Easy DIY Tiling Tips for Amateurs

Tiling is a surprisingly easy DIY project that can completely change the look of your space.
Tiling is a surprisingly easy DIY project that can completely change the look of your space.
Red Moon Sanctuary/Creative Commons

Adding tile to your home is a great way to update the look of a space. Whether you are tiling an entryway floor, adding a little color to your kitchen with a backsplash, or tackling a total bathroom renovation, installing the tile yourself is nothing to be afraid of. With the right tools and a carefully laid-out plan, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Just follow these simple steps for a do-it-yourself tiling project you’re sure to love.

1. First, you’ll need to know how much tile you’ll need, so carefully measure your space and determine the square footage. Because tiles come in various sizes, the overall square footage is essential to purchasing the right amount. Order an extra ten percent to account for any cuts or mistakes.


2. For best results, install backer-board (waterproof if it’s in a bathroom) to the surface that you will be tiling; it provides a smooth, even surface for better tile adhesion. Use a light coat of glue or tile adhesive (ask your tile supplier whether mastic or mortar will work best for you) and screws to affix it to the walls. If you are tiling a floor, roll out a waterproof underlay (available at home improvement stores) to cover the entire area that will be tiled.

3. Find the center of the area to be tiled and, using a level, draw one line horizontally and one line vertically to create quadrants of the area you’re tiling.

4. Once you have your tile design determined (try to avoid too many cuts and be aware of keeping the design centered), start at the center of the area you marked, and spread the tile adhesive onto the backer-board into one of the quadrants in ten-square-foot sections using a notched trowel. Continue to spread the adhesive until it is even and the notches are apparent as they help the tile adhere to the wall.

5. At the center point of the quadrant, begin laying the tiles horizontally, applying gentle pressure to push the tiles into the adhesive. For best results, place tile spacers in between each tile for an even layout. Use a level or A-square to ensure that the tiles are straight. Continue adding adhesive and tiles, working toward the outer edge of the tile area.

6. For tile pieces that are too big, use a snap cutter or wet saw to make straight cuts. If a tile needs to be notched or have a center piece cut out to accommodate an outlet, use a wet saw, being careful not to cut beyond the required opening.

7. Let the tile sit overnight. Next, using a trowel, apply the grout to the tile, working from one corner to the opposite side of the space. Be sure to apply the grout liberally and evenly, making sure that it really fills in the gaps between all of the tiles.

8. Allow the grout to dry for 30 minutes. Once dry, wash away the excess grout with a clean sponge.

9. For best results, apply a tile sealant to prevent the grout from being stained or becoming subject to moisture.


Lots More Information

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  • Daily DIY Project: Tiled Table
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  • “How to Install Basic Wall Tile.” DIY Network. (2009.) http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-install-basic-wall-tile/index.html
  • “How to Tile a Floor.” This Old House. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,221776,00.html
  • “Laying a New Tile Floor.” DIY Network. http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/laying-a-new-tile-floor/index.html
  • “Tile 101: The Basics of DIY Tiling (Any Kind, Anywhere).” DIY Diva. (July 21, 2010.) http://diydiva.net/2010/07/tile-101-the-basics-of-diy-tiling-any-kind-anywhere