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How To Use A Chalk Line When Installing Tile Flooring

Creating a chalk line is a handy strategy that helps you be precise when planning tile floor and plank floor layouts. If you’re installing floor tiles, you will often need to mark a straight line that stretches the entire length of the room. Chalk lines and kits that help you make them are invaluable when you’re measuring and marking distances that can’t be comfortably measured by a ruler or even a tape measure.

Follow these steps for creating chalk lines for a more precise tile installation, on the floor or the wall.

chalk line
(image: Jeremy Kunz)

Check Your Chalk

Your chalk line kit includes a small box of chalk that’s distributed evenly over the string to make your floor or wall marking. It’s important to store the chalk in a dry place. If it’s damaged by moisture, it won’t spread evenly over the line to give you an accurate marking. Check the chalk before you begin and replace it if necessary.

Boxes of chalk are available at any hardware store and typically come in white, red, or blue. Make sure you’re using the right color for your project so you can see the line clearly. Using white chalk on a white surface won’t give you a readable line. To distribute the chalk over your line, shake the box several times.

Secure the Line to the Wall

Secure the hook ring on your chalk line to the wall or floor at your starting point. If you have an assistant, they can hold the end of the line for you. Make sure you’ve measured the starting point carefully to get an accurate line.

Extend the Line to Your End Point

Carefully pull the line from its case as you extend it along the length of your floor or wall. Depending on the type of chalk line you’re using, you may need to use a crank to extend the chalk line. When the string is wound cleanly, you can often forgo cranking. If you notice any strain, however, you should return to cranking out the line to avoid damaging it.

drawing chalk lines flooring
(image: miz_ginevra)

Secure the Far End of the Line

Secure the opposite end of your snap line to the ending point. If the line is short enough for you to reach the center of it with one hand while holding the end of the chalk line with the other, you may do so. For a longer line, you will need to wind the line around a nail or screw to keep it in place, or enlist the help of another assistant.

Snap the Chalk Line

Make sure both ends of your line are held up to the wall in the right locations. Once they’re in place, you can complete the process by snapping the line. Draw the middle of the line away from the wall about an inch and let go. This will snap the taut line against the wall, leaving a chalk marking.

A chalk line gives you a straight guide that you can follow for projects like a backsplash installation or flooring renovation. Used correctly, this tool will simplify your DIY job and make large guidelines easier to draw.