8 common mistakes when setting floor tiles


Installing your own floor tiles is a common DIY project most homeowners will try at one point or another. While it is possible to install your own beautiful, high-quality tiles, there are a few common mistakes that are often made when attempting this project.

Here are the top 8 most common mistakes you should avoid when setting your own floor tiles:

1. Not Prepping Your Surface

It's important to make sure your surface is completely cleared and all old flooring is removed. You can do this yourself, but it's often back-breaking, time-consuming work, so you may want to hire floor stripping specialists for this part. Once the old flooring is removed, be sure to scrub any excess material, adhesive, or dirt from the area before installing your new tiles.

2. Choosing the Wrong Adhesive

If your new tiles are being installed in a high-moisture environment like the kitchen or bathroom, be sure to choose an adhesive that's water-resistant. You also need an adhesive that is formulated for the type of tile you're using, whether it's ceramic, stone, etc.

3. Not Getting Enough Tiles

Many homeowners try to save money by only buying as many tiles as they think they will need. This is a mistake, though, as there are bound to be broken or mislaid tiles as your project progresses. Having extra tiles on hand will allow you to keep going if mishaps occur instead of having to stop everything to make a trip to the store or order more tiles and wait for them to be delivered.

4. Not Planning out your Design

You should always lay out your design before placing your tiles, even if the design is simple or random. You would be surprised at how easy it is to lose track of where your pattern is. Placing a tile wrong doesn't have to be a disaster, but it can add an unfortunate amount of time, effort, and mess to your project, especially if it takes you a while to notice the mistake.

5. Improperly Cutting the Tile

Measuring and cutting your tile to fit into corners and around fixtures is one of the trickier steps in this project. If you try to cut your tiles too quickly or with the wrong tool, you can end up with cracked and useless tiles. The right tool to use is a diamond wet saw. This should cut your tiles with precision and accuracy as long as you mark your cuts ahead of time and apply slow, even pressure when pushing the tiles through the saw.

6. Wrong Trowel Size

It's important to make sure your trowel size matches your tile size in order to get a deep enough thinset to hold your tiles as you place them. Larger tiles will need deeper grooves in the thinset which is achieved by using a trowel with deeper notches. As a general rule, a half-inch notch in your trowel should work for tiles up to 16 inches. Anything larger than that should be set with a 3/4th inch notched trowel.

7. Grouting Wrong

The wrong grout can completely ruin the look of your new floor tiles, so you be sure to get the mix and application right. When mixing your grout, use a trowel and not a drill or hand mixer. These things would introduce air into the grout that would make it more brittle and susceptible to cracking over time. You should mix your grout to the consistency of peanut butter, then let it sit for 10 minutes before applying. This rest period will help it firm up and resist cracking.

8. Wrong Caulking

Caulking is used to seal edges along walls and around fixtures to prevent moisture from creeping under your tiles and ruining them over time. Be sure to pick a color that matches your tile work and is specially formulated to resist bacteria and mold growth, especially if this project is happening in a bathroom or kitchen. You'll also want to find a silicon-based caulk. This is harder to clean up than latex but will last longer without cracking or peeling.