Tile can adorn your kitchen backsplash, your entry floor, or your bathroom shower surround while providing a long-lasting, waterproof surface that is easy to clean. You won’t need extravagant trim to make your tile look inviting as clean lines and classic textures are always in style. Here’s how to get started.
Step One: Measure and prep
Installing standard sized porcelain and ceramic tile requires a commitment to careful measurements. Make sure that you calculate your area thoroughly before you choose your tile.
Next, clean the surface in question so that it’s ready for adhesives. Without a clean wall or floor, your tiles won’t stick over the long term because dirt left behind, which can cause your grout or thin-set to bubble.
Step Two: Create a basic layout
Measure out the length of the wall or floor, as well as the center point of the room or the space. Lay a row of tiles out with plastic spacers in between to add future grout lines with a chalk line, starting with one tile beside the center line; the center line should be a grout line. Try French pattern layouts for a more classical look, or use a professional layout to make the biggest impact. Make sure that you do not remove your chalk lines made during your layout stage, as these will guide you when you are setting your tile later on.
Step Three: Mix the thin-set or use mastic
Thin-set is an adhesive mortar made of cement, fine sand and a water retaining agent, used to attach tiles to the underflooring. Use a mixing tool to add water to the powder so that it reaches a putty-like consistency. You will need to apply the thin-set and smooth it carefully with a trowel, but at the same time you must make sure to preserve your chalked lines. Mastic can be more useful than thin-set for wall tiles.
Step Four: Start setting your tiles
For floors, place your first tile in the center of the room, not against one of the edges. For walls, start at the bottom of the wall; this will help you build a support system to ensure your tiles stay vertical. Set the next tile beside the existing tile using a spacer to separate it evenly. Make sure that you use the same amount of thin-set for each tile, and remember, once it dries it can be very difficult to remove. Continue laying tiles in rows. Installing “mesh” mosaics works the same way, but you have to make sure that your spacer is the same size as the distance between each mosaic piece so that the tiles look even. Don’t forget to add caulk to seal the tiles from moisture in bathrooms and kitchen areas!
Step Five: Cutting tiles for corners and tight spots
Cut end pieces using a tile cutter or wet saw. Measure where the cut should be, then score it with a tile cutter and break it by bending it carefully. If you are using a wet saw, make sure the water is turned on and place one hand on either side of the tile while you are moving it through the saw for an even cut.
For more assistance, check out this helpful video we’ve put together.
- Tools & Accessories List For Porcelain & Ceramic Tile
- Porcelain & Ceramic Tile Installation: DIY or Professional?
- Porcelain & Ceramic Tile Glossary
This Learning Center belongs to you. We invite you to contribute to it.
Have you got a question about what you've read here? Tell us about in the comments section.
If you're an expert in the field, and see something that is inaccurate, tell us, and we'll make the correction.
Also, if you think there is important information that is absent from any of these articles, please let us know!