DIY Don't: Tile Installation


It's no secret that the economy is undergoing some difficult challenges right now. The pressure to save money and find alternative solutions to what were once simple and inexpensive endeavors is burdensome to say the least. As a result, DIY projects are all the rage and more people are opting for Pinterest over hired professionals for any number of ideas. Why buy a professionally crafted bed frame when you can make one for yourself out of wooden pallets and a few fairy lights, right?

Have you seen those things? They're pretty awesome.

While we do support many DIY ventures and want to cheer you on in your attempt to save some extra cash, we do have to be completely honest about one area that you really should leave space for in your budget: tile installation. Tile is a tricky material that is challenging to buy without prior expertise, much less install it properly in your home. Mistakes can easily lead to cracked tile and separated grout just a few years down the road. You'll have done all of that work just to start over again!

Still thinking about taking your chances with this? We can respect that, but before you do, take a quick look at this breakdown of why we discourage inexperienced installation.

1) You're probably not saving as much as you may think.

Can we agree that most people who take on a tiling project are not simply doing it to build character? Money is more likely to be the motivation for DIY tiling. The problem is, it's going to be expensive no matter which route you take unless you have friends with a bunch of tools and supplies they're willing to hand over.

To tile a floor or bathroom you are going to need grout, tile cutters, spacers, a tile saw, level, chalk line, trowels, grout floats, tile sponge, tape measure, gloves, knee pads, safety goggles, paper towel, buckets, a drill, mixing paddle, spray bottle, mortar, rubber mallet, painter's tape, carpenter's triangle, film remover, tile nipper, grout sealer, stain blocker, cheese cloth, and lumber in addition to the actual tile. Add that to the time and gas it will take you to collect all of these items, not to mention the actual effort to do the installation, and you might as well have paid for a professional to do the job anyway.

2) Individual tiles are difficult to replace.

We may have mentioned this in one of our blogs before, but there really is no easy solution when you find individual tiles with problems. Obviously this is fine if you don't mind looking at uneven or cracked tiles. Either that or replace the whole kit and caboodle. And let's face it, nobody is up to that.

3) Buying tile is no joke.

Tile is not something you can just eyeball when making a purchase. What we mean is that you can't go into a store and just buy tiles that look the same. They have to have the same batch numbers from one box to another, otherwise you're going run into a difference in the shades of the tile and possibly the size. Imagine the frustration of getting halfway through your project and stepping back only to find that you have a two-toned floor. Our guess is that you wouldn't be happy.

Beyond that, you really have to know what you're looking for when picking out your tile, especially if you want to save a few bucks. There is a HUGE difference in quality between price ranges. With cheaper tiles you run the risk of a more brittle structure, absorbent material, a lack of durability, a pixelated print, and just overall low-quality product. If you must DIY, do your research, go straight to the manufacturer, and spend the money for better tiles. Remember, you're going to have to look at this for many years to come. It's an investment.

Pro Tips:

A) Don't buy from some big hardware store. Quality and consistency in their tile is a gamble.

B) Buy more than what you need in case of flaws.

4) The process can be tedious and frustrating.

Perseverance is key with tile installation. It takes a minimum of 2 days to install a tile floor if you really know what you're doing. That's a pretty big commitment if you live a busy life, and we're not even including the research you'll need to do to get the job done right or the time it takes to buy all of the materials. If you like time-intensive, hands-on projects, DIY might not be all bad for you. If, however, you can't spare the time, you might want to save yourself some trouble and just hire someone.

Beyond the time commitment, you are going to need patience. All of the little details have to be paid attention to when laying tiles, otherwise you wind up with a crooked and uneven floor. If you're not a by-the-book person, proceed your project with caution. You need to follow the directions in order to make your investment worth it all in the end!

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