DIY Ceramic Tile Installation

hands laying large ceramic tiles
  • 4-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 250-750
What You'll Need
Ceramic tiles
Ceramic tile adhesive
Tile spacers
Grout
Trowel
Notched or toothed trowel
Rags
Blue board or waterproof backing(for kitchen or bathroom)
Construction adhesive
Screws to attach blue board or backing
Power screwdriver
Floor Level Compound (for a floor)
Tile saw or tile cutter
Level
What You'll Need
Ceramic tiles
Ceramic tile adhesive
Tile spacers
Grout
Trowel
Notched or toothed trowel
Rags
Blue board or waterproof backing(for kitchen or bathroom)
Construction adhesive
Screws to attach blue board or backing
Power screwdriver
Floor Level Compound (for a floor)
Tile saw or tile cutter
Level

DIY ceramic tile installation is a rewarding and money-saving job that any homeowner or do-it-yourselfer shouldn't hesitate to attempt. You will need only a few tools and a bit of time.

Step 1 - Preparing the Wall

If you are applying tile to a bathroom wall or tub surround, you need to be sure the backing is waterproof so it won't rot and mold can't form. This is accomplished by using a waterproof backing board, or blue board as it's called in some areas. When you are purchasing your tile, be sure to tell the salesperson where you are installing it to get the proper backing. Otherwise, you will ruin your entire job and waste a lot of money on the tile.

Apply this backing board as you would sheetrock. Follow manufacturer instructions. Usually, blueboard is installed with construction adhesive.

Step 2 - Preparing the Floor

If you are installing ceramic floor tile, the first thing you need to do is make sure your floor is level. Use the level to determine this. You should have no more than a 1/4 inch dip in the floor. You can use a floor leveling compound to level it, or you can cover the entire floor with a tile backing board that is marked into grids.

The backing board needs to be screwed into place on each dot of the grid. This backing is thick, and proper screwing down into the subfloor will prevent flexing on an uneven floor with a variance of up to 3/8 inch. If the variance is more than this, you will need to use both floor level compound and backer board.

Step 3 - Install the Tile

Determine the center of the area. Start in the center and apply ceramic tile adhesive with the toothed trowel. Then press your tile into the adhesive with a wiggling motion to set the tile in firmly. Place a spacer against this tile, then install another tile next to it in the same manner. Repeat this action until your entire floor is covered.

Be sure to use spacers in each direction between each tile so your grout will be even. Use the tile saw or cutter to cut smaller tile pieces for the edges of the floor. Be sure to use the instructions on the adhesive container for proper drying time. Most set up in less than 10 minutes.

Step 4 - Grouting the Tile

The final step of your wall or floor tile is applying grout. Mix the grout per package instructions or purchase ready-mixed grout. Apply to the tile spaces using a grout trowel and a pushing motion to push the grout into the empty spaces between the tiles. Remove excess grout with the trowel and wet rags.

When the grout has set, use wet rags to wash away excess grout on the tile that will appear as a dusty look. Be sure to remove it all. Then seal the grouted areas when the grout is fully dry, at least 72 hours, or by manufacturer's instructions.