How To Install Tile The Basics

finished tile project
finished tile project

Tile Project Introduction

Laying tile can range from simple to quite complex. With a few simple tips however, it has the possibilites of being a do-it-yourself project. Tile has longer durability, increases the vaule of your home, is allergen free with easy clean-up and maintenenace after installation.

All of the examples and pictures were done by me, a fortyish woman about 5'4" & 140 lbs, so if you are considering tile, consider the idea that you too can have all this in your home with a small investment in tools and time. Do-It-Yourself!

Let the ideas and creativity flow, there are few limitations on what can be done with tile. I have discovered there is no way to bend it though.

Tools Required To Do A Tile Job

The tools required can vary based on the tile job that you have chosen to do. There are basic tools however, which include:

A tile snapper for straight cuts, tile nippers for small trim ups on cuts, a grooved adhesive or mastic applicator, a small angled scraper, small rubber mallet, leveler, laser for aligning tiles, a grout float, large sponges, measuring tape, half square rule for marking tiles to cut, chalk line, and 5 gallon bucket.

Additional tools may include: A tile saw or wet saw, hole saws that must be diamond tipped, tile nippers for small trim ups on cuts, a drill with a #2 Phillips bit, a saw or knife for cutting backer board or cement board if needed, masking tape if doing a wall job.

Planning a Tile Job

There is much preparation involved in laying tile. This is in fact the hardest part, First assess the space you intend to tile. Is it a floor? Do you intend to go up the wall? Are there any obstacles like an outlet, a toilet, or any other fixture in the space you intend to tile? Is the area concrete or of another material the tile will be going over?

Measure the space you intend to tile and calculate the square footage. For example a room 10'X12' would be 120 square feet. Next determine the size of tile you will be putting into the area and if you will be doing one type of tile or want to create a design. Also determine the amount of gap you want to have between tiles. The gap between tiles will be filled with grout and can be wide to be part of the design itself or very thin to almost nonexistent and only using grout to bond the tile job together.

**TIP:  Tile must be laid on either concrete, backer board, cement board, or on the wall use green board.

Let's Go Shopping

Have your measurements and checklist with you and have fun selecting the tile and grout colors and style. Shop around, order if necessary, many stores have on-line locations where you can do a virtual layout and design, prior to buying.

Your checklist will include: Everything on the tools needed list, tile, grout, spacers, and glue (if you are new to this I recommend the already mixed quick drying adhesive), if you get the mastic, it will require a mixing attachment for your drill.

Flooring Tile Projects

Spreading glue and laying floor tiles
Spreading glue and laying floor tiles
A flooring job in progress
A flooring job in progress
All Tile is laid awaiting grout
All Tile is laid awaiting grout
A grouting job in progress
A grouting job in progress
Completed and trimmed out flooring project
Completed and trimmed out flooring project
More ideas for flooring tile designs
More ideas for flooring tile designs

Laying Tile

Time to start laying tile! Get the glue spreader and load it up with adhesive, holding it at a slight angle spread the glue leaving even trails of glue swirled through the floor surface. Set the selected tile in place shift around a little to get the tile settled in place and tap lightly with a rubber mallet. Place the spacers in-between tiles as you set them in to maintain spacing and continuity as you move through the room.

**TIP: If you do encounter, slightly low or high places a little more or less glue on the back of the tile will level it out and keep your floor even.

**TIP:If for any reason you need to lift a tile back up after putting in place, (IE. needing to put more or less glue on a tile) use the angled scraper to pull it up and scrape off glue or apply more glue

Cutting Tiles

To mark tiles for cutting requires thinking upside down and or backwards.  Always turn the tile over to make marks to ensure you are cutting the correct side for use.  Make tick marks for where cuts need to be made, then drag tick marks to the top side of the tile.  Connect tick marks with a half square rule to mark the line to be cut. 

All straight cuts can be made with a tile snapper or a wet saw.  Any other cuts must be made with a wet saw or hole saw.  To make cuts to go around doorways or other indents into the center of tile without cutting all the way through is done by slowly chipping away with a wet saw.

**TIP:  Always wear safety goggles when cutting tile, the little chips go everywhere.  Also be careful with cut edges as they are very sharp and can cut deep very easily. 

Laying a Tile Floor

Tiling a floor is the easiest of all tile projects. If you have a concrete base most of the preparatory work is done already. On concrete just ensure that the floor is as level as possible, filling in any sink holes if necessary or grinding down any high spots. If the base is not concrete, backer board will have to be cut and screwed to the wood sub-base prior to installing tile. In my example pictures backer board was installed over the wood.

**TIP: When installing tile with or without backer board, remember to account for the elevation increase for door clearance or toilet installation.

**TIP: Install all cabinets and permanent fixtures except for toilets prior to flooring installation, tile goes up to and around not under these fixtures.

Prepare tile layout by first marking the center of the room. I have heard it said you should always start in the center of the room laying tile, this is not always true, you can lay it from the outer edges so long as the layout has been marked from the center of the room. Identify the center point, drop chalk-lines, lay out a row of tiles both directions with spacers, then mark a chalk-line for the outer edges.

Grouting

After approximately 24 hrs you are now ready to grout your tile job. Mixing grout is relatively simple. In a 5 gallon bucket, add water to grout and stir with angled scraper, add water slowly and stir thoroughly. Grout mixture should not be soupy or stiff, test it on the float, if it slides off slowly it is the right consistency. Let the grout mixture set for 5 or 10 minutes, stir again, then apply.

**TIP: Mix smaller amounts of grout at a time, you don't want it to harden up before you have had an opportunity to use it.

**TIP: Have a bucket of water and sponge ready before beginning to grout. If the grout dries on the tile before being cleaned and wiped there is no fixing it or removing it later.

Generously scoop grout onto the float and holding at about the same slight angle used when applying glue, press and spread into gaps between tiles. Spread in half circle motions going across the tiles and completely filling gaps. Let dry slightly to a light haze, then wipe clean and smooth with a sponge. Ensure all grout is cleaned off all tiles at this time, it will automatically leave the slight groove indenting the gap between tiles as you wipe.

**TIP: Change water often!

Wall and Tub Surround Tile Projects

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In the beginningInstalling wall tile (a different wall)All tile in place drying and awaitng groutupper wall dry and tape removed the rest of tub surround tiledcompletely grouted and ready for trimming outall trimmed out completed tile project
In the beginning
In the beginning
Installing wall tile (a different wall)
Installing wall tile (a different wall)
All tile in place drying and awaitng grout
All tile in place drying and awaitng grout
upper wall dry and tape removed the rest of tub surround tiled
upper wall dry and tape removed the rest of tub surround tiled
completely grouted and ready for trimming out
completely grouted and ready for trimming out
all trimmed out completed tile project
all trimmed out completed tile project

Tiling Walls and Tub Surrounds

 Placing tile on walls and tub surrrounds does not require cement or backer board.  It does require the use of green board rather than regular sheetrock.  Ensure the surface is wiped clean of all dust and residue and dry before installing tile.

Cutting, applying adhesive and grouting is done the same as it is done on floors.  Realize however, that it is advisable to consider a drop cloth or plastic as glue and grout alike will be dropping to the floor, counter top or tub surface.

Masking tape will be required to do vertical or wall surfaces to assist in keeping tiles in place as the pattern is laid out.  See pictures for use of tape.

In addition you will need to use Siliconized Acrylic Latex Tile and Fixture Caulk rather than grout in what is referred to as the "expansion joints".  The expansion joints are the places where tile meets tile at a vertical/horizontal point and where tile meets with another surface as in the bathtub itself.  It usually comes in tubes like caulk and is applied with the use of a caulk gun and smoothed with a wet finger and wiped with a wet rag lightly.

**TIP:  If there will be tile on a horizontal surface adjoining the vertical or wall surface, always tile the the horizontal or flat surface first.

 

Tiling Counter-tops and Back-splashes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Building and tiling a countertop in progrssFinished out countertop and backsplashAnother finished out countertop showing design options available as you plan your project
Building and tiling a countertop in progrss
Building and tiling a countertop in progrss
Finished out countertop and backsplash
Finished out countertop and backsplash
Another finished out countertop showing design options available as you plan your project
Another finished out countertop showing design options available as you plan your project

Tiling Counter-Tops and Back-splashes

 Counter-tops and back-splashes are similar to walls and tub surrounds, they are also a little higher on the difficulty scale.  The only thing considered more difficult is showers which I have not covered here as that is an entire article of its own.

The back-splash area should be green board as in any other wall tiling project.  The counter-top however, is built first with a 3/4" ply board cut and attached to the cupboards securely.  Then cement board is screwed to the 3/4" ply board for the tile to be applied to.

Cutting tile, applying adhesive and grouting is the same as described above.  Siliconized Tile Caulk is also used in this application where the counter-top meets the back-splash as well as around the kitchen sink.

**TIP:  The tile goes under the lip of the kitchen sink, so it must be removed or installed after tile job is completed.

Immediate After Care For New Tile

 After tile has been installed, grouted and cleaned stay off the tile for about 12 hours.  For the first 3 days following tile installation damp mop and clean often, this helps is cleaning up remaining grout glaze and assists the grout to cure properly preventing cracking later on.

I always recommend a finish or sealant be applied to tiles and grout alike, I personally do 3 coats, although there are others who will tell you this step in unnecessary.  This is a personal choice.

Enjoy your tile for many many years to come or appreciate the increased value of your home, whatever your reasons for tiling, best wishes with your project.

 

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Comments 34 comments

Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Well done you, excellent hub


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

Thank You Gypsy!


Shirley Davis 7 years ago

Susan, You have done a fantastically beautiful Job. I envy your talent. (and Love you also)


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

Thank You Aunt Shirley, no envy necessary we all have different talents and gifts and they are all equally important!


The Toylanders 7 years ago

This tiling looks fantastic! I may try this myself. Thanks for your interesting articles. - Garyf (The Toylanders)


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

You are one talented lady with so much knowlegde. I could use one of you where I am LOL

Congrats for the Hubnuggets Nomination! Have a blast promoting and hubbing and Hubnuggeting! This link will take you to this week's Nuggets! http://hubpages.com/hub/10-Self-Publishing-New-Aut...


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

Wow!!! Ripplemaker, you were the first to let me know about the nomination.

Thank you so very much for your kind comments. Keep letting your light shine!


wordscribe41 7 years ago

Congrats on the nomination! This really is a great hub, very thorough. I've been wanting to do some tiling myself, will bookmark this baby. Thanks for sharing.


wordscribe41 7 years ago

Forgot to mention, I voted for your hub. I can tell you put a lot of work into it and it shows!


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Wow you have been busy. Great hub and advice


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

wordscribe...thank you for the comments and the vote...share when you get some tile projects done...look forward to it!

ethel...I appreciate you reading and your kind comments!


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

I am impressed! You did a beautiful job. Your advice and tips make tile laying seem very doable! Thanks for the info!


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

k@ri, thank you, it really is do-able, so glad you appreciated the information.


lilyofthevalley 7 years ago

Wow! Let's tile something. The step-by-step is so clear, you can't miss doing

a fantastic job. Thanks for the valuable into.


ProCW profile image

ProCW 7 years ago from South Carolina

Congratulations on your nomination, emohealer!

You now have a new fan.

We, the HubNuggets Team, wish you great success... fame... fortune... etc.

All the best!

- ProCW & the HubNuggets Team

http://hubnuggets.info


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Very comprehensive and easy to understand. Makes me know that I could do it.


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

Jerilee....Great! It really is something you could do, and save a fortune in the process. Thanks for reading and commenting!!


Useful Knowledge 7 years ago

This is a great hub. You sound like a professional tile installer.

Great work and thanks for sharing some of your knowledge with us. I will be reading some more of your hubs.


DoodleLyn profile image

DoodleLyn 7 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

One of the best how-to hubs I've read! Excellent direction, and your pictures blew me away. I definitely voted for you. Very well written. Congratulations! Wish you were here to do my tiling projects!


MarkHall profile image

MarkHall 7 years ago from Australia

What a clever lady you are - I'm embarrassed to say I couldn't hit a nail straight with a hammer. In a world where guys are supposed to know this stuff - it's refreshing to see a woman teaching us a thing or two. Thanks Emo - :)


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

DoodleLyn: Thank you so much.....You are doing your own tiling projects, do share!

Mark: No embarassement at all for you. I love what you do from afar, no ghost chasing for me, who wrote the rules anyway? I really appreciate your kind comments!


DoodleLyn profile image

DoodleLyn 7 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

Oh, no, no. I'M not doing my own tiling, that's why I wish you were here to do my projects. lol. Definitely not my area of expertise. My husband and his friend did do my kitchen counter tops, though, and they came out really nice. Thanks for joining my fan club. See you around the hub.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Congratulations on your HubNrgget Nomination, emohealer - hope those votes keep rolling in. Brilliant Hub about tiling, with lots of great information.


samsa 7 years ago

Great hub, hard work always pays off congrat's on the nomination and good luck.


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

CM & Samsa: Thank you both so much!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Wow - great info. You always write the best hubs. Thanks for another good one.


Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

Laying tile is really intimidating but actually it is not that bad. The tile guy I consulted with said the key is a proper layout before you start. He helped me with this and the rest was a breeze.


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

Ashley: Thanks for sharing! Layout and preparation are the keys, and as you said, the rest is a breeze.


andy 7 years ago

Just make sure you seal those tiles after installing


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina Author

Absolutely!!! Many don't do this part, and I consider it essential. Thanks for visiting little brother!


Manna in the wild profile image

Manna in the wild 4 years ago from Australia

This was very comprehensive. Well done. Did you mention how to keep a straight edge, horizontal and vertical?


emohealer profile image

emohealer 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

No, I did not go into that specifically. I thin kI see either some room for improvement or possible a continuation article. Thank you for yoru feedback, it is always appreciated


Bertie 23 months ago

These pieces really set a standard in the inydrtsu.


emohealer profile image

emohealer 8 months ago from South Carolina Author

I am honored ... and more so I hope it inspires

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