To achieve a quality finish it is worth taking the time to prepare the areas to be tiled. Careful marking out will ensure that the fixed tiles will be properly centred and any cut tiles are of a comfortable size. Preparation will also help gauge where borders and features are best placed before it is too late for adjustments.
All areas to be tiled must be clean, flat, mature, dry and free from dust and any residues that may cause poor adhesion. Any irregularities in the surface prior to tiling may affect the quality of the tiled finish. To assist with the preparation work there are articles to follow that explain how different areas should be treated prior to tiling. Natural stone and Terracotta tiles may contain residual moisture from manufacture which will cause the tiles to appear darker than anticipated. Damp tiles should be unpacked and allowed to dry thoroughly before fixing. Should this not be possible they can be fixed but it will result in an extended drying time. Some tile edges may have small chips or flaws which should be reserved for cuts. Glass and Agglomerate tiles react to temperature more than other tile products. For this reason these tiles should be stored in the room in which they are to be fitted to allow them to settle. Glass tiles should be left for 24 hours and Agglomerate tiles will need 48 hours. Agglomerate tiles must also be stacked flat and not on their edges.
Always inspect the tiles prior to fixing, making sure that tiles are shuffled to ensure any colour and shade variations are well mixed. It is strongly advised to check that there are enough tiles to complete the work before fixing as it is not possible to match tiles from different batches. For the same reason it would be prudent to keep a few extra tiles should any need to be replaced in the future. Always handle tiles carefully as many are relatively fragile prior to installation.
Before any marking out takes place it is important to consider where any permanent items such as a bath will sit, if not present at the time of tiling. The positioning of these pieces will determine the layout of the tiles. If there is more than one entrance to the area that will be tiled it is important to establish which will be the main access and centre the room along this axis.
Mark the centre of the floor against the wall with the main entrance in it. Do the same on the opposite side of the room. Mark a straight line across the room joining the two points to make the centre line.
Measure the centre line to find the middle and mark it accordingly. From the centre point set out tiles towards the far wall from the entrance, until no more whole tiles will fit. Using the back edge of the furthest whole tile from the door as a guide, mark a line at 90º to the centre line across the rear of the room. Set out further tiles along the new line until no more whole tiles will fit.
Using the edge of the furthest tile from the door as a guide, mark a parallel line to the centre line along one side of the room. To ensure the new line is parallel to the centre line, take periodic measurements between them. The tile that is the furthest from the door will be the starting point Always work back towards the door. Once the whole tiles have been fixed the cuts can be measured and fitted.