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Subject:  Tiling lessons learned Date:  3/21/2004  8:06 PM
Author:  SuaSponteMark Number:  48120 of 131658


Just spent the last 3+ days retiling the kitchen. Few things I learned here for the crowd. I'll try to order them sequentially.

I do still have grout and sealant to go but that shouldn't be too hard.

1. Draft a good plan beforehand determining how many tiles you'll need, how much backing board you'll need (also known as cement board), and if needed how much subflooring you'll need. I drew a sketch up in Power Point, overhead view, to do a "virtual lay" of backing board to best fit these and minimize small pieces. Got a lay of the land of the tiles as well to get an idea of how many I would need, though you will need to dry fit them (more later on that). I used 11 3/4" tiles and 1/4" spacers so the square footage was fairly easy. About a 144 sf kitchen and I bought eight 20 count boxes, and had eight left over at the end.

2. I bought an $80 tile saw that worked ok for a one-room job like this. If you were doing a lot of irregular cuts or a bigger job I would suggest going with one of the $200 jobbies or renting one. I didn't want to have to rush to get done and get it back and plan on helping my folks do some tiling in the future so I went ahead and bought a saw.

3. Helps a lot to have an assistant as I snapped quite a few chalk lines, etc. Dad came down and helped. Had some good ideas on where to start the tiles, where to center, etc, to minimize odd cuts and end up with symmetrical ends.

4. I took one of the "how to" classes at Lowe's and read a book on tiling before I did this and they helped extensively. Would much recommend the class at a minimum if it's your first time as it was mine.

5. This stuff is heavy - between 160 ceramic tiles, 12 sheets of backer board, and four 50 lb bags of mastic it was probably 500 lbs of stuff. Unless you love slinging fragile stuff in and out of your car you might want to get a delivery. Wouldn't fit in my little truck so Lowe's sent it to my house on a pallet.

6. I had two layers of 3/4" boards at an angle to one another on 2x10" joists with a 16" span max so I had a pretty solid base. Some might need additional plywood for backing before cement board. I didn't use any additional plywood.

7. If you have doors that enter into the area where you're tiling, take them off the hinges before starting. Tiling will build up your floor about 3/4" and your door may no longer fit. I cut off the bottom of the pantry door entering into the kitchen accordingly, after I got done tiling.

8. This is slow and careful work. The maxim "measure twice, cut once" definitely applies. Cutting with an electric tile saw takes a little longer than a wood saw and it's messy, thus you don't want to cut a lot of excess tiles.

9. There is a new kind of backer board with a 1" grid pressed into it that makes measuring and lining up tiles easier. Would go with this if it's your first go-round. Think it's called Hardee Backer or Hardy Backer.

10. I screwed in the backer board. You can nail it too. I had an 18v cordless drill and this worked pretty well. It takes a LOT of screws (or nails). 60 or so per sheet of backer board. Only a crazy person would do this by hand. Even with the cordless drill I got a blister after 600 or so screws. Changed the battery about 4 times. If you nail I think you would have to have a nail gun; backer board doesn't survive abuse very well and hammer blows would pulverize