How-to guide: Installing porcelain tile in the bathroom
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Because your bathrooms are exposed to a lot of humidity, high traffic, and special cleaning products, they must be covered by a material that can deal with these extreme factors. Installing porcelain tile is one of the best choices you can make when designing a new bathroom.
Porcelain tiles are highly recommended for the bathroom and kitchen because they are not covered by enamel, and the finish is usually polished, of great durability and water-resistant. Their very low water absorption discourages any type of bathroom fungi from blooming. Not to mention that porcelain is harder and more resistant than normal ceramic.
Porcelain is not only suitable for bathrooms and kitchens, but it can also be used outdoors or in high-traffic areas such as living rooms, hallways or even shopping centers. Porcelain tile lasts longer, is scratch-resistant, has great resistance to temperatures, and is very hard and durable.
Tools needed for installing porcelain tile
- Tape for measurement
- Rubber mallet
- Ceramic cutter
- Angular grinder
- Bucket to mix concrete
- Notched trowel
- Diamond cutting disc
- Laser level
- Safety rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
Materials needed for installing porcelain tile:
- Adhesive EF for stone and porcelain, 44 pounds
- Floor leveler, 55-pound bag
- Porcelain tile slabs (quantity will vary with size of surface to cover)
Directions for installing porcelain tile
1. Do the basic math
First, you need to calculate the area to be tiled for the project. If you are installing porcelain tile on the wall, you need to multiply the length of the wall by the height of the room, remembering to subtract the areas (width x height) of any windows and doors. If you are installing porcelain tile on the floor, then simply multiply the width of the area to be tiled by the length of the area to be tiled.
PRO TIP: It is always advisable to order an extra box of material for future contingencies. For a very big space, you might consider getting 10% more of any material used.
2. Preparing the surface of the floor
If you opt to level out the floor before installing porcelain tile, it is advisable to use a floor leveler with a maximum thickness of 0.8 inches. If you prefer to install the new tile on top of existing tile, you will need to make sure there is an appropriate adhesive layer, as described below.
3. Preparing the surface of the walls
If your wall is concrete or plaster, you just need to wash the surface with gentle soap and water. It doesn’t matter if the surface stays wet— the professionals call this a “saturated surface” — because it will prevent the mixture from drying up.
In the case of partition walls, it is recommended to first cover them with textured fiber cement, since the resulting rough surface will give the adhesive and tile slabs a better grip.
4. Preparing the adhesive
Powdered adhesives are pre-dosed, which means they come with all the necessary additives to achieve a perfect adhesive paste — all you have to do is add the water.
Pour the adhesive powder into a bucket and add water little by little; stir with a spatula until you get a thick, even paste.
5. Installing slabs on the floor
The slabs for the floor always go on first, since tiles for the walls must remain on top to allow water to run down without problems.
Gluing the slabs is done with a notched trowel — its teeth leave the strips necessary for the adhesive to have better grip. The areas without adhesive are left with air pockets that will cause suction once the slabs settle; this also helps the adhesive to dry better.
Once the porcelain has been placed on top of the adhesive, the slabs must be tapped gently with a rubber mallet.
Leave overlapping joints between each run of slabs.
6. Installing slabs on the walls
As in the directions above for installing porcelain tile on the floor, gluing slabs for the wall is done with a notched trowel. Wall slabs also need to be tapped gently with a rubber mallet.
Getting straight cuts on slabs
Use a ceramic cutter that cuts, scores and snaps wall and floor tiles. There is a handle in the cutter that allows you to apply pressure on the tile and also allows to guide the cutter along the rails of the cutter. The tungsten-carbide wheel in the cutter is what actually scores the surface of the tile and allows you to make the cut.
Getting curved cuts on slabs
To install porcelain on the floor and walls of a bathroom, some pieces will need curved or circular cuts to coincide with the drains and water outlets. These cuts are made with an angular grinder and a diamond cutting disc. The cut on the slab should be about 0.1-inch larger than the diameter of the drain or water outlet.
Thank you for reading!
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