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DIY Tiling – How to Tile a Floor

We receive calls all the time about clients who have decided to tile their own floors, have made a mess of it, and need us to come and fix it! Hopefully, this DIY Tiling guide on how to tile your own floor stops this from happening! Follow this easy step-by-step guide on how to tile a floor, written by an experienced professional from the ACAB tiling team. Good luck!

What you will need: 

-Floor tiles

– Notched trowel (usually the teeth on the trowel will be the thickness of the tile)

– Tile spacers (or clips and wedges)

– Bucket

– Sponge

– Tile cutter

– Broom

– Chalk line

– Tape measure

– Tiling adhesive (preferably rubber-based)

– Grout

– Rubber trowel

Preparing the work area

Step 1: Preparing the work area

The floor you are tiling must be clear of debris and dust, otherwise, the tile adhesive will not stick to the floor. Use your broom and clear the area of dust and debris. Ideally, the floor will be level which will allow a much smoother finish in the end. If your floor is not level, use an orbital sander to remove mounds or use a self-leveling mixture for the area. 

Pro Tip: Once the floor is cleaned, spray a small amount of water over the floor to trap any airborne dust particles. 

Step 2: Measure work area 

This is a crucial step in the process of tiling a floor. Depending on the size of your tiles, measure out where you want to start, and measure any cuts you will need to make in advance. This will prevent you from having small tile off-cuts in high-traffic areas. When measuring, it is important to use a chalk-line so that there is a clear direction of what line to follow. Trust us, this will make your job a whole lot easier!

Pro Tip: Ideally, you should aim to have cuts in hidden areas such as; behind doors, below staircases etc. 

Pro Tip #2: Keep your chalk-line parallel to any walls or edges of the area. This will ensure that the tiles are parallel to the walls or edges. 

Note: This is a very important step. This is what separates a good tiling job from an excellent tiling job. 

Laying Floor Tiles

Step 3: Start Tiling!

Mix a bucket of tiling adhesive in a 20L bucket as directed by the instructions on the packaging. Use your notched trowel to apply a small amount of adhesive to the floor, and then spread the mixture with your notched trowel to obtain an even layer of adhesive. 

Pro Tip: Use your notched trowel at a 45 degree angle to the floor, this will provide an even layering of the tiling adhesive as you progress. 

Once you have applied your adhesive to the floor, start placing your tiles! Do this by placing one edge of the tile on the chalk-line edge. If using tile spacers, place these in between the tiles and ensure that the corners are aligned. If using clips and wedges, slide the clips into place after setting the first tile, this way you can push the adjoining tile directly up next to it, once placed, push wedges into the clip, this will level your tiles and keep a consistent joint width. 

Use a tile cutter for any straight cuts that are needed. When measuring a cut, measure the empty gap between an already set tile and a wall or edge. Ensure to remove a couple of millimeters from the measurement and then cut using your tile cutter. 

Pro Tip #2: Removing a couple of millimeters from the measured tile will ensure that the tile can be easily placed in the area.

Repeat this process for the remainder of the floor. 

Pro Tip #3: There is usually an arrow on the back of tiles, because of the size variation of some tiles, it is important that these arrows all point in the same direction as this arrow indicates the ideal laying direction. 

Allow at least 24 hours to dry before moving on to the next step. 

Grouting The Tiles

Step 4: Grouting

Congratulations, you’ve tiled your first floor! Now comes the easy part, grouting. Grouting is the process of applying grout to the empty tile joints between tiles. It is very easy to do, but can sometimes be time consuming. We must first make sure that the floor area is clean of any debris and any tile spacers/clips. First, remove the tile spacers from the tiles, if you used clips and wedges, simply kick them off along the joint line (they snap easily!). Sweep the area (do not apply water this time!). 

Mix a small amount of grout (it hardens rather quickly so small amounts are ideal). Use the instructions on the grout packaging to understand the consistency that is needed. Use the rubber trowel to push the grout into the tile joints, if this is your first time grouting, we recommend grouting about one square meter at a time and then washing with a sponge after. To wash off the excess grout, use a bucket of clean water and a sponge. Rinse the sponge thoroughly (it should only be slightly moist) and wipe the excess grout off at a 45 degree angle to the tile joints (this stops from pulling the grout out of the joints). 

Pro Tip: When you finish grouting and washing off excess grout, let the grout set for at least 24 hours and clean off the dust using a bucket of hot water, methylated spirits and a mop! 

Cleaning Up The Tiles

Step 5: Clean up

Throw away all tiling off-cuts, and make sure to keep a few spare tiles in the garage or shed, just in case of any chips or breaks in the future. Make sure to dispose of any excess tiling glue, grout or waste water in an environmentally friendly way! 

 Congratulations! You have tiled your first floor! Make sure to snap some progress pictures and send it through to us on our Instagram or Facebook pages for a feature! Sometimes, the floor area is too big or complex for a DIY project. You should consider contacting us for a free non-obligation quote!

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