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How to Install a Ceramic Tile Floor

Home-improvement pro Scott Branscom shows how to install a ceramic tile floor.

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Step 1: Take Measurements of the Room

Begin by taking measurements of the room.

begin by taking measurements of the room

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 2: Cut the Cement Board

Use those measurements to cut the cement board to size. This material is hard, but not too difficult to cut through. Use a razor knife to score one side, then turn the board over to finish the cut. Use caution when cutting to avoid pulling the mesh off the board.

Step 3: Lay Out the Pieces

Once all the pieces are cut, lay them out on the floor to make sure it's a snug fit.

lay all pieces out on floor in snug fit

Step 4: Secure the Cement Board

Secure the cement board to the floor using a screw-gun or cordless drill with screwdriver attachment. Use special cement-board screws, and place them every 6 to 8 inches.

Tip: You can start the screws in the cement board by tapping the tip in with a hammer. Then use the screw gun to set the screws fully.

secure cement board to floor using cement screws

Step 5: Mark the Center of the Room

With the cement board in place, measure to find the center of the room. Mark it by snapping two chalk lines that intersect at the room's center point.

Step 6: Lay Out the Tile

The patterned tile comes in sheets that are about 1-foot square. The individual tiles are attached on the underside with rubber "dots." The dots serve two purposes: they hold the tiles together in the patterned sheets and also act as spacers to create even grout lines. The rubber dots are easy to cut through when it's necessary to separate tiles.

Lay out the tile using as many full sheets as possible.

Step 7: Spread the Adhesive

Work in small sections, lifting out the tiles and spreading the adhesive. Spread the adhesive smoothly and evenly with a square-notched trowel. You'll want the adhesive to be about as thick as the tiles you're working with.

Lay the center section first, then you can tackle the tricky cuts around the edges of the room. Spread as much adhesive as possible before it dries. To determine how quickly the adhesive dries, check the open time on the product container.

Step 8: Set the Sheet of Tiles in Place

Set the first sheet of tiles into place and press it firmly into the adhesive. For the second sheet, remember to line up the pattern and check the spacing and then set it into place.

line sheets of tile based on pattern and spacing

Step 9: Cover the Center of the Floor

Work around the room until the entire center of the floor is covered.

work around room until center of floor is covered

Step 10: Cover the Perimeter of the Room

For the perimeter of the room, trim full sheets to fit. We started at the door and worked our way around, measuring and cutting tiles and sheets as necessary to fill the area.

work way around perimeter of room laying tile

Step 11: Cut the Tile

The easiest way to cut tile is with a wet saw. It uses water to keep the blade from getting too hot as it makes the cuts. Set the length wanted and guide the tile through the blade. Rent a wet saw for this project from a local rental center. Just remember to get safety gear and follow proper safety precautions as well.

cut tile with wet saw

Step 12: Follow These Tips

To cut a tile sheet, flip it over and use a utility knife to cut the rubber dots, then pop out the piece. This technique is handy to cut out a piece of tile to fit around the toilet or any plumbing pipes (Image 1).

If you have any small cuts buy a pair of tile nippers. The key to working with these is to be patient and cut off a little bit at a time (Image 2).

When mixing grout make sure it is creamy and easy to spread. Using the tile sheets, put grout onto the tiles then spread it with a rubber grout float. Let it set for about 20 minutes then wipe the tiles with a damp sponge. Once the grout has hardened, wipe off the haze and buff the tiles with a dry cloth (Image 3).

Make sure to seal the grout to help keep it clean. For new grout, wait a week to 10 days then apply a silicone sealer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the sealer product selected.


Pattern tile now comes in pre-joined, grout-ready sheets that makes installation easy.

Adding ceramic tile to a home is somewhat time-consuming, but once it's done, you're likely to be pleased with the final results.

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