How to Lay 13x13 Tiles on a Floor

Sharon Sweeny

Ceramic or stone tiles are a good choice for entryways or baths. You can lay 13x13 tiles on the floor of your entryway or bath yourself over a weekend. Preparation is the key to accomplishing this project promptly; assemble all of the materials, supplies and tools before starting. The following weekend, seal the grout and the job will be finished.

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  1. Thoroughly sweep and vacuum the floor in the area in which the tiles are to be installed.

  2. Snap a chalk line down the center of the floor in both directions. Pull the tab on the chalk line marker to remove enough line to cover the floor from wall to wall. Place one end of the line at the center point of one wall and stretch the line to the other wall. Holding the chalk line taut and resting on the floor, pick it up with your fingertips and "snap" it down onto the floor. This will leave a chalk line down the center of the floor in both directions and help you to install the tiles parallel and perpendicular to the walls, even if the floor and room is out of square.

  3. Do a dry run. Lay out the 13 x 13 tiles, beginning in the center of the room and using the chalk lines as a guide. Determine where full tiles fit and where they will need to be cut to fit. You may choose to center the full tiles in the room and the cut tiles along both edges or to begin laying full tiles at one side of the room and the cut tiles, if necessary, on the other side. Leave a small gap in the tiles when you lay them out in a dry run to account for the final spacing and grout that will be applied after the tiles are all laid.

  4. Mix the thin set mortar. Use a 5 gallon bucket. Pour the powdered thin set into the bucket and add water following manufacturer's directions. Mix well.

  5. Using the notched trowel, spread a thin layer of mortar on a small area of the floor. Do not spread more thin set mortar than you can set tiles into within 20 to 30 minutes. Use the flat side of the trowel to spread the mortar into an even layer, then use the notched side to comb the mortar and create the hills and valleys in the mortar needed for the tiles to securely adhere. Create the hills and valleys in a straight line and not a circular pattern.

  6. Place the first tile, using the chalk lines as a guide. Press down on the tile firmly then use the rubber mallet to tap the tile from corner to corner, to assure that it gets firmly "grabbed" by the mortar.

  7. Install spacers on the edges of the tiles so that the adjoining tiles are spaced correctly, leaving room for the grout.

  8. Install the remaining tiles.

  9. Use a tile cutter to trim any tiles to fit the edges of the room. A tile cutter works similar to a glass cutter. Measure the size of the opening where the tile is to be installed, transfer the measurement to the tile, marking it with a pencil. Score along the line with the tile cutter. Place the tile on a flat surface with the tile cutter itself under one side of the scored line. Press down on the other side of the scored line and the tile will cleanly snap along the scored line.

  10. Allow the floor and mortar to set up overnight before applying grout.

  11. Mix grout in 5 gallon bucket, following manufacturer's instructions.

  12. Use the grout float to apply the grout. Working on a small area at a time, spread gobs of grout along the grout lines, pushing it into the cavities and working it in thoroughly. Hold the grout float at a 45 degree angle and remove the excess grout by pulling it across the tile. Then use a damp sponge to further remove excess grout.

  13. After about 10 minutes, wipe over the area with a clean sponge to further remove excess grout.

  14. After the entire floor is grouted, wash it again with a clean, damp sponge.

  15. Allow the grout to cure for 7 to 10 days, then apply grout sealer by brushing on with a foam paint brush.

  16. Let the sealer dry for 24 to 48 hours before allowing foot traffic.