Step 9: Tiling: Floors

Tiling a floor is much like tiling a wall. The tiles are typically thicker, and may have a rougher texture that reduces the chance of slipping when the floor is wet. Powdered mortar is used instead of pre-mixed adhesive. The grout is a bit coarser, because it typically has to fill larger gaps. Here are some things I learned while tiling my bathroom floor...

Floor Tiling Tips
  • If tiling on a concrete floor, all the paint must be removed using abrasives beforehand. Oh my, was this ever messy. Using an angle grinder, I removed two or three layers of floor paint from the floor in my bathroom. Had I know how messy this would be (and that it even needed to be done!), I would have done before the walls went up.
  • If there are any hills or valleys, they must be ground down or filled in, respectively, before tiling. Otherwise, the tiles will be uneven and present a tripping hazard, breaking hazard, or just look bad.
  • Choose smaller tiles if possible. It will be easier to tile slightly uneven floors because they can more closely fit the contour of the floor.
  • If tiling a large area, start by tiling one long run of tiles against a reference, like a straightedge or laser line. Allow this run of tiles to dry before continuing. Once dry, this row of tiles may be used as a reference that all the other tiles are pushed against.
  • Pay close attention to the edges of the tiles to make sure they are coplanar. Even if the floor is perfectly level, the tiles must also be pressed down equally so that there are no raised edges.
  • Like the wall tiles, stick the tile spacers in so they are easy to remove. And, as with the wall tiles, clean out any mortar from between the tiles before it dries so it doesn't interfere with grout adhesion.
  • Don't walk on the floor tiles until they are totally dry.
  • When tiling and grouting, start at the far corner and work towards the door.
  • Painted tiles (like the ones used on the walls) are not suitable for use on floors. They will not be able to handle the severe amounts of traffic.