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You can read around various guides that explain how to tile, I won’t go over bits that have already been covered. Here are some stuff I experienced which you don't read about:
1), almost all tilers would recommend self-levelling compound (SLC) over existing floor to get it perfectly level. I didn't want to add height to my floor so I decided it was level enough, I had a 2m straight edge and placed it over my floor and it seemed level (ish). So decided to just prime the floor and start tiling on it. I soon discovered the dips and peaks of the floor and it really slowed me down, as I needed to build up the peaks so it's a little more gentle and gradual [note: sometimes the peaks were small and I just really reduced the adhesive]. I had to load up with adhesive to make up for the troughs. It didn't affect me too much as I was working with small 18cm by 18cm tiles. But for large format tiles it would not have been possible and the peaks would have meant very harsh lippage from tile to tile.
2) Pro tilers on YouTube will make it look really easy and quick and they can lay down tiles in 10-15 seconds each. When you do it yourself, you're going to faff with it and it might take you a while. My average laying time was 8 tiles in 30 minutes (if you factor in adhesive prep, aligning and cleaning tools, work area, hands etc.). I got adhesive everywhere. Pro tilers have a knack for keeping themselves and the work environment relatively clean. They don’t seem to get adhesive on the knuckles, back of the hand, in the palms, forearms etc. I got it pretty much everywhere, and on top of the tiles I just laid too. I had to press tiles down that were sitting too high, when you press down, adhesive spills out the sides. So you have to clean it up again and re-check. Then you find it's still a bit high, rinse, repeat. You have to clean as you go as it’s a lot harder to clean after it’s dried. You have to clean out the tile gaps as well so you can grout it later without having to score out dried adhesive from it.
4) I worked alone so knocking up adhesive all the time was annoying and ruined my workflow, it would have been handy to have someone mix adhesive for me so I have a steady supply and can lay tiles non-stop and build up momentum.
5) To get the results I wanted, it took me a long time to do, I worked very slowly and took me a month to complete (working in evenings in drips and drabs). In hindsight I would have just paid someone to do it for me, they'll have a duo come in and finish it all in 3 days, tiles laid, grouted, job done.
6) My late brother was a painter decorator and I think he did some tiling as well, I still have his toolbags and used a lot of his tools which allowed me to do the job myself with little expense. trowels, floats, adhesive mixer, tile cutter, etc. can add up, you're probably looking at £100-£150 in tools (tile cutter being the most expensive one), so if you don’t have the tools already, it might not be worthwhile doing it yourself.
7) You'll always need more adhesive and grout than what the packet says. If it has a high and low range, go by low range. If it doesn't have a range, assume you'll need 2x. Due to the adhesive and grout going off, Not having enough left in your mixer bucket for a complete tile, you will waste a lot. The coverage estimate assumes you can use every last ounce of it. I had 2 rubble sacks of dried up adhesive which were leftover bits.
8) I am pleased with my results, I do regret the time it took. It go dragged out because I could only work a couple of hours and had to stop so the kitchen could be used for the kid’s dinner etc. I do wonder though whether a job done by a contractor would have been any better. They don’t always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines on curing time. I was tiling over asbestos linoleum which I didn't want to remove, I got a special primer designed for lino which has a 2 hr curing time. Would a contractor had waited 2 hours? Would they have waited 24 hours before moving the washing machine and fridge freezer over the newly tiled area so they could tile in the appliances space? Would they have waited 24 hours after tiling to grout? I have seen many times when contractors do not follow these guidelines because it's too time consuming, they want to quickly move onto their next job. A tiler left left areas under the washing machine, fridge freezer ungrouted in my mother in laws house.
9) I grouted too deep and need to regroup most of the floor. I used a grout finisher tool link here: silverline crappy grout tool, The instructions on the packet stated it was fine for use up to 5mm. I was using 4mm spacers and thought it was fine to use. Unfortunately as I was going over the grout, the plastic making contact with the tile wore down fast. So the tool ended up making deeper and deeper lines. Maybe I pressed too hard because I was using it on the floor, but it's no good and some of the grout is too deep and a dirt magnet. I will re-do it and this time use a metal spoon to finish off the grout. A metal spoon won’t wear down like this tool.
Here’s my completed job.
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