8 Things You Should Know About DIY Tile Installation

8 Things You Should Know About DIY Tile Installation

Thinking about installing your new tile yourself? Be sure to read this article first! We’ll review eight things you need to know before jumping into DIY tile installation.

1.   Preparation is more important than you think.

Measuring the floor 

Perhaps more important than the installation itself is proper preparation. If you don’t take the time to prepare the area where you’ll be laying the tile, it’s much more likely you’ll run into problems like uneven or cracked tile and grout.

Before you begin installation, the floor needs to be completely level and clean. Fill in all cracks and imperfections, and consider using a self-leveling compound.

You’ll also want to use the correct type of underlayment to ensure stability and longevity. A cement backer board and uncoupling membrane work in most situations. While a backer board may not always be necessary, it’s crucial for areas that are prone to moisture.  

If you’re installing wall tile, make sure to thoroughly clean the wall. Any fingerprints, grease, or dirt on the wall’s surface will prevent your tile adhesive from sticking properly. Water and mild dish soap will usually do the trick, but if you’re working in an area with lots of buildup, an abrasive pad or paint deglosser should remove it.

Another part of preparation is measuring your space. Be sure to do this more than once to ensure your measurements are accurate and precise. Don’t assume the area is square, even if it appears to be!

Create a layout for your tile, starting in the middle of the space. You’ll want to prioritize laying full tiles and avoid anything smaller than half a tile, although you’ll likely have to make some cuts once you get to the edges of the room. Dry fit the tiles to get a good idea of how your layout will work, and draw it out (or use an online application to do so) so that you have a plan to refer back to as you complete the installation.

For more information about creating your own tile layout, check out our blog post on the topic here.

If you’re new to DIY tile installation and feeling apprehensive, you could install tile on a sheet of plywood to get some risk-free practice.

2.   Order 10% more tile than you need.

Online shopping 

Even if you have faith in your abilities as a DIY tile installer, you should always order at least 10% more tile than you think you’ll need. If tiles arrive cracked, you break a few during installation, or you need to replace a couple down the line, you’ll be happy to have extras available. You can learn more about ordering additional tile in our blog post, How to Install Tile Like a Pro.

3.   Follow the classic advice, “Measure twice, cut once.”

Measuring a tile 

This advice is self-explanatory! Precision and accuracy are vital when installing tile.

4.   Choose high-quality tools and materials.

Cutting tile with a wet saw 

The quality of your materials and the tools you use makes a difference in your finished project. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to purchase several expensive tools to install tile. Most hardware stores allow you to rent them for less.

A diamond wet saw, a laser level, and an appropriately sized trowel are just a few necessities. As a general rule, you can use a half-inch trowel for tiles measuring up to 16 inches. Larger tiles usually require a trowel with ¾-inch notches. Click here for a full list of the tools you’ll need.

We highly recommend wearing knee pads throughout the installation process. If you’ve never installed tile before, you likely don’t realize how hard it can be on your body!

Of course, be sure to choose the right tile as well! Some important things to note are the material (discover which tile material is right for you here) and whether the specific tile you’ve chosen is appropriate for use on floors, walls, or both.

Do your research on the type of tile you’ve chosen and note what kind of long-term maintenance it will require. For instance, if you’d prefer not to reseal your tile on a regular basis, you might want to steer clear of natural stone and opt for a porcelain lookalike instead.

You can learn more about maintaining different types of tile in this post.

You’ll also want to take note of your tile’s PEI rating and coefficient of friction (COF). A tile’s PEI rating lets you know what types of applications it’s appropriate for, and the COF tells you how slippery the tile is. Remember that polished tiles tend to be more slippery, so they’re often not the best choice for kitchens and bathrooms. You can learn more about PEI and COF in this blog post.

Adhesive, grout, and sealant should also be chosen carefully. Luckily, we’ve written blog posts on each of these topics to help you out:

5.   Be patient!


As you install your new tile, take your time, and don’t take any shortcuts!

It’s important to give your adhesive plenty of time to dry before grouting and give your grout plenty of time to set before you walk on the floor. Rushing through the process will result in displacement and uneven tiles.

Consider mixing your adhesive little by little rather than all at once, especially if you’re new to installing tile. Adhesive begins to set once it has been mixed, so if you don’t work quickly, you may end up with a bunch of adhesive that can no longer be used.

We recommend budgeting twice the amount of time you think the project will take. You might be surprised to discover how many unexpected challenges you run into or how long seemingly simple steps take to complete.

6.   Don’t underestimate the value of grout.

Applying grout 

Grout should never be seen as an afterthought. It can greatly impact the overall look of your tiled space. Don’t skip the tile spacers or assume you can create perfectly even grout lines without them - they’re a necessity!

Be sure to use a grout float for application and carefully remove the grout haze from your tiles after applying it. Seal the grout to make it last, or mix in a sealant additive for added convenience.

You can learn more about applying grout here.

7.   Pull from different boxes as you’re laying the tile.

Assortment of different colored tiles 

If you’ve ordered enough tile that you receive several boxes, it’s usually best to pull from different boxes as you’re laying the tile, rather than laying one box at a time. Tiles in different boxes may come from different batches and have slightly different colors. It’s usually better to have a good mix of color variation rather than pools of slightly different shades.

Meanwhile, if you’re doing a pattern with multiple different tiles, avoid putting two identical tiles next to each other, especially if they’re oriented in the same direction. This is often a giveaway of sloppy or amateur tile work.

8.   When in doubt, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.


While we can offer plenty of general installation advice, it’s always best to look at the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific directions. Pay attention to the information provided by the tile manufacturer, adhesive manufacturer, and grout manufacturer for the best results!

Is It Time to Shop for Tile? Visit Tilezz.com!

Here at Tilezz.com, we have a huge selection of tiles in various materials, colors, sizes, shapes, and patterns. Plus, we pride ourselves on making it easy to shop for tile online by offering fast delivery, insured shipments, and easy returns. You can scroll through our full product line here, or visit our blog for fun interior design inspiration posts and helpful DIY installation tips.

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