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How to Set Field Tile Flooring

Create a beautiful slate floor in any room by installing field tile.

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completed slate floor in foyer Watch Video

Step 1: Mix the Thinset

Mix the thinset with a heavy duty drill and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Mix the thinset to a paste-like consistency.

mix the thinset to the correct consistency

Step 2: Lay the First Tile

Set a four-tile template first. Spread the thinset on the floor with the smooth end of the 3/8 inch notched trowel. Once you have a smooth coat within the four template area, notch the thinset with the notched end of the trowel. Take the first tile, put a skim coat of thinset on the back of the tile and lay the first tile. The skim coat on the back of the slate tile ensures that the tiles evenly match up. Because this is a natural material, tiles often vary slightly in width, so the extra thinset creates a cushion that can be adjusted to level the tiles.

Step 3: Lay the Four-Tile Template

Use the small trowel to score the thinset around the edge of the set tile. This "cutting back" prevents the thinset from oozing up between the joints. Set the next tile, and space it out with the tile spacers. Repeat this process until the four tile template is set, making sure that each tile is within the original grid traced onto the floor. This is the starting point of the project, so it's important that it's done correctly.

four tile template set first

Step 4: Set all the Tiles

Before you set all of the tiles, spread out all of the tile material. Slate is a natural product – no two stones are alike. Spreading out the tile before setting it ensures that you’re evenly incorporating the product’s range of colors.

spread out tiles to incorporate colors

Step 5: Remove the Excess Thinset

Continue setting tile, working out from the center of the room. Keep in line with the grid that you snapped on the floor and use the spacers between each tile to ensure that the tile runs straight throughout the room. If you get thinset on the face of the stone, during the setting process, wipe it off with a damp sponge. Removing thinset now saves time and effort later.

wipe thinset off as tile is set to save time later

Step 6: Mark the Cuts

As you get to cuts around the border, mark them with a square and pencil and cut them. You can also mark the cuts with a crayon. A crayon mark won’t wash off during cutting

mark the tile cuts with a crayon before cutting

Step 7: Cut the Tile

To cut the tile, rent a wet tile saw from a local tool rental company. The precision of the tool saw is very helpful with this natural product. Because the tile is cut on a diagonal, brace the tile as you run it through the wet saw with the angled edge of the square to ensure a straight cut. Gently push the tile through the blade, letting the saw do the work for you. Finish tiling and let it set overnight.

guide the tile and let saw do the work

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