July 9, 2020

Ask the Expert

How to tile a floor

Discover the optimum approach to floor tiling with some recommendations regarding best practice. 

Even for the not particularly DIY savvy modern tools and equipment make it easier than ever to tile floors for the amateur. However, for the uninitiated starting with floor tiling is not recommended. Through this article, we will look at the optimum approach to floor tiling with some recommendations regarding best practice. We will start by providing a step-by-step guide explaining how to tile a floor. Then we will examine different types of tiles, looking at which are most appropriate for different flooring situations in the home. We will give advice about how to calculate quantities and provide step by step instructions for floor tiling to get the best results. And finally, we will answer some FAQs.

Step-by-step guide to installing floor tiles

  • After ensuring that the floor is completely clean and level (with the spirit level) establish a central axis across the room in question and mark a line on the floor.
  • Start by the laying the first tile along the line and work towards a wall. Avoid small cuts to tiles by calculating the number of rows required.
  • A 3mm space between tiles is recommended, use tile spacers to be certain, which will be removed before grouting.
  •  The appropriate adhesive (following manufacturer’s instructions) should be applied with a notched trowel to the substrate. Then spread a layer of adhesive to the back of the tile evenly also with a ribbed finish.
  • Immediately apply the tile to the floor and move from side to side till in its final position.
  • Remove excess adhesive with a damp cloth. Concentrate on areas of 1 square metre at a time and check with spirit level at regular intervals.

Grouting the floor tiles

Do not grout the floor tiles before a period of 24 hours has elapsed. This allows the tiles to bed in and adhere correctly. Force the grout into the gaps between tiles with a squeegee and remove the excess with a damp sponge. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions because certain substrate will require specific products.


Important considerations for how to tile a floor


Adhesives and Grout

Put simply the adhesive is what keeps tiles connected to a surface and the grout is what keeps tiles connected with each other. British Standard BS EN 12004 governs adhesives and the different classes are relevant to type of tile and the conditions they are exposed to. Always follow manufacturer’s recommendations. The British Standards governing grout is BS EN 13888.


The substrate will condition the choice of adhesive, whether it be concrete or timber or indeed tiling over tiles, specific products are required. If there is underfloor heating all cables or pipe work must be encapsulated prior to tiling the floor. The heating system must not be in use when tiling is being carried out and the floor should be at ambient temperature.


Types of tiles and which ones are suitable for which floors

Depending on the conditions, normally damp or dry, and the effect you want to create choosing the correct floor tile is critical.


How to calculate tiles needed for a floor

 Although not an exact science it is possible to more of less pin down the number of tile required for a floor tiling job. Take an L shaped kitchen for example; first divide the space into regular rectangles, not forgetting to include alcoves and corners behind a ventilation shaft for example.

Multiply the length by the breath for all these areas then add between 5% and 10% and we have a total area. Remember that Porcelanosa provides an easy to use area calculator on the product page to help estimate quantities of tiles. Generally speaking tiles are sold in square metres, but to covert to square feet multiply by 10.76. The amount of adhesive and the grout are a function of the number of floor tiles.




What do you need to tile a floor

 As with any DIY job having the right tools to hand is the first step to executing a floor tiling job. The following list although not exhaustive provides a rough guide to what is required for floor tiling:

  • Spirit level: to ensure substrate and floor tiles are perfectly level
  • Measuring tape: a standard DIY tool
  • Tiles cutter: Porcelain tiles are extremely hard so a professional tile cutter will be necessary
  • Timber battens (5cm x 2.5cm): to help mark tiling layout
  • Pencil: to mark tiles for cutting
  • String: to establish a datum
  • Tile pincers: a useful tool to cut tiles
  • Serrated trowel: for ensuring a good spread of adhesive
  • Grouting squeegee: to help apply grout to gaps between tiles
  • Sponge: to clean excess adhesive and grout
  • Spacers: to ensure even gaps between floor tiles
  • Rubber mallet and hammer: to ensure correct bedding for the tiles


How much does it cost to tile a floor

On average the costs of tiling a floor range between £180 and £750. But much depends on the quality of the chosen floor tile and whether a professional tiler is used. A professional tiler can tile up to 40 square metres in a single day.

FAQs regarding tiling a floor

Yes in theory but using a qualified tiler is always recommended, preferably one with demonstrable experience.

They can be used at junctions or to define specific zones. Avoid tiling areas larger than 50 – 70 sq.m. indoors. Expansion joints where required should be min. 8m thick.

◦ BS 5385-3:2007 - Wall and floor tiling – Part 3: Design and installation of internal and external ceramic and mosaic floor tiling in normal conditions – Code of practice
◦ BS 5385-1:2009 - Wall and floor tiling – Part 1: Design and installation of ceramic, natural stone and mosaic wall tiling in normal internal conditions – Code of practice
◦ Grouting is covered by British Standard BS EN 13888

Yes, this explanatory video for HIGHKER by Porcelanosa will help explain.

Yes, this step-by-step instructional video from PARK-KER wood effect tiles provide a good example.

There are some differences, this video regarding Porcelanosa’s STON-KER stone effect tile explains clearly.

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