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Install Attic Access Ladder/Stairway Dear James: We have a large dry attic. I want to store my off-season clothes in plastic bags in the attic, but I do not feel safe climbing a stepladder. Can you tell me how to install a folding ladder? — Michelle W. Dear Michelle: Most …Read more. Install New Decorative Interior Doors Dear James: Our house is 35 years old, and I want to spruce it up. All the interior doors are plain flat hollow doors. I want to install some new decorative ones. What are the best, and are they difficult to install? — Cindy K. Dear Cindy: …Read more. Quick-to-Build Garage Shelves Dear James: We live in a condo with limited storage. My husband agreed to clean the garage if I build storage shelves. I am a novice DIY'er, but I want to show him I can do it. I need some tips. — Marge W. Dear Marge: It sounds like your …Read more. Use Drain Cleaners for Clogs Dear James: Our house is not even 10 years old yet and we are starting to get occasional clogs in the drains. Do you think that the plumbing was not done correctly? What drain cleaners are best to use? — Patty H. Dear Patty: Without inspecting …Read more.
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How to Ceramic Tile a Bathroom

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Dear James: I want to add new ceramic tile in the bathroom, and I am going to try to do it myself. Please give me some ideas of where to start this job and the basic sequence of steps to accomplish it. — Eileen W.

Dear Eileen: With a house full of kids, the bathroom is often the only spot where you can get any peace and quiet. A newly tiled bathroom is attractive and a pleasant spot to spend some quiet time. Don't expect much help from your kids or husband. To them a bathroom is just a bathroom.

Tiling a bathroom is not a difficult do-it-yourself job if you are willing to spend a lot of time in the planning stage. This is especially true if this is your first tiling job.

By the time you are done, you will either love or hate your builder. If the walls are all flat and plumb, it will be a breeze to fit the tiles. If your builder was not quite as careful as he should have been, you will spend a lot of extra time cutting and fitting tiles.

Each piece of ceramic tile is manufactured to tight tolerances, and the size is very consistent. This is necessary to produce uniform grout lines. Nothing looks worse than grout lines that are not straight and of a constant width. Just a slight variation is usually apparent.

A maximum target grout line width of about 1/8 inch for the wall tiles is acceptable, but slightly narrower looks better. With these tight tolerances, accurate tile cuts are imperative with fitting the corners and around objects.

Ceramic tile is cut very similar to glass. Use a tile cutter with a carbide wheel to score the glazed surface of the tile.

Apply force to each side of the tile and, 95 percent of the time, it will snap cleanly along the score mark. Simple tile cutters have a fence to keep the cutter square to the tile.

If you need to cut pieces narrower than about 5/8 inch, you will need to use a hacksaw with a carbide blade. If your builder was really off and you have to make many cuts to fit the tiles, see if you can borrow or rent a diamond wet saw. These saws are too expensive to buy for one or two jobs.

To make L cuts (cut a corner out of a tile), first cut the long edge with a hacksaw. Score the short edge and snap the corner out. To make a very clean-looking circle, use a carbide circle hole saw. A lower cost option is a rod saw that fits in your hacksaw frame. However, the cut will not be as perfect.

For rough cuts, use a tile nipper. This tool has carbide jaws that bite out chunks of the tile. The finished edge is not neat, but it is fine for areas that will be covered by decorative trim. A shower faucet handle is a good example.

It is advisable to start with the walls because you will most likely drop some tools or get abrasive dust on the floor. In laying out the wall tile pattern, the key to a good job is to get the tiles reasonably well-centered while minimizing cuts and narrow pieces.

Start on the long wall over the bathtub, usually five feet long. Find the center and start your first tiles there. Nail a level board to the wall to be used as a reference and support base for the first row of tiles. When they are set, remove the board and finish below it. Repeat this procedure on all the walls.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about Jim Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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