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Can I install my own [ceramic] tile floor? Or should I stay away from this?

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Question: Can I install my own [ceramic] tile floor? Or should I stay away from this?
Tile installation definitely falls into the category of "home renovation projects that look really easy but aren't." After all, it looks like nothing more than child's play.
Answer: It's a coin-toss, as far I'm concerned. If it were as easy as putting together a jigsaw puzzle, then we wouldn't have an entire job title called Tile Setter. Tile work goes back thousands of years, to Greece and Rome, and there are still entire families that continue the tradition of tile-setting.

The Easy Part of Tile Setting

It's fun to pick out tile. Tile is one floor covering that you can pick up in your hands and heft and get a good feel of it. Avoid Home Depot and Menards and Lowes...and go straight to a specialized tile store. You will encounter a bounty of wonderful tile that you may never know existed (not to mention, actual advice from humans). It's almost too much.

The Hard Part of Installing Tile

There are a lot of issues involved with tile setting that are easy to forget. These comprise the other side of that "coin toss" mentioned earlier:
  • Even planning can be complicated because it is almost like a chess game where you have to think several steps ahead.
  • You need a good substrate (or subfloor). If you do not have a good sub-floor for laying tile, you need to install this.
  • Perimeter tiles will need to be cut. You can use either a wet tile saw or what is often colloquially called a snap tile cutter for this. More likely, you will want to use both types of tile-cutting tools.
  • Even tiles within the perimeter can be difficult. They do not automatically fall into straight lines: you need to impose this.
  • The tile mortar is heavy and can be difficult to mix (so buy pre-mixed mortar)

Tile Setting Video

My advice: start on a non-essential room. How about a mud-room? A basement? A mother-in-law suite? Anything but the kitchen or master bathroom. Also, we have a great tile setting video to get you started.
Related Video
How to Grout Tile
How to Replace a Wall Outlet
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