A basic tile installation begins as close to the center of the room as possible and proceeds toward the walls. This allows for walls that aren't straight and room dimensions that don't accommodate a whole number of tiles. Tiles that must be cut to fit are less visible if they're against the wall. Ideally, the starting point should be the exact center of the room, but adjusting it slightly will allow you to cut all the edge tiles to the same width. You should always lay tiles on fiber cement backer board instead of directly on a plywood subfloor.
Find the midpoint of each wall in the room with a tape measure and mark it with a pencil. Starting at the mark, draw a line perpendicular to the wall with a carpenter's square and extend the line to the center of the room with a straightedge. The point on the floor where the four lines intersect is the center. Draw a cross at that point with the straightedge.
Place one tile on the cross with a corner touching the mid-point. Using tile spacers to keep the tiles evenly spaced, lay a row along the line leading to the wall closest to the tile. Measure the gap between the wall and the last tile when you no longer have room for a full one.
Move the center tile toward the opposite wall by a distance equal to the difference between the gap and half the width of a full tile. Make a new mark on the line to denote the revised starting point, then lay tiles toward the opposite wall to make sure the gap between the last tile and the wall is the same.
Remove the tiles and draw a new line through the mark you just made that extends to both perpendicular walls. Lay tiles along that line, starting from the center, and measure the gap between the last tile and the wall.
Adjust the position of the first tile to equalize the gaps on both sides of the room, as in Step 3. Make a mark where the corner of the tile intersects the line and draw a cross on the mark to denote your actual starting point.
Place four tiles, each with a corner touching the center of the cross, and put tile spacers between them. Glue them down one by one with ceramic tile adhesive. Using the four tiles as a reference, you can now lay the rest of the tiles, starting from the center of the floor and working toward the walls.
Tips & Warnings
- If you're laying tiles in an irregularly shaped room or one with rounded walls, make a rough drawing of the room outline and use math to help you determine the measurements you need to make to find the center. Once you find it, it's best to start laying tiles from that point, since you probably won't be able to equalize the widths of the edge tiles.
Things You'll Need:
- Tape measure
- Carpenter's square
- Tile spacers
- Ceramic tile adhesive
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