How to Tile a Floor

Before you start

Make sure you are fully prepared before you start your tiling. Be sure read our Tile Preparation guide if you are unsure what you need to do.

Setting out the tiles

The position of the first tile is critical, as it will determine the position of all the other tiles. To determine the centre of the floor, mark the midpoint of each wall and draw a pair of lines that cross at the centre of the room. Place your loose tiles along the two lines to work out the best positions. Working out towards the walls, making sure you place spacers between each tile. You can then adjust the layout slightly so that you:

  • Use as many complete tiles as possible
  • Avoid having to cut tiles along the wall that you see when you walk into the room
  • Avoid having to cut very small tiles at the edges

When you are happy with your layout, remark where the central tile will be as this is where you will start from.

Adhesive

You are now ready to start with the adhesive. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a notched spreader comb the adhesive onto the floor in evenly sized ribbons. Only spread about one square metre at a time, so that the adhesive doesn’t start to set before you have had time to lay the tiles.

Laying out the tiles

Having checked the floor is flat, position the first tile, using a sliding/twisting motion, to make sure the tile and adhesive are in full contact. To check you have used enough adhesive, temporarily remove the tile and check there is a good coverage of adhesive on the back of it, before replacing it. Continue to position the other tiles (remembering to put spacers between each tile) working across one side of the room out to the edges, until all complete tiles have been laid. Then do the other half of the room.

As you’re going along, remove any surplus adhesive from the tiles with a damp sponge or cloth. Use the spirit level every now and then to check that the tiles are flat. If they aren’t the amount of adhesive can be adjusted (before it starts to set) to help to achieve a flat surface.

When all the complete tiles have been laid you can fill in the gaps around the edges with your cut tiles.

Cutting tiles

Make sure you have the correct cutting tools and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Always use safety goggles when cutting tiles. If you are cutting tiles to fit around a complicated shape it helps if you make a cardboard template first (remembering to allow for the grout line) before transferring the design onto the tile and cutting it.

When laying cut tiles it is easier to apply the adhesive direct to the tile, rather than to the floor. Place each cut tile in position until your tile area is complete.

Grouting

Allow 24 hours for the adhesive to dry before grouting, unless you are using rapid set adhesive, in which case it should be hard enough after 2-3 hours. Don’t walk on the floor while it is drying.

Remove the spacers and use your grout float to spread the grout between the gaps in the tiles. Make sure all the spaces are evenly filled and wipe any excess grout off the tile surface before it dries. Use a thin blunt object to compress the grout in the gaps. This will help to give a professional look and give a more water resistant finish. Allow to dry completely before polishing with a cloth.