How to Tile a Floor for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 04/08/24 •  6 min read

Tiling a floor can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, anyone can do it. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to tile a floor, from choosing the right tile to installing it like a pro.

Step 1: Choose the Right Tile

The first step in tiling a floor is to choose the right tile for your space. Consider factors such as durability, slip resistance, and style.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are popular choices for floors because they are durable and easy to maintain. Natural stone tiles like marble and travertine are also great options but may require more maintenance.

If you’re unsure, you can find information on choosing the right tile flooring here.

Step 2: Purchase the Right Amount of Tile and Materials for Your Space

Purchase enough tile flooring to cover the entire project, accounting for any half pieces, scrap pieces and replacement tiles.

Basic Tile Needs Estimate

As a basic rule of thumb, estimate quantities by calculating the area of the floor minus the area covered by permanent fixtures.

Buy about 10 per cent extra — maybe more if you are tiling a floor with many obstacles, because this results in a lot of cutting.

Pro Tip: make sure to purchase the tiles all at once as those from a different stock may appear different.

Adhesives

Manufacturers’ guidelines for the necessary quantities tend not to be very generous, so it is worth buying a little more than is recommended.

Grout

The amount of grout you’ll need will depend on the thickness of your tile joints and the size of your tiles. There will be guidelines on the packaging. When in doubt, buy extra and return any packages you don’t end up using.

Extras

Remember to include spacers or sealant if necessary. Consider your subfloor requirements. These extras can add considerable expense.

Planning the Tile Layout is an Essential Step for a Professional Result.

Step 3: Plan the Layout

Don’t just start laying tiles against one wall: the wall may not be straight, and adjustments to allow for this will become exaggerated and unsightly as you progress across the room.

Set the tiles on the floor to grid out the space beginning with the center of the bathroom floor. The dry fit process is especially important if you’re setting a pattern. Make sure you have enough to cover the area and adjust the gap between your last tile and the wall to avoid the need to cut awkward thin slivers.

Once you are satisfied with the placement, trace the tile line to mark its starting position at the wall, and determine what cuts will be needed. Make marks right on the surface floor and on the tiles where cuts are required.

Step 4: Prepare the Surface

Before installing the tile, you need to prepare the surface. Make sure the floor is clean and free of debris. If you are tiling over an existing floor, remove any loose tiles and fill in any cracks or holes. If you are tiling a new floor, make sure it is level and smooth.

Step 5: Prepare the First Batch of Adhesive

Mix some thin-set mortar to the consistency of peanut butter, or use another adhesive as recommended by the tile manufacturer. Spread the thin-set or adhesive with a notched trowel directly onto the surface floor starting in the middle of the floor, holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle.

Only mix as much thin-set mortar as can be applied in an hour; otherwise, it will dry out. A partially dry thin-set will cause your tiles to lift later on and that is a huge pain to fix later.

Step 6: Lay the Tile

Spread a Layer of Thin-Set Adhesive on The Surface with Your Trowel.

Start by spreading a layer of thin-set adhesive on the surface with a trowel at the furthest end of your tile lines. Use spacers to create even gaps between the tiles.

Wiggle or Twist Each Tile to Ensure a Strong Bond.

Beginning with the tile at the farthest end of your line, set the bathroom tiles one by one into the spread mortar or adhesive, giving a wiggle or twist to each tile to ensure a strong bond.

Insert spacers to keep the tiles separated and allow room for grout (Image 2).

Make any cuts you need to for the best tile fit with a wet-cut tile saw. Mark your cuts first with a wax pencil.

In our project, cuts included a circular cut around the toilet flange.

To make a circular cut, make a series of notches into the tile, one right next to the other, allowing them to break out and form a half-circle cut-out .

Continue tiling to finish the floor, making the necessary tile cuts.

Use sandpaper or a tilestone to smooth out the edge of cut tiles as needed.

Step 7: Allow the Tile to Set

Allow the tile to cure overnight or as recommended by the adhesive manufacturer. When the tile is thoroughly dry, remove the tile spacers and finish the floor with grout.

Step 8: Grout the Tile

After the adhesive has dried, it’s time to grout the tile. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions and spread it over the tiles with a rubber float.

Use a grout float to remove excess grout and smooth the joints.

Step 9: Remove the Excess Grout

Let the grout set for 15 to 30 minutes, then wipe off any excess grout with a damp sponge.

Rinse the sponge frequently to avoid smearing the grout. Things may not look perfect, as there may be a haze left behind, but this can be mopped off later.

Allow the grout to dry for 24 hours before walking on the tiles and doing a final mop down with a clean, soft cloth or string mop.

Step 10: Seal the Tile

After the grout has dried for 24 hours, seal the tile with a tile sealer to protect it from moisture and stains. Apply the sealer with a brush or roller and allow it to dry completely before using the floor.

Don’t skip this step… I have skipped in in the past and the amount of dirt that can get into unsealed grout will make it a completely different color, and cleaning grout is the worst!

Conclusion: DIY’ing Your Floor Tile is Completely Doable!

Even if you’re a beginner, tiling a floor can be done!

It just requires some planning, preparation, and execution. By choosing the right tile, preparing the surface, planning the layout, installing the tile, grouting, and sealing, you can achieve a beautiful and durable floor that will last for years to come.

When you’re ready to take your floor tiling to the next level, check out the 20 expert floor tiling tips I’ve put together after speaking with several pros.

thewriteDuffy

At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.