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Tools for the Project

  • Wet saw
  • Scraper
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Electric drill
  • Ribbon mixer
  • Utility knife
  • Claw hammer
  • Small pry bar
  • Knee pads (Trust me!)
  • Chalk line
  • Tape Measure
  • Rubber mallet
  • Grout float and sponge
Preparing the Sub-floor

We wanted ceramic tile in the living room but wanted to keep the carpet until the kid could navigate without falling down. I found that the easiest way to remove the carpet was to pull it off the tack strips, cut it into 5' wide strips, roll them up, and use plastic tape to secure them. Then, I did the same with the padding. Next, use the claw hammer and pry bar to take up the tack strip. If there are any drywall compound splatters on the slab from the initial construction, scrape them up.

Now, to get the slab clean, don't sweep; the dust that has sifted through the carpet is very fine and will go airborne. Use a shop-vac. Eyeball the slab carefully. Minor imperfections are alright but if you have major ones, skim them with thinset.

Do Your Tile Layout

Find the center of the room in both directions and snap chalk lines. Visualize this; the chalk lines will look like a big plus sign with the intersection being in the exact center of the room. These are your "control lines." Be sure that your control lines are perpendicular. Use the 3-4-5 method and adjust as needed.

Now it's simply a matter of measuring back to find your border tiles (taking the grout line spacing into consideration). Once you have the border tile size, snap chalk lines so you'll know where to start laying tile. The lines will be parallel to the control lines so the borders might vary in size a bit as you go down the wall. Don't do all four sides of the room; you only need two walls (intersecting in the corner you'll be starting out of). Leave an exit; don't be like the guy that painted himself into a corner!

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