Michael Byrne's Setting Tile is packed with more than enough information for those thinking of taking on a tile job in their home. It is so detailed and thorough that it serves as a Tile 101 introduction for those interested in entering the trade full-time or simply improving their skills and knowledge. Byrne opens this revised and updated version of his previous effort with a brief description of how tile was made 6,000 years ago. Granted, the history lesson may not help someone who's planning to tile a kitchen counter, but Byrne's passion and interest for the subject pay off for the reader in other ways. He advises his readers, for example, that even after they've found the right tile for the bathroom floor or kitchen counter--the one that is just the right color and that the manufacturer recommends--to take those tiles and put them through a few of their own tests. Rub it with your favorite frying pan to see how easily it's marked up and, in turn, cleaned off. Scuff it with junior's hiking boots to see how it endures a day in the life. "I tell my customers in the end that, no matter what grade of tile they select, they can be the best judge of a tile's suitability." Byrne devotes chapters to materials, tools and safety, troubleshooting and repairs, and surface preparation. And in his chapter stressing the importance of doing a proper layout long before setting that first tile, Byrne also gives the reader a few clever ways to check levels, straightedges, and carpenter's squares for accuracy. This is a highly detailed book loaded with technical information that relies equally on photos and illustrations. It's also more about materials and tile samples than completed jobs. Don't buy this book if you're looking for glossy color photos of pristine tile jobs; buy it if you want to learn how to correctly install such jobs. --John Russell
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