Here’s the thing about tiling an old home. Absolutely nothing is square or level. Nothing.
So if we had just started tiling, following the line of one of the walls as our guide to start, the tile would have ended up crooked and skewed on the floor. Or worse, the uneven start would have set us up to deal with a myriad of gaps or crowding issues later, which would only magnify in severity as we went along. (Since in tiling, a small mistake can telegraph down the line compounding in severity the further it gets from the initial source of the problem).
In order to minimize the chances of any of that happening, we used a laser level to project a nice perfectly straight line on the ground for us to follow as a starting guide.
Be aware that if you don’t have a laser level, that any lines you draw on the ground (be it with chalk or pencil or whatever) will all get covered up by the mastic tile adhesive you’ll need to lay down on the floor to attach the tile. So a laser is usually your best option for a line that will still be visible once you start going. (We used this inexpensive one from Harbor Freight that is only like $20 and is not fancy AT ALL, but it worked for what we needed it to do at the time. If you plan on doing a lot of tiling in your home though, I’d suggest upgrading to a nicer one.)
Second most important thing when you lay tile: make sure you are using a trowel with the right size teeth for your project and not laying down too much mastic. (Smaller tile, smaller teeth, bigger tile, bigger teeth. Your local tile shop can help make sure you have the correct size.)
If you lay down too much of the adhesive, the mastic will goop up between the gaps in your tile, which is where you need the grout to go later.
If this happens (you can actually see a few places in the pic above where it did) you can take a small tool and scrap out the excess that bubbled up between the tiles, making sure the gaps are cleared out and prepped for grout.
As we went along we got better at applying the correct amount of mastic to the floor and needed to deal with this sort of thing less and less.
After all the tile was laid. Joe had to leave on a business trip for a few weeks, so I tackled grouting the entire floor on my own.
We went easy on ourselves and decided to just go with a matching grout dark charcoal grout, which we knew would help hide any potential mistakes we had made in laying the tile! (Versus using a contrasting white grout, which would have highlighted any inconsistencies in our tile placement.)
I love it so much. 🖤
TOOLS & SUPPLIES
- Trowel With Teeth (For applying the adhesive mastic)
- Remember to make sure you have one with the right size teeth for your project.
- Laser of some sort to project your guidelines onto the ground
- KNEEPADS (trust Kadie)
- A Large Wood Float
- We used this to gently tamp down the tiles as a way to apply even pressure to the tops of them (vs creating pressure points using just our hands). After we had a large section down, we’d again use it to gently slide over the top of each section to ensure everything was laying even and flush with one another.
- We lucked out and were able to use the existing backer board for our project, but you may need laying down fresh back boards like these before you can tile your floor.
- A Rubber Grout Float
- A Tile Cutter
- You can also us a tile saw, but these tiles are so tiny, you usually don’t need anything fancier than a simple tile cutter like this one we used.
- A good double sided sponge like this one.
- Some buckets for holding clean water to cleanse your sponge.
- You’ll obviously need your chosen tile (we used this one)
- Mastic Tile Adhesive
- And then you’ll need grout in your chosen color. (I loved this “ready-to-use” stuff from Mapei we used for our project in the color Black. I was so happy to not have to mix this up myself)
- Be sure to ask someone at the tile shop if you’ll need “sanded” or “unsanded” grout for your project. *Most* projects need sanded grout. However, if your project has *very very thin or practically no spacing between the tiles* you may need unsanded grout. There are also certain types of tile that can be damaged or scratched by using sanded grout. So it’s always best to confirm you’re using the right product for your project.
Here’s some of the YouTube videos that helped me the most as we researched how to tackle this job!
This first one will make your brain hurt, but this is the process we used to figure out how to square off our room.
This one has some great tips for how to apply the tile adhesive:
And both of these were great for explaining best practices for grouting to me: