Maybe you are converting a spare bedroom into a home office, and want to change the flooring from carpet to durable and distinctive tile. Tile is an excellent choice for a home office because it’s easy to maintain, and the hard surface allows for easy the movement of office furniture that, more and more commonly these days, comes equipped with lockable rollers.
Porcelain is a great choice for a home office. Because porcelain tile is fired at very high temperatures, it’s denser and more durable than ceramic tile, and can better withstand the heavy use that’s typical in a home office. Porcelain tile is also very resistant to stains.
The sub-floor of our house is a concrete slab. The first step is to remove the carpet and pad, then check the concrete floor for inconsistencies and rough spots. Dents and dings in the concrete will not pose as serious a problem for tile as will protrusions. If possible, chisel off any protrusions in the concrete that exceed an eighth of an inch. Then give the concrete a good cleaning.
(If the sub-floor beneath your tiling project is plywood or oriented strand board, plane down any high spots and re-nail the sub-floor in any places where the flooring has come loose.)
Find the center of the room. To find the exact center of the room, Teresa measured the distance from one wall to the opposite wall, divided that number in half, and made a long perpendicular mark at that spot. She then repeated the process for the two other walls, and put an “X” where the two lines intersected. The same result can be achieved by striking chalk lines at the center points on opposing walls, and marking the point where the two chalk lines intersect.
Teresa then laid out a dry run of tiles from the center point to a facing wall, making sure to put spacers between the tiles. She then measured the distance from the last tile to the wall, being sure to take into consideration the quarter inch of grouting that would fall between the last field tile and the border tile. If the distance between the last field tile and the wall is two inches or less, you should move the line of tile back toward the center of the room to ensure that the border tiles are not too narrow. This process ensures that the border tiles along this wall and the opposite wall are the same width. Then Teresa repeated the process along the other axis, toward the adjacent wall.
In this case, all border tiles needed to be cut at seven inches, resulting in border tiles measuring 12” X 7”.
Teresa used a dry scoring tile cutter to cut all the border tiles. One can also use a wet saw, which can be rented from most big box home improvement stores. We were using a pattern that combined 12” X 12” tiles, 6” X 12” tiles and 6” X 6” tiles. (see pattern). To create the 6” X 12” tiles, Teresa simply cut the 12” X 12” inch tiles in half.
Teresa bound the tiles to the floor using thinset mortar adhesive. There are many kinds of tile adhesive on the market, including pre-mixed compounds that come ready to spread. The thinset used came as a powder, and Teresa used an electric drill with a huge blender attachment to mix the powder with water until it was about the consistency of toothpaste.
When the first batch of thinset mortar was ready, Teresa used a notched trowel to spread an even coat of thinset over the area she would begin to tile. She began the installation in the corner, first setting a square 7” X 7” tile, then began laying the other border tiles along both walls for a few feet.
Next, Teresa began laying the field tiles in the pattern we chose for this installation, spreading a section of thinset, then placing the tiles down in the pattern. She continued working in this fashion until the floor was completely covered in tile.
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It is extremely important to let the tiles set for a full 24 hours before applying the grout. Once the tiles have set for 24 hours, remove the spacers from between the tiles, and begin the grouting.
For this project, we used a pre-mixed grout called TrafficMaster® Stainproof Grout, featuring Scotchgard™ protector. This grout comes with a 25-year warranty, which guarantees that the colors won’t fade, and that the grout will stand up to wine, coffee, catsup and other difficult to remove household stains. The TrafficMaster® Stainproof Grout comes in gallon size containers and can be purchased exclusively at The Home Depot. Teresa spread the grout over the tile, making sure to push the grout down into the spaces between the tiles, not worrying too much about getting the grout onto the tile surface—there’s really no way to avoid getting grout on the tile surface while grouting, so it’s best just to concentrate on ensuring that the spaces between the tiles are filled, and that the grout fills the space so that the top of the grout line is flush with the surface of the tile.
Although it’s tedious, it is necessary to sponge the grout off the top of the tiles soon after the grout is applied, using repeated passes with a sponge dipped in clean water. Because the grout is much harder to remove from tile after it has dried, it’s a good idea to grout only a small section at a time. A section five by five feet is about as large an area as can be adequately grouted before the grout begins to dry on the surface of the tile.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to come back the next day and make another pass with a grout sponge with a special abrasive pad, just to be sure that the final layer of grout film is removed from your gorgeous new tile floor.