How To Install Ceramic Floor Tile – Yourself!

Want to learn how to install ceramic floor tile? Installing tile is a step-by-step process that any handy person can learn to do. It’s like many other home projects. The pros are fast because time is money. Plus a pro must handle a wide range of project situations.

But we amateurs can take it easy and maybe just do a room or two, so we don’t have to handle a lot of different situations. You can learn to do a professional job and enjoy the satisfaction of installing ceramic floor tile while saving some money too!

Ceramic tile makes a beautiful as well as practical floor . A tile floor will literally last for generations with minimum maintenance. Ceramic tile is a perfect floor surface especially in kitchens, bathrooms, and foyers.

Ceramic Tile Floor … The Base.

Ceramic tile can be installed over many different materials, including old tile, vinyl floors and concrete. Wood is usually poor base for ceramic tile. Shifting of the wood may cause cracking of tile joints. The best base for floors and walls is Hardi-Backer cement board. This material is isn’t damaged by water. Plus it’s stable and fairly easy to work with too.

Gather The Tools.

Gather your tools first. You’ll need the following:

  • Plastic 5 gallon buckets
  • Tile saw
  • Nippers
  • Cutter board
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Notched trowel
  • Margin trowel
  • Chalk line
  • Pencil
  • Tri square
  • Spacers
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Tile sponge

Lay Out Your Floor.

Usually your first floor layout step is to find the center of the room. Measure the width and length of the room and strike lines to determine the center. Use these lines as guides to lay the tile. Continue to strike chalk lines on the floor as guidelines as you proceed along the floor.

The appearance of the floor must have eye appeal. You may need to start along a wall, so you have cut tile only on one side. This depends on the room and the situation. Starting in the center is the most common method.

Lay some tiles on the dry floor spaced like you plan. Dry setting of tiles lets you better visualize the finished floor look before you apply adhesive!


The adhesive, or thin-set, is a mortar mix especially designed for ceramic floor tile installation. There are several brands and types of thin-set. Different additives are used for different applications. Your dealer will help you choose the best product for your job. Thin-set comes in different colors too.

You can get ready-mixed thin-set. Pros use thin-set that comes as a powder, like mortar mix and is mixed with water. Mix using a stirrer with an electric drill.

Laying Ceramic Floor Tile.

Spread thin-set with a trowel. You’ll want a special tile trowel with notched edges to build ridges in the thin-set. The ridges will help you gauge just the right amount of thin-set. Too much adhesive will ooze out the top of the joint and make a mess.

Leave your chalk line guide lines uncovered and put the tile edge right on the line. For a floor, you will want about 3/16 inch gaps between tiles. To get consistent spaces use regular tile spacers made for just that purpose.

At the floor edges, you will cut ceramic floor tile pieces to fit. Usually many of the edge pieces will be cut to the same size. But keep checking, since many rooms aren’t exactly square.

Keep coming across the floor, striking lines every few rows to keep yourself lined up in both direction.

Grouting Ceramic Tile.

Let the tiles set for 24 -48 hours, then they are ready for grout. Use grout to fill the spaces between the tiles.

Grout comes in many of colors and is easy to apply. Mix the grout with water, making sure to mix well, so it isn’t lumpy. Apply the grout with a rubber trowel.

Grout comes as sanded or unsanded. The sanded grout contains sand to make it stronger. Use sanded grout in joints larger than 1/8 inch wide.

Clean the grout from the tile after about 30 minutes. At that point the grout is glazing over on the surface of the tile! Clean an hour later a second time. Use clean water in a sponge for cleaning. Use a little vinegar in water on stubborn areas to get them perfectly clean!

After about 24 hours drying time, the tiled area is ready to use…for generations!

Those are the basics of how to install ceramic floor tile.