Tiles are one of the hardest wearing and best-looking surfaces you can lay on a floor. Normally reserved for kitchens, bathrooms and hallways, they can also look great in dining and sitting rooms.

Before you go out shopping for tiles, measure the floor area you want to cover. To do this, multiply the rooms width by its length in metres (to give you a square metres figure) and then add on a ten per cent contingency to allow for cuts and breakages. Tiles are mostly sold in square metres, so you can compare prices readily between suppliers. You will also need to buy adhesive and grout and it is important that you ask your supplier for advice on the correct type for your application.

Tile gaps and grouting

The gaps between the tiles are vitally important to the finished look of the floor. To keep them even, plastic spacers are used between tiles. The in-store tiling displays will give you an idea how different-size gaps look once they have been grouted and finished. The supplier will also be able to advise you on how many bags of spacers you need.

Tiling a floor yourself

Why should you do this job yourself? Well, its immensely satisfying to create a beautiful floor from fairly basic materials and it will save you the per square metre a professional will charge you. These sound like good enough reasons to us to get tiling.

1. Floor tiles need to be laid in symmetry from the centre of the room, or the imbalance will distract the eye. This may mean tiles need to be cut at every edge of the floor. It might be too tricky a task for a DIYer if the walls do not run square so measure up before designing the layout. Start by marking the centre lines on the backer board and work out from there. Measure your tiles and then draw a grid of starting lines use a framing square for accuracy.

2. Apply a section of thin-set using a square-notched trowel up to the reference lines. You need to create a texture of constant ridges.

3. Position the first tile in the corner, up to the 90 reference line. Press down and twist slightly when laying to ensure the tile takes to the thin-set properly.

4. Continue laying tiles along both reference lines. Once these are in place, continue to fill the entire area youre working. Use tile spaces to ensure even spacing between tiles.

5. When you near a wall or obstruction, you will need to measure, mark and cut the tiles with a tile cutter as necessary.

6. Leave the thin-set to dry overnight and then grout the tiles. Using a grout float, spread the grout over the tiles, pushing it firmly into the joins.Scrape off excess.

7. If desired you can then tool the grout lines with a dowel to ensure a uniform appearance.

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