fl oor tiles
A brief guide. Skill rating: intermediate
This guide shows you how to lay ceramic fl oor tiles. If you follow
the instructions you should fi nd this a fairly straightforward DIY
job. The amount of time it will take will depend on the size of the
area you are tiling, eg. a whole kitchen fl oor.
1: Working out how many
tiles you need
Measure the room’s length and divide it by the length of one tile.
Measure the width of the room and divide that by the width of the tile.
Multiply the two numbers together (round up any numbers to the next
whole number). This will give the number of tiles you need.
It can be a good idea to buy 10% more tiles than you need to allow for
incorrect cuts and broken tiles.
2: Preparing the surface
Ceramic tiles can be laid on concrete or timber flooring.
If you are laying tiles on a concrete floor you must make sure that the
floor is both dry and clean.
If working with an uneven concrete surface make sure the floor is clean
and dry and then apply a self-levelling compound.
Follow the instructions that come with your chosen self-levelling
compound when laying (fi g. 1).
Once you have applied it, leave it to dry overnight.
Once it has dried you may find there are some ridges on the floor, if so
use a medium grade sandpaper block to smooth them off.
If applying tiles to floorboards you will need to fix a layer of exterior
grade plywood (minimum 12mm thick) to the floor. Simply screw down
to the floor prior to laying tiles (fi g. 2).
3: Planning the layout
Before you fix any tiles to the floor it’s really important you plan the
layout, so you don’t end up with uneven spacing or poorly aligned rows
of tiles (fi g.3).
The most prominent line of tiles will be those that line up with the
entrance to the room, so use this as a starting point.
Using a pencil or chalk, draw a line perpendicular to the main entrance.
Lay a dry set of tiles along this line to the other side of the room. (fi g.4)
Use a spacer to make sure the tiles are evenly distributed (fi g. 5).
(You can use any object to act as a spacer, it’s just a case of using
something consistently to measure equal spaces).
Once you get to the other side of the room you will be left with a space
smaller than a whole tile. Screw a 1” thick piece of wood to the floor,
perpendicular to the tiles.
You will use this as a guide to lay all the other tiles against.
Lay a line of tiles along the timber guide (fi g.6).
The purpose of this is to ensure you end up with an equal border at both
ends of the room.
If you end up with a different size space on one side of the room to the
other you will need to shift your perpendicular line slightly to rectify this,
the point where this line touches the board will form your starting point.
Remove inward opening doors before starting to tile as the tiling will
raise the level of the floor. You may have to adjust the door length
4: Laying the tiles
Now you are ready to start to fix the tiles to the floor, from the
Before you lay any tiles, check there aren’t any colour variations.
how to... lay ceramic fl oor tiles
(fi g. 1) Uneven concrete fl oors can be
corrected by using a self-levelling compound.
(fi g. 3) Plan the layout to avoid poorly aligned rows of tiles.
(fi g. 4) Lay a ‘dry’ row of tiles perpendicular
to the main entrance of the room.
(fi g. 2) Fix a layer of exterior grade plywood
to fl oorboards, prior to laying tiles.
(fi g. 5) Use tile spacers to ensure even
distribution of tiles.
how to... lay ceramic fl oor tiles
Tools for the job...
Timber guide Pack of self-levelling compound
A medium grade sandpaper block Exterior grade plywood
(minimum 12mm thick)
Silicone tile sealer Sponge
Rubber hammer Tile adhesive and grout
Electric tile cutter Tile saw
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HBHOWDO38 October 2010
Use a trowel with a serrated edge or a notched spreader to apply
adhesive to a square area of the floor approx. 3x3 or 4x4 tiles wide.
Fix your tiles to the adhesive covered area (fi g 7).
Use a spacer to make sure they are equally spaced (fi g 5).
Use a spirit level to make sure the tiles are level, place it across each
row and diagonally (fi g. 8).
If a tile is higher than the others, place a piece of wood over it and then tap
with a rubber hammer. If a tile is too low, lift and reapply with adhesive.
Once completed leave the tile adhesive to set. Depending on drying
conditions and thickness of adhesive, drying times may vary.
Remove the wood border with a claw hammer.
5: Cutting tiles for your border
Place a full tile upside down on top of the last full tile so that it overhangs
and touches the wall. Mark this tile at the point it overlaps the one
beneath, this will show what size the tile needs to be cut to (fi g. 9).
An electric tile cutter can be used to cut the tiles.
If the cut is more complicated then a tile saw should be used.
Place tile adhesive to the back of the border tiles rather than on the floor.
6: Grouting the tiles
Allow 24 hours for the tile adhesive to dry before you grout the tiles.
Mix up the grout according to the instructions on the pack.
Use a rubber-edged squeegee to fill the spaces with the grout, holding it
at a 45 degree angle (fi g. 10).
Ensure you have a damp sponge to hand as you go. Wipe any wet
grout off the surface of the tiles, taking care not to remove any from the
spaces where you have applied it (fi g. 11).
Clean the floor every day for the first three days, this will help to make it
more hard wearing.
7: Maintaining your grout
If your grout cracks you cannot simply grout over it. You need to remove
at least 2/3 the depth of the old grout first, with a grout remover.
Once the old grout has been removed you can reapply your new grout.
If you wish to clean the grout use an all-purpose cleaner and a nylon scrub
pad. If your tiles are decorative it would be safe to test your cleaner on a
spare tile first to ensure there is no damage.
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(fi g. 6) Fix a timber guide at right angles to
your dry line of tiles, once you are happy
with their position.
(fi g. 8) Use a spirit level to ensure tiles are
level. Place it along the rows and diagonally
(fi g. 10) Use a rubber squeegee to push the
grout into the spaces between the tiles.
(fi g. 7) Lay your tiles onto the adhesive
covered area, working to a square of approx.
3x3 or 4x4 tiles.
(fi g. 9) Mark the tile to be cut using the tile
underneath as a guide. Ensure you leave
additional space between the tile and the
wall to allow for the grout.
(fi g. 11) Remove excess grout with
a damp sponge.