Installing tile is a complex process consisting of many important steps to create the finished product. Each tile project is unique and should be thought out carefully. Once the tile is
chosen, it's time to think about the installation. This section of our web-site is designed to inform you of the tile installation process and help you whether you do it yourself or hire a
Preparing The Existing Surface
For remodeling this process includes the removal of any current floor-covering and its sub-floor, any
plumbing, baseboard or trim. For example, an existing bathroom floor with linoleum would need the following:
- Removal of the toilet and wax ring.
- Removal of all base trim including shoe around the vanity.
- Removal of the linoleum and the 1/4'' plywood sub floor.
Installing The Proper Substrate
Once the surface is prepared, the next step is to secure the area you are tiling. Nothing is more important
than your prep work. There are many options for underlayments and it can get quite confusing if you aren't a
professional. Each tile project has special circumstances to consider when choosing one. Strength and
solidity are very important to ensure that your product will endure many years. Waterproofing your tile
sub-floor is extremely necessary in applications such as shower floors and walls. Getting a smooth finishing
height can be challenging in order to create a nice transition from floor to floor. Always consult a professional
before installing your own sub-floor. The main types of substrate are: 3/4" dry pack with wire lath and tar
paper, 1/2" cement or fiber board, 1/2" green treated sheet rock, 1/2" sheet rock, 1/2" Denshield, 3/8"
self-leveling cement1/4" cement or fiberboard, 1/4' Denshield, 1/8" Ditra, 1/16" anti-fracture membrane,
shower pans, and concrete slab.
Choosing the Layout
After installing the sub-floor it is time to create the layout of your tile. This is a very crucial step
and will determine the overall look of your project. Layouts depend on many factors including
design, walls, doorways, etc. Typically, a tile layout will be centered to the effect that the tile
on the edges will be as large as possible and tile in the doorways will be full. Depending on
the room, this can get tricky, especially if there are designs, patterns, or decorative tile. For
floor tile designs see Designs and Decos
After the necessary preparations it is time to see some results. This step is where experience
comes into play. Based upon your preparations laying the tile can be time consuming. The
first process is to mix the mortar or thin-set. Thin-set can be mixed with water or a latex
additive depending on the type of mortar. Latex is added to increase strength and flexibility.
Thin-set is mixed to the relative thickness of peanut butter. One way to test the mix is to trowel
a small section and wait two minutes. If the thin-set starts to sag then it is too runny, and if you
put your finger on it and it doesn't stick the mix is too dry. Once the right consistency is found
it is time to spread. Using a trowel of proper size, the mortar is spread evenly on the surface of
the substrate. Next, you can start laying the tile. Tile should be pressed firmly against the
thin-set and twisted slightly to ensure adhesion.
After the tile has completely set, the next step is to grout. It is critical to make sure the grout
joints are free and clear of adhesive or mortar to ensure that the color remains uniform. The
grout can either be mixed with water or a latex additive. The latex additive is used to repel
stains and to increase flexibility to discourage cracking. Grout should be mixed to a thickness
of peanut butter and needs to sit or slag for 5 minutes. After the wait the grout needs to be
mixed once more and is then ready to be spread. Using a rubber float, the grout should be
applied to the joints at a 45 degree angle to ensure a proper application. Based on the
thickness, grout can usually be wiped 10-15 minutes after being applied. When wiping the
sponge should come across the tiles at a 45 degree angle as well. A minimal of two wipes is
necessary to clean the tiles, as well as a final buff with a dry towel.
Having the proper tools can make your tile project much easier and less time consuming. Below is a list of
tools recommended to have or substitute for doing the project.
Chalk Line, Speed Square, Utility Knife, Pencil, Sharpie Marker, Tape Measure, Hammer, Framing Square, 2
ft. level, 4 ft. level, Mixing Drill and Blade, Cordless Drill, Skill Saw, Sawsall, Door Jam Saw, Trowel, Grout
Float, Wet Saw With Porcelain Tile Diamond Blade, Scroll Saw, Grinder, Mixing Buckets, Caulking Gun,
Extension Cords, Pry Bar and a Sponge.
When tiling a
tub-surround in your
master bathroom, the
deck must be prepped
using a cement-board
but the walls can
remain sheetrock and
should be primed but
Bathrooms are the
most popular area
for tile. The floor is
due to many
reasons. Tile is very
durable, hides dirt,
and is easily
cleaned. Not to
mention the look of
bathroom floors can
be prepped several
ways. The most
common is 1/4''
cementboard that is
laid on a bed of
mortar and the
Tile around a fireplace
is a good finishing
product to provide that
rustic look. It can be
done easily and is
Tiling a shower is a
complicated process that
should be left to the
professionals. If a tiled
shower is done incorrectly,
leakage can occur leading to
water damage and mold.
Tiled showers are extremely
nice and generally create a
warm feeling compared to
fiberglass. When installed
correctly tile will outlast
fiberglass in both style and
Granite is the most
common tile for
for its durability
granite is also a
good material for
and is easily
stylish finish is
Coming in many
variety this tile is soft
to the touch, but still
has the durability for
countertops is an
considering due to
the savings in price
which can reach up
to 60% cheaper than
Sealing Tile and Grout
This final step is very simple but gets overlooked on most tile projects. Especially in wet areas
it is imperative that all grouts and all natural stones get sealed to prevent stains and mold
growth. Porcelains and ceramics are the exception. Tile can be sealed at anytime, but grout
has to be fully cured which usually takes 48-72 hours. These sealers can last from 6 months
to 12 years depending on the area and contact with water. Showers need to be sealed every
6 months to 1 year.
Enhancing Natural Stone Tile Installation
All natural stone tile needs to be sealed. Enhancer seals the stone but also deepens the
color of the tile leaving it darker than before. If enhancer is applied after grouting it will also
darken the grout color. Enhancer can be applied prior to grouting in order to preserve the
This ceramic has a
glaze that resembles
slate, keeping the
colors and adding
resistance to water and
Deciding Whether To Hire A Professional Tile Installer Or Do It Yourself?
There are many factors to consider in making a decision to hire a professional tile
installation company or to start installing tiles yourself. Budget, scheduling, complexity of the
project, quality, value, and whether or not you enjoy doing this type of hard work.
Why Choose Touchdown Tile or A Professional Tile Installer To Complete
Your Tile Project?
Despite what some flooring stores will tell you installing tile is not easy! Tile is a difficult and
physically demanding trade that takes time and experience to acquire the skill set and
knowledge base to install a quality tile job. Many times your first few tile installations are a
learning process. As with any trade there are tricks to the trade that can only be learned from
experience. Over the past 10 years Touchdown Tile has completed hundreds of tile projects
in almost every variety. With experience comes quickness and ease of installation. One of
the most difficult parts of tile setting is the fact that all of the setting materials and grout have
a short curing time and do not allow much forgiveness or time for a learning curve. We can
complete your tile installation in an orderly and timely fashion without overlooking any
details. You can count on us to be on time with your scheduling.
Of all of the different flooring and wall options tile is supposed to be the most durable and
longest lasting. A good tile installation can last for a lifetime. If you're investing your time
and money into a tile floor or wall why not ensure that you are getting the most value out of
your dollar? By hiring us for your project we guaranty that all of the smallest details will met
with quality. As with any construction project there are many different methods to install,
materials to choose from, and products to consider. Over time we have developed a
method for determining the best options to install tiles. Some of the smallest details that
can be easily overlooked by inexperience can determine the overall look of your tile. We will
choose the proper transitions, sub-floors, caulking, thin set mortars, and sealers for a
completely solid, long lasting, and esthetically pleasing finished tile install.
Why Choose To Do It Yourself?
If you like projects, have no time constraints, have a less complex tile project, and have a tight
budget than you may consider doing your own tile work. Tile installation is not rocket science.
There are many books on tile installation and you can use our web-site for installation tips.
In addition many tile tools can be bought or rented at different hardware stores. After a few
tile projects you may become a decent tile installer yourself, or decide it's not for you and hire
a professional for the next project.
How To Install Tile: Getting Started
If you choose to install the tile on your own you will need some tools before starting your prep work. Most
tools can be bought at any Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, Etc.
Warning: Some contractors or homeowners will be tempted not to remove the existing floor or trim in
remodeling, but it will greatly effect your finished project and be vary noticeable to the trained eye upon
completion. Your transitions will be higher and may create problems including opening doors and tripping
Sealer or Enhancing Sealer
The Tile Installation Process
Elements Of A Good Tile Installation
Tile is cut by friction using a
diamond blade or drill bit.
The most common tools
used to cut tile are the wet
saw and hand grinder. The
wet saw uses water to
reduce dust and create a
cleaner looking cut.
2011. Touchdown Tile is a Minnesota tile company. All rights reserved. All pictures of installed tile are Touchdown Tile installations.