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How To Lay Floor Tiles

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Follow these simple step-by-step instructions for laying floor tiles.

STEP 1: To prepare the base floor

Start by cleaning the base floor of all dirt and grime. Level the floor if any high spots and re-nail any protruding nails or loose floor boards. It may be necessary to cover the base floor with a sturdy plywood or untempered hardboard if the base floor is in poor condition. (Stagger the panels so four corners are not together. Use coated or ring-shanked nails and ensure heads of the nails are level with the board).

STEP 2: Start at the exact centre of the room

Mark out the centre of the room to the walls of the room and lay loose tiles along the marked line. (This will allow adjustments to be made if the centre is not correctly marked). If, after the full run of loose tiles has been laid and the distance between the last tile and wall is less than two inches or more than eight inches the centre line will require correcting - adjust by laying half a tile closest to the wall and remark.

STEP 3: Prepare for tile application

If patterned or various coloured tiles being used open all cartons of tiles that are to be used and arrange them - this will help to prevent any noticeable colour variation in tiles that are boxed together. For tiles of varying colours planning the design carefully before applying the first tile will influence your selection of the starting tiles. If using one colour lay according to the grain.

STEP 4: Apply the tile cement

Begin by spreading an even coat of cement to one-fourth of the floor. Floor tile cement will dry to the proper consistency in about 15 minutes. Place your thumb onto the cement - it should feel tacky but should not stick to your thumb. If it does stick allow too dry a little longer. The cement is then ready for the laying of tiles.

STEP 5: Laying the floor tiles

Start laying the tile at the markings in the centre of the floor. Ensure that the first tile is exactly square with the lines. (If the first tile is started wrong all other tiles will also line up incorrectly). Lay each tile firmly into position onto the cement. Proceed according to your plan toward each wall; this will help to counteract expansion and contraction of the tiles. To cut the border tile (closest to the wall) accurately, place a loose tile squarely over the last tile in the row, take another tile and butt it against the wall and mark the distance to be cut. The cut tile will now fit securely into the border space.

To fit tiles around pipes or other obstructions, cut a paper pattern around obstructions and trace the pattern onto the tiles.

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