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How to Install Floor Tiles? Step By Step Guide

Tile flooring is a stylish and practical solution for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry areas, and entrance ways. You may have a floor that is easy to maintain, watertight, and resistant to wear and tear in any of these spaces by installing tile. If your tile floors are damaged or worn, or if you’re just ready for an upgrade, use this article to learn how to lay tile yourself. The preparation of your area, the kinds of tile equipment and materials you’ll need, and appropriate tile flooring installation are all covered in this book as well.

Putting up a Tile Floor: A Guide

1. Select Tiles & Prepare The Area

It’s not difficult to learn how to install floor tiles, but it does require some forward planning. There are several types, hues, and patterns of tile. Start by using these recommendations:

  • Learn everything you can about the various tile choices before making a decision.
  • When the process is finished, your subfloor ought to be able to sustain tile, mortar, grout, and furniture. It needs to be spotless, dry, and level.
  • Examine your subfloor for any ridges, fissures, or uneven surfaces that might cause your tile to buckle or result in improper installation.
  • If your flooring is composed of plywood or OSB, use an underlayment made of water-resistant cement. For concrete subfloors, backer board is frequently unnecessary.
  • To make sure you have enough tile, measure the space.
  • To make the little color variations from each dye lot less obvious, combine tiles from all the boxes.

2. Assemble The Necessary Tools and Materials

For the purpose of laying a tile floor, you will require a tile cutter, a rubber mallet, tile spacers, a level, a tile trowel, and thin-set mortar. Although thin-set is made of cement, certain mortars with the designation “non-modified” call for the addition of a latex polymer. The latex polymer additive will enhance the mortar’s functionality and strengthen the bond. Purchase the trowel size, mortar type, and other tile-setting supplies, such as spacers, that the maker of your tile has advised.

3. Use a Layout

When tiling a floor, directly trace the arrangement of your chosen tile design into the subfloor. The lines on the pattern indicate where to begin laying floor tiles and help you position them evenly across the space. Layout lines must be square; else, the walls would have tiles with strange shapes.

  • Making a floor plan by properly sketching the room’s walls on a piece of grid paper is the best approach to guarantee square lines. Include any tile trim or edging as well as doors, floor obstacles such cabinets and fixtures, and any tile edging.
  • Locate the room’s center by: The four walls’ midpoints should be measured. Draw two chalk lines starting at the midpoints of the other two walls and the other pair of opposing walls. The center of the room is where the lines connect.
  • Check the following to ensure the chalk lines are square: Mark starts marking at the intersection, marking 3 feet on one chalk line and 4 feet on the other chalk line. The distance in a diagonal between these two spots should be calculated. The lines are square if the separation between them is precisely 5 feet.
  • The tiles will be off-center and the room may appear imbalanced if the lines are not square.. If the room is not square, which is typical, you will need to move one line before utilizing the above-mentioned 3-4-5 method to square the other line.
How to Install Floor Tiles

4. Examine the Layout

Create a dry run using your tiles to test the arrangement you’ve created.

  • Without using cement, place a single half-row of floor tiles in both directions, beginning at the center and moving outward. There are directional arrows on the reverse of certain tiles. For the pattern to be aligned, you must maintain that these arrows point in the same direction.
  • Between the tiles, place spacers.
  • When a whole tile cannot be placed in the available space, halt. If the area at the end of either row is less than a third of a tile, move your chalk lines so that at least half of a tile may fit in the area on either side of the room.

5. Set Up The Thin-Set Mortar

To glue tiles to the backer board or concrete subfloor, thin-set mortar is frequently utilized. It must be combined with water if purchased dry and consists of fine sand and cement. As instructed on the instructions, combine your thin-set in a large bucket using a drill with a mixing paddle. Do not overlook:

  • Mortars need to stand for five to ten minutes after mixing before they may be used. This “slake period” enables the mortar’s chemical components to completely activate.
  • Be careful not to mix a batch of thin-set that is too big. It has a finite shelf life, and if you combine too much of it, it will begin to set up before you can use it all.
  • After usage, immediately clean the mixing paddle to prevent the mortar from setting up on it.
  • To obtain the proper binding between the tile and the substrate, porcelain tile installation must be done with a thin-set that has been treated with a polymer.
  • Before spreading the thin-set while installing tile on the backer board, moisten the backer board with a spray bottle of water. Spray the backer board as you go if you don’t want it to absorb moisture from the mortar and cause the mortar to dry out too quickly. How well your tiles stick to the subfloor will be affected by this.

6. Utilize a Tile Trowel

Both a smooth and a notched edge are present on tile trowels. The teeth refer to the notches. The size and kind of the tile determine the depth and width of the trowel’s teeth. How much thin-set is still on the floor underneath the tile depends on the size of the notch. Typically, the notch should be bigger the larger the tile.

  • Take a sizable amount of mortar from your mixing bucket using your trowel.
  • When you’re ready to begin spreading mortar, distribute the thin-set using the trowel’s flat side. At about a 45-degree angle, push it into the subfloor or backer board. This will guarantee that the mortar adheres completely.

7. Lay the First Tiles and Test the Mortar

Always do a test to make sure the mortar’s consistency is adequate before you begin installing tiles on the floor.

  • On a tiny test area in the middle of your layout, apply a thin-set.
  • Onto the thin-set bed, place the first test tile. Lay the tile flat, gently push it back against the thin-set ridges by 1/4 inch, and then slide it back into position.
  • Check the tile’s back by lifting it up. Thin-set should be applied all the way around it.
  • If there are any uncovered spots on your test tile, you either didn’t apply the mortar uniformly, mixed the mortar improperly, or waited too long to set your initial tile, allowing the mortar to dry in those areas. It could also imply that you didn’t push the tile into the mortar hard and evenly. Make any required corrections before continuing.
  • Relay your first tile after making sure your mortar is the proper consistency. Make sure it is thoroughly pushed back into the mortar and aligns with the center chalk lines on the pattern.
  • On either end of the side where a tile will be added, place two spacers. Tile spacing is made more uniform with the use of spacers. Place your spacers in an upright, outward position at all times. In the corners where four tiles come together, it’s a typical error to arrange the tiles on their side. This causes them to become ingrained in the mortar and might make them challenging to remove.
  • Align the corners and borders of the second tile before setting it by hinging it down. To ensure a secure alignment and straight posture, slightly move it back and forth.

8. In Sections, Apply the Mortar

Only use one or two tiles’ worth of mortar at a time if you’re tiling a floor for the first time.

  • Holding your trowel at a 45-degree angle and softly pressing the trowel teeth to the ground, comb the thin-set using the notched side.
  • The thin-set must be combed only in one way. Avoid designs that are round or swirly. When the tile is installed, the combed channels will smooth out and compress, ensuring the right quantity of mortar is present underneath the tile.
  • Use a thin, little trowel to remove a tiny bit as you travel around the tile’s edges. While working, try not to allow the thin-set skim or start to dry. If it does, take it off and add a fresh coat of thin-set..
  • Check each tile for dust or grime while you are laying it. If needed, clean them. The tile’s ability to stick to the mortar may be impacted by dust.
  • Use a moist sponge to remove any mortar that spills onto the tiles during the operation. Don’t allow it to dry. Tile mortar is quite difficult to remove after it has dried.

9. Leveling Tiles

Make sure the tiles are level after putting in three or four of them.


  • Put a 2 x 4 there and give it a gentle tap with a rubber mallet. By doing this, the tiles will be leveled and securely inserted into the mortar.
  • Continue applying cement and installing more tiles.
  • Step back occasionally and check the tile edges to make sure the lines are straight. This should be done often to keep the mortar from drying out and hardening.
  • While the mortar is still wet, if you discover alignment problems, you may fix them before moving forward.

10. Completion of Full Tile Laying

Complete the first quadrant of your tile layout. When such happens, the area where cut tiles are needed is between those tiles and the wall. In your other three quadrants, finish installing all entire tiles, then wait for the mortar to set.

Although different mortars have varied curing durations, most need a 24-hour absence from the tile. When putting in floor tiles, always scrape away any mortar that has gotten into the area you are about to tile before taking a break. When you go back to work on those spots once it has dried, it will have an impact on how well the new tiles adhere.

11. Cut and Measure Tiles

  • For the area remaining along the wall, measure and cut the tiles.
  • Per the tile manufacturer’s advice, leave a space for expansion between the tiles and the wall. In doing so, cracks won’t develop in the grout or the floor as they expand. Also taken into consideration will be the area required for the grout line.
  • Tiles should be laid out, marked, and cut in small groups and left in the area where they will be put.
  • When cutting, always measure twice.
  • To prevent over mixing mortar and the possibility of it drying up before you can use it all, install cut tiles in tiny groups.
  • Mark the cutting line before using tile nippers to remove pieces of tile to create a curve. Use an abrasive stone to round off the cut edge.
  • Always use a wet saw when cutting real stone or porcelain floor tile to avoid cracking or chipping.
  • Replace the tile saw blades when the cuts aren’t precise.

Related Article: How To Properly Cut Glass Mosaic Tiles

12. Put the Grout On

Once your tile floor is complete, the following step is to apply the grout. Grout is used to fill up the spaces between the tiles. Similar to paint, you may buy grout in a variety of hues to go with or complement your tile.

  • Take off all of your tile spacers before grouting. The integrity of the grout will be harmed if the spacers are left in place and grout is applied on top of them.
  • Painter’s tape can be used to shield adjacent floors, trim, and baseboards.
  • Incorporate grout as directed on the packaging.
  • When the grout is prepared, use a rubber grout float held at a shallow angle to distribute it in broad arcs.
  • To avoid the float pushing into the crevices and producing uneven grout surfaces, apply at a 45-degree angle to the spaces between the tiles.
  • Completely fill the joints by pressing grout into them. Concentrate on 4-by-4-foot segments.
  • After the grout has been applied, use a grout float positioned at a 45-degree angle to remove any excess. To prevent sinking into the joints, move your work over them diagonally.
  • For three days, mist the grout twice daily while it progressively cures. For eight to twelve hours, refrain from walking on the surface.

There are several kinds of grout, and various grouts call for various techniques. For instance, latex polymer is present in practically all cement grouts’ powder mixture. Others need a combination of latex polymers.

To prevent water from entering the wall or under the tile, seal any gaps between the tile and the surface with caulk. The simplest material to use in this situation is caulk, which will seal the gap and adhere to the tile face while staying watertight. Additionally, it won’t crack and is simple to replace. Even while you may also use cement or grout to cover the gaps, these materials lack caulk’s flexibility, waterproofing, and repairability.

13. Remove Extra Grout From The Tiles

When tiling a floor, take care to quickly remove any extra grout to prevent grout haze. When grout dries on a tile, the finish becomes drab and hazy.

  • To remove extra grout, lightly sweep a moist sponge across the tiles in a diagonal motion.
  • The sponge should be wrung out completely after each portion is finished before cleaning. The grout’s consistency might be impacted by too much water.
  • Utilize the sponge’s edges on both sides. Avoid forcing the sponge into the cracks. Make as many laps as necessary. It is more difficult to remove grout from tile surfaces when it is drier. Be patient because the tiles won’t be spotless after the first pass.
  • Change the water periodically and frequently rinse the sponge in clean water. The grout on the surface of your tiles will be removed more successfully with cleaner water.
  • An old T-shirt or cheesecloth can be used to remove any last traces of grout haze. If you run into problems, consider adding a solution of grout haze remover.
  • Before the haze entirely dries and gets more difficult to remove, make an effort to remove it altogether.

Related Article: How To Remove Grout Haze From Tiles

14. Seal the Grout

  • Maintaining clean, pristine grout lines requires sealing your existing grout. Grout is protected extraordinarily well by grout sealant, which is invisible. Sealants aid in stain prevention and stop mould and mildew from penetrating the grout.
  • Pick up a grout sealer application bottle or a sealer with an integrated applicator. Additionally, you may use a grout additive that offers stain protection while the grout is drying.
  • Within ten minutes, wipe away any excess sealer. Extra care should be taken to just seal the grout if you’re using glazed tile.
  • Use your sealer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations on when to apply it. In most circumstances, give the grout three days to cure before applying a sealant.

15. Putting in Baseboards and Thresholds

  • Remove the painter’s tape from any surfaces that it has protected to complete your job.
  • A 1/4-inch expansion space was left along the walls; fill it in. You may do this with either wood quarter-round moulding or matching bullnose tile trim.
  • Between your tiled floor and the adjacent floors, add any desired thresholds.

To Summarize

After learning how to tile a floor, designing a gorgeous new space is as easy as choosing your tile, gathering your supplies, and taking your time. Don’t estimate; instead, calculate how much material you’ll need for your do-it-yourself tile floor.


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