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Where to Start Tiling a Floor: An Essential Guide

Where to Start Tiling a Floor: An Essential Guide
December 6, 2021

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Where to start tiling a floor can vary depending on the room type. Most people begin by dividing the room into four quadrants with two perpendicular lines from the center of each wall. When placing the tiles, you usually begin at the intersection of both lines and work toward the room’s edges. In addition to the layout, there are several crucial factors to keep in mind when laying the tiles.

Preparing the Substrate

Before planning your layout and laying the tiles, check the condition of your substrate, also called the subfloor. There are different kinds of substrate, such as plywood, a mortar base, or a cement board. Most professionals prefer tiling over mortar because it creates a solid and durable base to place the tiles. However, working with mortar is a bit more complicated since you need to know how to mix it and level it on the floor.

A cement board is made from a combination of cement and fiberglass. It has the shape of a board of varying thicknesses, and it creates a solid and durable surface for laying tile. You can lay tile directly on plywood, but professionals recommend using a double layer with overlapped seams.

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Installing ceramic floor tiles

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Plan the Layout

An essential step to know where to start laying tile is to plan the layout. Start by measuring the floor length and width. You’ll need a tape measure and a chalk line for designing the layout. You need to divide the room into four quadrants with two perpendicular lines. In some rooms, two walls are longer than the other two. Find the two middle points on these two sides and draw a line across the room. Then, snap a chalk line on the floor at the center of the two shortest walls.

Before laying the tiles with adhesive, it’s essential to do a dry layout test to check what adjustments you’ll need to make. You need to lay the tiles and the plastic spacers without any adhesive or thinset, beginning from the intersection and using the line for direction. Once you have done this, take a look at the display and see if there are any problems.

Usually, the tiles won’t exactly reach the edge of the wall. There will be a space between the last tile and the wall. If the space is smaller than half a tile width, you should readjust the layout. Cutting a very small piece of tile and placing it near the wall ruins the aesthetics. Also, cutting very small tile pieces is difficult, and they don’t bond well with the subfloor. Try to use at least half a tile for the edges of the room and try to balance the gaps on each side. You can readjust by moving the key center tile a bit farther up the line.

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Make the Necessary Cuts

Once you know how you are going to lay down the tiles, you need to make the necessary cuts. For this part of the project, you need to know how to use basic tile tools such as a wet saw or a manual snap cutter. A wet saw uses a water-cooled blade to make perfectly smooth cuts on all types of tiles. Once you have calculated your layout, you can cut the tiles for the edges and corners of the room.

Laying tiles at home

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Start Laying the Tiles

Using your layout determined during the dry test, lay your tiles from the intersection, working out toward the walls. Lay the tile so that you won’t have to step over them as you work. A way of doing this is to work with one quadrant at a time. Start with the two quadrants farther away from the room’s exit, and then do the other two.

Use a hammer or wood block to tap the tiles into the adhesive or thinset gently. For large tiles, apply the thinset both on the subfloor and the back of the tile. For smaller tiles, you can just apply the thinset on the subfloor. Remember to use spacers between tiles as you work; this ensures that the tiles are evenly spaced and creates neat grout lines. You’ll need to fill these spaces with grout at the end to bond the tiles together.

Choose Contractor’s Direct for DIY Tile Flooring Success

The key to successful floor tiling is to plan your layout very carefully so you don’t run into problems when adhering the tiles in place. You also need the right tools for the job. Contractors Direct is your destination for tile and stone tools. Browse our extensive range of DIY gear and explore our blog for more DIY home renovation tips and advice.