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How to Tile Floors in Irregular Sized Rooms

Kevin McDermott

In a normal floor tiling project, you'll divide the room into four even squares and lay out the tile starting at the middle, where the squares meet, to ensure that any partial cuts at the walls are the same on both ends.

But what if the project involves an oddly shaped room, where one side is going to hit a cove or island, forcing you to make a very thin, awkward-looking cut? Proper planning and layout before tiling is especially crucial in an irregular room to avoid any surprises.

  1. Use your chalk snapline to lay a line across the middle of the floor in one direction, and then in the other, so the two lines intersect in the center of the room, creating four sections. It doesn't matter if the four sections aren't exactly the same size (due to the irregular shape of the room), only that they're similar.

  2. Lay out your tiles in a "dry run'' (without mortar), starting at the intersection, alongside the lines in all four directions. Make sure to space them as you would during installation. Lay tiles alongside the chalklines from wall to wall, and around any obstructions (such as a kitchen island), or protruding areas of wall (such as a chimney). Leave the rest untiled.

  3. Assess where the tiles end up at the walls on all sides, and around all protrusions or obstructions. If there is any area where the tile is going to be cut to less than 2 inches wide to fit, readjust your layout, even it if means the other end of the line will be a different size (i.e., if you have a 1-1/2-inch cut on both sides, move the layout 1-1/2 inches in one direction, so there's a full tile on one side and a 3-inch cut on other side).

  4. Re-adjust your layout lines repeatedly, until you're sure there are no overly thin or irregular cuts to be made at any wall or obstruction.

  5. Spread thinset mortar alongside the adjusted layout lines, starting at the center of the room. Press your tiles into place. Build out toward the walls, initially using the lines as guides and then filling in the rest in a grid. Cut your end pieces on your tile saw as needed. Let the tiles set overnight.

  6. Apply grout to the tiles with your grout float, starting in one corner and working in sections of a few square feet. In each section, press the grout into the lines, squeeze it off the tile face, let it sit for a minute, then wipe it down with a damp sponge to take up the excess grout. Let the grout set for two days before using the floor.

  7. Warning

    Wear eye protection when cutting your tiles.