DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile
After a long week of tiling my Master Bathroom and both closets, it’s finally done. Yay! I’m so excited to show you all this beautiful Marble Look Porcelain Tile Floor, guys! And, I’ve got my favorite DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile Faster and Better for you today.
I went with 12×24 tiles because I love how nice they look in our kitchen. Tiles this big are installed with a 1/3 tile offset. So, the next row of tiles starts 8″ away from the end of the last row. You can see what I mean in some of the photos below.
And, matte tiles are fantastic, guys. They make Stone Look porcelain look and feel more like real stone. And the matte finish is critical in a wet bathroom with little boys, or clumsy adults, around. Really, slippery surfaces with wet feet are one of my mom phobias. 😉
I also really love that the pattern on this tile is really subtle and muted. Some of the marble look tiles have really dark grey lines. I always think that makes the pattern take over the room. The pattern on these tiles is a nice subtle light grey marble veining. So pretty, right?!
Follow me on Instagram to see my latest DIY Projects and Tips. Now, let’s get to those DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile faster and better. 🙂
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My Master Bath Makeover Plan & Projects
Click the links below to see more about each item. 🙂
- Paint the Walls
- Add a Plank Ceiling Feature
- Remove and Replace Bathtub
Removeand Replace Shower
- Add a new Shower Niche
Remove and Replace Flooring
- Replace Vanity Mirrors
Change Vanity Lighting Change Shower Light and Fan
- Replace Vanity and Bay Window Counter Tops
- Paint Vanities and Change Vanity Hardware
- Replace Toilet
- Add Wainscoting to Water Closet
- Build or Buy Main Wall Art
Watch my DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile Video
Prepping for your Floor Tile Install
So, I’m not going to tell you how to install tile. There is so much involved in that. But, I have some of my favorite DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile here. If you are new to tiling, check out this professional tile installer on YouTube. He has great videos that can teach you all about tiling.
Tip One – Planning Ahead is the Key to Success
Tiling isn’t hard, but it is detailed and there’s no undo button once that thinset dries. As a DIYer, I literally spend days thinking about each step of the project to try to avoid any mistakes or last minute decisions during install.
I noticed that Floor and Decor has weekend tiling classes. I think Home Depot and Lowes might offer these sometimes too. They’re probably worth checking out, if you’ve never tiled.
Tip Two – Get your Floors ready for New Tile
Floor Prep is an important step on my list of DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile. The plumbers that did my demo removed the old tile in our bathroom. Yay! That saved me hours of back breaking work, especially since we had 2 layers of tile. Then I removed the carpet in the closets.
Then, I prepped the floors for tiling by chipping away any leftover thinset and drywall mud on the concrete. You want that floor to be a nice smooth, clean surface for your new tile. I even scraped away some paint on the concrete floor. Just to make sure my thinset would have nothing stopping it from really sticking to the concrete. Vacuum the floor clean before install too.
Tip Three – Do you need an Uncoupling Membrane?
I didn’t use an uncoupling membrane here. I don’t want to tell you whether or not to use one. Research what they are and whether or not you need one. I will say that I decided to skip it for a couple of reasons.
One, none of my local installers seem to use them. They must have reason to believe they aren’t often needed in Houston. Two, my floor is a 25-year old concrete pad. It’s not a basement floor and it doesn’t have cracks or a history of cracking tile. And, I assume the majority of settling was done decades ago.
But, again, research uncoupling membranes and decide for yourself. Ask local pros what they use in your area.
Tip Four – Pick your Floor Tiling Products Carefully
Here’s what I used in my bathroom remodel. I’d recommend any of these products. Don’t go cheap or just pick something at random. I do like the ‘flex’ type thinsets. They’re supposed to hold up to slight movements better, to avoid cracking later.
I also recommend mixing your own Thinset, the premixed thinset tends to work better for small jobs and smaller tiles, like on a kitchen backsplash. BUT, I do like premixed grout. It will cost you more overall. But, your grout will look more smooth and consistent in color(especially with darker grouts) if it’s premixed.
I like to check out reviews for products on store websites and Amazon to see what people are saying about a product before I buy it.
- Bianco Matte Porcelain Tile from Floor and Decor, under $2 per sq ft
- Mapei Ultraflex LFT Mortar – sold at Lowes and Floor & Decor – LFT stands for Large Format Tile (like my 12×24 tiles)
- Mapei White FlexColor CQ Grout – sold at Lowes and Floor & Decor
- A good wet saw with a high quality diamond blade
DIY Tips for Installing Tile
Tip Five – Plan out Where to Start
It took me a week to install my tiles and grout. My Master Suite is basically 4 rooms; 1 water closet, 2 walk in closets, and the main bathroom. That makes installing tile a bit more complicated when you want the pattern to continue across all 4 rooms.
I decided to start with the main room. I used the length of the tub as my starting point after figuring out that it wouldn’t leave me with a weird thin line of tile along the shower wall. I planned my work in phases, since I have to stop work to pick up kids from school and feed them every 20 minutes. 😉
Tip Six – Clean the Edges Around Tiles
The first day I installed all of the full tiles I could before having to quit. Then I had to stay off that tile for 24 hours for the thinset mortar to set. So, any work the next day had to be done without walking on that tile. I also had to be sure that all excess mortar was removed around the tiles and that the tiles were lined up perfectly so that tile fit in the open spots the next day.
Carefully, clean away all excess mortar around and between the tiles as you work. Once it dries, it’ll be extremely hard to remove. So use a thin tool to scrape the thinset out from between the tiles as you work. And wipe any thinset residue off the tile with a damp rag, before it dries.
Tip Seven – Use a Light Thinset with Light Grout
Here’s one of my DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile Faster and Better that I learned on this project. It’s not always available, but if you can find a Light or White Thinset that works with your tile AND you’re using light or white grout, use it! I used grey thinset.
It stained the rough, unfinished edges of my tiles dark grey, which sometimes was visible through the light grout. So, I had to use a grout renew to turn that grout white in a few spots. So, avoid that if you can. You can find more info about grout renew in this Does Grout Renew Work post.
For small rooms like this, you’ll have cuts all along those walls. You’ll also need to plan how you’ll lay the tile and still get out of the room! For the closets, I worked the left side of the room, so I could walk out on the right. Then worked the right side after that sides mortar set.
Tip Eight – Make Cuts for Large Sections before using Thinset
If I am explaining this right, you can see how I had to move around to different parts of the bathroom while sections were drying. That’s why planning ahead is so important AND making sure the tiles are perfectly straight so that you have enough room to put tiles in the open spaces the next day.
I also think it saves me so much time to make a bunch of cuts at once. So, I would sketch out a guide with measurements for 5 to 10 tiles. After cutting all of those tiles, I’d lay them in their spots and make sure everything fit before spreading any mortar.
I’d then decide which order I wanted to install them in. Then number them and stack them up with the first one on top. I’d spread the mortar for that whole section, then lay them all in one go. Making sure to level and line them up perfectly.
Again, make sure to clean mortar out of cracks and off the tiles as you go. And, watch loads of YouTube videos to make sure you know every single thing to expect. There are so many details to think about when tiling.
That’s it for my tips. If you watch my video, there are a couple more in the video. They’re much easier to explain on video. So, check that video out, if you’re looking for more DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile Faster and Better. You can also find the rest of my DIY Bathroom Remodeling Videos in this Playlist on YouTube.
If in doubt, I say you should hire a professional. I saved thousands of dollars installing my own tile. But, it would have been a huge waste of time and money if I didn’t have enough experience to do it properly. 🙂 I really recommend starting with a small bathroom floor, small entryway, or backsplash as a first tiling project
Feeling inspired? Now you know my DIY Tips for Installing Floor Tile Faster and Better. Let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.