Tile Projects

Tips for working with tile

Tile Bathroom

Nothing says "do-it-yourselfer" louder than make-do solutions when you tile.

Plan the project

The primary key to success in your tiling project is planning. Planning a tile project means choosing your tile thoughtfully with both an eye to design and installation. Failure to consider both is virtually a guarantee that you'll spend way more money than you intended. While the design provides satisfaction in the long run, designing for installation will keep you from tearing your hair out, especially if you intend to do the work yourself.

Look for pictures of tile installations you really love. Collect ideas for various types of tile and grout combinations, colors, and textures. Once you've refined your concept, you can start to plan your design.

Spend time during the design stage thinking about exactly how you'll install the tile. Though tiling isn't hard work, it's an old craft with many tricks, most of which you probably don't know unless you've already done it. Each project is different so even though a little experience is helpful, it doesn't guarantee success. For example, tiling a floor is much different than tiling walls, and tiling a curved shower stall can be much more challenging than tiling a flat kitchen wall.

Plan for waste. Up to 20% of the tile you use can be wasted on a project. Order your tile accordingly. Make sure you have a few extra pieces for later repair, too. Unusual patterns and colors are all but impossible to match a few years down the road, and even dye lots vary. Order enough now to complete the entire job.

Plan your project giving careful consideration to how you'll finish edges. Field tile is deceptively inexpensive. It's better to plan your project around the different types of trim tiles. Bullnose and coved tiles are substantially more expensive, so accurate measurements are needed. Plan to order these special tiles before the project starts—otherwise lead times can leave you hanging. Even with standard field tile from a home improvement store, the edging tile probably needs to be special ordered.

Hire knowledge

Even if you intend to do all of the work, don't hesitate to hire a kitchen or bath designer to review your design. With their training and experience, they know what works and what doesn't. They can point out easily correctable problems before you write a single check. Even a modest consultation can net hundreds of dollars in savings, and that makes it one smart investment.

Consider hiring a tile contractor if you have an unusual design or odd elements. He (or she) can save you huge amounts of time and frustration, which in the end can be more important than money.

Keep it simple

Keep your project as simple as possible with as few cuts as you can get away with. Cutting tile can be exacting, frustrating and expensive. Generally, the fewer cuts you make the less expensive your project. Curved walls rank high on a coolness scale, but can be nightmarishly difficult to achieve by a do-it-yourselfer, especially if you skip putting together a detailed plan. It's amazing how much tile you can waste just trying to make pieces fit.

Use trim tile to simplify your installation. The cost can add up, but it can make a huge difference in the final appearance. Various corners, bullnose, base, and coves can save time and make your project look professional.

Use templates, especially on odd shaped surfaces. Cut a large template from cardboard or craft paper of the shape that is challenging you. For example, planning tile layout and cuts for the curved curb of a shower is much easier with a template and paper cut to fit the curb. If you make mistakes, it's easier to cut a new template than another tile.

If you make a mistake, take the tile off within 24 hours. If you wait too long the tile sets up and removing it can result in major damage to your backerboard or substrate.

Unless your project is fairly simple with only a few cuts, rent a wet saw to cut your tile. It's fast and cuts much more reliably than the small countertop tile cutters. For curves, rent a Rotozip. Both tools take practice using so practice on scrap. Because they are power tools and inherently dangerous, observe all safety precautions including wearing safety goggles.

If you have a choice as far as adhesive is concerned, use the premixed type. It's more expensive, but less nuisance since it comes ready to apply.

About money

Plan to exceed your anticipated budget. To calculate your project costs, add all the materials expense together and multiply by 2. For more complex projects, it can go higher, but that is at least a reasonable ball park figure. Without a plan, you'll find yourself making many unnecessary trips to the tile or home improvement store for different pieces. Most improvement projects entail surprises, but you can minimize those surprises with a comprehensive plan.

Tiling project making you crazy? Find a qualified professional installer at UpdateRenovate .

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