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How to Prepare a Floor for Tile

Floor tiles are a trendy type of flooring. It is not uncommon to see tiles being used in homes. Many homeowners prefer tiles for its versatility and fantastic look it adds to the general appearance of the home. Tiles come in many designs and range from different materials that include ceramic.

Due to its growing acceptance and popularity in homes, homeowners are concerned with the tiling process. How simple is it? Can it also be a do it yourself project? Are there limitations to tiling your floor? Does the existing floor type affect the tiling process? We would be addressing this and many more in this post.

What Supplies Do You Need For Tiling A Floor?

When preparing a floor for tiling, several processes and considerations must be put in place. Before diving into the steps and procedures, you would need to prepare the right tools and materials for use.


  • Tiles
  • Grout
  • Grout release agent
  • Tile and grout sealer
  • Tile underlayment
  • Thinset


  • Sponge
  • Wet saw
  • Tile spacers
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Chalk line
  • Level
  • Tape measure

How to Prepare a Floor for Tile

Laying your tile on the floor is very easy and can be done without the help of a professional. However, the success of the project is based on how much groundwork is put in place.

Tile installation is no different. You need to ensure that the good ground is put in place. It is imperative to do the right thing as it impacts the general outcome of the work. Also, it ensures that the tiled floor is durable and last longer.

Step 1. Prepare the Substrate

Many tile floors exist, and they range from clay to natural stones, to ceramics. They are differently made and suited to fit into your style and choices. These many types of floors can be included in various kinds of substrates. Your tile can be fitted over an existing tile, wooden base, plywood subflooring, cement, and even a mortar base.

There are no limitations when it comes to laying your floor tiles. You would only need to prepare your existing floor by ensuring it is clean and free from debris. The floor should be cleaned appropriately and swept to ensure that there are no obstructions when laying tile.

It would help if you washed the floor with a commercial detergent to remove all old contaminants that might prevent the adhesive from working correctly.

When laying a new tile over an old one, old tile and grout should be securely attached. You can make use of a patching compound to fill holes or patches in the old grout. Use sandpaper to scrap the old tile. It helps prepare and give the new tile a proper grip when applying the mortar or adhesive.

If you are working with mortar, it would be best if you employed a professional’s help. It is because the process requires more experience to mix it and level it on the floor properly. When tiling on plywood, you would need a double layer of plywood with overlapped seams. You should follow the instructions from the manufacturer appropriately.

Thinset or tile mastic is an excellent choice of adhesive to use when tiling. The glues are quick to bond to any surface and are easy to use as well.

Step 2. Laying Out the Pattern

The first important step to take in laying out the pattern is measuring the floor you intend to tile. You have to divide the room into quadrants using a chalk line. The floor center after division gives you your starting point. You can now start tiling using the lines drawn as a guiding point.

Before applying your tile mastic or thin-set, you have to ensure that you do a dry run. The dry run helps you determine if the layout has been done correctly and necessary adjustments to make. Make sure to use a plastic space when tiling. Your tile supplier would recommend the plastic spacer for your tile.

Some rows might end with full tiles, and some might end with half cuts. You have to determine this by ensuring the tile properly fits in. if it is a half-cut, ensure you take a proper measurement. It would be best if you used the shorter tiles at the end to ensure a neat job is done.

Step 3. Making the Cuts

You can cut your tiles using a power wet saw or a manual snap cutter. A manual snap cutter is better suited for smaller thin tiles or smaller jobs. When using a manual snap cutter, it would leave rough edges. So after cutting, use a carborundum file or stone to smoothen the edges.

On the other hand, a wet power saw makes clean cuts that do not require smoothening of any type. It is built to cut into any tile type from ceramic tiles, to delicate glass tiles, thick paving tiles, natural stone tiles, and even porcelain tiles. It is quite versatile and leaves the edges of your tiles smooth.

You can rent a Wet power saw from tile shops around you.

Step 4. Applying the Mastic

After tiles cuts have been made, the next step is applying the mastic. Some mastic is harsh and sometimes volatile. So you need to take some precautions and ensure proper ventilation is provided in the working room.

When working, you should work in small areas. It is done to prevent the mastic from drying as you work and cut your tiles.

Step 5. Laying the Tiles

It would be best if you worked with a second person during this process. One is to concentrate on laying the tiles, and another is to provide the right tools needed for the job. The other person can also assist in covering loose tiles.

It would be best if you used a rubber mallet, hammer and woodblock in this process. Gently press the tile into mastic and avoid moving tiles when laying. After placing the tile into the mastic, use the rubber mallet or hammer and softly beat the tile into the mastic.

It would be best if you remembered to place the plastic spacers in between the tiles when laying them. The mastic does not stick to the plastic spacers. The spacers can only be removed when it is time to work on the grout lines.

Step 6. Grouting the Joints

It would be best to allow the mastic set for at least twenty four hours before removing the plastic spacers. Two types of grout are premixed grout and bulk grout. The premixed grout is easier to use than the bulk grout. The premixed grout also comes in a wide range of colors that would suit or provide a suitable contrast to your tiles.

Some tile professionals would suggest sealing the tile first, before proceeding to work on the grout lines. It is necessary advice because grout stains and sticks to unsealed tiles can cause damage to your tile. Mix the grout in bathes to prevent it from drying as you work.

Using a rubber float, squeeze grout in between joints. It would be best if you adequately filled it up. When working, ensure to use a wet sponge or towel to clean off excess grout. When wiping, wipe diagonally. After allowing the grout to dry, use a release agent and then apply a grout sealer. You should adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 7. Allow your tile to dry appropriately.

Your floor and tile are now ready. Cleaning of tile should be done after installation is well dried. Do not make use of harsh chemicals when cleaning.

When Laying a Tile is it appropriate to Start in the Center of the Room.

This question is one of the most frequently asked questions by homeowners who intend to install tiles on their floor. It is also a valid question that needs to be answered correctly. Starting to lay your tile from the center of the room only provides a balanced appearance. If you choose to start from the beginning of the room, you might not exactly get a level installation.

Also, laying your tiles is dependent on the type of style and pattern you hope to achieve. So if you have a different style and design in mind, you might not be inappropriate if you decide not to start in the center of the room.

Top 4 Tile Patterns To Choose From

1. Multiple-piece Tile Patterns

Some tile patterns decide to have different shapes and sizes of tiles. Tiles are laid and arranged in a way that follows a specific sequence. In a case like this, beginning in the center of the room does nothing to achieve your set goal. So you can decide to start at a more comfortable side.

2. Diagonal Tile Layouts

Diagonal patterns do not often start at the center of the room. They can decide to begin near the center. You should divide the room into four parts and then begin laying one line to the next line.

3. Tile within a Tile Pattern

Some homeowners decide to create a different pattern in between tiles. There is a different surrounding tile pattern and another inner pattern in the tiles.

4. Personal preference

Now, this is entirely up to you. You can choose to lay it in whatever style, pattern, or design you want. You have to put on your creative heart to don’t end up with a tile installation you might not necessarily like or want.


Tile Installation is pretty easy and straightforward. If you are looking for a sign to install and prepare that floor for tiling, here is it.