How to Install a Tile Floor
Installing a VCT or vinyl tile floor is really pretty easy for the do-it-your-selfer once you have the basics in place. The tools required are a good set of knee pads, a chalk line, tape measure, pencil, aluminum knife with extra blades, a small propane torch and depending on how large an area you are doing, perhaps a dolly to roll boxes of tile along with you as you install them. Sliding full boxes of tile along gets to be a real chore, real fast. Once the room has had all the old flooring removed, areas patched and then swept and vacuumed really well to remove all traces of dirt you may begin your floor layout for the tile.
In almost all cases you want to center a row of tile in the center of the entry door to the room. If you are creating a fancy pattern in the room, the tile may have to be centered on the room itself. Assuming in this case, all the tile is the same color, the tile should be centered on the doorway. Using the door center line, place a chalk line mark the full width or length of the room as a starting point for your first row of tile.
VCT or vinyl tiles are held in place with a vinyl cement that you may
purchase premixed in one gallon cans. Using an eighth inch notched steel trowel,
apply the adhesive in smooth even strokes across the floor leaving behind a
uniform coating of adhesive. Do not cover up your chalk center line. The
adhesive will need a half hour or so to set up. Starting at the doorway, start
laying the tile along the chalk line and whatever you can reach without getting
into the adhesive. As the area of laid tile grows you will be able to move
freely about the new floor area. Once all the full pieces are installed, fall
back and start to do all the cut pieces.
Cutting the tile is pretty easy. Cutting tile quickly becomes a learned ability. Once you have figured out the shape of the cut and have marked the tile, slightly heating the tile will make cutting the tiles a lot easier. You will quickly learn not to overheat the tile as they burn and melt quite easily. A hand held, self lighting propane torch is best. Click the trigger and it's lit, let go and it's out, making it a one handed operation.
Buy a good quality aluminum knife that allows quick changes of blades. You will use lots and lots of blades and you do not want to have to use a screwdriver to open the knife each time. Buy your blades in the 100 pack dispenser to save more money as the blades are much cheaper that way.
It is a good idea to stay off the floor at least twenty four hours to allow the adhesive to fully set before heavy foot traffic or furniture is placed on the new tile. Within a couple of weeks a good coat of wax should be applied to protect the finish.
One last word of caution. Before installing the tile, make sure whether the tile is directional. On the back of each tile there may be an arrow. Point all the arrows in the same direction within a room when laying the tile or you may purposely alternate the arrows on the tiles to create a pattern within the tile themselves. Either way, make sure you stick to what ever layout you start with to end with a professional looking finished floor.
Most building departments do not require a permit for this type of cosmetic finish work but if in doubt call them and ask. Takes only a minute.
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