Ceramic tile has been around for a long time and it’s no wonder—it’s beautiful, durable, slip resistant, healthy and easy to clean—it’s a win-win situation. . And this is one step in your quest for the bath or kitchen of your dreams that you can do yourself, so it’s less expensive. It is not difficult to install ceramic tile and most handymen or women can master it once they learn how to do it properly by watching a few videos and with a few helpful tips and tricks. Here are some of my favorites.
Diamond Shaped Tile Layout
When doing a diagonal layout with diamond shaped ceramic tile, such as a backsplash or shower, rather than laying the tile diagonally with 45-degree diagonal lines mark a single layout line on the center of your wall or floor and center the upper and lower corners of your diamond shaped tile on this single line. Then build a pyramid with the center on that line and use the sides of your pyramid to align your diagonal pattern using spacers for grout. From time to time check sides with a straightedge to be sure it’s on track.
Wall Niches and Other Openings
When tiling a wall with a wall niche such as in a bath alcove, lay out your tiles, measure the dimensions of your niche (this can work with a window or any important opening) and mark in the center of your tile layout so that the tiles are evenly and attractively ‘’framing’’ your niche and cut these tiles. Begin tiling your wall with the niche and go out to the corners of the alcove. Trim the edges of your niche with ceramic accent strip or bar liner for a nice finish.
If you are using tile trim for your tile backsplash or bath wall you will want it to be built out so that it butts out just a little over your field tile and looks thicker. If it doesn’t, cut a strip of backer board the size of your trim. ‘’Butter’’ both sides of the backer board strip with thin-set, stick it to the wall, and set your trim over that. It should bring your trim out just enough. If your adjustment is less than the depth of backer board just use a thicker amount of thin-set to bring it out to the depth you need.
Rent or Buy?
There are two ways to cut ceramic tile. One is with a tile cutter. These are very easy to use, are very inexpensive (read the reviews online), and if you are just tiling a floor with no fancy cutting it is probably all you will need. If you are tiling a shower or other space with pipes, handles, faucet and corners use a wet tile saw. Fortunately, you may not have to buy one. Many home improvement centers will let you rent one including Home Depot and some Lowes Stores, and if you ask even show you how to use it. If you must buy one a good one like the pumpless Ryobi 7” will run about $100 and if you can add another $100 to your project it’s worth every penny.
Making Circles in Ceramic Tile
Yes, it’s fairly easy to cut circles in ceramic tiles with a wet tile saw but what if you really only need one and a simple tile cutter will do just fine for the rest of your project? Here’s a trick that takes a little patience but works quite well. Draw the hole on your tile with a marker or grease pencil and use a 1/4th inch masonry bit to drill a series of holes very closely spaced around the circle. When you’re done use a hammer to just very lightly tap the tile all along the ring of holes. Tap inside the ring, not the outside and it will break free and leave you with a hole that is a little rough, but cover it with a nice escutcheon plate and no one will ever be the wiser. You can use this method for square or rectangular cutouts too.
Laying external corners with wall tile doesn’t have to be hard. If you are rather handy with an electric tile cutter with a platform that will let you make angled mitering go for it, but if not don’t despair. You can neatly grout corners—I use a calking type applicator for corners. It might take a little practice on some spare tile or even two pieces of wood but it isn’t hard and looks very nice. If your ceramic tiles have one glazed edge you can overlap your corners so that one tile butts up over the other but the best and most simple way is simply to use an L-shaped trim strip. Simply affix in place with a sealant.
When tackling a ceramic tile do-it-yourself project the most important things to remember is to watch the videos online, think it out, take it slow, read and follow directions on products to the letter and relax—you can do this!