What You Need for the Project
Beyond just the tile you like, there are a few items you will need to proactively pick up to make your DIY tiling project a breeze. We’ll dive into how each of these items will be used in the project later on, but ensure you equip yourself with:
•Enough tile for the entire space, which will require measurements (+ at least 10% overage)
•Tile spacers for ease of placing the grout
•Grout that matches the color of your chosen tile (or provides contrast)
•Rubber trowel or float to spread your grout
•Sponge for cleaning excess grout
•Thin-set mortar you will mix at home
•Bucket for mortar mixing
•Notched trowel for placing the mortar
•Chalk line to ensure your tiles are placed perfectly
•Tile cutter to size tile that buts up against walls
•Broom, which you likely already have at home
Once you have all of your materials, it’s time to prepare your space for its new tile. Start by thoroughly cleaning the floor to get rid of any debris or dust. The last thing you want is to spend hours on your project, only to notice your tile surface isn’t completely level. After you have cleaned the floor, it’s time to put your chalk line to use. You’ll first use your chalk line to mark the intersection of the center of the room, using measuring tape to ensure your chalk lines are perfectly placed.
Next, you will place the tile, including spacers, throughout the space so you can get a sense of how you will start the tiling process and the grout line width. This is called a “dry run” and absolutely makes a massive difference to your end result. Your dry run also serves as your guide for your next chalk lines, where you will snap the lines the width of a piece of tile out from each wall. It’s best to do that before you have completed your full dry run, so you don’t feel like there is material in your way. Now it’s time to start making things permanent! After you’ve made any adjustments following your dry run, collect all of your materials, with nothing but your chalk lines remaining on the floor.
The exciting and scary part is about to commence –it’s time to mix the thin-set mortar you purchased to prepare it for application. The mortar should come with instructions, which you will want to follow closely. Pour the mortar into your bucket, add enough water for the dry mix to become wet, then start mixing. You will mix until your mortar is a creamy texture, then let it set for about 10 minutes. You’ll know the mortar is ready when it’s texture changes from creamy to tacky. Once that has happened, it’s time to apply!
Start applying the mortar in smaller sections, versus trying to apply it to your entire floor at once. Reason being, you need to position your tile before the mortar has a chance to dry.
Using your notched trowel, apply your mortar evenly to about a 2’x2’ area of the space, then place your tile on top (using your chalk lines as your guide).
Don’t forget your spacers between the tiles you place to keep your tile placement accurate and to ensure your grout is even later in the process. If you find your tile is too large when you reach a wall, you will use your tile cutter to size the tile appropriately (another great opportunity for a chalk line). Once you have laid out all of your tile, it’s time to apply your grout!
Using your rubber trowel or float, spread your grout at an angle, which will allow the grout to fill the space between each tile. Don’t worry too much about avoiding the top of your tile, that will be cleaned anyway. After you have spread grout across all of the spaces in your tile, you will use your sponge to wipe up all of the excess grout from your tile. Be very careful to avoid the spaces grout should be, only wiping away grout from the top of the tile.
You just completed your own DIY tiling project! As you can see, once you know what materials and tools you need, and how to use them, handling a tiling project yourself feels far less intimidating. You got this!