November 27, 2022

Tile Floor Installation

Install a Tile Floor- Step by Step

tile floor installation

Installing a tile floor is another one of those things that gets easier with experience. That being said, having some background knowledge about the science of it, along with the technique can make it much easier. A project the size of a bathroom should take the average do-it-yourself homeowner a weekend from start to finish.

Before you run all over town and the Internet looking for that perfect tile, there are some items you should address. The first is “How many tiles do you require?” You can answer this by finding the area of the space you want to tile (LxW=A). Measure the longest point of your room, and multiply it by the widest point. You should add 5% to 8% for a “waste” factor. If you are going to use a fancy border or have an extremely odd-shaped room you may want to draw it to scale on a piece of graph paper.

The Subfloor

Now you know how many tiles you need and you have made your color selection. Let’s talk about the subfloor or the lack thereof. At this point, you should have any old floor coverings removed down to the subfloor. The subfloor could be wood or concrete depending on where and how your home was built.

tile floor subfloor

If you have a concrete floor; Patch any major cracks with more concrete. Make sure it is scraped smooth, swept, and vacuumed thoroughly. You are ready to start the installation process.

If you have a wood subfloor; I do not suggest laying tile directly over plywood. After inspecting and replacing any soft or rotting pieces of the subfloor, if necessary you should install a 1/4-inch cement or fiber-based “backer” board. Also known as underlayment. Install as per the manufacturers’ instructions.

If you insist on laying directly over plywood. Be sure to use a mortar that is approved for plywood. Make sure your plywood subfloor is at least 1 inch thick. It probably won’t be and you will have to build it up with more plywood. Running in the opposite direction, gluing and nailing or screwing every 8 inches. Hopefully, you get the point and buy some cement-based underlayment.

At this stage, we are assuming that you have prepped your concrete floor or installed your cement board. I really prefer the James-Hardi brand myself. And you have gathered all of your tools and materials as per the lists on this page.

Measuring the Room

floor installation measuring

Use your measuring tape and pencil to find the middle of the room. Measure across the room at the widest point. Make a mark at exactly half. Record the measurement. Measuring off the same wall at each end of the room, make a mark on the measurement you just recorded. You should have three marks. One at each end and one in the middle. Now repeat the process for the length of the room. Using your chalk box, chalk a line through the length marks and then the width marks. You should have had a cross intersecting in the middle of your floor.

Now you are ready to start laying tile. Choose one quadrant from the chalk lines you made and spread enough mud for four tiles. Be careful not to cover your chalk lines. Set your first tile in the corner where two intersecting chalk lines meet. Make sure the two edges of the tile line up perfectly with the two chalk lines. Twist the tile gently to make sure you have full contact with the thin-set mortar. Using the tile spacers in between set your three other tiles. Spread another section of mud and repeat stopping to cut tile was necessary at walls and corners. Let your installation dry for at least 12 hours before grouting.

Useful Tips

1. The three-four five methods. This is a great way to ensure you have snapped your lines correctly. Measure from the intersection of your chalk lines on one line 3 feet, and then measure 4 feet on a perpendicular chalk line. Make sure to measure across these two points. It should be exactly 5 feet. If not adjust your chalk lines accordingly.

2. The right trowel size. Look on the back of your bag of mortar for a chart that will show you the correct trowel notch size for your tile size.

3. Snapping long chalk lines. This is done easiest with assistance from another person. If you don’t have one, drive a nail in your mark at one end of the room. This will give you an accurate anchor point to hook the “dumb” end of your chalk line.

4. Conserving Adhesive. Don’t mix more thin-set mortar than you can spread in about 20 minutes. If it starts to harden in your bucket, it will lose some of its bonding strength.

5. Grouting. Grouting is the whole story on its own. We will talk about this in another article.

How to Install Self-Adhesive Floor Tiles

Self-adhesive floor tiles make it easy to get the look of a ceramic tiled floor for the fraction of the price. If you’re willing to do the work yourself, you can really save some money. While a floor covered with self-adhesive floor tiles is easy to install, there are a few tips that you need to know before you start. So that your floor looks straight and professionally installed. Here’s all you need to know!

Install Self Adhesive Floor Tiles

Tiles and Supplies

Measure your room’s dimensions before heading to the flooring store or the flooring department of home improvement stores. When shopping for your tile, color and style are more important than the size of the pattern. A large pattern can look great in a small room and vice versa. Just pick a style that really appeals.

The professional in the flooring department can help you figure out how many tiles you will need based on your measurements. In addition to the tile, you are going to need a powdered chalk line, a metal straight edge and square, a tape measure, a sharp utility knife, a sharpened pencil, and a vinyl tile roller or rolling pin. You may also find it more comfortable to work with a pair of kneepads.

Step-by-Step Procedure

What you don’t want to do is start laying the tile in one corner and work your way across the room. Laying your tile in this fashion will result in a floor that looks out of alignment. And one end of the room may end up with a tiny sliver of tiles. Making the whole job look out of balance and unprofessional. Follow these steps for a great-looking floor:

Remove the old flooring as well as floor molding or baseboards and removable fixtures such as bathroom toilets or kitchen appliances. Sand away any glue residue and clean up the debris thoroughly with a vacuum. Because dust and debris can keep new tiles from sticking.

Measure each wall and mark the center spot on the floor with your pencil. Snap a chalk line showing where these lines intersect in the center of the room. Use your metal square to make sure that the intersection is at a 90-degree angle. If it is not perfectly square at 90 degrees, wipe away and readjust the lines until a perfect 90-degree angle is achieved. It’s essential that the angle is precise. So that the finished tiles will look straight and squarely aligned.

Before peeling back adhesive and sticking tiles, run a row of tiles in each direction from the center intersection. It is to see how the tiles will break at each wall. If one or more walls will end up with a skinny row of tiles, readjust your center start point. So that the last row in each direction is at least half the width of one tile.

Laying the Tiles

Place your first tile at one of the corners of your intersecting centerline. Peel off the adhesive backing and set the tile in place. Continue laying tiles working outward from the center in each direction until you reach the outer walls of the room.

Cut the tiles for the last row for a perfect fit: Place a full tile over the last tile that was set in place and slide it so that it is about one-quarter inch away from the wall. Place another full tile on top aligning it with the last bottom tile that was installed on the floor. The distance between the second and third tiles is the length of the tile that needs to be removed. Use the top tile as a guide and draw a line along the overlap. Use the utility knife to cut off the excess tile and it should fit into place like a hand in a glove. Continue cutting and installing the last row of the tile.

Use the rolling pin or tile roller to roll over all the tiles in the room so that any air bubbles are pressed out.

Reinstall your molding and fixtures.

Installing Floor Tile on a Basement Floor

Adding floor tiles to a basement floor can be a great way of adding a finishing touch to a basement remodeling project. You will find various types of flooring materials available in a tile format, including vinyl tiles, self-adhesive vinyl tiles, ceramic tiles, and even carpet tiles. If you are planning to install floor tile over an existing basement floor, there are a few things to take into consideration first.

basement tile floor

Preparing the Basement Floor

First, if there was any pre-existing flooring down, such as a painted surface, previous flooring tiles, or carpet, you will need to take steps to make sure you first have a sound and clean surface for installing the new tile. In the case of a painted floor, this often involves scraping away any loose paint. You can use a sander to scuff up the surface of the concrete flooring. And then sweep carefully to remove all the dust.

Removing the dust is very important to the installation of the tile floor. Because proper adhesion cannot be achieved if there is even a thin layer of dust on the floor. If the floor was previously covered with vinyl tile, and it is still in good condition, you can consider leaving this in place and flooring over it if desired.

Laying the Floor Foundation

Once you have removed the previous flooring, you will want to install a half-inch cement board over the entire expanse of the floor. It will provide a good foundation for the tile. Many homeowners try installing flooring tile directly on the concrete floor. However, professionals generally use the cement board method for a better-finished result.

floor foundation

Use as many sheets of cement board as necessary, using a thin-set adhesive mixed with latex additive over a single section of the floor at a time, spreading with a notched trowel. In order to seat the board, use a piece of wood and a hammer or mallet. Staggering the seams of the boards, continue installing cement board sheets until the entire floor is covered. Once all the concrete boards are securely in place, cover the joints with fiberglass reinforcing tape, securing them with a thin set.

Once the tape has been applied, allow the entire floor to set and dry for several days before proceeding with the tile installation. The advantage of using this method is that if there is an eventual failure between the adhesive and the basement concrete slab floor, the concrete boards will still stay securely in one piece and the floor support will essentially float. This will continue to provide a solid footing for the tiles. Decreasing the chances that they will work themselves loose over time.

Installing the Tile

install the tiles

Depending on the type of tile product you have selected, installation methods will vary. Before starting a tile floor installation, make sure you have all the necessary supplies handy. So that you will not have to stop in the middle of the installation to retrieve anything. Follow the instructions provided by the tile manufacturer to ensure a good installation.

Once you have installed the tile and everything is dry, you can install floor trim and enjoy your new basement tile floor.

basement tile flooring installation

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