How to Install Ceramic Tile on Wood Flooring

Ceramic tile can be laid in any room, but you have to have the right underlayment or it will move and crack. A wood floor is generally the worst kind of surface on which to lay ceramic, because wood floors are designed to move. This problem is easily solved with the addition of 1/4-inch cement board--a thin, hard material that cuts and attaches like drywall, and provides a solid, unmoving surface for the tile.

Install Ceramic Tile on Wood Flooring
  1. Lay your cement board throughout the room, starting at the longest unobstructed wall. With each piece, spread carpenter's glue on the floor over the area where the piece will go, press down the piece, and use your drill to sink screws every 6 inches in a checkerboard pattern. Arrange the cement board pieces in a staggered pattern so that no more than two of them intersect in one spot. (When it's necessary to cut the pieces to fit, mark a straight line for the cut, run your razor knife along it, snap it downward so it breaks on one side and slice the other side.)

  2. Divide the room into four even sections using your tape measure, pencil and level. Measure for the center points between the walls in each direction. You should end up with a straight cross drawn on the center of the floor, over the cement board, from wall to wall.

  3. Spread the adhesive with your notched trowel--working along the lines you've drawn--over the space that will be covered by six to eight tiles. Press the trowel down hard enough that you can see the cement board between the lines of the adhesive that are left by the trowel. Press the tiles into place, using the spacers to keep them evenly spaced from one another.

  4. Complete one of the four square sections of the floor, with as many full tiles as will fit before you get to the wall, before moving onto the next square section. (Note: With each course of tile you lay, make sure to scoop up any residual adhesive at the outer edge of the tiles with the straight edge of the trowel, so it doesn't dry there and obstruct the next row of tiles.)

  5. Complete each of the other square sections in the room. Do as much of the floor as you can without doing the cut pieces around the edges of the room. Let the tile set for at least 8 hours.

  6. Lay the final rows of tile along the walls, cutting as necessary with the tile cutter. (Measure width you need on the tile, mark it with the pencil on the tile's finished surface, set the mark evenly with the center line of the tile cutter, pull the blade quickly across it to score it, and press down on both sides of the line with the two-pronged piece of metal attached to the cutter to snap it.) Allow the rest of the tile to set completely.

  7. Apply your grout to the tile lines, using the trowel to press the grout between the lines. Let it set for 5 minutes, then wipe the tile surface with the dampened sponge, taking care not to dig the wet grout out of the lines. Do the whole floor in this manner, and allow it to set for 24 hours before using the floor.

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