DIY cermic tile installation is a rewarding and money saving job that any homeowner or do it yourselfer shouldn't hesitate to attempt. You will need only a few tools and a bit of time.
Step 1: Preparing the Wall
If you are applying tile to a bathroom wall or tub surround you need to be sure the backing is waterproof so it won't rot and mold can't form. This is accomplished by using a waterproof backing board, or blue board as its called in some areas. When you are purchasing your tile, be sure to tell the salesperson where you are installing it so you can get the proper backing. Otherwise you will ruin your entire job and waste a lot of money on tile.
Apply this backing board like you would sheetrock. Follow manufacturers instructions. Usually blueboard is installed with construction adhesive.
Step 2: Preparing the Floor
If you are installing ceramic floor tile, the first thing you need to do is make sure your floor is level. Use the level to determine this. You should have no more than 1/4 inch dip in the floor. You can use floor leveling compound to level it or you can cover the entire floor with tile backing board that is marked into grids. The backing board needs to be screwed into place on each dot of the grid. This backing is thick and with proper screwing down into sub floor will prevent flexing on an uneven floor with a variance of up to 3/8 inch. If the variance is more than this, you will need to use both floor level compound and backer board.
Step 3: Install the Tile
Determine the center of the area. Start in the center and apply ceramic tile adhesive with the toothed trowel. Then press your tile into the adhesive with a wiggling motion to set the tile in firmly. Place a spacer against this tile then install another tile next to it in the same manner. Repeat this action until your entire floor is covered. Be sure to use spacers in each direction between each tile so your grout will be even. Use the tile saw or cutter to cut smaller tile pieces for the edges of the floor. Be sure to use the instructions on the adhesive container for proper drying time. Most set up in less than 10 minutes.
Step 4: Grouting the Tile
The final step of your wall or floor tile is applying grout. Mix the grout per package instructions or purchase ready mixed grout. Apply to the tile spaces using a grout trowel and a pushing motion to push the grout into the empty spaces between the tiles. Remove excess grout with the trowel and wet rags.
When the grout has set, use wet rags to wash away excess grout on the tile that will appear as a dusty look. Be sure to remove it all. Then seal the grouted areas when the grout is fully dry, at least 72 hours or by manufacturers instructions.