Detailed Tile Installation Steps and Essentials

tile installation steps

One of the most important parts of home improvement projects includes installing floor tiles. It is also one of the basic projects which you can do it yourself as well. The tile installation steps mainly involve putting down the adhesive, placing a tile, grouting the tile, and then sealing the grout. That’s it, it’s quite easy.

However, if this was really true then everyone would be a tile professional and would be installing their own tiles at home. As easy as it sounds, each step has its own method being involved which would definitely need a professional’s help. Curious about how tiles are installed and what are the tools needed to lay tile then here’s a brief account of the same where you get to know about all the tile installation steps along with some tile installation tips.

Materials needed to lay tile floor

 Correct materials when used properly can ensure that there is proper installation of tiles being done. Some of the materials needed to lay tile floor can be provided as follows:

Materials Usage
TilesOf course, selecting the right tile is quite important when it comes to proper tile installation. You can choose from multiple options for your tiles such as marble, cement, porcelain, or ceramic tiles for your floor.
Tile Mortar or AdhesiveTo further secure the tiles you will need tile mortar or glue. The kinds of tiles that you go for usually help you decide which type of adhesive you would need.
GroutGrout is mainly used to close the spaces that are present between the tiles. Selecting grout can also be an opportunity to give your room some great style and color.
Tile SpacersTile spaces are tiny plastic pieces that are in the form of an X or a T shape. They ensure there is quality floor tiling work by placing perfect spaces between two tiles.
Grout SealerIt helps in shielding cement tiles, grout, and natural stone from daily wear and tear. These tiles need to have a sealer to be poured over them.
Backer Board or UnderlaymentBacker boards or Underlayment are prefabricated sheets that are used to mainly attach to walls and floors such that it forms a sturdy base on which the tiles can be easily laid upon.
PrimerPrimers are mostly just synthetic liquids that are based on advanced polymers. These help in enhancing the bond between the substrate and the tile adhesive.
CaulkYou use caulk for tile assembly as a method of closing any gaps that are present between an adjacent surface and the tile floor.
Waterproofing MembraneWaterproofing membranes are applied directly to your tiles, especially the ones that are present in bathrooms and showers to stop any water damage to your property.
Tile TrimTile trims help provide the perfect finish to any exposed area that consists of tiles put in your house.

Tools needed to lay tile

Having the right tools needed to lay tile is essential especially since it can make your project look smooth and perfect. Here is a list of essential tools that you might want to use for your next tile installation project.

Tile scorer

A tile scorer is an equipment that helps in cutting through thin ceramic tiles quickly and easily. Initially, you measure and mark the tile and then score along the line that has been drawn before snapping the tile.

Tile nippers or nibblers

Tile nippers or nibblers are mostly used to make irregular cuts such as semi-circles that a wet saw or a snap cutter cannot easily create. With pliers-like handles and biting jaws, these nibblers help nibble away the tile just like fingernail trimmers.

Diamond-wheel tile cutter

Diamond wheel tile cutter tends to consist of diamonds being embedded into them. These help in easily cutting through materials such as ceramics, stone, and glass.

Grout spreader

A grout spreader helps apply grout to the joints present in between the installed tiles. A grout spreader looks almost like a masonry or a concrete trowel however with a difference of a rubber base. You can use the grout spreader with a little force to apply grout into the spaces that are present and scrape off any excess that are present.

Notched spreader

A notched spreader spreads the thinset tile adhesive onto the wall or the floor. The square notches help spread out wide bands of thinset and the V-shaped notches will help spread out these thin bands.

Tile saw

A tile saw is a table saw that helps cut out tile and stone. The blade does not have any teeth however consists of a diamond or carbide grit. While you cut, the blade and tile are flooded with water to keep the blade and the tile from overheating.

Tile file

A tile file is used if a piece of tile consists of a sharp edge that you cannot hide in the corner or cover with any other piece of tile. To use the tile file you just need to simply rub the tile file against the piece of tile just like how you use a piece of sandpaper on wood.

Tile snapper

A tile snapper is a manual tile-cutting tool that initially scores the face of the tile and then helps snap the tile along the scored line that is visible. Tile snappers are not just fast and simple but also easy to use.

Tile installation steps

Now that you have got your list of tools and materials needed for tile installation ready it is time for you to now follow certain tile installation steps that will help you get the perfect tiled floor. Here is a list of tile installation steps you might want to check out before starting out with the project.

Step 1: Preparation

Before you begin with the process, it is important that you follow proper surface preparation steps. It is essential that you determine the existing subfloor and the adjoining floor height and whether you want to add in-floor heating. This will in turn help you decide which sort of underlayment will work best for your project.

You might also want to ensure that there is a clean and dry surface on which you are working. Thoroughly sweep and vacuum the area where you will be installing your underlayment.

Step 2: Layout

You can now start out by planning the layout of your design. This is an important step because once you begin with the installation of tiles it is quite hard to go back and rethink the layout. Initially find the center of the room. The easiest way to get this done is by measuring the length of one wall and the opposite wall and then dividing that number by half. Now draw a line that will connect both the center points of the walls.

To get your layout planned you will initially keep the tiles on the ground without adding any adhesive. Start from the center point and then lay a row of tiles in one direction. You might not want to end with half a tile at the end of the row.

Next, you will lay another row of tiles at a 90-degree angle from the first layout and then adjust your layout such that you do not get a half-tile end. Be very sure to account for any design features that you will be incorporating into your layout.

Once you are ready with the layout plan you can now finish off the layout at the front of a door so that you can exit without stepping on the tiles. If you are tiling walls and floor then you might want to start with floors first so that your wall tile will eventually overlap on the top of the floor tile.

Step 3: Mix Mortar or Adhesive

Now mix the powdered thinset along with latex additive however be mindful of the thinset thickness as you might need the consistency of mayonnaise and not too watery. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and mix only so much that you can use within 2 hours. With the flat edge of a spreader, you can now spread out a thin layer of thinset over a 2 by 3 foot area.

Before the coat dries, you might want to apply more thinset using the notched edge of the spreader. Hold the spreader at a 45-degree angle to the floor and then spread the thinset evenly with broad curved strokes in motion.

Step 4: Place Tiles

Now gently lay a tole on the thinset. With fingertips widespread press down with a slight twist of your wrist. Use this technique to set each of the tiles onto the floor making one row. Use tile spacers to ensure there are even joints.

Now lay the next row on the floor using the edge of the tile as your guide. Continue setting the tiles in place in 2 by 3 foot sections towards the walls of the floor. Every few rows ensure you hold a framing square or an A-square which will help check if they are square to each other.  One of the tile installation tips in this step would be to ensure there is consistent finger pressure throughout while laying the tiles.

Step 5: Cut Tiles

Make straight cuts by using a snap cutter. When waste is more than an inch wide you can break the tile by scoring it. Smooth the cut edge with a rubbing stone. For those cuts that are less than one inch, you can use a file tile and file the tile till you snap a few pieces off with a nibbler.

Step 6: Allow Mortar to Cure

Ensure that you allow the mortar mix to cure for at least 24 hours and then use a margin trowel to scrape off any extra thinset that is present from the tile surface or joints.

Step 7: Grout

After the tile has set overnight or for about 24 hours you can go ahead with grouting by mixing up a batch of grout to a looser than mayonnaise consistency. Add a little bit of water at a time by squeezing it with a sponge. Scoop a trowelful amount of grout and spread it onto the floor with a rubber float being held at about 45 degrees to the floor. Push the grout into the joints. Start from the edges of the room and then towards the center.

Step 8: Clean Excess Grout

Allow the grout you have applied to set for about 20 to 30 minutes. Once it is firm to touch you can begin by washing the tile surface. Wipe away any extra grout that is present with a damp well squeezed sponge. Again wait for a while for the grout to haze over and then clean it with a sponge. Repeat this until the tile is absolutely clean.

Step 9: Final Cleaning

In the final step, you can now do cleaning and finishing by wiping the tiles one last time. Once you are done with this you can apply caulk which will create a strong and waterproof bond between joints whether it is needed between tiles, counters, walls, or bathroom accessories. You should caulk all the tiles that are placed in 90 degrees whether they are between the wall and tile or between the counter or two walls.

Step 10: Finish

Now let the caulk cure and then that’s it you are officially done with your tile installation steps.


What is the 3 4 5 rule for laying tile?

To get the perfectly square corner you might want to aim for a measurement ratio of 3:4:5. Where you want a 3-foot length on your straight line, a 4-foot length on your 90-degree angle, and a 5-foot length across.

What is the best tile gap?

If there are extra mm gaps present between your tiles it can make a huge difference. A minimum gap of 2 mm for wall tiles and 3 mm for floor tiles is hence recommended for perfect tile placements.

How do you calculate tile layout?

It can be calculated by dividing the square footage of the area you want the tiles to be placed by the area of each tile you will be placing.

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Download Sample Report
Download Checklist
Book Free Pilot Inspection

New Brochure-Param

This will close in 20 seconds