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Top 10 Tiling Tips From the Experts

A woman is looking at merchandise her next tiling project

This season is all about tile. With its many different variations, materials, sheens, and grout colors, the tile you install in your home will take on its own personality, even if you use the same tile as the guy across the street. Learning how to install tile can be a little tricky, but with these tiling tips you will be an expert in no time. Let’s dive right in.

1. Design

When you’re thinking about which tile to select for a floor or backsplash, make sure you’re also thinking about how you want to lay those tiles out. Herringbone provides an elevated sense of beauty but can look terrible if the lines are even slightly off. If you are looking to create a sense of simplicity and elegance, consider a 1/3 offset and pairing the look with square tile. Plan ahead and don’t be afraid to buy samples to try out in your space if you are unsure how to install tile or are a beginner.

2. Laying a good foundation

Backer board should be installed wherever you have tile to provide a solid base with excellent adherence properties.  At Vigeo, we also use Red Guard on top of our backer to provide additional flexibility and movement to the thin set base.  For tile floors where sound transference is a concern, layering rubber underlayment underneath the tile and on top of the backer board is also an option.  

3. Selecting your thin set

Our teams have had great success with products from ARDEX. You can find their products here https://www.ardexamericas.com. X77 is made specifically for wall tiles and will help keep your tiles from sagging as the thin set dries.  X5 remains flexible for those tricky patterns and tiles that need to move over time.  Using thin set that doesn’t adhere properly to your tile will cause those tiles to pop over time, especially if your home experiences settling or similar movement, so be sure to spend the money to make your tile shine.

4. Grout selections

Some tile, such as snap stone, requires special grout to allow for flexibility when materials expand and contract.  This is why some manufacturers provide grout with added silicone for additional joint flexibility.  For color, decide if you want to create contrast between your tile (esp. when using white porcelain tile like subway), or if you want the grout to be invisible.  When using patterned tile, don’t distract from the pattern.  If the tile is in a high-traffic area, consider using a darker grout to hide the dirt that will darker your grout lines over time.  Kitchen backsplashes are a great place to look for pre-sealed grout to keep spaghetti sauce from tinting your lines.

5. Setting your tile

Make sure your thin set makes good contact with your tile.  If in doubt, pull up a tile and see if it has a splattered pattern.  If so, you’re good!  If your tile is already laid, use a rubber mallet to lightly tap the tile and check for movement.  If it pops up, scrape out the old thin set, apply some new, and re-adhere.  

6. Sealing

Not all tile requires sealing after installation.  There are some varieties, cement tiles for instance, that not only require special grout, but sealing after installation to keep the tile from chipping and scuffing.  Be sure to read the installation instruction on your tile to ensure you have the most longevity out of your investment

7. Borders

Not too long ago, tile bordering was en vague.  Today, all the rage is Schluter edging, which provides clean cut lines for where your tile ends and begins. You can find products here https://www.schluter.com/schluter-us/en_US/. Take the time to decide which style fits your look but be sure to keep your grout lines even, small, and clean.  If you’re considering about creating a clean line around your bathtub, you might consider giving Schluter a try.

8. Leveling clips and spacers

These tools are a life saver.  Instead of spending time fighting with uneven underlayment (i.e. concrete), or keeping your tiles evenly spaced, set clips into place and forget about the rest.  Raimondi makes a fantastic clip that our crews live and die by.

9. Laser level

Self leveling lasers are great for wall tile jobs. These lasers auto-level to the floor and will keep your lines straight over great runs.  

10. Cutting tools

When you’re looking at clean cuts, your best bet is good equipment. Saving money by buying budget tools will just create dissatisfaction with the outcome and frustration during the product.  The single best tile purchase we ever made was our Rubi tile saw, which allows for angle and miter cuts to keep a clean finish.  Make sure you also use the right blade for the type of tile you’re installing otherwise face the risk of chipping or breaking tiles.

Popular tile patterns

The way you lay out your tile is just as important as the color, shape, size, and price.  A cheap tile can be elevated when used in a herringbone pattern, for instance, while staggering grout lines into 3rds can break up the uniformity of a backsplash when compared to running grout lines in halves.  Whether you are a tiling expert or are unsure how to install tile, here are some of the most common patterns homeowners install and some things to consider when choosing your pattern.

Grid

The simplest of all methods, and eye-catching in muted tiles of the same color, this pattern lines up all grout lines like city streets.  This method really draws your eyes to the grout lines and any misses you might have had.  If you can keep your grout lines straight over the run, this method can make your space look like a single uniform tile, especially when those grout lines are only 1/16 – 1/32” wide

Vertical stacking

Vertical stacking is the grid pattern for rectangular tile.  Instead of running your tile in rows, you run your tile in columns, drawing the eye upward and increasing vertical space.  

Herringbone

A favorite among many homeowners, the herringbone provides an artful commentary to the tile itself.  This pattern usually takes about three times as long to lay as the other patterns, but the beauty and sophistication of the run often make up for it.  If you’re looking at laying a herringbone pattern, consider using a triangular wood template out of some scrap plywood to keep your angles even.  

Staggered / Offset / Brickwork

This style goes by a lot of names but simply offsets grout lines by 1/2.  So, for example, if you’re laying brick tile, each row is half a brick length offset, placing the grout line of the next row in the center of the brick just below it.  This pattern is very common as it’s quite simple to lay.  Just be sure to use spacers in your grout lines to keep the lines even.

1/3 Offset

An extension of the staggered pattern, the 1/3 offset provides a little more sophistication, moving grout lines in thirds along the row below it.  This means that every 4th row repeats itself in the pattern.  Some variations of the 1/3 offset repeat every third row as well.  If you’re looking to add a bit more detail to your space, give this pattern a go.

Tile is a great way to add personality to any space at home. Tackling a tile job may seem intimidating at first but with these tiling tips you will be a pro in no time. Are you eager to take on more DIY remodeling projects? Check out these list considerations before you decide to general contract your own home. https://vigeoconstruction.com/homeowner-general-contractor/