There may be a number of problems you’ll come across when laying ceramic tile for the first time. It’s important to learn how to properly install a ceramic tile to avoid added expense and hassles in the future. Plus, a properly installed ceramic tile floor can last many years without cracks, maintaining a beautiful look for your home or business.
Follow these tips from experts on proper ceramic tile installation:
- Check the Tile Grades
Ceramic tiles are graded from 1 to 3. Tile grades 1 and 2 are best for floors or walls, but because of its thinness, tile grade 3 is strictly for walls only.
- Start with the Right Substrate
Your ceramic tile can last longer if you set it in thinset mortar over a cement board. This cement board should have also been set on 3/4” plywood. If these are not properly laid out, the tiles can crack. You can also add polymer to the thinset mortar to increase the strength and bond.
- Taping the Cement Board
It’s important to tape the cement board seams to ensure proper installation. To do so, place an alkali-resistant fiberglass mesh tape in thinset over all the seams. Using a trowel, push tape into thinset and then spread more thinset over the tape, including screw depressions. Read the thinset’s manufacturer’s directions to make sure you allow it enough time to cure.
- Give It Time
This is probably an obvious tip, but most DIYers fail to give their ceramic time enough time before walking on it. It’s best to wait anywhere from 2-3 days. Otherwise, you may risk the tile cracking or moving. If you are hiring a contractor to do the job, make sure he lets you know when you can walk on the tile.
- Cracks May Not Be the Problem
If you’ve followed these steps and other tile tips to ensure that you’re properly installing your ceramic tile, but they still seem to crack, then maybe the cracks are not your problem. The root of your problem may be a weak foundation. Check if your home is built on weak or expansive soil. Weak soil makes the foundation uneven, which can easily cause cracks in tile flooring. Expansive soil easily absorbs water, which can increase its volume, causing foundations and floors to crack.