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How to install floor tiles



Installing floor tiles is not difficult and after you realise how easy it is you will want to tile your entire house.

In this project we ripped out carpet and underlay in a boy's bedroom and replaced with ceramic tile. The entire project to 2 days from start to finish, allowing overnight drying time for adhesive and grout.



Tiles of your choice

Tile adhesive

Tile grout

Tile spacers

Notched adhesive applicator

Grout squeege



Spirit level


Rubber Mallet

Rubber knee pads (or something to sit on)



Materials and tiles for this project supplied by Builders Warehouse.






1. Mix the tile adhesive according to the manufacturer's recommended instructions. The final mix should resemble thick cream. You don't want the adhesive too runny that it doesn't hold its shape, or too thick that it makes mounting tiles difficult.



Once mixed the tile adhesive dries out quickly, so only make enough that you will be able to use in a short period of time, usually about 2 square metres.


2. Before laying the tiles, decide on a starting point. In this project we started at the side of the built-in base for the bed to have a neat edge at this point. Your starting point should either be in the farthest corner, or in the centre of the room, all depending on whether you are laying large tiles in a diamond pattern, or smaller tiles, as in this project.




3. Use a trowel to slop dollops of tile adhesive onto the floor and then run over this from left to right with a notched spreader. The layer of adhesive should be about 10 to 12mm thick. The notched trowel is designed to create grooves in the adhesive that allow it to suck onto the tile and flatten once the tile is laid. 


4. After applying enough adhesive for 4 tiles, start laying the tiles - inserting the tile spacers as you work. A gentle tap with a rubber mallet will ensure that tiles are firmly bedded in the tile adhesive. Have a spirit level handy to check the level of the tiles as you work. Leave any areas where tiles need to be cut to the last.



ABOVE: Tap laid tiles gently with a rubber matter - working from the centre of the tile to the sides to ensure a firm bedding on the adhesive.


5. Sooner or later you are going to have to cut a tile to fit. While a tile cutter is perfect for straight cuts, when you need to make a detailed cut, as we did to fit around a fitted cabinet, a Dremel MultiTool and diamond-tipped cutting disk make the task easy. An angle grinder makes messy cuts, a tile scorer ends up in cracked tiles, and a tile nipper leaves too many chips and rough edges.




6. For cutting tiles to fit around edges, or into corners, an angle grinder or tile cutter is ideal. When using an angle grinder, first do a light run over the tile with the disk to score along the top of the tile. The second cut can cut throught the tile



Always wear safety goggles when cutting tile, and clamp the tile firmly to your workbench.




7. Measure and mark tiles that need to be cut and mark the tile clearly to indicate the wastage and part to be used. Since you will be cutting all the tiles at the same time, this avoids confusion when it comes to placing the cut tiles in the right place.




8. After laying all the tiles leave for an hour or two, so that the adhesive has time to set. Avoid walking on the tiles during the drying time. If time permits, let the adhesive set overnight.




9. The next step is to mix the grout and apply to the tiles. We used a rubber squeege on the opposite side of the notched trowel. The squeege makes it easy to apply grout to the gaps and remove any excess grout in one go. Make sure to press grout down into the joints to prevent cracks later on. Leave the grout to dry for an hour or two.




BELOW: Use the squeege grout spreader we have very little clean up to do after grouting the tiles.




10. All that is left to do is fill a bucket with clean water and wipe away the excess grout with a damp sponge. This may take a couple of wipe overs with a sponge.

  Janice Anderssen

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