Laying ceramic floors

Tile laying in Vicenza and Verona

This article is for you if you are trying to understand more about tile laying. We have been laying ceramic floors in Vicenza and Verona for many years and we are aware that the quality of the final result, the floor, is the result of several factors: you need a good project, quality tiles, reliable materials for gluing and grouting and, finally, a good tile installer!

Tiling is fundamental for the success of the job and should be carried out by people who are trained, capable and encouraged to work at their best. 

On this page we will talk about how to avoid problems and mistakes, what precautions should be taken on the building site, what equipment your tiler should have and, in short, how you can achieve a satisfactory and long-lasting floor or wall tiling. 

Here are the topics. 

 

A correct tiles laying avoids future problems...

Mistakes in tile laying

We have been doing this for more than 50 years, and yet there is always something to learn. Laying floors is not an easy job, and despite 50 years of experience and tiles laid in Vicenza and Verona, we are not infallible.

On the other hand, tiles have changed radically in recent years: in just a few years we have gone from floor tiles in which the standard size was 30x30 to very large slabs, with sizes up to and including 120x120, and with increasingly reduced thicknesses. 

This is why it is important to train and keep installers up to date: changes in materials must be matched by changes in laying methods, techniques and technologies used, adhesives and grouts capable of withstanding greater stress. 

Despite this, some problems can arise, many of which are solvable, some of which are not.
We discuss them in detail here:

Problems with tile laying
 

A tile layer with skills as a... gardener!

Laying tiles: which technique? 

There are many techniques for laying tiles, although there are three main ones:

  • dry laying (floating or raised)
  • sand and cement laying
  • glue-laying

Dry laying of tiles is done, for example, with thick outdoor stoneware, which is laid on supports (PVC or rubber) or on gravel or, finally, directly on the ground. This type of laying is discussed in the article dedicated to this particular type of tile:

laying thick stoneware

If, on the other hand, you want the tile to adhere to the substrate, you must use one of the other two techniques: laying with sand and cement or laying with adhesive on screed. The recent Uni standards, and before that the practice, are pushing to abandon the laying with sand and cement and to adopt the laying with glue. For 20 years we have been laying only with glue on screed to guarantee greater durability of the work. 
If you want to know more about this, you can find all the information here:

sand and cement or glue?

 

Vicenza: laying of metallic effect stoneware tiles

Tile layers and screed layers... 

If your house is new or if you have decided to completely demolish the floor, you will have to choose how to make the screed and who to appoint to install it. If you want to know about screeds and the characteristics they should have, you can start here:

the screed

One important thing: we strongly advise against entrusting the screed to one person and the floor installation to another, in other words, to have two different partners. This is a common but serious mistake, which is due to the proliferation of companies that only make the screed and interface with companies and designers, suggesting that they be entrusted as "specialists".

Unfortunately, we are constantly seeing cases of "passing the buck": once the screed has been completed and paid for, any problems unfortunately fall to the end customer. 
So, once again, the advice is to rely on a single operator, capable of producing both the screed and laying the tiles. If you have a single contact person, you will also have a single person responsible in the event of problems.
We receive dozens of requests every year, including from the site, for advice on problems where it is not possible to establish whose fault it is, whether it is the screed or the tiler. That's why, we'll say it again, the floor must be thought of as a single element that cannot be split in two.

And I'll tell you something else: if you can, have the invoice state "subcontracted tile flooring including screed, installation and materials" (or a similar phrase). In this case you will be 100% guaranteed, even in the event of a court case: "contracted" work places a series of obligations and responsibilities on the contractor to protect you.  

Tile layers at work with large formats, Vicenza

Substrate for tiles

A fundamental factor in the success of a tile floor is the substrate on which the tiles are to be laid.
Here too there are several possibilities, but the most common are two:

  • Overlay on an existing floor
  • laying on a screed, i.e. on a "new" substrate. 

In the case of renovation, it is often the case that one finds oneself wanting to replace the old floor with a new tile. All customers have the problem of deciding whether to demolish the floor completely and then redo the screed and glue it on, or whether to keep the old floor and go for an overlay.

Clearly the latter solution is - economically - preferable because it saves the costs of demolition and disposal of the old floor. But it is not always feasible, especially when large or very large tiles have to be laid and the old floor presents problems.

If you are planning to overlay tiles on an existing floor, don't miss this article: 

overlay on existing floor

Obviously, if you can, we recommend that you completely demolish the old floor and redo the substrate, which will then be absolutely flat, compact and solid, guaranteeing a better result. The base on which the tiles will be laid is called a "screed" and can be made in different ways. This is discussed in the next paragraph. 

Verona: laying large format tiles in overlapping pattern

Every tile has its own screed? 

Well, it's not quite like that, although there are many types of screed. The choice of which one to make depends on various factors: timing, type of heating system, acoustic requirements, weight requirements in the floors... 

But regardless of the type of screed chosen, it must respect certain fundamental characteristics and the installer must carry out a number of checks before starting to lay the tiles:

checks to be made on the screed

Vicenza: laying tiles outdoors with levelling wedges

Laying tiles and respecting joints

Joints are deep cuts, which also affect the screed, and which divide the floor into various portions. The joint must then be filled with elastic material in order to allow some (small) movement of the floor without creating fractures. 

The joints should be studied before laying so as not to "ruin" the laying pattern of the tiles. We explain everything here:

joints on screed and tiles

For the series: how NOT to make joints...

Professional tile laying

In order to achieve a better result, there are now techniques and equipment that can help the installer take better care of certain details and help you achieve an (almost) perfect floor. We say "almost" because we must never forget that work in this sector is done by hand, by craftsmen, and we cannot expect "zero tolerance" or absolute perfection. Impossible. 

But the result certainly improves if we use appropriate techniques. For example, we recommend that you ask your installer to use levelling wedges, an excellent way of improving the final result:

laying tiles with levelling wedges

Laying wall tiles with levelling wedges

Laying large format tiles

Someone once said: "when the going gets tough, the tough get going". Well, with the arrival of large format tiles, laying has become much more complex. When we talk about "laying tiles" we mean not only the moment of gluing the slab to the floor or wall. Of course, this is the most important part, but the other phases must not be underestimated, especially if we have to glue tiles whose dimensions on the floor exceed 90x90 and become 120x120 or even 160x160. 
We have to think about the difficulty of transporting the tile inside the premises, moving it, spreading the adhesive on the back, lifting it and then laying it on the laying bed... everything becomes extremely more complex. 

laying large slabs

Fortunately, in this case too, technology comes to our aid, and today we have a whole series of equipment that allows us to transport and handle large tiles, supports that facilitate adhesive spreading operations, and tools that allow us, after laying, to vibrocompact or bring together two slabs that have already been laid. 
I understand that you may think that this is the responsibility of your installer, but I invite you to take a look at this article so that you can assess your installer by the equipment he comes with. If he doesn't have the right equipment... you might want to look for another one! 

equipment for large slabs

Laying tiles in Cologna Veneta (Verona)

Laying and grouting tiles

Once the tiles have been laid, we have to think about how to seal the joint, i.e. the gap that must be left between two tiles. The Uni standard states that the minimum joint on the floor must be at least 2 millimetres. We are well aware that joints are the main enemy of every housewife and homemaker, so we have invested time and energy in researching the most valid products, those that can guarantee easy maintenance over time. Let's start by saying that products for grouting ceramic floors have made great strides and that today there are grouts, based on epoxy resins, that are completely non-absorbent, elastic and that "ceramise" the surface, to the point that cleaning them is as easy as cleaning a tile. But they cost more. You can find all the information here:

grouting tiles

Incorrect laying of tiles: nightmarish joints...

Laying tiles: the costs

If I had to answer the question "how much does it cost to lay a tile?", I would say that in 80% of cases the cost falls in the range between 18 and 25 euros per square metre. 

But, clearly, while I understand that this is the most interesting subject for you reading this, I must tell you that it is also the one where it is most difficult to give you definite answers.

Laying a tile floor is an activity subject to many variables, some of which can be predicted, others necessarily require an inspection. Then there are the relevant factors, such as the amount of flooring to be done or the size of the tile. Laying the tiles in a 2,000 metre supermarket with 20x20 tiles will cost less than €15 (per square metre) while laying 50 metres of 100x100 tiles in the living area of your home will cost more than €20.

In order to be able to give you more precise answers, we have written this article in which, thanks to hypotheses, you can get an idea of the installation costs.

how much does it cost to lay tiles?

But if you're trying to save on installation costs, let me tell you what an older customer told me: "I don't want any discounts on installation! I'm too poor to buy tiles twice...".

Tile installer struggling with pre-trowel cleaning

Laying tiles: tips and ideas

If you have come this far and read all the suggested articles, you will have a much clearer idea of how tiling works and what you can and cannot do in your home. 
But there are other articles that we provide you with, which you will find below.
In these articles we tell you about our work, the things we have done well, but also our mistakes, so that they don't happen to you.

We have tried to simplify the contents in order not to risk being incomprehensible or boring, but you will find that taking a look at these articles will be useful when you have to tackle the job of laying tiles in your home. 

One last note: we only lay tiles in the provinces of Vicenza and Verona, but we only lay tiles purchased from us, whose quality and characteristics we know. This is because we want to and must be able to guarantee the quality and durability of the finished floor. 

Thank you for reading this page and... happy laying! 

Laying tiles in an attic in Vicenza

Verona: laying wall tiles

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