> >

Ceramic floor tiles

Cost: Difficulty:

Ceramic floor tiles

Cold to stand on, but durable, water-resistant and resistant to stains and spillages. They are available in numerous colours, patterns and shapes and are made of natural clay, decorated on one side with coloured glaze. The surfaces are normally glazed, but are not as highly polished as wall tiles, while others are matt or have an unglazed finish.

Unglazed tiles must be sealed with the correct proprietary sealant (recommended by the manufacturer) once laid. The stronger floor tiles are thicker and darker on their underside and often come in larger sizes. They are fired at a higher temperature (vitrified) so that the particles fuse together. This results in the tiles being almost unbreakable when laid.

Once you have decided on the tile, note its length and width and measure the room carefully. Measure its length and divide it by the length of one tile. Round up the number of tiles to the next whole number. Now measure the width of the room and divide that by the width of the tile, Round up the number of tiles to the nearest whole number. Multiply the two whole numbers together. This will give the number of tiles required to tile the room. Try our Floor Tile Calculator page to give you a rough guide to the number required.

It is always wise to buy a few extra tiles, in case you crack or break a tile while cutting it to fit, or to keep as a spare in case of accidental damage in the future. Laying tiles on a floor is similar to the method for laying them on a wall. However due to their thickness, a floor tile cutter with angled jaws is required to cut the tiles, or hire a floor tile cutting tool.

Use a wooden stick and mark the length of tiles along its length and then use it as a tile gauge. Remember to allow spacing for grouting.


Always plan the design and layout on paper first, especially if you are going to mix shapes and designs. Take account of the fixtures and fittings in the room as the design will have to work alongside these features. Try to avoid patterned tiles at internal corners where they will have to be cut and the beauty of the design could be lost. Also try to avoid using a quarter or less of a tile on an end wall, as the small parts are very difficult to accurately cut without breaking the small end section.

Remember to remove an inward opening door before starting to tile the room because the tiling will raise the level of the floor. Adjustments to the door will be required before re-hanging. Also remove any cupboard doors at floor level before starting.

Laying the tiles

Use a waterproof, floor tile adhesive which allows slight flexibility when set. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and using a notched or plain trowel, as directed, to spread the adhesive on the floor to cover a manageable area for laying approximately 10 tiles.

Use a layer of adhesive on the back of the tile and press into the desired position. It is very important to lay the first tile correctly, as its position will determine the position of all the other tiles in the room. Use a batten nailed to the floor to give a straight edge to guide the positioning of the tiles. Remember to use plastic spacers or thick card to regulate the distance between the tiles. These areas will be grouted when the floor is complete and must be equally spaced for neat, accurate results.

Use a spirit level to check the horizontal level and a straight edge to continually check the position of the tiles on the floor. Continue across the room and work towards the door. Leave the room for 24 hours. Then remove the battens and cut the border tiles and fix in a similar way. Remove the plastic spacers or thick card and grout the tiles.

Grout is available in a variety of colours, but the standard colours are white, grey or brown. If you are unsure of the colour to use, mix pigments of colours with dry powdered grout and attempt to match the colour before adding the water. However, most floor tiles are grouted with a mortar mix. Use a plastic scraper or a rubber-bladed squeegee to push the grout between the gaps in the tiles. Make sure all the spaces are evenly filled and then wipe the grout off the tile surface before it dries. Use a blunt edge of a stick or tool carefully, to smooth the surface of the grout in the gaps - but do not ‘dig down’ into the grout. Remove any excess grout before it dries.

Allow the floor to dry completely before polishing the surface of the tiles with a dry cloth.

Cleaning and caring for ceramic floor tiles

They do not require polish as they come with a natural glaze or matt finish. Polishing would also make them very slippery and dangerous to walk on. Sweep rather than vacuum, as the end of some vacuums can scratch the surface. Wash by hand or use a squeezy mop.

Related Pages

Need help or supplies?

Further help required?

Our forum is the perfect place to ask questions and get help. Join us, post your question/comment now!