How-To Tile A Floor

As new home owners we are constantly day dreaming how we can improve our house. We’ve given our home tour to family and friends for what feels like a million times and if our house “to do” list is any representation of the number it’s been A LOT (it grows every tour). Do all home owners do this?  To date, our big projects have been radiator removals, installing a vinyl floor and now tiling our screened-in porch.

To kick this how-to tile a floor tutorial off and before and after reveal, I wanted to call out that we had never tiled a floor before and truly had no idea what we were doing. To CT’s credit, he learned how-to tile a floor all on his own (with the help of some pretty killer YouTube videos). I really only helped with tile and grout selection and morale. Here is our before – concrete slab floor, wood bars across the screens, an aqua ceiling and a beat up fan on the porch.

Like all things in our house, I still found the “before” of our porch quite charming – the aqua ceiling, the concrete slab that had once been painted dark green giving it a distressed look and the white brick walls. The wood bars on the wall…not so much. Walking into this space, I dreamed of a more polished space and instantly thought tile.

Like all of our projects, we only have the weekends to complete them before we go back to our day jobs, so we started at a custom tile shop on Miami Circle recommended by a friend in the business. Unfortunately, the tile we wanted couldn’t be sold and picked up that same day since the warehouse is outside the city, so we headed over to Floor & Decor that stocks the tile in the location and picked out a cream/beige/white travertine and grout. And the fun began.

Around 3PM on Saturday, we started the process…we may be a little overly ambitious sometimes.

Scroll down for the after or continue reading to see the process and steps for how to tile.

Step #1 – Prepare

The first thing you’ll want to do is look at inspiration for your new tile floor. Pinterest and Houzz are two of my favorite resources for design inspiration. If you’re tiling a porch or bathroom, you can check out my inspiration boards here and here to get started!

Once you have your inspiration, measure your space to get the square footage. To do this, you measure the length and width and multiply. In our case, that was 10′ x 16′ = 160 sq ft.

I’d also recommend checking the weather. You won’t want to tile outdoors if it is raining even if it’s a screened in porch.

Step #2 – Pick Out Tile + Supplies

As we learned the hard way, you’ll want to pick out your tile in advance of when you want to complete the project. You can always go to Floor & Decor like we did, but your options will be more limited.

Supplies:

  • Tile per square footage
  • Grout
  • Thin Set Mortar
  • Mixing drill / mixing paddle – use your drill to mix the concrete – follow directions for amount
  • 2 Buckets
  • Tile spacers – 1/8
  • Notched Trowel (smaller notch for smaller tile)
  • Level
  • Rubber Gloves/ Knee Pads
  • Tile Saw or Wet Saw
  • Rubber Hammer
  • Tape Measurer
  • Tile Pencil
  • Rubber Grout Float
  • Tile Sponge
  • Grout Blade
  • Grout Scraper
  • Square Ruler

I highly recommend picking out a tile with a pattern that mixes different sized tiles if you’re laying tile outdoors. We picked out a beige travertine that came in four different sizes in order to make a pattern that came with a guide to follow. You’ll want to buy about 20% more tile than the sq. ft. you measured to cover any broken tile in a batch, color variety between sizes and shapes and to account for tile cuts to fit the space.

Step #3 – Practice + Cut Tiles

This may seem like a funny step. Since this was our first time tiling, we wanted to lay the tile down in the pattern first without cementing it down to make sure the pattern was correct and that we cut the right size tiles for the corner space. We started in the center of the room with the “A” tile and built out towards the back left corner. This step is definitely labor intensive but worth it not to mess up in a way that can’t be fixed (in our case the travertine was really heavy!) Cut the tiles into the correct shapes as you get to the wall with a wet saw.

Once the tile has been placed down from the center to the back left corner, we started picking up the tile and tracing the outside of the tile with a tile pencil and marking the size of the tile with it’s corresponding letter in the pattern.

For our pattern, there was a lot of cutting custom sizes for the sides, but the pattern looks amazing in the end!

Step #4 Mix Mortar + Apply

Once you’re ready to lay the tile, mix up a bucket of thin set mortar per the instructions. Pour the thin set into the bucket and add the recommended water amount. Attach the paddle bit to your drill and stir until the powder is fully mixed in.

Apply and scrape evenly with the notched trowel. Cover the surface so you can apply about 5 or so tiles.

Step #5 – Lay Tile with Spacers

Lay the first tile on top of the wet mortar, check that it’s level and use the rubber hammer to even out corners if not. Lay another tile next to it inserting spacers between the tiles to allow room for grout. Continue to lay tile, level and hammer as you go. Once you’ve tiled the whole space, do not walk on it and allow it to dry for at least 48 hours. Keep an eye on the weather, if it’s rained you’ll need to wait another day.

Step #6 – Grout

Supplies need for this step:

  • Grout
  • Mixing drill / paddle drill bit
  • 2 Buckets
  • Rubber Gloves/ Knee Pads
  • Hard Rubber Float
  • Tile Sponge
  • Grout Blade
  • Grout Scraper

The first step is to follow the instructions on the grout package mixing it in one bucket with your drill and paddle bit like you did for your mortar. In another bucket, fill it up with water.

Take your rubber float and get about a hand full of grout on the flat edge. Press the grout into the groves between the tiles covering the whole tile and removing the excess.

Submerge your sponge in the bucket of water and squeeze until the water is out and the sponge is just damp. Use your sponge to wipe off the grout turning the sponge from one side to the next per swipe. Once you’ve swiped on both sides rise the sponge in the water of bucket and squeeze excess out. Repeat. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Here is the finished product!

And the space once it was decorated.

Here are some videos for how-to tile and how-to grout that CT thought were really helpful: How-To Tile & How-To Grout.

What do you think? Would you try a tile project of your own?

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