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How To Install a Tile Floor In a Kitchen

Find out how to install a tile floor in this kitchen catch-up project.

More in Kitchen

installing a kitchen tile floor Watch Video
  • Time

    Weekend

  • Price Range

    $500 - $1,000

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Mix the Thinset

First, mix up approximately two gallons of thinset to cover the floor for the backer boards. The consistency should be like creamy peanut butter.

Tips:
- Mix only as much thinset mortar as can be used in an hour; otherwise it will dry out and will not be as effective.
- Set the tiles on the floor to grid out the space and to make sure there is enough to cover the area and also to see what cuts will need to be made. This is especially important for a specific pattern design.
- Make sure to buy enough tiles to cover your entire project, accounting for 1/2 pieces, scrap pieces or replacement pieces. Often tiles from a different stock look slightly different.

Safety Alerts:
- Always wear eye protection when working with power tools.
- Wear a facemask when pouring dry thinset.
- Before ripping out older flooring have it tested for asbestos. Asbestos is dangerous when it is disturbed and becomes airborne, but abatement, or professional asbestos removal, can be expensive. If asbestos is suspected, covering the flooring with backer board, thinset mix and tile is an effective way to stop the asbestos from affecting your home and your family’s health.

Step 2: Apply the Thinset Onto the Linoleum

Apply a good amount of thinset onto the linoleum with a trowel. With the notched trowel, smooth the thinset over the floor, holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle. Only spread enough thinset to cover an area the size of the backer board. Continue this process throughout the project.

smooth thinset over floor with notched trowel

Step 3: Install the Backer Board

When the entire section of the floor is covered, set the backer board down slowly (Image 1). Make any slight corrections and adjustments while the thinset is wet.

When the board is in the right place, begin screwing the backer board into the flooring below (Image 2). The backer board has a grid to follow so the screws go in the correct location.

Repeat this step until the floor is covered entirely with backer board and is completely bolted down (Image 3).

Step 4: Lay the Tile

Next, plot out a tile pattern. Using spacers as a guide, lay one row of tiles all the way across the floor and another row of tiles perpendicular to the first row (Image 1). Laying out the tile before setting it provides a good estimate of how much tile is needed and where you might run into problems along the floor.

With a good idea where the tile will fall, lift the first tiles and spread thinset with the notched trowel, keeping the trowel at a 45-degree angle (Image 2). Lay the tiles down carefully and make any corrections and adjustments while the thinset is wet. Insert spacers to ensure each tile has the same size gap (Image 3).

Keep a wet rag and bucket of water nearby to clean up the thinset as you work. It is very difficult to clean after it dries. After tiling, finish the floor with grout.

Learn how upgrading your kitchen flooring can increase your home's value at HGTV's FrontDoor.com.

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Resources

  • Environmental contracting by American Abatement Inc.

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