Estimating Tools for Installation
For a good layout certain tools are necessary. The first on the list are measuring tools. They include tape measures, squares, chalk lines, pencils, straight edges, levels, and if you wish a story pole.
Keep reading and examining the drawings and photographs for the use of these tools. Also peruse the diagrams that describe how to check levels, squares, and straight edges for accuracy.
The only item on this list that probably needs explaining is the story pole. The tile worker makes a story pole with a straight edge made of metal, wood, or plastic. A sufficient number of tiles are placed on the ground against the straight edge and is arranged with the desired grout joint size. The story pole can then be placed against a wall or floor and an estimate can be made whether cuts will have to be made. I have never used one. I prefer to use measurements of the tile placed on the floor in a straight line for my measurements.
A note on the mortar bed advantage. Mortar beds can be placed at various minimum and maximum thickness. This allows the installer to adjust surfaces to accommodate surfaces that are slightly out of plumb, square, and level. This also allows the installer to adjust the final setting bed to accommodate full or half tile. We will see later that full tile is always preferred and tiny cuts avoided.
What is next? A proper layout is essential for several reasons. In the introduction I mentioned visually appealing and cost effectiveness. A proper layout will look good and the viewers eyes will move across the installation without stopping and causing the viewer to think, "why was that done?" Tiny cuts are a dead giveaway to a poor layout and are not visually appealing.
I mentioned cost effectiveness. The fewer cuts, in most cases, results in less wasted time and tile. Every tile that is cut, unless in half, is a full tile used. Also, every cut requires a trip to the saw or cutting board. Hence, only cut when you have to. Let's look at layouts in their actual specific use.