In the pantheon of home improvement projects, installing floor tiles, in theory, is one of the most important projects a do-it-yourselfer can undertake. The thought is basically: put down adhesive, place the floor tiles, grout them, and seal the grout. That’s it, no fuss, no muss!

But if this were indeed the case, everyone would install their floor tiles, and professional tile and flooring installers would be superfluous.

Examined critically, installing floor tiles is the onion of home improvement projects. You peel one layer and find another, and each layer is fraught with potential DIY miscues. It’s essential to understand the many steps of your tile project, including the potential pitfalls of each step.

Let’s be clear – many standard DIY tile jobs are just fine and will more or less achieve the desired outcome. However, the majority of folks who have tackled a homegrown tiling project would admit that while they were proud of the work they did, it would look better (and be done faster, with fewer tears and tantrums) if completed by a professional. Additionally, most would also concede that it took more work than they initially thought, and in the end, it didn’t save them that much money.

Installing floor tiles does take a certain measure of DIY skill. So for the DIY novice, we would always encourage you to work with a professional installer for professional results. However, if you are determined to give this a DIY Try, we have laid out below the steps to install floor tiles. 

Step 1: Mixing Mortar & Laying the Main Floor

Mix your mortar per the manufacturer’s recommendations, doing your best to avoid over mixing and damaging the pigment. Apply a bead of mortar to the floor using your notched trowel at the proper 45-degree angle.  Please don’t overdo it with the cannon, seriously. This stuff dries quickly, so only spread enough to install one or two tiles to start until you get the hang of doing it.

How to mix mortar for tile installation: the expert's recipe

Carefully lay the floor tiles down onto the mortar bed and work it back and forth to ensure adhesion. Use your level to check each tile, and any adjustments can be made with light taps from the rubber mallet. Ensure your deck is from multiple sides, so you don’t have gaps between tiles or one side sitting higher than another. This will be critically important once more tiles are added.

Step 2:  Cutting Tile & Laying Edges

Tile is not easy to cut, but it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as often portrayed. Take your time, wear your safety glasses, and you will be ok. Promise.

How to Use Tile-Cutting Tools | how-tos | DIY

First things first: do not lay mortar for a floor tile that hasn’t been cut yet. Even if you work quickly, the chances are that mortar will dry before you’re ready to set the floor tiles. It is better to measure out your tiles, cut them, dry fit them into the space, and then mortar them in place.

Straight cuts are the easiest. Measure and mark the floor tiles where you want them cut. Then place it into the tile cutter, score, and snap. Be careful handling the cut tile, as it most likely will be sharp. The process is the same with a tile saw (often called a wet saw); make sure to dry the cut tile before installing that piece thoroughly. Dry fit cut floor tiles into place to check sizing and mortar down. If your trowel doesn’t fit in the space for the cut tile, you can apply the mortar to the back of the floor tiles using your scoop. This is often called “back buttering.”  If you use this method, make sure not to dab spots on the back and stick it. You must apply it with proper trowel marks for a good bond. If you dab mortar spots onto the tile’s back, you will leave hollow points under the floor tiles.

Step 3: Remove the Spacers

Once all the floor tiles are installed and the adhesive mortar has dried for the recommended amount of time, it’s in this step where you remove all the tile spacers.  Visit http://donaldaitkenassociates.com/best-7-floor-tiles-to-upgrade-your-kitchen/ to read about Best 7 Floor Tiles to Upgrade Your Kitchen

Our Top Tips For Using Tile Spacers Effectively – Rubi Blog USA

Ensure not to leave any pieces of them behind (they can tear if they get caught on mortar) in the joints and clean up any dried mortar to prepare for grouting.

Step 4: Grout

Ok, if you’ve made it this far, you’re near to the end. Grout. This is going to make the tile project look like a finished job. Grout fills in the spaces between tiles (where your spacers were. See? It’s not just a clever name!) and works with the adhesive to hold the floor tiles in place.

Selecting the grout color is a fun way to add a bit of character to your final flooring. For wood-look or stone-look floor tiles, we recommend that you choose a grout that closely matches the primary color of the tile. For solid color tile, choosing a similar grout to your floor tiles unifies the installation. Using a complementary or even contrasting grout color adds a modern and geometric flair to your floor tiles. A low contrast grout subtly emphasizes tile shapes without looking harsh. With a colorful tile, contrasting with white grout lines, it is a classic and clean approach.

How to Grout Tile | LoveToKnow

Step 5: Clean-up and Seal

Ok, clean-up. Clean up your tools, wash the grout off your float, etc. Make sure it’s all put away correctly. Good job!

Seriously though, you probably need to keep traffic off the grouted tile per the grout manufacturer’s recommendation. Typically, about 24-72 hours. Once this time has passed, you can enter the project area and caulk the outside edges of the floor tiles. Click here to know about the tips for clean up your tools.

Finally

Let the grout dry thoroughly and set up completely. Once the manufacturer’s recommended curing time has finished (on average a few weeks to 30 days), you can seal the grout using the recommended grout sealer. Some are offered in a sponge roller bottle you can run through the grout lines. Go with their choice or ask your friends at The Good Guys for assistance. Once you’ve sealed the grout, you are good