All tiles have some imperfections in them and tile setters are not always perfect either. These two situations can lead to poor tile placement that causes some variations in gaps between tiles and crooked runs. Keeping clean grout lines is one of the most important parts of tile setting, and it requires constant attention during the installation.
Beginning right is the key to keeping clean grout lines. A room that is a standard rectangle or square serves as a good example on how to lay out tiles and have a good looking finished product.
Practical Tips for Preparing and Setting Tiles
- Measure the room at each end and place a mark on the floor in the center of all four sides. Use a chalk line to make a mark from the center to the opposite center in both directions so that the room is marked off into four quadrants. The idea is to have the same amount of tile showing on the last run at one wall as on the floor at the opposite wall.
- Tiles should be placed beginning at the cross section in the center of the room and continuing until reaching a wall. This is a single line of tiles to begin with, which keep their edge on the straight line. Once the initial line is in place, tiles should be laid back from the line to complete the first quadrant.
- Moving to the opposite side of the first run of tiles and completing the second quadrant finishes half the room, and if tiles were place properly, they should have clean grout lines.
- Beginning at the center of the room and following the chalk line in the opposite direction should result is a near perfect line of tiles down the center of the room, and then the two remaining quadrants can be completed.
It may sound rather simple to set tiles so that they look uniform, but clean grout lines are often hard to accomplish because one tile may be off just enough to cause difficulty in staying straight with the line.
Tips For Setting Tile for the First Time
- Rooms may not be completely square, and it is never completely possible to follow the initial line and the crossing line for that reason. Whichever line you follow first is the most important one. The crossing line is more to give you a starting point for the first tile, and if you cannot follow it, don’t worry as long as you end up with clean grout lines.
- Guessing at the width of the grout line is a good way to make a mistake. It is best always to use spacers between tiles so the gap remains the same from start to finish. The hard plastic type of spacers are best because they don’t compress the way the softer types do.
- Clean grout lines are also dependent upon tiles matching up at each corner. Using a straight edge to make certain that the tiles are flush will also make the floor feel more uniform under foot and prevent tripping problems caused by high corners.
- Cleaning the edges of tiles as you go prevents remnants of adhesive from drying on tiles and their edges. Grout lines won’t be clean if adhesive is left protruding from the grout.
As you can see, getting the first line of tiles set properly makes all the difference between a good tile job and a poor one. Following the few steps here will give the tile job a professional appearance.