Remove any wall or cabinet floor molding so you can fit the tiles as tightly as possible against the baseboard (Image 1).
Make sure the floor on which you’re installing the new tiles is smooth and solid, with no wrinkles or bumps that could affect the new layer of flooring. You can cover a floor with as many as three layers of flooring; after that, all layers would require removal before adding a new layer. Because the old top-sheet vinyl floor in this kitchen was not glued down, it doesn’t provide a good base for the new tiles. It’s easily cut away in sections with a utility knife and removed (Image 2).
Clean and vacuum the floor thoroughly. Any debris left on the floor could someday “telegraph” through to the surface and damage the new floor.
Measure the floor and mark a line down the middle of its longest dimension, and another line across the middle of its shortest dimension. By dividing the room into quadrants, you can start tiling from the center point using your lines as a guide.
Before you begin sticking down the tiles, do a dry run and lay out enough tiles along your lines to reach the walls in each direction. If the end tiles are very short they may have a poor appearance or will not adequately bond to the subfloor, especially in doorways where there is more foot traffic. This kitchen has two points of entry, so we started with a full tile at the main entry, which will give the completed layout a more cohesive look. Adjust the tiles on your centerline so that you end with at least a half-tile at entryways and other high-traffic areas.
When you’re ready to begin tiling, line up the tiles with your layout lines, remove the backing and press them into position. Tiles that have a directional pattern feature an arrow on the back so you’ll know which way to orient them as you lay them down. As you work, wipe away any excess adhesive that squeezes out from the joints.
When you need to cut a tile, measure, mark and cut it from the back with a utility knife.
Continue laying down one tile after another until the floor is finished.