By Robert Korpella, eHow Contributor
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are installed the same way, although porcelain has some key differences. Porcelain tiles are made of sand fired at high temperatures. These tiles are more water-resistant than ceramic and they are stronger, more durable. They do cost a bit more and they are much more difficult to cut.
Things You’ll Need
- Portable drill with screwdriver bit
- Measuring tape
- Chalk line
- Porcelain floor tiles
- Plastic spacers
- Tile adhesive
- Mixing attachment for portable drill
- Notched trowel
- Rubber mallet
- Wet saw with diamond saw blade
- Safety glasses
- Grout compound
- Rubber float
- Bucket of clean water
- Two clean sponges
Clean the subfloor to remove dirt and debris that could interfere with how well tile adhesive bonds. Hammer any nails that may be sticking up and use a power drill to drive screws heads just below the surface of the subfloor. The subflooring material does not necessarily have to be level, but it does need to be flat.
Create reference lines for the first few tiles by finding the center point of the room. Measure the width and divide by two, then measure the length and divide by two. Mark the floor to indicate these center lines, then snap a chalk line across them to make them easy to see. The chalk lines represent the center grout lines between tiles.
Add tile adhesive to a clean plastic bucket. The adhesive, a type of mortar referred to as thinset, is usually sold as a powder that needs to be mixed with water. Stir in water as directed by the manufacturer by using a mixing attachment on a portable power drill. The adhesive should be about as thick as pancake batter, and will need to rest for 5 to 10 minutes to make sure all the water is absorbed.
Lift a large dollop of adhesive with the back of the trowel and drop it onto the floor. Throw down enough adhesive to cover about a square yard in just one of the four sections of the room the center lines have established. Once the adhesive is down, use the notched side of the trowel to comb it. Hold the trowel at about a 45 degree angle as you work. Be sure not to cover up the chalk lines.
Butter the back of the tile with more adhesive if the tile is 12-by-12 inches or greater, or if it’s more than 1/8 inch thick. You can also butter the back of any tile for better adhesion. No need to comb the adhesive on the backs of tiles.
Begin laying tile at the center point. The first tile should be set into the wet adhesive so that two adjacent sides meet up with two adjacent chalk lines. Set one edge of the tile down first, then drop the tile into place. Give it a twist to set it into the adhesive but be sure it ends up in the correct alignment.
Lay another tile next to the first one within the same section. Give it a slight twist to set it and place plastic spacers between the tiles to establish the correct gap between them.
Tap the tiles gently with a rubber mallet to seat them. Check for level after setting five or six tiles and again anytime you feel you need to. Tiles set too low will need to be pulled up and more adhesive applied. Tiles set too high may need to be tapped lightly again. Even though porcelain tiles are tough, they can break, so use caution with the rubber mallet.
Lay more tiles into the same section until all full tiles are in place. Avoid walking on tiles or kneeling on them as the adhesive cures. Once all tiles are set in place in this section, follow the same procedure to lay tiles in the remaining three sections of the room.
Wait for the adhesive to dry completely (about 24 hours) before marking porcelain tiles that will need to be cut. Cut tiles will line up along walls and door jambs, but leave an expansion gap of about 1/4 inch along the walls.
Put on a pair of safety goggles. Since porcelain is strong, it needs a diamond blade for cutting. The saw should have a sled to place the tile on and a miter gauge for alignment. Line everything up before turning on the saw. One switch will activate the water pump for cooling the blade. Turn that one on first. Then, turn on the blade and make the cut. Be slow, deliberate and use caution. Keep fingers and hands well away from the spinning saw blade.
Butter the backs of cut tiles to set them in place. The adhesive on them does not need to be notched. Wait for the adhesive to cure completely before applying grout.
Mix up enough grout to work comfortably in about half an hour. Grout compound is usually sold as a powder that mixes with water. It can be blended with a mixer attached to a power drill just as the mortar was, then mixed to a peanut butter consistency.
Force grout between tiles with a float held at a 45 degree angle to the floor, wiping diagonally across the joints. When the grout gets firm, clean the excess left on tiles by wiping with a damp sponge in clear water. Rinse out the sponge frequently. Try to work the sponge in one long arc instead of going back and forth, and rinse the sponge after each pass. It may be necessary to repeat this process several times over the entire floor to remove all the excess.
Allow the tiles to haze, then polish them with a different sponge than the one you used to wipe grout in the previous step (that one will have absorbed too much grout) and a bucket of clean water.