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How to Lay Floor Tile Part 1

This is the first time I’ve ever laid floor tile.  I was quite nervous about it, and put the job off for about five months.  I like the end results, but maybe this blog should be called how NOT to lay floor tile.Also, because I was the one doing the work and taking the pictures, I didn’t get any nice shots of the actual process.  Something about not wanting to wreck my camera held me back.

Anyway, here’s what I did.

I read a bunch of books.  I was going to list them all here, but have already packed them all away and can’t remember the titles.

Apparently what you are supposed to do is lay down a level, strong sub-floor.  The books go into some detail about this.  I didn’t because the surface I was working with was a level concrete.


How to lay tile

I decided to use a decorative boarder rather than trust my ability to cut tile just right.  That turned out to be a good decision for other reasons, too.  I’ll say more about that next week.To get the pieces for the decorative boarder I went out to the back stoop and flung around a few tiles.  They broke fairly nicely, but later I found it was possible to get a similar effect by abusing a tile cutter, and the tile cutter didn’t cause chipping.

Like a good cook, I laid out all the things I would need and double checked my list:

*  Tile
*  Mortar
*  Water
*  A bucket to mix the mortar in
*  A trowel to mix and lay the mortar
*  Another to smooth out then make the little ridges in the mortar
*  Little blue thingies to keep the tile separated just right.  (They looked so cute in the store I had to get them.)
*  Grout
*  Sponge
*  Tile cutter

I’m wishing I had gone with the latex.  It’s supposed to make the grout stronger.  Again, I’ll tell you more about that later.

I laid the tile out in a rough pattern first to see how it would look.  In the process I discovered the room is not perfectly square.  I also discovered a decorative boarder doesn’t necessarily take care of the problem.

Afraid it would set me back another 6 months if I thought about it, I went ahead and mixed up the mortar.


Note the bit of green on the right?  It's going to be a problem

How to Lay Floor Tile, Part 1
How to Lay Floor Tile Part 2: Mortar
How to Lay Floor Tile Part 3: Tilus Interuptus


10 comments to How to Lay Floor Tile Part 1

  • casadecruz

    Oh man, I know about laying tile. I won’t ever do it again, or have my husband try, either. Ours came out pretty well, but the whole not-square room was a killer.

    Thanks for visiting my blog..if you want to comment you have to scroll to the absolute end of the post and click on “Comments.” I know, it’s hard to see, it is standard Blogger code and I am working on changing it. Thanks again for stopping by!

  • Janice Seagraves

    Hi Alice,

    That sounds like a lot of hard work, good luck with that.

    In our bathroom we laid the easy tile that the back peels off, that kind that I think is made of some sort of plastic. It was easy just peel and stick, and I let my husband handle the edges, he’s fussier than I am anyway.


  • Very hard job!!! I’d like to have time to learn to do the same at home! Thanks for visiting me audrey! You have a very nice blog!

  • Casadecruz, you didn’t leave your link. If you had any idea how much I rely on the links people leave with their names on wordpress’s forms… *shaking head at self*

    Janice, I have every intention of doing it again. My results were hardly professional, but I love the tile.

    Thanks Claudie. It isn’t really all that hard.

  • You are my HERO for even attempting this. Can’t wait to see the finished floor!

  • Lara Lee

    I really need to learn to do a few house improvement projects. We need new flooring thru out the lower level. I’ll be looking for part 2.

  • jodi

    omg…the end of your blog post is ominous. It’s probably the best cliff hanger ending I’ve read in years. So WHAT happens????

  • WOW! What a woman! I hope to be as ambitious as you are when I grow up, but alas I am grown *(
    There are awesome ideas for repurposing, resurfacing, nad redoing concrete at http://www.concreteideas.com

  • Sasha Allgood

    I might have attempted something like this when I was younger and could still get up and down with ease, but now that I’m older, wiser, and have creakier joints…it ain’t gonna happen. I laughed when I read about the little blue thingies. With all the tiling they were doing at work this summer, we had little blue thingies everywhere!

  • Make sure you check that the floor tile wear rating (PEI rating) is suitable for your intended area/use.

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