How To Install And Choose Floor Tiles

Choosing The Right Floor Tile

Choosing the right floor tile will make a big difference when you are repairing floor tile or installing floor tile. My favorite is porcelain floor tiles because it has durability, different sizes, different colors, and different texture. Some porcelain tiles have a marble look to it, some have a smooth surface and other tiles have a rough, non-slip finish. Porcelain tiles can be difficult to cut, I would recommend using a wet saw.

Ceramic floor tiles are good tiles for installing on the floor. Ceramic tiles also some in different sizes, colors and texture. Ceramic tiles can have a high glazed finish which will make it easy to clean but can be slippery when wet. Ceramic tiles are easier to install because they are lighter and cut easier on a wet saw or manual tile cutter.

Granite floor tiles are the most durable of all floor tiles. Granite tiles are usually 1/4 inch thick and heavier than most floor tiles. Granite is installed by butting each tile together leaving as little space (no space) as possible. Granite tile can be difficult to install. The surface must be level and you should use thin-set mortar made especially for install granite tiles. If you install granite tiles in the bathroom, I would recommend that you use a sealer on the granite tiles before you grout your granite tiles, always using a non-sanded grout for granite tiles. Granite tiles can be very pricey.

Marble tiles are less durable than granite tiles but the finish product after installation will be a beautiful glass-like finish that you can’t help but notice. Yes marble tile is perhaps the most beautiful of all tiles when installed properly. Like granite, marble tiles should have a sealer applied before you grout the tiles using a non-sanded grout. Marble tiles should be butted together leaving as little space (no space) as possible. Also you should use the thin-set mortar made especially for marble tiles. Like granite tiles, marble can be very pricey.

Preparing The Floor For Tile Installation

Tar Paper In Hallway
Tar paper is applied over the wooden floor to prepare for the next step.

Wire mesh installed.
The next step is to install wire mesh onto the tar paper and nail the mesh to the wooden floor.

I am not a fan for installing tiles onto plywood floor or any wooden floors. It just doesn’t work and in time you always have a problem. Your floor tiles can crack or break as well as your grout cracking and removing from between the tiles. So preparing your floor is the key for successful tile installation.  If the floor is not level and has a difference of 2 or more inches, it may be necessary for a mud job.

Cement is leveled by a wooden floater
The cement is leveled by a wooden floater which also leaves a smooth surface when dry.

Spreading thin-set mortar for floor tile installation.
We used a 1/4 inch spreader for applying the thin-set mortar onto the cement floor that dried over night.

I like to use a cement board when installing floor tiles. But the foundation that is on the floor should be level. If it isn’t level, you should remove the plywood laying on the house beams and level  the beams and re-installing the plywood. You want your foundation as level as possible!  The cement is leveled by a wooden floater which also leaves a smooth surface when dry.

Now you can install the cement boards and secure the boards using the special screws that are made especially for floor installation. Never use sheet rock screws, the heads will break in time which will cause your tiles to crack or break and the same goes with the grout. When done, you will have a good surface that is level for installing any floor tiles.

Installing Floor Tiles

After your sub floor is prepared, you are ready to install floor tiles.  For a 12″ x 12″ porcelain tiles, I used a 1/4 inch spreader for spreading thin-set mortar onto the floor.  Now spread some thin-set mortar onto the back of the floor tile so it will grip and hold better on the floor.  Install the tile onto the thin-set mortar and work the floor tile into the thin-set mortar.  For a 12″ x 12″ floor tile, I used a 3/8 inch spacer to separate one floor tile from the other.

Installing Floor tile
Tile installation specialist installing 3 floor tiles at a time.

Porcelain Floor Tiles Installed.
Kitchen porcelain floor tiles installed.

You continue installing the floor tiles until the job is completed.  Of course some of the floor tiles will have to be cut with a wet saw cutter or a manual tile cutter.  After the floor tiles are installed over night, you can grout the floor tiles the very next day.  Remove the plastic spacer between the floor tiles before you grout.  Sponge off the excess grout from the floor tile and dry with a towel.  Wipe off the haze from the floor tiles by using clean water and sponge and drying the floor tiles with a towel or paper towel.

4 thoughts on “How To Install And Choose Floor Tiles”

  1. Yes your kitchen is a high traffic area and yes you should use a grout sealer. The sealer will coat the grout so all you would need to clean your floor is water and clear vinegar. Use a good sealer, one that will seal stone, granite, and grout. Spend the money, I pay over $150 for one gallon of sealer, but it does the job beautifully. Don’t buy cheap sealer, that is your problem. Make sure you read the directions before you use the sealer. Nick the Tile Man

  2. I have a question about sealer for grout. We just had our wood flooring replaced with a beige colored ceramic tile. The grout is a contrasting darker color – almost a brick brownish-red color. Do we need to seal the dark colored grout? This is in the kitchen – not a high moisture area. The reason I am asking is that we tried a clear sealer on the grout where the refrigerator would cover it and it changed the look of the grout. No longer the dark color but has a chalky look to it.

  3. Hello Anne:

    First your grout has to be clean, I would recommend re-grouting your tiles. Then purchase a grout sealer that indicates 20 years or better. Its pricey but it will last a life time. Just follow the instructions on the sealer. Home Depot sells cheap sealer and expensive sealer. The expensive sealer will last a long time. Go to the aisle where they sell grout and you will see grout sealers. Go for the most expensive one. Its worth the investment. But remember, if your grout is dirty, it will seal the dirt in. You can try to clean your grout line with one cup of vinegar mix with baking soda. Buy a hard scrub brush and scrub all the grout line. Wait a day. If your grout is clean, apply a sealer. Good Luck.
    Nick the Tile Man

  4. What can be used to water proof and block stains on grout in a bathroom floor and shower area, also in kitcen where food and grease may get spilled? I tried some stuff sold at Home Depot and it didn’t help at all. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Anne

Comments are closed.