How to Install Ceramic Tile Flooring in 9 Steps

How to Install Ceramic Tile Flooring in 9 Steps

Before You Begin

The tile pattern will affect the number of tiles you need to purchase. A grid pattern is simple to plan and is easy to install because fewer tiles need to be cut. Diagonal tiles help visually open up smaller spaces, but cutting tiles on a diagonal can get complicated. Measure the room’s area, then add 15 percent to account for wastage. Or arrive at an accurate total and experiment with tile designs by using an online tile calculator.

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STEP 4: Cutting the tile

The first step in cutting tile is measuring the size of the tile you wish to cut and transferring the dimensions to the glazed surface of the tile via felt-tip marker. Position the tile on the tile cutter, aligning the center line of the cutter with the axis on which the tile is to be cut. To keep it square, the top of the tile should be held flush to the fence at the top of the cutter. Then, using the lever to which the cutting wheel is attached, draw the cutter across the surface of the tile, exerting a firm, even pressure. Make only one pass with the cutter. Finally, snap the tile.

Different snap cutters have different means of snapping tile. Some have a heel at the rear of the lever that has the cutting wheel at its toe; with others, the reverse is true. Whatever the design of your cutter, use the surface to apply pressure to the score line. In combination with a bead built into the base of the cutter, the pressure will cause the tile to snap in half. A little patience, some practice, a score and a snap, and you’re a tile cutter.




Mortar Mixing

Start by storing your mortar materials at a temperature between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the mortar with water until the desired consistency has been obtained, not too watery, not too thick. Depending on your mortar mix type, you will need to allow some time for the water to react with the mortar component to obtain the desired result. Remember that the mix should be used within 30 minutes of being mixed with the water. Once you start using that mix, do not add water, as it will weaken and affect the mix strength. Be sure to use the right mortar mix when installing tile over different substrates.

5. Wrong Grout

The wrong grout or grout done wrong can ruin the look of your DIY tiling project. You want clean and even grout lines.Mix your grout with a trowel until you have a peanut butter consistency. Using a drill or paddle will introduce air which weakens the holding strength.Be sure to let the grout rest for 10 minutes before using it. Skipping this step will result in a weaker grout that will crack.

2. Cracking the Tile

When cutting tile, take some precautions to make sure you do not break them. Too many broken tiles will become wasteful and expensive.Using a diamond wet saw is the best method for cutting tile. A diamond saw blade is abrasive and not toothed.Before cutting, mark the tile with a pencil. You can use a regular lead or grease pencil for this.Place the tile against the fence and line up the line with the blade. You will need to wait for the water to flow after turning the saw on.Use a slow even pressure while making your cut. As you get to the end of your cut push the two halves together. Holding the tiles stops them from breaking.If you hear the blade slow down as your cutting then you are pushing too fast. The harder the material you’re cutting is, the slower you need to go.

Grout Tiles

Mix grout following manufacturer’s recommendations or until a smooth consistency has been achieved. Mix the amount that can be applied in 20 minutes. Mix until all pigments are dispersed, and a uniform color has been obtained. Let it stand for five minutes and mix again. Use a grout float to apply the grout into the joints after all spacers have been removed. Use a sponge to remove excess grout. The tile joint can be buffed within 30 minutes of being applied using a dry cloth.

STEP 2: Measure

Tiling Walls

When tiling a wall, you’ll want to establish a top line that is level. Few walls are truly plumb, so use a level to mark the top line. Establish its height so that you won’t have to cut very thin tiles (or cut very thin shards from nearly full tiles) to come flush to the floor. Snap a top line on your walls, and then snap a center line, too. Be sure to lay out all the walls you plan to do before you begin tiling.

Tiling Floors

To make your finished ceramic tile surface appear symmetrical (even if it isn’t), you need to find the center of the surface first. Then measure in from the sides. Pay special attention to this step if you’re tiling a small area, where wide tiles at one edge and narrow ones at the other will make the whole job look out of balance.

In an older home, you may find the floor isn’t square, which makes the job more complicated. Use the most obvious wall as a baseline, so those entering the room will see tile lines parallel to that wall; your job will look more even.

Once you’ve identified the center and baseline from which you will work, snap a pair of perpendicular chalk lines. These will divide the room into roughly equal quadrants. You’ll want to work outward from the center point in each of the four sections.

Tools Materials

  • Straight edge - 10 foot

    Straight edge – 10 foot

  • Rubber grout float

    Rubber grout float

  • Notched trowel

    Notched trowel

  • Rubbing brick

    Rubbing brick

  • Drill/driver


  • Pointing trowel

    Pointing trowel

  • Margin trowel

    Margin trowel

  • Flush cut saw

    Flush cut saw

  • Tape measure

    Tape measure

  • Tile cutter

    Tile cutter

  • Nippers


  • Carbide-tipped scorer

    Carbide-tipped scorer

  • Folding layout A-square

    Folding layout A-square

  • Wet saw with diamond blade

    Wet saw with diamond blade


  • Sealing grout makes it water resistant, not waterproof. Sealing grout will aid in the cleaning process, as the sealer will protect grout from water and unwanted oils. Though this provides necessary protection, this does not make the substance waterproof.[11]

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Tools Required

  • 4-in. diamond blade
  • Angle grinder
  • Bucket
  • Caulk gun
  • Chalk line
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill mixer
  • Drywall saw
  • Dust mask
  • Grout float
  • Knee pads
  • Margin trowel
  • Nippers
  • Notched trowel
  • Offset saw
  • Putty knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Scoring knife
  • T-square
  • Tape measure
  • Tile cutter
  • Utility knife
  • Wet saw

Step-by-step Guide on Tile Installation

Step #1: Preparation 0f Concrete Sub-Floor

Laying the tiles on the concrete floor requires little technical skills but knowing the right steps to do the task. Before everything, you should ensure that your sub-floor is suitable to go. In this initial step, all you have to do is clean the concrete surface off dust and debris using either a shop vacuum or a broom. After that, follow with a robust detergent solution (TSP) to ensure that the floor is clean to standards.

Step #2: Leveling the Sub-Floor

Using a level, you should determine whether the floor is on a level or not. If not, you should purchase a self-leveling underlay to guarantee an even surface. If there are pockmarks and cracks, you can use some leveling compound or filler.

Using a roller or a paintbrush, roll or brush latex premier on the concrete sub-floor and wait for it to dry according to the manufacture’s instructions. Mix the self-leveling underlay in a bucket and pour it at the lowest area of the concrete, and it will level out. Alternatively, you can purchase a pre-mixed self-leveling compound and use it in the same manner.

Check on the level, smoothen the compound against the adjoining concrete with a trowel and give it a break to dry.

Step #3: Placing the Anti-Fracture Underlay Membrane

The anti-cracking membrane will solve the problem of cracking when the concrete is dry. The underlay is available in two forms: sheets or liquid. 

When you opt for cut sheets, you should apply thin-set mortar to the concrete, then smoothening the membrane sheets using a trowel. Alternatively, you can also paint a viscous coat of the anti-fracture underlay on the concrete floor using a paintbrush.

The unit-fracture underlay provides a cushion to the tiles and a layer of adjustment during seasons without cracking the tiles.

Step #4: Establishing the Layout of Your Tile Floor

  1. First, establish the center line and snap a dot by using the length and width of the room.
  2. Using a carpenter’s square or a triangle ruler, ensure that the lines are perpendicular.
  3. Unpack your floor tiles to confirm the damages and possible color mismatch.
  4. Cover the entire floor surface of the floor with the tiles in a dry run using your chosen layout.
  5. Check the edge of the tile and adjust your center line if the tiles on either side fall below half the total number.
  6. Cut tiles near the edge. You can as well use tile nippers if you have to make small intricate cuts.
  7. Use a wet saw to cut the tiles to fit snugly in narrow spaces. Troubleshoot to ensure your cut tiles are a perfect fit before laying your tiles.
  8. Ensure a space of ¼ Inch exists all around the edges to allow room for expansion.

All the above procedures are necessary during ceramic tile floor installation over concrete. Any mistake made in following the procedure might translate to a severe mess. When through with the methods, it is now time for laying your anticipated tile flooring in the already pre-determined layout.

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