Laying tile is a time-consuming job, but can be done with some preparation, planning, and proper equipment.  Install a beautiful tile floor in your home with these easy-to-follow instructions.

Step 1: Clean the Floor

Sweep up and clean the floor of any debris left over from construction up to this point. Dust, grit, and dirt will hamper the adhesion of the thin-set to the subfloor so it is important to have a clean surface. Use a shop vacuum to clean the floor after removing the larger debris.

Step 2: Lay Out the Tiles

Start laying out the tiles with a full-sized tile in the most visible corner. Often this is the corner most readily noticed upon entering the room. Building off that tile, lay out the remaining tiles with spacers to see if the pattern ends at the other corners and against the walls in a way that is pleasing to the eye. If not, shift the location of the first tile and layout tiles until satisfied.

Step 3: Mix the Mortar & Spread

The mortar used in this project is commonly called thin-set, and it comes two ways — in a box ready for mixing or pre-mixed tubs. The pre-mix is more expensive, but it’s easy to work with and good for small projects. If mixing thin-set, it’s a good idea to do it outside because the powdered form can create a lot of dust. It’s important not to try to do too many tiles at once. Spread enough mortar to cover 2 to 3 square feet. Use a notched trowel to spread the mortar, holding it at a 45-degree angle to keep the mortar an even thickness on the backer board.

Step 5: Press the First Tile in Place

Carefully set the tiles on the mortar and apply as much pressure as possible, giving the tile a slight twist back and forth to fully set it in the mortar (Image 1). Use a small 2×4 board covered with cloth to protect the tile and tap the board with a hammer or mallet (Image 2). Do not tap the tile directly. Tapping the tile directly may crack the tile.

Porcelanosa tile

Step 6: Install the Rest of the Tiles

Proceed across the floor, spreading small areas with mortar and setting the tiles. Use spacers to keep the tiles aligned but step back every few tiles to ensure the pattern is lined up properly. Use a board that spans several tiles to check if any tiles are level with the other tiles around them. Tap down any high sections of tiles using the padded board. If a tile is much lower than the surrounding tiles, pull it up and re-spread mortar below it to bring it up to the right height.

Step 7: Grout the Floor

After the mortar has cured completely spread the grout with a rubber float into the grout lines (Image 1). Use the float to remove grout from the surface of the tiles as well as possible then use a damp sponge to clean the face of the tiles (Image 2). Rinse the sponge often. After the grout has dried just a bit there will be a haze on the surface of the tile. Buff the haze off with a cloth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter for curing the grout.

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