Traditional tiles for either floors or ceilings required grout--there just was no way around it. A more complicated, tiresome installation, grout also requires continuous maintenance and care to avoid damage from moisture, stains and dirt for as long as the tiles remain. Modern vinyl tiles, however, along with PVC tiles made of plastic, install easily without grout. In addition, the wide variety of choices provides you with the opportunity to mimic just about any finish you can imagine.
Measure the room you wish to tile. Choose the type of tile you wish to purchase, and determine the number you will need. Estimate 12-inch tiles by multiplying the room length by width (thus, calculating area.) Take this number--equalling the total tiles needed--and add 5 per cent for error. Divide both the room length and width, in inches, by the tile measurement in inches, if tiles are not 12 inches. Multiply both figures together and again add 5 per cent for error.
Sand or level the existing floor as needed. Check for imperfections, suggests Ask the Builder Tim Carter, by laying a trouble light on the floor, at night. Shine the light across to highlight holes and ridges which will eventually show through linoleum tiles. Sand down ridges on concrete or wood; fill holes with a floor levelling or patching compound and then sand smooth on any surface; cover entire surface with a levelling compound on uneven patterns and soft surfaces. Apply compound with a putty knife or trowel; smooth and dry as directed on product instructions.
Scuff the entire surface if you are installing over concrete, to aid tile adhesion. Spray a latex primer paint over the subfloor evenly, if installing adhesive tile. Clean the entire floor after all preparation, and make sure it is dry before proceeding.
Spread out any underlayment that might be provided with your tiles; some installations, especially "glueless" vinyl tiles that adhere with either adhesive tabs or spray adhesive, may include a premarked grid to assist with installation placement. Measure your room and mark the centre, alternately--both width-wise and lengthwise--using a chalk line. Note that your room is now marked into equal fourths.
Read manufacturer's instructions carefully before installing tile; follow any special procedures or directions as indicated. Choose the installation type and process according to tile directions and tile type.
Mix spread adhesive if applying full-spread (sometimes called "luxury") vinyl tiles. Spread adhesive evenly across the floor, using a trowel. Allow the adhesive to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions before placing tile. Test after about 10 minutes, touching lightly; the adhesive is ready if it feels tacky. Skip if installing "glueless" or tab vinyl tiles or peel-and-stick tiles.
Begin placing tiles at the very centre of your room, working back towards one wall. Press gently and firmly, with a slight twist as you place full-spread vinyl tiles. Remove the backing from peel-and-stick tiles and press into place firmly. Apply adhesive tabs or spray the adhesive glue provided with glueless vinyl tiles. Continue working until you come to the last row, then move to the opposite side of the room and work back to the last row again.
Cut, if necessary, the last row of tiles. Create a straight cut by placing the tile into position, marking where it should be cut, then drawing with a straight edge. Use a utility knife or tile cutter to break the tiles. Leave a slight gap against the wall--perhaps 1/8-inch--to allow room for expansion. Seal this gap with silicone if installing in a wet location such as bathrooms.
Wipe your new tile floor with white spirit or adhesive remover, where adhesive has got on the surface of your tiles, when completed with installation. Roll the floor if instructed by the manufacturer. Follow product instructions regarding any wait time and continuing maintenance.
Tap your tiles as you install them to remove any air bubbles. Cut out tiles around unusual shapes by creating templates and transferring to the tile.
Follow manufacturer's recommendations for tile adhesive brand used; failure to use the appropriate adhesive can cause tile installation to fail or colours to bleed. Make sure to clean tile rollers before using them to avoid transfer of contaminants on the roller.