How to Set Tiles

How to Set 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.

Skill Level: Intermediate
  1. Step 1 Apply Adhesive

    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.

  2. Step 2 Make Ridges in Adhesive

    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.

  3. Step 3 Lay the First Tile

    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.

  4. Step 4 Continue Laying Tile

    Continue Laying Tile

    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.

  5. Step 5 Level the Tiles

    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.

  6. Step 6 Mark Tiles to Be Cut

    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.

  7. Step 7 Cut Tile

    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.

  8. Step 8 Snap Tile

    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.

  9. Step 9 Lay Tile

    Lay Tile

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


What You Need for This Project

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