Tile Flooring Installation Checklist

Installing tile is a fun home improvement project (after it’s completed) but often can be a big pain in the rear during the process. Any handy homeowner who’s done any maintenance or installation work knows that tile is the one thing that is best left to the professionals. Before you go and spend your money and just blindly trust a contractor though, it may be a good idea to know what goes into the tile installation process and figure out the steps you need to take to ensure great results at the end. 

 

Choose the Correct Material

Not every material will work for every project. Some floor tile will not work on a wall, and glass mosaic backsplash will not work on your bathroom floor. Some things may seem common sense and straight forward but to the average homeowner might not be. Typically porcelain and ceramic can be used for both floors and walls. The larger the tile the more difficult it is to lay especially on a vertical surface (wall). Porcelain and Ceramic tile is generally tested and rated for a certain slip resistance (check the rating before purchasing tile). Natural stone tile can often times be less durable than porcelain and ceramic. Natural marble tile needs to be sealed and even then is prone to etching and staining due to the chemical makeup of marble. 

Glass is a slippery material and is never advised to be used on any flooring surface. These are just a few basic pointers that everyone must know before selecting a tile material. Visit a local flooring store or showroom and browse the tile products that they have. Pay close attention to the size of the tile and how it will look relative to the rest of the room that it will be laid in as well as factors such as slip resistance, warranty information, design, and of course pricing.


Before installation day, be sure that:

  • Make sure you know who’s removing your existing flooring. If you wish, the installer will do it. If not, you should make arrangements to have it removed.

  • Who’s moving the furniture? Decide in advance if you want to take on the responsibility or if you want the installer to handle it. Either way, be sure to remove all fragile items from the room.

  • In general, your linear or rectangular tile should run parallel to windows or, in narrow rooms, to the longest wall.

  • Measure door clearances before you have your tile installed. If the new floor is thicker than your existing floor, door bottoms may rub. Plan in advance to have someone shave or saw the correct amount off the bottom of each door so it does not drag. 

Paint first. If you’re planning to paint, wallpaper, or do any other remodeling in the room, it’s best to do it before your tile is installed. Keep extra paint to touch up any post-installation nicks.


During Installation

  • Subfloor: Tile must be installed over a subfloor that’s structurally sound, rigid, level, smooth, and clean. Sometimes, cement backer board must be laid first. Preparing the subfloor is the most critical step in achieving a good installation—and your professional installer will know how to do it. 

  • Installation: First, the installer will determine tile layout. Then, using chalk-lines as a guide, your installer will spread thinset mortar in small areas and will place the tiles in it. Spacers are used between tiles so that they are evenly placed. After the mortar sets, grout is applied—sometimes the next day. 

 

Cleaning and curing

The installer will carefully clean the tiles, ridding them of all grout.


After Installation

After the installation is complete, it’s necessary to stay off the floor for 24 – 48 hours, depending on the room’s expected traffic.