Updated on March 7, 2023

How to Install Ceramic Tile Flooring

Ceramic flooring is a great choice for kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, entryways, and mudrooms. It is affordable and easy to install in just a few simple steps.

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
3-5 days
Before You Start
Tile is easy to install because it can go over many subflooring types, including plywood, cement board, and concrete.

Next, you can have some fun choosing the tiles themselves. See our buying guide to ceramic tiles for inspiration.

Once you’ve chosen, it’s time to decide on a tile pattern. You will use this to draw your reference lines.

Select your tiles well in advance, as your selection will decide the size and type of tools you need, such as spacers, glue, trowels and more.
Man marking a door casingMan solidifying a subfloor

Ready the Room and the Surface

  • 1.1Take all the doors and baseboards away.
  • 1.2Take out any old tile, if necessary.
  • 1.3You may need to shorten doorframes by following these steps:
    1. Line up the tile against the doorframe.
    2. Make a mark just above the tile (about 1/16” higher) with a pencil.
    3. Make the cut with a handsaw.
  • 1.4Before you begin, you need to make sure the subfloor is level, clean, and dry. Plywood subfloor should also be solidified with screws into the floor joists:
    1. Use any existing nails and screws as a guide for where to fasten your own.
    2. A good rule of thumb to secure the subfloor is to use a 1½" floor screw every 6” apart along the edges and in the middle.

Pro Tip

If you have plywood subflooring, it needs to be at least two 5/8” panels thick (1¼” thick in total).

How many tiles will I need?

Making the calculations for the number of tiles you need is easy with the help of our tile calculator.
Man cutting a floor membraneMan spreading mortar onto a subfloorMan laying a floor membrane

Lay the Uncoupling Membrane

  • 2.1Measure the width and length of the room.
  • 2.2Lay out the membrane and transfer the measurements to it using a permanent marker.
  • 2.3Cut the membrane using a utility knife.
  • 2.4Check that the membrane fits the room dimensions. Use the permanent marker to note any obstructions (such as the toilet) and cut them out.
  • 2.5Roll up the membrane again. Sweep the floor and use a damp sponge to wipe it.
  • 2.6Follow the package instructions to mix mortar in a bucket.
  • 2.7Use a 5/16” x 5/16” notched trowel to spread the mortar.
  • 2.8Roll the membrane back out over the new mortar.
  • 2.9Ensure good adhesion by pressing the membrane with a grout float or a wood block.

Pro Tip

Check that the membrane is making good contact with the mortar by lifting one corner. Press it back into place and begin the next steps. There is no need to wait until the mortar dries.

Test the Design Layout

  • 3.1Arrange 1-2 rows of tiles, both horizontal and vertical, on the floor in your desired pattern and placement.
  • 3.2To help you make even cuts on both sides, centre the tiles in the space. You can use this dry layout to plan your cuts. For a cleaner look, place larger tiles along the edges.
  • 3.3Find out how much you’ll need to shift the tiles to achieve equal spacing on each end by considering the remaining space in each row.
  • 3.4To guarantee even joints, use spacers between each tile.
  • 3.5Use a level to create straight, even reference lines.


To avoid having to walk on freshly installed tiles, work on the next 3 steps concurrently. Proceeding 2-3 tiles at a time apply mortar, make cuts, and place the tiles. Work the row until it is almost complete. Then size the final tile by cutting it and move on to the next row.
Man spreading mortar on a floor membraneMan creating mortar ridges with a trowel

Begin Spreading the Mortar

  • 4.1Pick up all the tiles again.
  • 4.2Sweep the floor, then dampen a sponge and wipe it.
  • 4.3Follow the package instructions to mix the mortar.
  • 4.4Apply a first layer of mortar, filling the indentations in the membrane.
  • 4.5To achieve enough thickness to make trowel lines, apply another layer on top of the first.
  • 4.6Comb the mortar ridges in the same direction with the notched edge of the trowel, holding it at a 45° angle.

Pro Tip

Working directly on plywood often requires a first layer to even out the surface and a second to help the tiles stick.

Recommended trowel sizes:

  • Trowel 1/4" x 1/4": tiles 4" x 4" to 8" x 8"
  • Trowel 1/4" x 3/8": tiles 8" x 8" to 13" x 13"
  • Trowel 1/2" x 1/2": tiles 12" x 24" to 24" x 24"

Man placing a floor tileMan inserting tile spacers

Begin Laying the Tiles

  • 5.1Gently lay down 3 to 3 tiles, making sure to follow the reference lines.
  • 5.2For better adhesion, press down the tiles gently, rocking gently back and forth perpendicular to the trowel lines.
  • 5.3Keep the joints even with tile spacers.
  • 5.4Ensure an even tile height with a level.
  • 5.5Lightly push down uneven tiles with a rubber mallet.

Pro Tip

We suggest spreading a thin coat of mortar on the back of any tiles larger than 12" on any side to secure them.

Alternative Option: Use a Levelling System

Follow our guide to learn about using a levelling system to lay down tiles.
Man using a tape measure

Cut the Tiles

  • 6.1Measure the gap between the wall and the last row at multiple points in case the space you’re working with isn’t perfectly straight.
  • 6.2Once your measurements are confirmed, subtract your desired spacing and the width of the expansion joint.
  • 6.3Note the measurements on your tiles and trace a line connecting the markings.
  • 6.4Make the cut (instructions below).
  • 6.5Repeat for each cut tile.

Choose the Right Cutting Tool

Here are some tips to help you choose the right cutting tool:

Tile Cutter
  • Advantages: most affordable and straightforward tool for cutting a straight line.
  • Disadvantages: not capable of round or L-shaped cuts
How to Use:
  1. Align the middle tile cutter mark with the tile mark.
  2. Follow the line from one tile end to the other using steady pressure. Apply firm pressure with the breaker foot through the end of the cut line.
Note: If you have an issue with uneven breaks, try a new blade.

Wet Saw
  • Advantages: usable on tiles of all types, including uneven tile, rough tile, and natural stone. Can also be used for small, thin, and L-shaped cuts.
  • Disadvantages: setup can be time-consuming and cutting must be done outdoors due to splashing. More expensive and requires the use of personal protection equipment like gloves, hearing protection, and eye protection.
How to Use:
  1. Set the tile flat on the table, square to the cutting fence and aligned with the blade.
  2. Turn on the saw. Push the cutting table forward slowly, taking care to keep your hands in the cutting-table safety zone.
  3. Slow down even more near the end to prevent chipping.
  4. Turn off the saw before you pull the table back.
  5. Repeat the steps for the next line in an L-shaped cut.

  • Advantages: the top choice for cuts that are uneven, round, or not connected to the tile edges.
  • Disadvantages: creates a lot of dust and noise and is hard to learn. Requires gloves as well as hearing and eye protection.
How to Use:
  1. Place the tile in front of a piece of plywood on your workbench, clamping it down.
  2. Going slowly with the grinder, trace the marked line.
Note: You’ll want to use a diamond grit blade for uneven cuts.

Pro Tip

When operating power tools, always wear protective personal equipment (including a dust mask, goggles, and safety gloves).

Man removing tile spacersMan removing excess mortar on a tiled floor

Leave the Floor to Dry

  • 8.1When the tiling is done, let the floor dry for at least 24 hours or for as long as the package instructs. Do not walk on the floor during this time.
  • 8.2Remove the spacers. You can use a utility knife if needed.
  • 8.3Using a putty knife, remove excess mortar. There should be no mortar overflowing on the sides or blocking the joints.
Man spreading tile grout

Grout the Floor

  • 9.1Clean any mortar residue with a lightly damp sponge.
  • 9.2Prepare the grout according to the instruction on the package.
  • 9.3Pour grout right on the tiles and work it into the joints using a rubber float. Go one section at a time and hold the float at a 45° angle.
  • 9.4Wipe excess grout with a sponge that you clean frequently.
  • 9.5Use a sponge to wipe the tiles again 2 or 3 times, always with clean water.
  • 9.6Add more grout to areas where it is missing or light.
  • 9.7Allow the floor to dry fully before stepping on it. The product packaging will have guidelines for how long this should take.
  • 9.8Let dry, then clean the floor again with a dry cloth.
  • 9.9Put back the doors and mouldings.

Pro Tip

Fill two buckets with clean water so that you can switch from one to the other.


These DIY projects are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in Réno-Dépôt’s DIYs is intended to provide general guidelines to simplify jobs around the house. Because tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations are continually changing, Réno-Dépôt (a division of RONA Inc.) assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained herein and disclaims any liability for the omissions, errors, or outcome of any project. Réno-Dépôt (a division of RONA Inc.) makes no representation on the feasibility of any project and the viewer bears all risks coming with the realization of the projects. It is the responsibility of the viewer to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes, and regulations for a project. The viewer must always take proper safety precautions and exercise caution when taking on any project. If there is any doubt in regard to any element of a project, please consult a licensed professional. 

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