Tile flooring has become one of the most popular options for 21st century homeowners, and it’s easy to see why. The material is long-lasting, low maintenance and affordable. Plus, new technologies have produced an explosion in tile design. Tile floors can now closely mimic almost any material—including natural hardwood—with surprising results.
Laying tile seems relatively simple in theory, and many homeowners decide to take on a tile project themselves. Depending on the scope of the project and the experience level of the homeowner, DIY tiling can be highly successful.
But there are also plenty of projects that go awry, costing the homeowner time and money. Often times, a professional tile installation company is called in to rescue the floors and put things on the right track.
Are you considering laying tile yourself? If so, check out this list of common blunders that turn simple tile projects into headaches. By understanding what many DIY tilers do wrong, you’ll have better chances for success in your tiling efforts.
1. Not buying enough tiles
It sounds like an insignificant error, but being short on tiles can create tricky problems. In virtually all cases, the minimum number of tiles is not enough to complete the job. Tiles almost always break, or are mislaid/damaged, and replacements are needed. You might think you’ll order replacements if needed, but the tile market is constantly changing and it could be difficult to find an exact match in the future. The pros suggest stocking 20-25% more tiles than required. Having extra tiles on hand will make repairs easier in the future, in case any tiles are broken or damaged.
2. Not buying the right adhesive
Tile in general is made of resilient and waterproof materials—but certain tile jobs, particularly the bathroom, require special adhesive to make sure the tile sets and stays properly, and that frequent exposure to moisture does not loosen and damage the tile. Failing to distinguish between waterproof and non-waterproof adhesive is one of the most common mistakes made by DIY tile layers, and it can prove frustrating or even costly.
3. Making mistakes while measuring
Measurement errors are rampant among homeowners laying tile. You may be tiling a wall or a floor, but measurement is one of the most important parts of the job. Experience makes this task easier, and allows you to anticipate irregularities. Here is where hiring a pro is better than moving forward without confidence. Using special measurement tools, including battens, is important to getting the measurements right. You may be able to proceed with incorrect measurements, but the resulting imperfections may be noticeable.
4. Applying extra adhesive
A common (and incorrect) assumption is that more adhesive is a good thing, and will make your tile installation stronger and less likely to move or break. But adhesive is subject to shrinking after it’s been applied—this is a natural process. When adhesive has been applied too heavily, or in an uneven way, it can actually crack and damage your tile installation as the adhesive shrinks.
5. Grouting errors
Many people are eager to start grouting after the tile has been laid, but doing so too soon can lead to complications. It’s usually recommended to wait at least a full day before grouting the tile.
Another common error with grout is simply being sloppy. Precision work with grout will result in a neat, clean appearance with no unsightly stains. Poor grouting can also create weaknesses in the installation itself.
Should I go DIY?
Depending on the experience, tools and time you have at your disposal, DIY tiling can lead to good results. It’s also satisfying to know you’ve done the job yourself. But tiling does require special skills, and the difference between DIY and professional work is often noticeable. Many people hire professional tile companies because the financial and scheduling side of the project is predictable, and the results are guaranteed in writing (that is, if you work with a reputable company).
Whatever route you choose, enjoy your new tile! Please feel free to leave comments below.