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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I have a living room that is in dire need for me to pull out the yucky carpet and install some slate-like tile , 18inch. I think I can do it, but am not that confidant about it. I have done our kitchen floor with the vinyl squares. I have seen tile laid many times. I just have never done it by myself. It is the slate look tiles you get at Lowes. I know I can lay it and do the grout, the only thing I am worried about is the detailed measuring and cutting. Some say to start in the middle of the room , some say to just start in a corner and go for it. Goodness I hate to pay someone money for something I can do. I just hope I can do it right. Whatcha think? I already have the tile.
 

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It's best to start in the center and work both ways so it ends up with the same size on each end.
If you take your time measuring, and rent a tile cutting wet saw, you'll do fine
 

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Not hard. If I can, anyone can.

Never laid 18 inch tile, but did put it on a wall. I found that 18 inchers were more likely to crack when cut. Make sure you get a tile cutter for large tiles. Mine wasn't, maybe that's why I had cutting problems.

Make sure you prep well. The floor has to be clean, level and solid. I laid cement board down first. Lay chalk lines. Use those litttle plastic spacers to keep your spaces straight.

Again, not hard, but very rewarding. My next tile job is my new entry.
 

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I agree, start in the center and work to the edges. Lay all the tile out physically first though, so you can make sure you don't end up trying to cut a really thin strip just as you reach a wall.

In my experience the manual tile cutters, where you score and snap, are much quicker on straight cuts than a wet saw. I am not sure if they would take an 18 inch tile though. Wet saws are handy if you have angle cuts.
 

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Voice of Reason
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In my experience the manual tile cutters, where you score and snap, are much quicker on straight cuts than a wet saw. I am not sure if they would take an 18 inch tile though. Wet saws are handy if you have angle cuts.
I didn't try the scoring-type cutter. I got a diamond blade for my Skillsaw from Home Depot and cut the ceramic tile with that. The blade was $18, and cutting them dry wasn't a problem if I moved slowly.

I laid the tile over a wood sub-floor so I needed to buy a special mortar that adhered to wood. Make sure you get the right mortar for what you're laying it on. The mortar I got was about $12.50 for a 25# bag, and laying about 75 sq.ft. of tile required two bags. I noticed that the mortar that goes on concrete is a lot less expensive.

Actually, the job came out surprisingly well.

 

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I love South Dakota
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Make sure your floor is stable enough, otherwise those big tiles will crack. Our old house had very "bouncy" floors and we did quite a bit to get them solid enough for tile.

Well, we had to rebuild most of the floor anyway . . .


And the walls, but that is another story.

I bought a tile cutter when I did the dining room. Set it up outside because it was very messy! These tiles would not cut with the score type cutter. I looked into renting a cutter, but knew I'd be doing this over several days, and that would have been too spendy. I planned on doing other areas in the future so it's another tool investment.



We put down underlayment that was specific for tile applications.

This is the oldest part of the house, the original claim shack. Not much is square so I put the tiles on a diagonal to hide that. I mixed up a batch of thinset and did a section at a time.


It is important that you clean out the space between the tiles that will hold the grout while the thinset (or what ever adhesive you use) is still soft. It gets very hard to do if you want a few days . . .

We had planned on putting a second wood stove in the corner, so the tiles go a bit different in that area. I figured out where that was going to go, and used that as my starting corner and drew lines on the floor to work off of.

I set the whole tiles first, and then went back and cut and set the edge pieces



I used boxed of tile to help hold the leading edge straight while the mortor dried. It's not fun to have tiles slip around on you.


After all the tiles were set, I started on the grout. It is important to only mix up enough grout so you can set it and clean it up before it gets hard. It's tempting to do too big of an area at a time, but you will regret it if you are trying to clean off dried grout. I personally feel that cleaning up the excess grout is the worst and hardest part of any tile job.


Here is the finished floor. I eventually decided to put tile baseboard up, but that was done about 6 months later.




This picture shows the tile on the short wall between the two rooms, and the railing we eventually put up.



Cathy
 

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Floor prep is 90% if the job. If the floor is not smooth/flat and preferrably level, you will have problems, especially with larger tiles.

Get a good "how to" book from the home store. It will cover all of the steps, including what size trowel notch to get, as you will probably need a larger one, as your tile are large.

Personally, I will not lay tile directly over wood again. If moisture gets in and the wood swells, even a little, the tile may crack. Cement or wonderboard backer board, is the way to go.

You can do it.
 

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That's a nice looking job there Macybaby. I wouldn't encourage a diagonal cut for their first project. Lots more waste too. Most generally start in the middle and go to the walls, but it depends on how square your walls are. Also you want to put down some backerboard as your base. It's basically cement drywall. Cuts easy, light, but kinda expensive. My wife and I have done Two bathrooms (showers) and I floor. I rented a tile waw the first project but ended up buying a $98 cheapie for the second job, and it worked great. Good luck.

 

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If your going over wood, I would suggest you go smaller than 18" x 18", if the floor flexes the tile will crack, over concrete the 18" X 18" will be fine. prepare the floor correctly and use the correct thin set of mastic, not hard, if your using slate you will to "saw" it if it is porcelain then one may be able to "cut" it with a scorer, if unfinished, (surface porous) it is much harder to grout as the grout will want to set on the tile and not wipe off easly, on glazed tile it is very easy to grout the tile, much less work,
 

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Looks nice, Macybaby.

Keep in mind that you can't be walking on the tile after you lay them down. Check out the directions. If you are starting in the middle, you need to leave a path for yourself. Unless you are making a pattern, you won't need the saw until you get to the edges.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks so much everyone for your nice advice. All of your photos look so nice.
I have a wood floor , so do ya think I need the mortar board underneath?
 

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de oppresso liber
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I just got through helping laying 16" tiles in the youth center of our church and here's what I learned.

First and for most, its not as difficult as I thought it would be. I had never laid tile but in one day I went from lugging buckets of water to making the simple straight cuts to laying tile to making the cuts to go around the door frames. FYI, it took us 4 days to finish and most of that time was grouting. NOTE: don't use black grout with light color tile unless you have a lot of patients and dedication. It looks great when its done but you stand a good chance of going crazy while grouting.

Use the 'score and snap' to make the cuts. Its takes about 30 seconds from the time you pick up the tile until the cut is made. When you need to make 'fancy' cuts get a diamond blade for your angle grinder and free hand it. It only takes a few cuts to get the hang of it. We had a bunch of stuff we had to fit tiles around and there wasn't a wet saw around.

Spacers, spacers and spacers. I think we used 3/8" because the larger grout line is supposed to look better with the larger tiles. But I'm not sure. I just used whatever was in the cup they gave me.

The right mud thickness makes ALL the difference.

Its tough to lift up a tile after you have set it down in the mud but it can be done.
 

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just a few things I have observed over the last 25 years in the construction industry.

1. Before the "invention" of subfloor materials like Wonderboard, Hardie board etc.... we would screw a layer of 1/2" BC grade plywood to the existing floor. Current experts you will tell you that this is not acceptable. Yet, everything we did still remains crack free, and trouble free 20-25 years later.
2. I have been on jobs where floor tile installs run into the 10,000 sq, ft range and bigger. The setter frequently travels on his knees with a stack of tile and a snap cutter on two small wheeled dollies. There is a need for a wet saw, but most of the cuts are snapped, not sawn.
3. Some tile will not cooperate with scoring and snapping, no matter how many you waste to "get a feel for it". Some simply will have to be wet sawn. Other tile will snap clean toward the middle, but not within a few inches of the edges. Trial and error can get expensive.
4. Oversized (16-18") tile in an old house with typical questionable subfloors and undersized floor joists, is asking for trouble.
5. Don't under estimate the value of "flexible" latex additives in thinset mortar, and grout. They turn a ridgid mortar into a truely plastic and flexible adhesive. They cost double what basic mortar and grout cost, but they are amazing and worth it. I have a stove mat under my corn stove. I made it from 1/2" Hardie board, with 2" tiles thinset with latex fortified thinset and grout. This mat sits on carpet. I can step on the edge and flex it like a stiff rubber door mat. It does not crack. The same mat, with large tile, cement board and old fashioned thinset and grout, would be a mess with broken tile and cracked grout lines.
6. Start small and easy and get the confidence you need. In this area, tile installation is absolutely insanely overpriced, and I know that most installers will not take the time to do the quality work that I expect. I have seen installers get $6-8 sq. ft. for labor only. They start by using a roofing nailer to shoot 1/4 Hardie board over whatever subfloor happens to be there. The proper technique is to thin-set and screw the underlayment over a clean and properly secured subfloor. I have had to scrape, screw and wet mop subfloors to get them properly prepared. I have seen "pros" that had to be told to sweep the floor before dropping sheets of underlayment! I just heard another builder tell me that he had to tear a few small bathroom floors out of a new house that got the wrong tile. I commented that it must of been a nasty long job, on my houses it would be few days of ugly work. He said it took a few minutes per floor to demo. They just worked a shovel under the underlayment at the door and quickly pried it off. I guess when you do half-axed work, it makes demo. quick and easy.
7. Keep it simple. thick "saltillo" tiles, oversized tile, rough gauged slate and complicated patterns are not the best way to learn the art of tile setting.

Good luck, and take pictures.
 

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Awesome pictures, everyone! They remind me of MY house!! Still 'under construction' even after 4 years...
I just set a tile entryway this weekend, and grouted it tonight. Looks really good, and was simple. I put down a layer of mortar, then a 1/4" cement board, another layer of mortar then the 12''X12" ceramic tiles.
 
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