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Ceramic tile is a great choice for your bathroom and kitchen floors. It is durable, easy to clean, and looks amazing! But when it comes to installing ceramic tile, there are a few things to always keep in mind. Here are our top 5:
1. Make sure your thin-set or grout is mixed smooth.
The key to getting a smooth mixture with your thin-set or grout is to let it sit for about 10 minutes before you mix it for the final time. This allows the chunks that are still there to absorb water so that you can mix them smooth. This process called "slaking" is the key to a smooth mix. And not having a smooth mix will make your job incredibly frustrating.
2. Make sure you have a completely flat floor before you start.
If your floor isn't completely flat, you are going to work a lot harder to get your tile down. For a quick check to see if your floor is flat, take a 4 foot level and check to make sure that there aren't spots more than a quarter inch off the level. If you do have these spots, you can fix them with thin-set or, for really bad spots, self-leveling compound.
3. You can be a little less precise with your cuts if you remove your baseboards.
Removing your baseboards before putting down your tile can add a little time to your prep and finish job, but it will save you even more time in between. It allows you to make cuts that aren't nearly as precise and you will have less wasted tiles and you won't have to worry about chips or imperfections when cutting your tile.
4. Clean up quickly as you go.
Clean out excess grout or thin-set from the tile as soon as you are done setting each piece. Not doing this can cause some real issues later if it hardens.
5. Do everything you can to slow the drying of the grout or thin-set.
Sure, the contractors want their work to set up quickly. But they know exactly what they are doing and can do it quickly. If you aren't a professional, you really want to slow the drying time to allow you to fix things if you need to. Even the standard versions (non-fast-drying) of thin-set & grout sometimes dries too fast. One way to do this is to dampen the surface where you are installing the tile. You can also use latex additives instead of water. Latex additive dries more slowly than water and makes grout more stain resistant. (A few latex additives are designed to expedite the drying process; just check the label) Don't add more water and mix grout or thin-set that begins to harden before you use it. It can cause real problems with bonding. In this situation it is best just to start fresh.
Following these tips will certainly get you off on the right path when installing ceramic tile in your home.
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