Ask the experts Laying floor tiles
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Laying floor tiles
QI want to update my kitchen by replacing the existing flooring with tiles, but there are so many styles to pick from. How do I choose and then lay the tiles correctly?
AShopping for floor tiles can be quite overwhelming, so here’s what you need to know.
Ceramic tiles are hardwearing, come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours and are easy to install.
Glass tiles are too slippery to be used on floors so avoid them.
Natural stone isn’t necessarily consistent in colour, shade or texture, so won’t give a very uniform finish. Made from hard materials, it can be more difficult to cut and needs regular maintenance. You’ll also need to apply a tile sealer as it can stain easily.
Terracotta styles are made from natural clays with little processing, tend to be unglazed in a range of rustic earthy colours, and may need treating to increase water resistance.
Mosaic tiles are great for adding colour and texture and can be made from any of the above materials. The small chips are laid on mesh backing so are easy to cut but can be difficult to align due to their size.
Vinyl is a much softer material which makes the tiles easier to fit as they just need to be glued down. They don’t require grouting and come in a range of colours.
Tiles are sold in boxes or singles and each box tells you the square meterage it will cover. To calculate the size of your floor area, multiply the width by the depth and then add 10 per cent contingency.
First plan the layout on paper so you know where to start and where the cuts will be – spread them along both edges so it looks even. When cutting, make a template as a guide, and for big jobs, invest in a wetwheel cutter for accuracy and speed.
Prepare your floor with plywood or a screed to make laying easier. Apply a small amount of adhesive to the floor, then push the first tile gently on top using a piece of timber so you know the tiles are straight and level. Use tile spacers to fit the next tile up to the first one and so on. When all the tiles are laid wait 24 hours before grouting to ensure the adhesive has dried.
l See Take A Closer Look on p145 for more tiling tips
Plan your floor layout on paper first to ensure an even finish