How to Tile a Floor

How To Tile a Floor PDF
    Things You Will Need
  • Floor tiles
  • Adhesive / Grout
  • Tile Cutter
  • Safety kit (goggles; leather gloves)
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Trowel
  • Grout float
  • Spacers
  • Chalk
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Floor sealer
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Knee pads (optional)

From choosing tiles, preparing a surface and installation find out all you need to know with regards to how to tile a floor:

Choosing Tiles

Choose suitable floor tiles for the room you are going to tile and remember to make sure that you have plenty of spare tiles available to account for any accidental breakages and wrong cuts.

Preparation and Marking Out

You must firstly prepare the floor surface for tiling before laying a single tile. This includes cleaning the floor which will ensure that the adhesive will stick to the substrate. It is then time to measure the room’s floor so that you can find a point from which to tile from. Using a tape measure and piece of chalk, mark the mid points on the floor of both longer walls as well as both shorter walls. Then draw a line with the chalk from the mark on one of the longer walls to the adjacent wall. Repeat this process with the shorter walls. The floor of the room will now be split into four sections.

Dry Laying

Dry lay a row of tiles around the chalk line of one of the sections first to establish which cuts to tiles need to be made. Once you have made the cuts for one section then you will be able to establish roughly what is required for the others. Take into consideration grout lines when making cuts and wear goggles and gloves for safety purposes. Remember that this will only provide you with a general idea of cuts because the walls may be uneven so it is still recommended you should measure each section at a time.

Tiling From the Middle

Spread adhesive onto the floor with a trowel into the right angle of one of the sections. Tiling out from the middle will ensure that you use as many whole tiles as possible and you will therefore not have to cut too many tiles Only apply enough adhesive to lay a few tiles at a time to ensure it does not set before you’ve had a chance to lay the tiles on top. Press the tiles down firmly into the bed of adhesive and twist them into place. Use tile spacers to create equal gaps between each tile. Make sure the tiles line-up with the centre lines. Tile one section at a time, beginning at one of the two sections furthest away from the door to avoid blocking yourself in.

Making Sure the Tiles are Level

Use a spirit level to make sure the tiles are at the same level throughout the floor. Once you have tiled the back half of the room you can then begin working towards the door. Let the adhesive set for a few hours and remove the tile spacers so they do not get stuck. Then leave the adhesive to set for 24 hours. Seal the tiles first before applying grout. Leave the sealant to dry for two or three hours and then fill the gaps with grout using a grout float. Remove any excess grout with clean water and a sponge and dry with a cloth before applying another coat of sealant.

How To Tile Over Electric Underfloor Heating Mats

  • Flexible Adhesive
  • Flexible Grout
  • Tape Measure
  • Self-levelling Compound
  • Chalk
  • Tile Spacers
  • Wet Saw
  • Tile Nippers
  • Trowel
  • Sponge
  • Towel

For a warm surface, many people are installing electric underfloor heating mats beneath their tiled floor. These thin mats are easy to operate and provide a cost effective alternative to water heating systems. You will need to acquire the services of a qualified electrician in order to connect the cable to the mains supply. Below we explain how you can tile onto electric underfloor heating mats.

Tiling over the UFH Mat

Follow the instructions on the packaging to prepare the self levelling compound (SLC) before applying it evenly with a smooth edged trowel to completely cover the mat. Care should be taken to ensure you do not damage the mat. SLC will not only provide a flat and even surface but will also allow the heat from the mat to penetrate through. After covering the entire floor you should then allow the SLC to dry for the allocated time.

The Importance of Using Flexible Adhesive

Using flexible adhesive and grout is important as the tiles may expand and contract as a result of the heat from the mat. Using a tape measure find the middle point of the room and with chalk split the floor into four sections. Tile one section at a time, spreading the adhesive evenly to provide a smooth layer before pressing the tiles down, creating even gaps in between them with tile spacers. Use tile nippers and the wet saw to cut tiles at the edge of the floor to size. After tiling the first section you will have a good idea of what cuts are required for the other three sections. Leave the adhesive to dry before filling the gaps between the tiles with flexible grout by using a trowel. Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge before drying the surface with a towel.

When to Switch the UFH Mat on

After tiling is complete do not switch the underfloor heating system on straight away. Allow enough time for the adhesive to set fully, which could be two to three days. When you do switch the heating mat on, make sure it is at a low setting to start with and increase and decrease temperature gradually to start with. This will allow the grout, tiles and adhesive to become fully accustomed to the fluctuation in temperatures.

How to Tile a Staircase

How To Tile a Staircase PDF
  • Cement Board
  • Tape measure
  • Stone Tiles
  • Thin Set Tile Adhesive
  • Tile Grout
  • Stone Cutting and Shaping tools
  • Adhesive and Grout Apllicators
  • Cleaning Materials
  • Sealant
  • Brush or Roller for Sealant
  • Chamfer and Cutting Jig for Stone Tiles
  • Polishing Grits from 50 to 3000 Grit

Read below for how to tile a staircase on to both wooden and concrete substrates:

Wooden Staircase Preparation for Tiling

When more than one or two steps are involved; this becomes a major renovation project. Wooden staircases were never designed to take the additional weight associated with applying a stone tile finish and may flex slightly in use so should only be tiled if sufficiently strong and sturdy.If in doubt you could seek the opinion of a structural engineer to assess the load bearing characteristics. Ideally you should use tiles that are able to fully cover the step from front to back they don’t have to fit perfectly as the excess can be cut away. Remove carpets, trims and old carpet tacks from the staircase to ensure the wooden risers and treads are in good condition and suitable for tiling ideally they should be stripped bare ready for further preparation. The horizontal wooden treads often have a nose or edge that overlaps the vertical risers on wooden staircases. This will need to be cut flush with the riser using a jigsaw or suitable hand saw then sanded flush before ensuring the staircase is clean ready for boarding. Boarding A Wooden Staircase

Starting at the top step:

The cement backing board provides a suitable substrate for tiling on top of wood and should be fitted to the riser and step prior to tiling. Cut sections of backing board to fit the riser and step; leaving a slight gap either side. Apply a layer of thin set of adhesive – This is primarily to act as a filler to prevent voids below the board. Fix the boards into place using suitable countersunk wood screws. From this point onwards the treatment is the same for wooden stairs and concrete steps. Steps should be completed in sequence starting at the top step.

How to Tile a Staircase: Riser Tiles

In order to achieve a symmetrical finish place the first tile in the centre of the riser and add tiles to both sides; using a tile spacer between natural stone tiles for the grout lines. Check the width of the edge tiles, adjust as needed then mark the tiles and cut to size. Fit the riser tiles with thin set adhesive and tile spacers for a consistent grout thickness.

Applying Stone Tiles to Steps: Tread Tiles

Cut the tiles to size so that when fitted, the joints can be aligned with those on the risers. If you are forming a nose overhanging the riser slightly then this should also be allowed for. Polishing: The tread tiles will have an exposed front edge which should be prepared to avoid easy chipping and make a more professional finish. The exposed edge should have a 3mm chamfer applied to the top edge using a suitable cutting blade and jig for accuracy before being polished with progressively finer grits starting at 50 grit and working to about 1500 or 3000 grit.

If the tread tiles are not being finished flush with the risers but overlapped to form a nose then both exposed front edges should be chamfered

Fix the tiles in position using thin set adhesive and ensure tiles align with the riser tiles

Allow to set and remove spacers prior to sealing and grouting

Sealing with Penetrating Sealer

Some natural stone tiles are quite porous and are best sealed to prevent dirt build up and moisture penetration when cleaning.

Make sure to prepare the sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply to the exposed surfaces without flooding the tile edge which may cause problems when grouting

Allow to cure before grouting

Grouting Stone Staircase Tiles

Again starting at the top of the staircase; apply grout to the joints making sure to fully penetrate the gaps

Remove excess grout using a soft scraper and wipe the surface clean with a cloth

Allow the grout to cure and clean the staircase thoroughly

Anti-slip Grooves

If you are concerned about fitting smooth, polished tiles on staircases; it is possible to create an anti-slip finish by adding grooves near the leading edge of the treads using a jig and diamond saw to provide additional grip.

How To Lay Vinyl Floor Tiles

  • Tape measure
  • Vinyl tiles
  • Adhesive
  • Cutting tools
  • Chalk line for marking out
  • Measuring the floor area

Vinyl floor tiles are relatively easy to lay onto a clean flat surface, however, as they’re thin and quite flexible you shouldn’t lay them directly onto floorboards as the floorboard joints will show through. Read below for how to lay vinyl floor tiles and in which areas they are most suitable.

Also, avoid laying in conservatories and suntraps where high temperature variations can occur which may loosen the adhesive or cause warping at the edges

If your room is not square/rectangular but has alcoves or a walk-in bay window divide the room into a series of rectangle and measure the length and breadth of each area then add the areas together to determine the total floor area

Usually you will need to add 5% or 10% to this amount to allow for cutting and wastage

Preparing the sub-floor for vinyl tiles

Vinyl tiles will eventually reveal any lumps or imperfections of the sub-floor so it’s essential to prepare the surface for tiling by removing any old surface coverings, adhesive and dirt.

Wooden floorboards should be covered with suitable hardboard sheets (shiny side up)

Concrete/screed sub-floors in contact with the ground need to have a suitable damp-proof membrane in place and must be thoroughly dry.

Newly laid concrete floors and thick screeds can easily take 6 months or more to dry out

The concrete surface must be perfectly smooth with no aggregate or sharp sand particles protruding from the surface, nor indentations

When ready, the surface to be tiled should be primed with a suitable sealant such as a PVA solution to help prevent surface dusting and kill any suction which may weaken the tile adhesive

Marking out the floor to take vinyl tiles

Usually, the most aesthetically pleasing tile arrangement is when the tiles are centred with the main room entrance with any partial room edge tiles of even width to both sides of the room

Rooms are rarely squared and may be slightly wider or longer at one end so it’s best not to start at a corner and work out but work from a central tile or row towards the edges of the room

Dry lay a row of tiles and work out a tile arrangement that will work for the room to be tiled

Make sure any alcoves or bays also look symmetrical and if you have to compromise, choose the most important area to tile first.

Once you’re happy with the layout mark a vertical and horizontal line across the room intersecting at right angles on the corner of your chosen master tile

Adhesive for Vinyl Tiles

Some vinyl tiles may have an adhesive backing already applied and just need the protective layer removed prior to tiling; if not, make sure to use the adhesive recommended by the tile manufacturer to ensure a good bond

Laying Vinyl Tiles

Starting with your master tile; work outwards in rows making sure to lay full tiles and not to tile all the way to the room edge

Apply the adhesive as instructed by the manufacturer if self adhesive tiles aren’t being fitted

Lay tiles firmly and if needed, use a smooth wooden block wrapped in a thin cloth to press down the edges. Try to avoid sliding tiles into place as this squeezes the adhesive into the joints between tiles and ensure any surface adhesive is removed with a damp cloth

Once the central area is complete you are ready to cut and fit edge tiles

Cutting and Fitting Vinyl Tiles

Edge Tiles: Using a spare tile as an edge guide; mark and cut each tile to fit and lay in place being careful to avoid any excess which may curl upwards where the floor meets the skirting board

Tiles in Doorways: It can be quite difficult to cut a vinyl tile to perfectly match a complex shaped architrave. You could use a scrap of card to make a template then cut the tile to fit or use a hand saw sliding over a scrap of tile placed on the floor at the base of the architrave to create a slight rebate below the architrave to take a section of tile

Radiator pipes: Often the easiest way to get an accurate circle cut out is to sharpen a small length of pipe matching the diameter of the radiator pipe. Mark the outer edges of the hole you need on a vinyl tile and place over a block of wood. Line up the home made cutter and hit with a hammer to cleanly cut a hole through the vinyl. In order to fit the tile round the pipe without loosening the radiator you simply need to make a single straight cut on the wall side of the tile and manoeuvre into position

Doorway Threshold

Doorways connecting rooms can be finished with a wooden threshold strip or metal strips that are profiled to compensate for differing heights where a carpet meets a vinyl or laminate floor

The strip is cut to fit the door opening and fitted using wood screws or masonry screws and plugs as appropriate