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Setting Tiles

Project Overview

Setting Tiles

Setting tiles is fairly straightforward: begin at the centre of the room and work your way out. Follow your working lines and keep tiles aligned with spacers. Working carefully will just about guarantee a perfect job. If you put a tile down crooked, pick it up right away and reposition it. There’s probably never been a room that was tiled without any cutting. You can either make the cuts as you go along, or install all the full tiles, wait 24 hours for the adhesive to dry, then do all the cut tiles at once.

9 Steps

  1. Apply Adhesive
  2. Make Ridges in Adhesive
  3. Lay the First Tile
  4. Lay Second Tile and Spacer
  5. Level the Tiles
  1. Mark Tiles to be Cut
  2. Cut Tile
  3. Snap Tile
  4. Lay Tile
Show all steps »
Apply Adhesive

Step 1

Apply Adhesive

Put a little adhesive on the flat side of a square-notched trowel and apply it, pushing it into the face of the backerboard as you go. Then apply more to make a layer of adhesive roughly ½-inch thick.

Make Ridges in Adhesive

Step 2

Make Ridges in Adhesive

Holding the trowel at about 70 degrees to the floor, push the teeth of the tool to the floor, making ridges of uniform height in one direction in the adhesive. The size of the trowel notches should be the same as the thickness of the tiles you’re setting.

Lay the First Tile

Step 3

Lay the First Tile

Lay the first tile at the intersection of the guidelines. Twist the tile back and forth slightly to make sure it is embedded in the adhesive. As you go, remove any excess adhesive from the tiles with a damp sponge or a cloth.

Lay Second Tile and Spacer

Step 4

Lay Second Tile and Spacer

Place the second tile alongside the first, spacing it with a couple of spacers. Continue laying tiles until you have filled up the box. Lay spacers flat in the corners where tiles meet.

Level the Tiles

Step 5

Level the Tiles

Lay a short length of 2x4 or a beater block on top of the tiles and tap lightly with a rubber mallet to level the tiles and bed them firmly in the adhesive. Continue laying tiles, in one box at a time, until you reach the wall. If necessary (and it probably will be) cut tiles to fit against the wall.

Mark Tiles to be Cut

Step 6

Mark Tiles to be Cut

Place the tile to be cut directly over the last set tile. Set another tile, the "marker tile," on top of it, butting it against a tile set on edge at the wall. Trace along the marker tile to mark the cutting line on the tile below.

Cut Tile

Step 7

Cut Tile

The first part of cutting a tile is scoring it. Place the tile you marked in Step 6 on the cutter and align the cutting line with the scoring tool. Pull or push the cutter along the top of the tile with a single, firm stroke.

Snap Tile

Step 8

Snap Tile

The second part of cutting is to snap the tile in two. Wearing safety goggles, press down on the handle of the cutter to snap the tile into two pieces.

Lay Tile

Step 9

Lay Tile

Spread adhesive for the cut tiles and lay them the same way you laid the other tiles.

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Project Details

Skill Level: Intermediate

Time: 3 hours

Before you start, read this »

Due to differing conditions, tools, and individual skills, The Home Depot® assumes no responsibility for any damages, injuries suffered, or losses incurred as a result of attempting to replicate any of the home improvement ideas portrayed in this website Before beginning any home improvement project, review it thoroughly to ensure you or your contractor can finish the project and if any doubts or questions remain, consult local experts or authorities. Because codes and regulations vary greatly, you always should check with authorities to ensure that your project complies with all applicable local codes and regulations. Always read and observe all of the safety precautions provided by any tool or equipment manufacturer, and follow all accepted safety procedures.

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