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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Ceramic Floor Tile Installations are Harder than You Think

Due to inflation and labor shortages, homeowners across the country are tackling projects that look easy but may be beyond their ability and knowledge to complete successfully. Installing ceramic flooring is a project many homeowners believe is easy to complete, but in fact, the many intricate details of this project make it one of the most difficult to take on. Installing ceramic tile floors is a lot more than just gluing tiles on the floor and smearing grout into the open spaces. It is complex work that requires attention to detail on a 3-D level.

First, let’s talk about physical ability. If you cannot lift 50-pound boxes of tile or 25-pounds of thin-set mortar or grout, you may want to think twice about starting this project. Big rooms take large amounts of both items. Additionally, if you have trouble working on your knees or stooping over because of a bad back, you should really consider hiring a professional. For the sake of your health, know your physical limitations.

Next, buy the right tile. Novice installers will purchase the incorrect tile for the application needed, or worse yet, a tile that is too slippery or rough for their project. Buying tile and laying a few pieces out on your floor will help you quickly determine if you like the color, sheen, texture, and quality. Don’t be in such a hurry that you fail to be satisfied with the project. Furthermore, make sure your tile is not bowed because of poor stacking or manufacturing. A bowed tile is a hump in the floor that can be a trip hazard for people.

Do you have the tools to successfully complete a tile installation? All the good intentions in the world will do nothing if you don’t have proper tile cutters, saws, scrapers, and grinders you need to finish the job. The worst mistake you can make is to try to install ceramic tile with improper tools, because the job will look terrible, or worse, you could possibly injure yourself. If you can’t rent the tools affordably, buying tools may not be a good idea either because many of them will never get used again. Often times, the cost of buying or renting the tools will drive homeowners to hire a professional installer.

Watching a 30-minute YouTube video does not make a homeowner a competent floor installer, and this is where most people get in trouble. Knowledge and experience, especially when it comes to properly leveling the existing floor, installing membrane barriers, and using spacer/leveling clips are very important. Failure to properly install ceramic flooring will create inadvertent toe trips throughout the project which could seriously harm friends and family. Professionals understand how to properly set the thin set, the mortar on the floor, and they understand about buttering the back of the tile to ensure there are no hollow spots. Additionally, poor installation in grout and the wrong color selected will completely ruin an otherwise good job.

Homeowners are under a lot of pressure to enhance their home’s look and value by doing home improvement projects but installing ceramic floor tile is one that many should not tackle without the physical ability, tools, and knowledge of products and installation. Keep in mind, once a ceramic floor is poorly installed, it will cost a lot more for a professional to come in to replace or repair it. Also, replacing ceramic tile is a dirty, dusty project taking place inside your home.

Any job that requires heavy lifting and specialty tools may look easy, but be forewarned, they usually are not.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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