How to Lay Ceramic Tile

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How to Lay Ceramic Tile

Installing ceramic tile might appear to be a difficult task that only a trained professional should attempt. However, researching the method first sets the homeowner up for tiling success. While the actual tile laying process is a relatively simple procedure, scrimping on proper planning can lead to unprofessional looking results. Planning is the most important part of the process, as it leads the homeowner to an exceptional DIY experience at a fraction of the cost of hiring a contractor.


Prepare the room

First, clean the floor thoroughly to prevent dust and debris from interfering with the adhesive's performance. Then, make sure the floor does not shift when walked on. If the floor is not level, even slightly, this affects the way the tile adheres. Uneven flooring has an impact on the durability of the tile and the longevity of the job as well.


Select the right subfloor

There are three appropriate types of subflooring for ceramic tile. The right subfloor material depends on personal preference and breadth of construction knowledge.

Cement based backer board

Manufacturers make cement based backer board specifically for tiling, making it an ideal choice for DIY tiling. Choose a water-resistant version for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

Exterior grade plywood

Building a plywood subfloor also works, though it takes additional effort. Typically, inserting double layered exterior grade plywood makes a good tile-laying surface. Be aware that interior grade plywood expands when wet, making it unacceptable for subflooring.

Laying a cement based backer board on top of a plywood subfloor is a good plan because it ensures an even application. Backer board is also relatively inexpensive, making it affordable for most homeowners.


A poured concrete subfloor makes a good tiling surface as well. However, concrete involves expansion joints. Tiles over expansion joints lend themselves to cracking. To reduce this possibility, include a crack suppression membrane in the concrete.


Do a trial run

Measure the floor surface to ensure there are enough tiles. After the subfloor is in place, the prep work is complete. The surface is level and ready to accept tile.

Snap chalk lines

Find the centre of the floor against one wall. Then, hammer a nail to mark the placement. Repeat on the opposite wall. Fill the chalk line box with powdered chalk, following the manufacturer's directions.

Attach one end of the line to the first nail, stretch it to the second, and secure it tautly. Then, press down the line at the centre of the room. With the opposite hand, raise the line slightly off the floor. Release it, allowing it to snap back in place. This leaves chalk lines, which makes the trial run even. Remove the nails and proceed to placing the tiles.

Practise placement

To see how the finished floor looks before applying permanently, arrange the tiles according to the desired direction and combination. Figure out which tiles to cut before applying adhesive to the subfloor. Additionally, decide which tile cutting procedure to use first, because different tiles require specific tools, such as a wet saw, tile cutter, or snap cutters.


Apply the adhesive

Select a waterproof adhesive, as most tiled areas experience heavy traffic and at least some exposure to moisture. However, thin set mortar also works. Apply the chosen adhesive with a tiling trowel in a thin and even layer. Make ridges in the adhesive with the trowel teeth.


Tile the floor

Apply the tiles according to the trial run pattern. Place the tiles into the adhesive, twisting slightly to make sure adhesive covers them entirely. Continue until finished, working from the back of the room to the front.


Final considerations

Make sure to pay attention to the specifics of the tiling process. For example, be sure the room is ventilated enough for the chosen brand of adhesive. Grout between the tiles if necessary. Follow the adhesive and tile manufacturers' directions about how long to allow the area to dry before walking on it.


How to buy supplies to lay ceramic tile on eBay

Now that you have the right information at your fingertips to lay ceramic tile, search for supplies on eBay. Sellers offer everything you need to complete the job, including a variety of ceramic tiles. Rather than do a general search for ceramic tile supplies, be specific to narrow the scope of the results. For example, searching for "chalk line box" only returns results pertaining to that particular item. Having a solid grasp on the correct method to lay ceramic tile helps you find the best materials for the job.

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