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Making Any Tile Project Easier

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

Every home improvement project has its unique challenges. Most homeowners tend to agree, however, that floor tiling projects are particularly distressing. If the floor surface is not prepped adequately, even stout tiles can crack and break under use. Then, you have close corners and fitting border pieces. The critical key for success lies in accurate planning and, even then, you're bound to spend more money than you intended.

Measuring the project space correctly gives you a general idea of the cost of materials. Most tile contractors measure more than once. Remember, tiles are going to break when you're working, and you'll probably have to re-cut a number of them.

A good rule of thumb is to order upwards of 15 percent more tile than you intend to use. Under the worst case scenario of over-buying, you may have a small supply of replacement tiles in case some break under normal wear after the project is done. A year or two down the road, you may find it difficult to match the tile you use today.

Using a Tile Calculator

The good news for prepping correctly is that many home improvement stores have tile calculators. Home Depot has an online calculator here. Once you've measured the floor space, you can go online, type in the surface length, surface width, and the size of both your surface and border tiles. The calculator has options for both standard and metric dimensions.

It's a good idea to select your tile type before making calculations, determining the decorative accent pieces (chair rail molding or listellos, for example) and trim tiles (bull noses and V caps) that you want to use. The greater the number of accent and trim tiles, the higher the overall cost in materials and labor. It's a good idea to select your tile from a single tile line to avoid discrepancies in workmanship, durability, and style.

Knowing When to Use a Tile Contractor

Even if you plan on doing the job yourself, you may want to consult with a tile contractor or home improvement store tile clerk and pay a small fee to have your plans evaluated. You can have your hands full if the initial framing job on your home resulted in out-of-plumb corners. And if you have curved walls, you might spare yourself fractured tiles, bleeding fingers, and a palpitating heart by hiring a tile contractor to handle the work.


Home Depot

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.