So here’s how a couple of newbies tile a floor!
Gather your tools. You’ll need cement board, cement board seam tape (for the seams), some kind of thinset (mortar), screws, a notched trowel, and probably a sponge for the cement board step. We also highly recommend knee pads, and gloves came recommended to us, but Hubby didn’t like using them. (Oh yeah, and a bucket!)
Then for the tiling you’ll need more thinset, a wet saw, tiles, spacers, a smooth trowel for mixing and scooping thinset, and your notched trowel again.
We also got a drill-attachment for mixing the thinset, but Hubby found it easier to mix it by hand with the smooth trowel.
First you cut the cement board so it all fits nicely. We used a scoring tool to do the cutting. I doubt the tool was more than $5. We also chose to use Hardibacker cement board, as it was recommended by a number of folks over the alternative(s).
After laying out your cement board, mix the thinset to a peanut butter consistency and slather it on the floor in sections with a trowel.
Then place the cement board, wiggle it a little as you press down, and screw it into the floor while the thinset is still wet. Then tape the seams and smear thinset over the tape, making sure to feather it out so it doesn’t make a ridge.
Then you wait 24 hours.
After that, you can mix up new thinset…only as much as you can use in about 45 minutes (since if it starts to dry out, you need to mix a fresh batch) and start laying tiles, cutting them with a wet saw as you go.
We borrowed a HUGE contractor-caliber wet saw from a friend, and Hubs thought it was fun and easy to use. But…I don’t know how much of a difference that high-powered saw made for us, versus the rentable type which might not be so heavy-duty.
When the tiles are set, once again…wait 24 hours.
Then come back and mix up the grout. Slather it on, smooth it into the cracks with a grout float (and with a diagonal motion so you don’t scoop any out of the cracks) and wipe with a wet sponge til the tile looks “clean when wet”.
It’s definitely not clean…but after all is dry, the remaining “grout haze” on the tiles will rub off pretty easily with a piece of cheesecloth (or a rag).
12 hours after the grout, you can wipe up the haze, reinstall the baseboards (remember to fill the nail holes and caulk the top edge) and use your new floor!
Our new floor already needs swiffering – please excuse
Oh yes, the new carpeting helps the floor look nice, too
We’ve never tiled before, so we went to a tiling “class” at Home Depot one Saturday. It was pretty informative (enough for novices at least), so I recommend it if you’re thinking of doing your first tiling project anytime soon.