Tiling Tips for the DIY'er

Tiling Tips for the DIY'erWhen I was at my local Menards checking out, I was behind a gent checking out and I could tell instantly what he was going to be doing soon. Now I guess some people {my hubby} would say I am nosy. I don't strike up conversations with perfect strangers, I just like to see what they are buying. You know, what kind of projects are other people working on. Well this gent was going to be tiling. He only had one case of tile so it must have been a small area.

Any who as he was wrapping up his purchase, I said to the kids, "I know what HE is doing..." Well the gent heard me and said something like it was his first time tiling. Well I gave him 2 tips for tiling. I immediately spewed out to make sure your surface is as perfectly level as he could make it and to use tube grout along any edge that was not butting up against tile. He looked at me and said it sounded like I had done it before and maybe he should just have me come do it...with a smile. Well after he left and I was loading up my minivan  I started thinking about all my tiling escapades...the horribly bad and the awesomely beautiful. Tile can be so beautiful when done right.
If someone would ask me for my tips for tiling, they would be...
  1. You should follow the instructions! Always use the appropriate mastic and grout for your tile. I know this may be a duh, but use the right stuff and you won't have a whoops later.
  2. Rethink or be prepared for natural tile. I hate to tell you this but natural stone tile is harder to lay than porcelain or ceramic. Man made tile is way more uniform in thickness which results in a level surface if all the prep work was done right and things are level and smooth. Learned this the hard way with granite tile.
  3. Make sure that your work area is perfect as possible. I know that sounds like another duh. But seriously make sure your surface is level. And flat! No bumps or high/low spots. Those screws need to be below flush, not flush, BELOW flush! Any little bump, ripple, or ridge is going to make laying that tile a pain in the a$$.
  4. Get a good tile saw. A good tile saw will save you lots of grief. Yeah I know they have tile cutters. I have one...somewhere in the garage with almost 10 years of dust on it. My experience with it is "eh". I know the "cheap" tile saws go for about $80 and I believe that is how much we spent on ours. And honestly if we were to do tile again...well a big area...I would probably suggest to the hubby to get a nicer tile saw. We have used ours for our granite tile counters and for our hearth pad so she has paid for herself.
  5. Get a new blade! So you have a tile saw, buy a new blade. Or another blade. Or even the right blade. Different kinds of tile call for different blades. The sharper, the blade the cleaner the cut. So if you are doing a big area or a new project and start noticing some less the okay edges, change that blade.
  6. Take your time...but not too much time. Do a dry fit of your tile. Even with the little spacers. Especially if you are doing a pattern. Make sure your mastic/tile adhesive is even. And the appropriate amount. Too much and your tile can end up wonky. Too little and you won't have the appropriate adhesion.
  7. Tube Grout. You may not know this fabulous product existed but believe me it is freaking awesome!!! Tube grout is the perfect thing to use if you are tiling an area that will be trimmed out with wood or non-tile surface. That stuff is flexible so if you use wood trim edge {like on a counter} you won't have cracking and pieces falling out 4 months later...apparently I am a slow learner. Tiling - whoopsI have NOT used tube grout twice now and both times after had cracking. A friend clued me in on it before any of my tiling experience so duh on my part. Best of all it comes in colors. This one I have used and loved but it seems to only come in white. But you can also get this.
  8. Seal that baby! If you are using a natural stone tile or a light-colored grout, seal it. It will save you grief from spaghetti sauce or lemon juice later on. And try to re-seal it once a year or so.

Now these tips are not going to guarantee a perfect tile job. But they should get you on the right track. AND make tiling your project easier. What was your first or worst tiling experience? Mine was our shower...ugh not going there.