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Installing tile designs

This complex pattern created from pieces of granite

This complex pattern created from pieces of granite could have been done less expensively with tile. Photo Credit: Tim Carter, 2013

1. Plan

First, sketch the designs you are envisioning. Use colored pencils or markers to re-create on paper what the floor may end up looking like. Draw the designs to scale, and then position them on the floor to see how they will work with your furniture.

2. Sample the goods

If you like what you have done on paper, buy a few sample pieces of the flooring to see how the colors work together. You'll discover you have all sorts of options with respect to ceramic tile, granite flooring and even marble. The biggest challenge when working with these materials is ensuring that the top surface of all the materials is in the same plane once the floor is finished.

3. Trial run

If you have any doubt as to the final look of your floor, you might want to dry lay the pieces of flooring in place and stand back to see what it looks like. If the design you want involves cutting flooring pieces, this may not be possible.

4. Take it back

If you don't like the look, you may be able to return the flooring for a full credit. Be sure the material is returnable if you have the slightest doubt about what it will look like in place.

5. Border issues

You can achieve amazing results by creating simple borders around rooms with different-colored flooring. Some tile and granites come in different sizes so you can create bands of color or interest by simply changing the size of the flooring in different rows.

6. Styling

Medallions or other large patterns can be fantastic in the center of rooms where you may have a table with a glass top. The floor will show through the table.

7. Careful with water

When it's time to grout, realize that water is both your friend and foe. You need plenty of clean water to get the grout from the surface of the tile flooring. But if you put too much water on the fresh grout, you can weaken it. It will crumble and turn to powder in a short time.

8. Grouting

The key when grouting is to make sure the grout is not too wet. You should grout only about 15 square feet at a time, unless you have a lot of experience. If the relative humidity is low, the grout will dry quickly.

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