Prepare the surface using the strategies shown here for determining the layout. Slab floors in nonwet areas may not require the installation of backerboard.
Set backerboard on wood surfaces that will get wet, such as bathrooms or entryways.
Before you trowel on the mortar, sweep the floor clean. Calculate how many tiles you need in each layout grid and stack them around the room closest to each section. That way you won't have to go back and forth for new tiles when you start laying each grid.
Sort through all the tile boxes to make sure the dye lots match and separate out any chipped tiles. Use these for cut pieces.
If you are installing saltillo or handmade tile, its color may be consistent within each carton but vary from box to box. Sort through the tiles; at each layout grid mix some from each box. Doing so spreads the colors evenly in the room and keeps them from occurring in patches.
About an hour to trowel and set 4 to 6 square feet (varies with tile size)
Mortar mixing paddle, 1/2-inch electric drill, notched trowel, 4-foot level, beater block, hammer or rubber mallet, utility knife, sponge
Mixing with power drill, troweling
Set backerboard, clean surface, snap layout lines
MaterialsDetermine the layout
Five-gallon bucket, thinset, tile, spacers, 3/4-inch plywood squares
One of the most common problems in planning a tiled floor is out-of-square walls. Walls seldom define a room squarely, but you need some perpendicular reference to square your tile layout with the room.
To determine if a floor is square, use a 3-4-5 triangle: Snap a chalkline on the floor at the midpoints of opposite walls. From the intersection measure out one line a distance of 3 feet. Tape the chalkline at that point and measure and tape a distance of 4 feet on the other line. Now measure the distance between the tapes. If it's 5 feet exactly, the floor is square. Adjust the lines, if necessary, until they are perpendicular.
Make a sketch of the layout of the tile on your floor. Even a rough drawing will help you organize. Wavy walls can mean you will need to cut some of the edge tiles at different widths. Check the walls with a 4-foot level and mark wavy sections on the drawing as accurately as possible.Mark the Layout Lines on the Floor: Step 1
Mark the Layout Lines on the Floor: Step 2
- Dry-lay your tile with spacers on each axis. When the layout is square and even, mark the floor at several junctures of the grout lines. Take up the tile and snap a chalkline at the centermost pair of marks.
Continue to snap chalklines across the surface of the floor at points that represent the edges of the tile. These layout lines will serve as guides to help you keep each course straight and square with the room.Different room configurations
The room's configuration also dictates your approach to layout lines and grids. For small square or rectangular rooms, the number of lines will be minimal, and it is unlikely that you'll need a line at the edges to mark the location of cut tiles. In a large room with large handmade pavers, add lines marking the location of the edge tiles and snap 3-foot grids to help keep it straight. In an L-shape room, position the lines along the longest walls so they fall in both sections. In all cases snap the first pair of reference lines where a grout line will fall.