Tips on Laying Ceramic Tile Floors

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    Choose the Right Tile

    • You can tile walls with pretty much any ceramic tile you want, but you have to consider strength issues for floors because they have to carry weight. Basically, the smaller and thicker the tile, the stronger it is. If the tile is larger than one square foot, or thinner than about 1/3 inch, it may crack no matter how well you lay it. A high-gloss glaze could become very slippery when wet, so consider going with less-shiny style for floors.

    Set a Strong Underlayment

    • The old method of using plywood as underlayment for every kind of flooring is still fine for most kinds of flooring, but not for ceramic. If there is any movement at all in the floor as people walk over it, the tiles will crack. Use a strong cement board underlayment, at least 5/8 inch thick. Set it in mortar on the floor, screw it down, and tape the seams with more mortar, like you'd tape drywall.

    Lay It Right

    • Unlike wood flooring planks, which are laid starting at one wall and then out across the room, tile should always be laid out from the middle of the room, building outward to the edges. This ensures that any cuts you have to make at the edges will be the same size on both sides. Divide the room into four even sections with two intersecting snap-lines, and use those lines as your starting point, laying the first tiles in the corners at the intersection. Space them evenly (1/4 inch is good) and use thinset mortar spread with a notched trowel to set them to the floor. Cut as necessary with a tile cutter and tile nippers.

    Grout and Seal

    • Mix sanded grout and apply it to the set tiles as directed, pressing it into the spaces with a rubber trowel and wiping it off the tile face with a wet sponge. Don't use the floor for a few days afterward so the grout has time to cure. Clean and dry the floor thoroughly, then apply a coat of grout sealer on the lines with a sponge applicator and bottle. This will help the grout resist dirt and stains.

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