Introduction

tiling a floor tout »
Joe Ferrante has been laying tile for 30 years - many of them for This Old House - and after all this time, he's still enamored of the material. "I love tile," he says. "It's beautiful and it doesn't require much maintenance."

On a floor, these thin, fragile slices of ceramic require some special care and preparation. Otherwise, they won't survive the parade of feet through an entry or the sudden spills in a bathroom or kitchen, where floors go from bone dry to sopping wet faster than you can say "puddle."

"Anytime I approach a new job, I make sure the area about to be tiled is stiff enough so it won't flex when someone walks on it and that it can stand up to wet-and-dry cycles," says Ferrante. Installed the right way, using some basic tools and techniques, a tile floor should last forever, come hell or high water.
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    Tools List

    • straightedge guide
      10-foot straightedge (for aligning tile
    • rubber float
      Rubber float (for spreading grout
    • notched trowel
      Notched trowel (for spreading adhesive
    • rubbing stone
      Rubbing stone (for smoothing cut tile edges
    • drill
      Drill-driver and epoxy-coated screws,
      to secure backerboard to subfloor
    • mason's trowel
      Mason's trowel (for mixing thinset and grout
    • margin trowel
      Margin trowel (for cleaning cured joint lines
    • hand saw
      Flush-cut hand saw (for undercutting trim
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • tile cutter
      Tile cutter
    • power flush cut saw
      Power flush-cut saw (for undercutting trim
    • tile nippers
      Nippers (for breaking off small pieces of tile
    • carbide tipped scorer
      Carbide-tipped scorer and utility knife,
      for cutting backerboard
    • folding A-square
      Folding A-square,
      for checking squareness of tile layout)
    • wet saw
      Diamond blade,
      used with wetsaw to cut corner notches and curves in tile

    Shopping List

    1. CERAMIC FLOOR TILE

    2. THINSET MORTAR

    3. TILE GROUT

    4. TILE SPACERS

    used to ensure consistent joints



    5. MIXING PADDLE

    used in drill to mix up mortar and grout



    6. KNEE PADS

    7. FOAM SPONGE

    for wiping up grout haze