How to lay ceramic tile | Pro Construction Guide

How to lay ceramic tile

How to lay ceramic tile

Start with a level surface. Use a self-leveling compound if needed.

The key to laying ceramic tile is preparation and having the right tools for tile installation. Look for fast-setting thinset mortars specified for the subflooring used (concrete, stone or wood).

Consider waterproofing and crack prevention membranes and primers where moisture is a concern.

New structured underlayments, as well as traditional cement backerboard or plywood, help supply a solid foundation for the tile. Self-leveling compounds are handy for remodeled floors that are damaged. Use sanded or non-sanded grout (sanded for joints up to ½ inch; non-sanded for joints to ⅛ inch) depending on the tile size

How to lay ceramic tile – Step 1

Measure opposite sides of the room and mark the center of each side. Snap a chalk line between the marks. Measure and mark the center of the chalk line. From this point, use a framing square to establish a second line perpendicular to the first. Snap a second layout line across the room.

Step 2

Check for square with a 3-4-5 triangle. Measure and mark one layout line 3 feet from the center point. Measure and mark the perpendicular layout line 4 feet from the center point. Measure the distance between the marks. If the layout lines are perpendicular, the distance will be exactly 5 feet.

How to lay ceramic tile 2

Lay tiles and spacers along one line from the center to the wall.

Step 3

Lay tiles and spacers along one line from the center to the wall. If the space at the wall is narrower than a half tile, move the other line back by a half tile. You’ll end up with wider cuts at both walls

How to lay ceramic tile 3

Apply adhesive mortar quick placement in a manageable section 2 by 3 feet at a time.

Step 4

Divide the floor into manageable boxes, roughly 2 feet x 3 feet for setting the tiles. Begin by laying out an L shape in the center of the room. Use the chalk lines as a guide, and separate the tiles with spacers.

Step 5

Measure both branches of the L from the center to determine the size of the boxes you will lay out on the floor. Add the width of one spacer to each measurement.

Remove the tiles. Lay out a chalk-line grid, with each box the size of the sample you measured. Layout lines must be square or you will end up with odd-shaped tiles at the walls.

Do a dry run to determine the placement and cuts. Place a row of tiles along each line using spacers.

How to lay ceramic tile 4

Level the tiles as you work by placing a 2×4 on each section and hitting it lightly but firmly.

Step 6

To set tiles after proper preparation of the surface, begin at the center of the room and work outward. Follow working lines and keep tiles aligned with plastic spacers.

Cool new tools for when you lay ceramic tile

Tile cutting takes precision, especially on larger formats and angle cuts. Specialized equipment, such as a professional wet saw, makes the job easier.

With its 10-diamond blade, the RIDGID WTS2000L Wet Tile/Stone Saw easily cuts straight tile up to 24 inches and diagonal cuts up to 18 inches. The WTS2000L offers precision capabilities in an easy-to-use, construction-grade product.

Features include a laser guide; LED work light and stand for cutting marble, stone, porcelain and ceramic; a powerful 15-amp motor and aluminum rip fence and angle guide for precision cuts.


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