win.
Shop Backsplash Tile Builders Surplus Cincinnati Newport Louisville
Mesh back tile has come a long way in ease of installation. There are an unlimited number of styles, colors, and materials in mosaic mesh back tiles. What’s your favorite mesh back tile shown above? Send us pictures of your mesh back tile backsplash!
 


 
 
 
Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!

Written By: Allie Bloyd