How to Lay a New Tile Floor

The popularity of tile floors and their multiple functionalities mean that at one time you will be faced with this task. Whether it is laying down a first floor or replacing an old one, this is task that makes up for an interesting DIY project. It will take you two days of work since there is drying to be accounted for. There is also little special material needed making this something any enthusiastic home owner can pull off. All you need is proper preparation and absolute care at all steps during the laying down.

As for preparation, you will need to have the following tools and material

Tools: chalk line, level, tape measure, grout float, wet saw, tile spacers, notched trowel and sponge.

Materials: grout, thinset, tile underlayment, grout release agent, tile and grout sealer and tiles


Many types of floor tiles can be placed over a number of substances and surfaces. The major surfaces are cement boards, plywood subflooring, existing tile and mortar base. For existing tile, the grout and tiles should be securely fixed. Fill up any missing tiles as well as spaces in the grout. Scrub the surfaces with sand paper to provide more grip for the new adhesive. It is also important to clean the floor with a commercial detergent to remove any contaminants that will prevent adhesion.

For working with a mortar base, you will need the experience to properly mix and apply on the floor. You can use thinset which is a premixed adhesive and works well on almost any surface and can be used directly from the can. It is used mostly on plywood or cement board.

For plywood, use a double layer of plywood with overlapping seams. The bottom layer should be ¾ inch thick and screwed to the floor.

The top layer can be ¼ inch thick. If you choose to work with cement board you will need to follow the installation instructions from the manufacturer.


Divide your room into quadrants to allow you to begin tiling from the center of the room using the chalk lines you have drawn. Do a dry run with the tiles on your room to get a perfect fit and make any needed adjustments.


Before you apply the mastic, you can use a manual snap cutter or power wet saw to cut the desired sizes and make the necessary shapes that are needed for smooth fits especially at end rows.


Use a notched trowel with ¼ inch notch for small tiles less than 8 inches or a trowel with 3/8 to 1/2 inch notch for larger tiles to apply the adhesive. Start applying from your layout lines and then rake the mastic to create ridges of equal notch depth.


Lay the tiles beginning from the center and where your layout lines meet as you head towards the walls. Use a rubber mallet to gently and firmly bed each tile into the mastic. Place plastic spaces between the tiles to avoid the mastic squeezing up to the grout lines.


Give the tile mastic a day for it to set and then remove spaces and apply grout. You may need to apply a sealer on the tiles faces to avoid grout staining or sticking on the porous unsealed tiles. Use rubber grout to squeeze the grout into joints and ensure it completely fills up the spaces in between the tiles.  After it has dried up, you can use a release agent to clean out any grout haze.