September 21, 2016

How to put down tile over sub flooring | Part II

How to put down tile

Hi Friends,

And welcome to part II of how to put down tile over sub flooring.  So today I will talk about the tiling process.  In my previous post I explained you how to put down HardieBacker.  As mentioned in part I, hubby and I put down 1,500 SqFt of tile on our upper floor ourselves.  Yes we were crazy enough to do it ourselves.  It was one of the biggest projects we have tackled so far.  And I am telling you guys it was insane.  My knees are still not the same and I reached my limits more than once during the course of this project.  But the outcome is just beautiful as you will see in the pictures below.

Put down tile – Why we picked tile

Before we dive right in let me quickly tell you why we decided to go with tile.  Hubby and I are both huge fans of hardwood floors.  They look beautiful and they give a specific type of warmth to the house.  However hardwood floors are not as durable and they scratch fairly easy.  Also, hardwood floors can be rather pricey and we didn’t want to spend too much money.  Especially, not since our home is rather big.  So we wanted something that would last long, and that would be somewhat cost efficient.   The solution was wood-looking tile!  We decided to go with a dark walnut.  We found a really nice looking tile at Home Depot, and thanks to hubby’s military discount, we were able to get a pretty nice deal on them.  So win-win!

Also if you want to find out how to pick the right floor check out this post here.
And now here are hubby’s instructions.

Put down tile – Layout:

  • Try for wide tile pieces at perimeter, not thin tile pieces.
  • Leave a 1/4” gap at perimeter and plumbing for expansion.
  • Pro tip: hair spray can keep your chalk lines from fading from foot traffic.
Note: So hubby went ahead and squared the entire house & based the layout on the tile being centered in the hall & the front door.  We also decided not to put down the tile in a continuous flow, this way we wouldn’t have any thresholds.

Put down tile – Tile:

  • Use “polymer-modified” thin-set to secure.  Latex additive can replace water. (Note: Use Fortified Thinset” instead of the “polymer-modified” thinnest if you are putting the tile directly onto a concrete floor.  Also, spray water over the concrete.  The water should soak right in.  If it beads up, then spray degreaser and scrub it away.  Rinse off the degreaser and your good to go.  If you want to ensure a great bond, you can use acid etcher which makes the concrete course & porous which promotes a better mechanical bond).
  • Mix the thin-set to consistency of creamy peanut butter.  Use a large sponge to add water from a separate bucket.  This helps you to meter how much water you add.  Let the thin-set stand for 10 minutes prior to use.
  • Notches in trowel should be the same as the tile’s thickness.
  • Wet HB or concrete with wet sponge prior to applying thin-set for tile.
  • Lay “scratch-coat” with flat edge of trowel.  Press the thin-set firmly into the HB to create a better bond.  Notch at 45° in arcs.  Firmly notch “straight pass” parallel to direction of tile.
    • Make sure not to cover your layout lines.
  • Lay tile.
    • Press firmly with spread fingers & in a twisting motion while watching for “lippage” between adjacent tiles.
    • Use a handheld level and rubber hammer to fix any possible lippage.
    • Pick up 1st few tiles to ensure good coverage of thin-set.  Half of the thin-set should be on the floor, and half on the tile.
    • Keep a wet sponge nearby to wipe up any thin-set that may get on surface of tile.
  • Mix boxes of tiles to avoid any coloring issues.
  • Consider cleaning tile with wet sponge and sealing as you lay each section of tile.
  • Let thin-set cure for 24 prior to foot traffic and laying grout.

Dining room – facing into kitchen

Kitchen – facing into dining room

So this sounds pretty easy peasy, doesn’t it?  I am just kidding, as I said it was a ton of work!  With that I am concluding part II, watch out for part III in which I will talk about grout and baseboards.  So what do you think of the tile?  Would you know by looking at the pictures that it is tile instead of hardwood floors?
Are you looking for more renovation tips?  Click here.
Thanks so much for stopping by and happy tiling.

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  • Reply Brittany September 22, 2016 at 2:50 pm


  • Reply Jen @ Saving with Spunk September 23, 2016 at 1:24 am

    I love the look of “wood” tile and it looks like you did a great job. We’re thinking of trying this too. Thanks for the tips

    • Reply Sabrina September 23, 2016 at 2:06 am

      Thank you Jen, that is so sweet of you to say. Hubby did most parts, I was just the little helper. We still love it. That’s awesome!! Can’t wait to see how it looks

  • Reply Sarah @ Making Joy and Pretty Things September 24, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Love how the tile looks! I’m a huge fan of tile that looks like wood. You did such a good job putting it down and your tutorial is very thorough.

    • Reply Sabrina September 26, 2016 at 12:16 am

      We love it ourselves, everyone always thinks it is actual hardwood. Thank you that is so sweet of you to say. It was a lot of work and hubby spent like fo’ever to do his research!!

  • Reply Colette @ restyle it wright September 25, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    We’ve used ceramic tile that resembles wood before also and I LOVE it! Looks great!

    • Reply Sabrina September 26, 2016 at 12:16 am

      Thank you Colette, I know it is so great and such a nice alternative to hardwood floors. We especially loved it while we were housebreaking the puppy!!

  • Reply Lora September 26, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    It looks great! The “wood scraped” look in the tile gives great depth and I like the dark wood tone. You all must be so proud of all your hard work!

    • Reply Sabrina September 27, 2016 at 12:36 am

      Thank you Lora, that is so sweet of you to stay! We are more than proud!!

  • Reply Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins October 1, 2016 at 3:16 am

    It looks great Sabrina! I think you are smart to go with wood looking tile. Hardwood is beautiful but tile is more practical across the board.

  • Reply Jennifer October 8, 2016 at 10:40 am

    I show my hubby your ‘How to put down tile over sub flooring part III’ and he ask me to show him the 2 previous . Just want to tell you that we’ve checked the whole series and find it’s really useful. Thanks again from me and my hubby <3.

    • Reply Sabrina October 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Awe, that is so wonderful Jennifer! I am so glad it was helpful for you guys. You have no idea how much that means to me especially since this was the entire reason of me starting this blog!! Thank you so so much ?

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