How To Tile A Floor – A Complete Guide

Tackling your first DIY tiling project and need to know how to tile a floor? Here’s an easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorial from Walls and Floors, the leading tile specialists…

1) Creating the perfect tile layout

Before you start tiling the floor, you need to set the room out. This will make sure that you have a nice cut of tiles around the whole room. To get an idea of the size and the shape of the room, use a tap measure.

Measure the width of the room, and find your centre-line. This is the line you will tile from. Now, you want to work out where your tiles will sit on the floor. You could work this out by placing the tiles on the floor, coming away from the centre-line.

But because floor tiles are quite heavy, it’s easier to get a baton of wood, and mark the width of the tiles on there, instead. Make sure you include the width of the grout joint.

Once you’ve marked out the width of your tiles and grout joints on the baton, you can work from your centre-line, and make the widths onto your floor – working out towards the edges of the room.

This allows you to easily adjust where the tiles will sit – resulting in tidy and symmetrical cut pieces at the edges of the room.

2) Choosing and mixing the floor tile adhesive

When undertaking any floor tiling, it’s always important to use a cement-based floor tile adhesive. Also, it’s important that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the bag, relating to the correct quantities of water and the correct ratios of powder to make sure that you get the correct consistency.

You have two options. If you’re going to be mixing up a small amount, you can use a bucket trowel. Alternatively, when you get more confident and you’re able to mix up more, you can use an electric mixer.

Before you do any mixing, remember to put your safety wear on; gloves, goggles and a dust mask.

Now you’re ready to mix!

Until you’re confident, only mix up as much tile adhesive as you require, to avoid excessive wastage.

When mixing the product, the consistency of the adhesive should not be too runny. Ideally, when you lift some adhesive from the bucket on the bucket trowel, and hold it on its side, it should hang off the trowel for a few seconds before falling off.

3) Applying the adhesive to the floor

You’re now ready to apply the adhesive onto the floor. You need to use a suitably sized trowel for the type of tile that you’ve got.

Get a decent sized amount of tile adhesive on a bucket trowel, and transfer it onto the floor. Do this two or three times, until you have a medium-sized pile.

Then, use your tiling trowel to spread the adhesive around. Don’t worry too much about being neat and tidy at this point. You just want to move the adhesive around, and spread it out.

Now it’s time to form the ribs. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle, and push the trowel into the floor whilst holding it at a constant angle. Drag it towards you; pressing the trowel’s edge of defined prongs into the ground.

This will create a plough-line of defined ribs, sunken into the adhesive. You’ll end up with lots of adhesive amounted on the trowel. Don’t worry – just apply this to the floor at the start of your next row of ribs, and drag it towards you. Repeat the process.

Continue putting down the adhesive. You don’t want to put too much down at first – try to stay within the confines of 1 Sqm. Otherwise, parts of the adhesive may start to dry before you’ve had a chance to tile onto it. You’ve now got an adhesive bed, so that the tiles will sit uniformly and evenly.

Use a bucket trowel to get the remaining adhesive off your large format trowel, and put it back into the tub.

4) How to lay floor tiles

It’s now time to start applying the floor tiles.

If you’re working with large format tiles or natural stone tiles, it is important to back-butter the tile.

How to back-butter:

Back-buttering is a process where you apply a thin layer of adhesive to the back of the tile, as well as having it on the floor. This will promote a far better bond onto the adhesive bed on the floor. It will also help promote much better coverage. If a tile is going to be walked on, it needs to be well supported.

Take the tile and turn it over. Holding it in one arm, start to add adhesive to the back with the bucket trowel. Using the notched large format trowel from earlier, spread the adhesive across the back of the tile. It’s almost like buttering a piece of toast. Once you’ve got a complete coating of adhesive on the back of the tile, you can fix them in place!

Fixing the tiles: 

Turn the tile over, and place it onto the start line you marked out on the floor earlier. Jiggle it softly, and apply a small amount of pressure, to ensure it is firmly bedded.

Take a spirit level, and lay it over the tile to ensure it’s level side-to-side and top-to-bottom. If it’s a little out, just tap the tile until it sits level. You can use a rubber mallet to do this or, alternatively, use the handle of the trowel or your first. Use you’ve given it a tap, put the spirit level back on, and check it’s now level.

Repeat the process with the next tile – using a spacer to keep your grout joint.

5) Mixing the tile grout

The tile grout you use with your floor tiles depends on a few different factors i.e. the tiles you’ve chosen to use, the background substrate you’re tiling onto, and the environment (whether it’s a damp area, a power shower, etc.). If you need any help choosing the correct grout, simply ask one of our expert Walls and Floors advisers.

Once you’ve mixed up the grout using the quantities stated on the packaging, you’re ready to start grouting your floor tiles! Just make sure your adhesive is dry, your tiles are clean, and your grout joints are clear of any excessive adhesive or dirt.

6) How to Grout a Floor: Grouting your tiles

Apply some grout onto your grout float using the bucket trowel. Once you’ve got a decent amount on your float, turn it over, and press into the tiles. Spread it around; move the grout around over the floor; and push it into the joints. Keep your grout float at a 45 degree angle as you move it over the floor, as this will really help to fill those grout joints.

Work within a one square metre area whilst applying grout with the grout float. Wipe it down with a sponge and cold water before moving on to the next area.

7) Cleaning your tiles and finishing up

Wait between five and fifteen minutes to allow the grout lines to dry a little more, before cleaning more thoroughly. Hold your damp, cold sponge at a 45 degree angle and move it across the tiles to remove the haze. Don’t forget to keep cleaning the sponge, to avoid spreading around the collected grout. To finish off, use a soft, clean cloth to rub down and polish the tile faces when the grout is dry.

There you have it – your freshly tiled floor! If you found this guide helpful, check out the below tutorials…

So now that you’ve tiled your floor, you may want to add some new tiles to a wall space. Here’s a handy tutorial from Walls and Floors: How To Tile A Wall.

No matter what tiling project you’re undertaking, at some point, you’re going to need to cut a tile or two. Here’s a guide on How To Cut Tiles.

Walls and Floors
Walls and Floors

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