how to install flooring tiles?

How to install flooring tiles, and is it actually easy or hard to do on your own? As with many DIY projects, starting out feels intimidating until you roll your sleeves up and get to work. The first step in laying tiles involves carefully planning out the floor pattern to predict the trickiest areas and prepare for them in advance. Then dry lay the tiles out across a section of the room, going from the centre out, to help visualise the pattern and measure how much grout to use. Afterwards, lay out the adhesive, keep the work area clean, and begin laying the tiles. Let some time pass for the tiles to set, then proceed with sealing, grouting, and sealing again, all with sufficient time in between each process. For a more detailed breakdown, read on!

How to Floor Tile: Step-by-Step Guide

The worst thing anyone could do when working on their long-dreamt idea of a perfect living space is rush through the steps without pausing to consider the details. Being inattentive and using improper methods could ruin your floor or at the very least, pile on additional work and increase your tile waste.

Below, you’ll find the instructions on how to install flooring tiles, laid out step by step:

Step 1: Preparation

Before you begin, visualise what you want the floor to look like. Study the structure of your space to prepare for tricky areas where you’ll need to cut the tiles to fit them.

Next, gather your tools. At a minimum, you will need:

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Level
  • Sponges
  • Scrubbers
  • Mixing bucket(s)
  • Bucket trowel & combed trowel
  • Float
  • Your tiles
  • Chalk or marker pens

Step 2: Dry Laying

Dry lay some of your tiles directly on the subfloor in your desired pattern. You will need to cover a significant area to see the final pattern presentation properly. Dry laying like this helps tremendously, especially when not working with a typical brick pattern but with, for instance, angled terracotta tiles.

This is also a great opportunity to plan for the right amount of grout. In general, the thinner the line, the better.

Step 3: Setting the Adhesive

After picking up the tiles, clean the working area thoroughly and lay out the adhesive using the combed trowel. If the dry lay placement revealed the floor to be quite uneven, you may want to account for this by using a thicker adhesive layer. If not, a standard depth of 4mm should suffice.

how to floor tile?

Step 4: Laying the Tiles

Start by working from the centre out to prevent accidental and unwanted asymmetry in the final result. It is imperative to never work by feel, so leave markings using your chalk or marker pen to guide you.

With most of the tiles laid, you can make any needed cuts to accommodate the corners, doorframes, or other tricky areas and then fill them in.

Leave the adhesive to set for at least 24 hours before continuing.

Step 5: Sealing

This step will depend on whether you’re using a pre-mixed grouting and sealing solution or applying both separately. In the latter case, apply your sealant liberally and evenly using a spray bottle or a brush.

While the primary function of sealers is to protect your floor and allow it to breathe, the kind of sealer used can also influence the finished look. The choice of a natural sealer or enhanced sealer is entirely yours.

After applying the sealer, let it cure for another 8 or so hours to prevent grout from leaking into your floor tile.

Step 6: Grouting

We’re nearing the end here, and so the time has come to apply the grout. Use a float to apply grout evenly in between the tiles. When finished, remove any excess grout with a damp sponge.

Again, leave the grout paste to cure for another 24 or so hours before returning to finish the job.

Step 7: Final Seal

A second coat of sealant helps cover any areas that didn’t get sealed properly in the first round, as well as seal and protect the newly applied grout. It’s recommended to use around half of the volume of the first sealing.

Once the sealant has had another 24 hours to cure and the floor is fully dry (meaning the sealant was absorbed properly), your floor is now ready. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and enjoy your successfully executed home DIY project.

The Takeaway

If you weren’t clear on how to install flooring tiles and needed a quick guide, hopefully, you now have a better idea. The key to an efficient process lies in taking the right amount of time to prepare the area in advance and gather your tools. Then, with sufficient patience and caution, you’ll surely complete your DIY project without the slightest hitch.

You may also read: Tips for Cutting Brick Slips

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Edward Howey

Edward Howey

Specialist Journalist
Expert in the field for the last 20 years

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