DIY Floor Tile Installation

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Floors, especially those in the high-traffic areas of your home, wear out and do-it-yourself or DIY floor tile installation is something anyone can do to restore that clean, shiny surface once again.

There are many types of tiles but ceramic is among the most popular because it is durable, easy to clean, and moisture resistant. Paying attention to detail is of utmost importance when doing this type of project and here are some tips for how to go about it.


Obviously, the first question you must answer for a DIY floor tile installation job is how many tiles you will need. You must take measurements (length and width) of the area where you plan to lay the tile. Then, go to your local home improvement center and choose the tile that you would like. Get the dimensions of an individual tile and this will give you an idea of how many you need to buy. Buy a few extra because you will probably have to cut some in order to fit an odd-sized area.

The other item that you need to think about is the surface in the area where you will be laying the tiles. Some lay tile right over the existing floor and some lay down cement backing board. If there is already tile on your floor and it is well-adhered, then there is no need to pull it up as this will only result in a larger job. Another consideration is that some old vinyl tile was made with asbestos and taking it up will stir up dust from this material which will be hazardous to your health.

The remaining materials and tools that you will need for your DIY floor tile installation project include tile mastic (adhesive), grout, hammer, a plastic or wooden stick used to force in grout, grooved trowel, tile cutter, drywall saw, bubble level, and tile spacers. The drywall saw is only necessary if you will be using cement backing board as the surface. The easiest type of tile cutter to use is the one that scores a line on the surface and snaps the tile in two at the scored location.

Laying the Tile

When laying the tile, start from the middle of the floor and work outward. This is because you want to lay the odd dimension pieces that you will cut against the wall last. Apply the tile mastic with the grooved trowel. Once the mastic is spread, lay the tile and then press down while doing a slight wiggle to make sure all air is forced out. Next, lay another tile using the same method and insert tile spacers when four corners meet.

It is important to take care of leveling the corners when laying tile. One corner sticking up above the adjacent tiles can cause sock snagging and even tripping, not to mention it will be impossible to fix once the mastic sets. Use a bubble level to ensure that this does not happen.

Applying Grout

Once the adhesive has hardened (usually a good idea to wait 24 hours), you are ready to apply grout between the tile joints. A thorough and even grouting application is what makes for an excellent ceramic tile floor which equals success for your DIY floor tile installation project.

First, remove the spacers. This is why the adhesive that the tile is set in should be hardened. Prepare the grout mixture according to the product’s instructions. It should be about the same consistency as thick oatmeal.

Because you should begin cleanup shortly after finishing your grouting job, it is important to prepare your cleanup materials as well. You will need a couple of buckets of clear water, a couple of sponges, a synthetic scouring pad, clean rags, and clean terry cloth for polishing.

You will need to have your grout float available in order to begin quickly. Slap a healthy scoop of grout next to the area that you are going to workand then spread it with the float at a 45-degree angle taking care to workit into the joints. Use plenty of arm pressure to work it into the joints or use a wooden stick. In other words, the grout should be tightly packed. Take care to scrape leftover grout keeping in mind that cleanup will be easier if you keep excess at a minimum.


You should begin cleaning up the grout residue left over from spreading a few minutes after it has been packed into the joints. Cleanup in a DIY floor tile installation project is a two-pass process. Each pass involves taking a sponge soaked in water and wiping up the residue on the tiles. For any spots where grout has hardened and is tough to remove, use the synthetic scouring pad dipped in water. If, when wiping, you begin to pull grout from the joints then you will need to wait a few more minutes for it to set.

Do the sponge cleaning process one more time and then dry with clean rags. Use the soft terry cloth to polish the dullness on the tiles. If tiles still seem dull, you may need to do another cleanup pass.

The procedure for installing tiles in the bathroom is the same with the exception of the area around the toilet and bath. The toilet should be removed and care needs to be taken in caulking the area around it and the bath in order to keep moisture from seeping under the floor. Otherwise, any other floor in your home can be easily remodeled with DIY floor tile installation.

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Updated: August 3, 2015 — 7:55 pm

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