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Tiling a Foyer: How to Chalk the Tile Layout Grid Pattern and Lay the Floor Tiles

Host Paul Wilson shows how to chalk the tile layout grid pattern and lay the tile flooring in a foyer.

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Step 1: Measure the Room

Find the center of the foyer by measuring and chalking out two opposing walls. Make sure the lines are square by using the 3-4-5 triangle method -- measure 3 feet down one of the lines to be checked for square and make a pencil mark. Then measure 4 feet down the other opposing line and make a second mark. The lines are square to one another if the measurement between those marks is then 5 feet.

measure the room

Step 2: Make a Diagonal Pattern

Chalk out a 6'x6' box from those lines and chalk corner-to-corner to establish the diagonal pattern.

Note: The grid box holds as many tiles as the setter can tile in 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 3: Measure and Chalk Boxes

Measure and chalk out 2'x2' boxes for 16 tiles each in the layout. The 6'x6' box from the main working lines established from the perimeter walls allowed Paul to chalk in the diagonal pattern.

measure and chalk out boxes

Step 4: Chalk Center Position

Dry run the medallion and border around it, and chalk the position in the center of the floor.

dry run medallion and border around it

Step 5: Dry Set the Tiles

Dry set tiles against the perimeter of the wall to ensure that a 6" border would work without any tiny cuts.

dry set tiles against perimeter of wall

Step 6: Clear Lacquer the Chalk Lines

Clear lacquer all the chalk lines so they won't fade or disappear later.

Note: A chalked-in layout allows you to start anywhere, go around obstacles and corners and frees you from using spacers.

Step 7: Mark the Cut

When doing a diagonal layout such as this one, make sure there aren't any tiny cuts on the outside of the layout. Lay out a section of tiles to make any cuts necessary ahead of time.

Lay the tile out dry so you can mark for the border cuts in the diagonal layout. Simply pencil in the layout just like before with the chalk lines, extend the lines far enough so you can see them, line up the straightedge along the line for the border and pencil in the mark. Go to the other side and find the other borderline and mark for the cut. Be sure to mark the cut with a number so you'll know where the cut piece of tile will go later. Mark the wasted part of the tile with an "x" so you will know what to keep and what to discard.

mark the cut

Step 8: Cut the Tiles

Now it's time to cut the tiles with a wet saw, which can be rented from any local hardware store for approximately $45 a day.

Safety Alert: Be cautious when using a wet saw. Don't get the plug near any water that may come from the reservoir.

Tip: To get a nice even cut with the wet saw, be sure to use a speed square.

cut tiles with wet saw

Step 9: Mix the Thin Set

Mix the thin set according to manufacturer's specifications with the 1/2" drill motor and the rod type mixer paddle at less than 600 rpm.

Step 10: Apply the Thin Set

Apply thin set with the flat end of the trowel to key in the mortar on the backer board. Then use the notched side to create a uniform thickness. (Only lay as much thin set as you can tile in 15 minutes.)

Step 11: Lay the Tiles

Lay the tile on the thin set following the chalk lines, and make sure to keep the tiles aligned properly. Also, make sure there's no excess lippage on the laid tiles.

lay tile on thin set following chalk lines

Step 12: Tap the Tiles

Tap the tiles lightly with a rubber mallet to ensure a good bond to the thin set. But be sure not to tap too vigorously or the tiles could break.

Step 13: Check for Coverage

In the initial setting of tiles, pull up two to three tiles and check for a minimum of 80 percent coverage after tiles have been beaten in.

Step 14: Cover Entire Floor

Continue until entire floor surface is covered.

Tip: When setting in the medallion, be sure to keep the cardboard on the back of the medallion and ever so gently pull it away.

setting in medallion