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How to Install a Porcelain Tile Floor

Make a galley kitchen appear wider by installing rectangular tiles horizontally.

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Step 1: Demolition

Remove existing flooring, subflooring and trim. Remove all nails or staples. Scrape surface clean and make sure it is level. Vacuum all dust and debris.

Step 2: Apply Thin Set for Subfloor

We are reinforcing our subfloor to make it more rigid and help prevent the tiles from cracking. We are using cement board because it won’t expand and contract like wood. A layer of thin set is applied underneath the cement board. For faster drying time, a fast-setting thin set can be mixed with single-flex thin set. If time is not an issue, single-flex thin set can be used by itself. In a bucket, add water and thin set. Mix to a peanut-butter consistency. For easier mixing, attach a mixer attachment to a power drill. Apply thin set to subfloor using a 1/4” x 1/4” square-notched trowel.

Step 3: Lay Cement Board

Cut cement boards to size. Score with a carbide-tipped tool and then snap it at scored edge. Or for a cleaner edge, cut the cement board with a saw. Stagger rows of the cement board to break up the seams. Set cement board onto freshly laid thin set.

Step 4: Nail Down the Cement Board

Using roofing nails, nail the cement board to the floor every eight inches on center. Stay at least 3/4” inches away from the edges of the cement board.

Step 5: Tape the Seams

Cover the cement board seams with cement-board tape.

Step 6: Determine Starting Point

Find the centerpoint of the room. From that point, make two chalk lines running the length and width of the room. Check that the two lines are square to each other.

Step 7: Apply Thin Set

Pour water and thin set in a bucket. Mix to a peanut-butter consistency. Using a mixer attachment on a power drill makes it easier.

Step 8: Lay Tiles

For this galley kitchen, the length of the tiles is laid across the narrower part of the kitchen in a brick pattern. Lay full tiles from the center chalk line. Place 3/16” spacers between each tile. Allow tile to set for 24 hours.

Step 9: Mix Grout

Mix grout in a bucket. Make sure it’s not too runny or dry, it should be a consistency where you can form it into a ball.

Step 10: Apply Grout

Remove the spacers. Apply grout into the joint lines with a grout float. Spread the grout at a 45-degree angle to make sure you get into all the crevices. Work in a 6-foot-square area to prevent the grout from drying too much. Keep a clean bucket of water and sponges handy for easy clean up. Wipe excess grout with a clean, damp sponge. Let grout dry completely.

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