When it comes to looks and durability, nothing beats a ceramic tile floor--so long as it's installed correctly, that is. And while the process itself is fairly simple, there are a few important things to know before you begin. If you are considering installing a ceramic floor yourself here are two tips to help you on your way.
1. Make use of a grout-releasing agent.
Unless you happen to be a professional tile worker, you should consider this tip essential. Grout is a messy substance and during the installation it's going to be getting all over your tiles—that's just part of the process. But removing that excess grout from your tiles is also an important part of the process, and that's where grout-releasing agents come in.
A grout-releasing agent is a liquid chemical that helps to minimize the amount of bonding between grout and tile. This in turn increases the amount of time you have to clean the grout off your tiles before it becomes a permanent—and unwanted—part of your new floor.
The agent should be applied using a long-handled paint roller, and allowed to dry for a minimum of one hour before applying the grout itself. Just make sure that the tiles are completely dry before proceeding. Also, take care not to apply the agent too heavily. If an excessive amount of the liquid enters the gaps between tiles, your grout will not bond as strongly as it should.
2. Perfect your grout's consistency.
The consistency of your grout plays a large role in determining the life-span of your tile floor. The grout most widely used in conjunction with ceramic tile consists of sand, Portland cement, and other additives. The most common mistake when mixing up this type of grout is to add an excess of water. This can lead to a grout which easily crumbles and turns to dust—often within mere weeks.
An ideal grout should have the following characteristics:
- firm enough to pick up and manipulate like dough
- easy to spread with a cement spatula
If your grout is so thin that it can be easily poured, this is a sign that there's too much water in the mix. You can fix this mistake by adding small amounts of dry grout until the mix attains the proper consistency. This only works, however, if you are able to catch the mistake within the first few minutes; otherwise you'll need to make a new batch from scratch for your tiles.