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Laying Your Own Tile? Avoid These DIY Mistakes

tileWhy has tile become so popular than ever with builders and homeowners? Part of the reason is this: In addition to being affordable and durable, the design elements of tile have evolved. Stunning patterns, colors and textures have opened up a new world of aesthetic possibilities; and many people want to tackle the project themselves.

Many DIY projects yield good results. But for every successful project, there’s one that leaves something to be desired. If you’re thinking about putting in tile yourself, make sure you know about some of the most common DIY tile mistakes.

1. Skimping on tiles

This mistake is usually just an annoyance, but it can lead to bigger problems. Almost every tile installation has a certain number of casualties—that is, tiles that crack or break during the installation process. DIYers who buy the exact number of tiles they need will almost always have to make a trip back to the store. The trouble is, you’re never guaranteed to find more of the exact same tile. As a general rule, it’s smart to buy 20% more tile than you think you need. You may not use them all, but extras will come in handy if any replacements are needed in the future.

2. Thinking all adhesives are the same

Adhesive is a normal part of any tile installation, but it’s important to realize that there are different types of adhesive. The most important distinction is between waterproof and non-waterproof adhesive. People frequently install tile around shower stalls or bathtubs without knowing this. The adhesive crumbles and cracks, and the installation is effectively ruined.

3. Bad measurements

These are some of the most common and costly errors among DIY tile installers. Whether the tile is going on the floor or the wall, everything needs to be mapped out carefully. People with no experience using battens (special pieces of wood used to guide the spacing and measuring of tile installation), or people who rush into a job without thinking ahead and preparing properly, are bound to run into measurement problems that will either lead to awkward final results or lost efforts.

4. Applying extra adhesive

Don’t think that putting extra adhesive on your tiles (especially on the corners) will make the installation stronger and more secure. This is a common mistake. Adhesive that has been applied unevenly can easily lead to cracked tiles as it (the adhesive) goes through its natural shrinking process.

5. Grouting errors

Grouting is a key part of the tile installation process, and grouting mistakes can cause serious problems. The first common mistake is grouting too soon. Your tile adhesive needs to be set (usually about 24-26 hours) before you begin grouting. The integrity of the installation will eventually fail if you grout to soon.

Spreading the grout unevenly is the next big mistake. This often arises from carelessness or lack of experience. It can result in unsightly grout stains on the surface of the tile, as well as structural problems with the bond between tiles. Using the proper grouting tools (dowels, squeeges, damp clothes, etc.) and familiarizing yourself with proper grouting techniques will increase your chances of a successful tile project.

Is DIY the right answer?

In many cases, DIY can be a satisfying, affordable and effective way to install tile. The final results (as well as the stress-levels and costs of the project) will of course depend on your experience and ability with tile installation, as well as the nature of the project. There are many advantages to professional tile installation as well, including predictable costs, results that are often flawless, and a stress-free process. If you’re unsure whether to go professional or DIY, talk to someone you know who has experience with tile installation. Alternately, many professionals offer free consultations in which you can discuss the nature of your project with no obligation.

Good luck with your tiling projects! We hope you’ve found this information useful, and we hope you’ll take the time to comment below.