DIY Tutorial – How to Lay Tile

Learning how to put down tile may seem like a daunting task. But, once you get the hang of it, tiling is actually not that difficult.

Tiling is one of those things that most people pay a professional for, and that’s fine. If you’re not a handy person, or you don’t want to get your hands dirty, that’s cool. You do you. BUT if you absolutely want to do all the renovation you can yourself… you have come to the right place!

There are some basic supplies you will need to get started:

    • Tile – If you’re just starting out, the easiest tile to use is 12 by 12.
    • Thinset – also referred to as mortar, this bonding agent will help the tile adhere to the floor
    • Floor Leveler – To prepare a level surface
    • A chalk line or square
    • A Trowel – to put down the thinset
    • Grout – Depending on the space between tiles you will need either Sanded or Non-Sanded grout
    • A bucket, Scooper, and Grout Float
    • Spacers
    • A drill with a mixer attachment
    • Tile Saw – We use this Tile Saw but we had a cheap little $100 saw that worked fine for the first several years. If you are just doing a small area, don’t invest a lot of money in a large tile saw.

Overwhelmed yet? No. Okay sweet. Now for the fun part.

  1. To begin, you must prepare your surface. I have never met a level surface yet. So, that’s where floor leveler comes in handy! To get started, prepare the mix the way it says to on the bag. I recommend self-leveling as it is easier to work with. Pour it on the floor, smooth the edges with a smooth trowel or spatula and let is set according to instructions – sometimes this is overnight, sometimes just a few hours.
  2. Once your floor is level, take a square or chalk line and draw a straight line down the center of your surface. (Wherever you want to begin). DO NOT start your tile along a wall. No matter how straight you may think it is, most walls are not square, and you will notice this in the grout lines in the center of your floor.20161022_120329
  3. Starting in the middle of your floor or surface ensure that you have a straight line regardless of the walls. (Tiling a wall is a little different as you have to start at the bottom – so I suggest using a level. Putting down the first row of tile, checking for level and adjusting with spacers or props as needed until you get the tile level.)
  4. Now that you know WHERE to put the tile, mix the thinset according to the directions on the bag. You don’t want this to be too soupy or too stiff. A good thinset is about the consistency of mashed potatoes.
  5. Using your toothed trowel, apply the thinset in even strokes. Make sure that your entire area is even, you don’t want globs. (Don’t put too much down at one time or you want have a way to reach the edges.)
  6. Put down your first tile and then surrounding tiles. I don’t recommend laying them in a brick pattern as your brain searches for patterns automatically and if you’re slightly off you will notice. Put them in a slightly offset pattern.20161022_130220
  7. Once you have the pattern moving, it is fairly simple. Measure, cut and repeat.
  8. Don’t walk on the tile for 24 hours or so.
  9. Once dry, come back and grout. You can buy grout in a variety of methods. They have bagged grout that you have to mix, premixed grout, or tubes of grout that come out of a caulk gun. Any of them will work but if you have a large area the caulk gun method will take longer.
  10. If you are using dry grout, mix with water until you reach a consistency that is a little firmer than pancake batter. It shouldn’t run off your trowel but shouldn’t be too thick or it will be harder to get into the grout lines.
  11. Using a trowel and grout float, push the grout into the lines. When it has begun to set, come back with a sponge or wet rag and wipe up the excess. you will have to wipe multiple times to get it all up. (If you don’t you will end up with cloudy tiles).
  12. Seal the grout after it drys with an appropriate sealer. Using natural stone? Make sure to get a sealer that will cover the whole tile. Using ceramic or porcelain? You can buy a sealer that just goes on the grout lines.
  13. Sit back and enjoy! Once you’re finished sit back and enjoy all your hard work!!

Have questions about your project? Or maybe you have another project you want help with… Reach out to me and I’d be glad to answer any questions.

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