Laying Floor Tiles


Start in the middle of the room and use spacers for a pro tile flooring installation. Here’s how.

Setting tile is fairly straightforward if you begin in the center of the room and work your way out.

This guide shows you how to work with mortar, lay out and level tiles, and score tiles to complete a professional-looking installation.


Apply mortar to square-notched trowel
Apply mortar square-notched trowel - Laying Floor Tiles

• Put a little mortar on the flat side of a square-notched trowel and apply it, pushing it into the face of the backerboard as you go.
• Then, apply more to make a layer of mortar roughly ½ inch thick.

Make uniform ridges
Make uniform ridges - Laying Floor Tiles

• Holding the trowel at approximately 70 degrees to the floor, push the teeth of the trowel to the floor, making ridges of uniform height.
• The size of the trowel notches should be the same as the thickness of the tiles you are setting.

Lay the first tile at the intersection of the guidelines
Lay first tile intersection guidelines - Laying Floor Tiles

• Twist the tile back and forth slightly to make sure it is embedded in the mortar.
• Remove any excess mortar from the tiles with a damp sponge or cloth as you go.
• If you place a tile down crooked, pick it up immediately and reposition it to align properly.

Place the second tile alongside the first using spacers
Place second tile alongside first spacers - Floor Tiles

Continue laying the tiles until you have filled up the box. Set spacers upright near the corners where each set of tiles meet.

Level the tiles and bed them firmly in the mortar
Level tiles bed firmly mortar - Laying Floor Tiles

• Lay a short 2 x 4 or beater block on top of the tiles and tap lightly with a rubber mallet to level the tiles and bed them firmly in the mortar.
• Continue laying tiles, one box at a time, until your reach the wall.
• Cut tiles to fit against the wall if necessary.

Tip: Be prepared to cut some tiles. You can either make them as you go, or install all the full tiles and wait 24 hours for them to dry and cure before cutting the tile pieces you’ll need.

Place the tile to be cut directly over the last set tile
cut directly over last tile - Laying Floor Tiles

• Set another tile, the “marker” tile, on top of it so it butts up against a tile set on edge at the wall.
• Trace along the marker tile to mark the cutting line on the tile below.

Score the tile
Score tile - Laying Floor Tiles

• Place the marked tile from Step 6 on the cutter and align the cutting line with the scoring tool.
• Pull or push the cutter along the top of the tile with a single, firm stroke.

Snap the tile in two
Snap tile in two - Laying Floor Tiles

Wearing safety glasses, press down on the handle of the cutter to snap the tile in two.

Spread mortar for the other tiles
Spread mortar other tiles - Laying Floor Tiles

Spread mortar for the other tiles and position them accordingly.