Step 4: Set the tile

setting a tile
Photo: David Carmack
«»
Gently lay a tile on thinset next to the straightedge. With fingertips widespread, push down with a slight twist of the wrist.

Use this same technique to set each tile, making one row along the straightedge. Using tile spacers ensures even joints.

Move the straightedge out of the way and lay the next row alongside the first, using the edge of the tile as your guide. Continue spreading thinset and setting tiles in 2-by-3-foot sections, working from the center of the room out toward the walls. Every few rows, hold a framing square or A-square alongside the edge of the tiles to check that they are square to each other.

TIP: Consistent finger pressure (and constant practice) helps avoid lippage—where a tile’s edge is higher or lower than its neighbors.
Ask TOH users about Tile

Contribute to This Story Below

    More in Painting & Finishes

    Tools List

    • straightedge guide
      10-foot straightedge (for aligning tile
    • rubber float
      Rubber float (for spreading grout
    • notched trowel
      Notched trowel (for spreading adhesive
    • rubbing stone
      Rubbing stone (for smoothing cut tile edges
    • drill
      Drill-driver and epoxy-coated screws,
      to secure backerboard to subfloor
    • mason's trowel
      Mason's trowel (for mixing thinset and grout
    • margin trowel
      Margin trowel (for cleaning cured joint lines
    • hand saw
      Flush-cut hand saw (for undercutting trim
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • tile cutter
      Tile cutter
    • power flush cut saw
      Power flush-cut saw (for undercutting trim
    • tile nippers
      Nippers (for breaking off small pieces of tile
    • carbide tipped scorer
      Carbide-tipped scorer and utility knife,
      for cutting backerboard
    • folding A-square
      Folding A-square,
      for checking squareness of tile layout)
    • wet saw
      Diamond blade,
      used with wetsaw to cut corner notches and curves in tile

    Shopping List

    1. CERAMIC FLOOR TILE

    2. THINSET MORTAR

    3. TILE GROUT

    4. TILE SPACERS

    used to ensure consistent joints



    5. MIXING PADDLE

    used in drill to mix up mortar and grout



    6. KNEE PADS

    7. FOAM SPONGE

    for wiping up grout haze