Best Method for Installing Floor Tiles + Techniques for Floor Tile Installation
Best Method for Installing Floor Tiles + Techniques for Floor Tile Installation

Best Method for Installing Floor Tiles + Techniques for Floor Tile Installation

Nowadays, using various types of tiles for indoor flooring is very common. However, some might think that installing floor tiles is an easy task that requires no experience or knowledge. In reality, to achieve a desirable outcome, the task must be carried out by professionals. Therefore, we aim to discuss the best method for installing floor tiles and explain the process in detail.

What is Tile?

Before delving into floor tile installation techniques, let's get to know more about tiles, their types, and how they differ from ceramics.

Tile is a type of building material commonly used for flooring and wall coverings.

Tiles are usually made from raw materials such as clay, silicon carbide, kaolinite, tungsten carbide, aluminum oxide, etc., and then fired at a temperature of about 2210 degrees Fahrenheit (1210 degrees Celsius). The final product is a type of tile that, compared to standard tiles, has a lower water absorption rate and higher compressive strength, and is available in larger sizes.

However, standard tiles are made from clay and glaze and are fired at a temperature of about 1250 degrees Fahrenheit (677 degrees Celsius); these products are weaker in terms of water absorption and compressive strength.

Tiles can be used for both floor and wall spaces, whereas ceramics, due to their lower resistance and higher water absorption rates and being manufactured in smaller sizes, are typically used for walls.

Floor Tile Installation Principles

Before discussing the best method for installing floor tiles, it's beneficial to talk about important principles that should be considered before starting the tile installation process, as these can significantly improve the quality of work and reduce overall costs.

Various Tile Installation Patterns

Floor tiles can be installed in several ways and designs, some of which we will discuss:

  • - Straight and Simple Layout: In this layout, tiles are placed side by side in different rows, with the tile joints aligned. This method is commonly used due to its ease of installation and minimal material wastage.
  • -Diamond Layout” Here, square tiles are installed at a 45-degree angle to the horizontal line. This design is suitable for spaces with regular and uniform dimensions. In irregularly shaped areas, this layout may lead to considerable material wastage at the corners.
  • -Brick Pattern: Another common method for tile installation on floors is the brick pattern. In this method, the first tile in a row is halved, and subsequent rows are arranged so that the joints of the tiles align with the center of the tiles in the previous row. If tiles are not perfectly flat, using a brick layout may highlight imperfections, so it's recommended to align the joints precisely.

Other less common tile layouts include the staggered, herringbone, checkerboard, modular, basketweave, and windmill patterns.

Calculating the Required Amount of Tiles for Flooring

Another step towards the best method of floor tile installation is calculating the required amount of tiles. After deciding on the layout, the next step is to calculate the square footage of tiles needed. Simply, the required amount of tiles for the floor equals the square footage of the intended surface plus the wastage, which is considered based on the chosen layout. It's worth noting that material wastage typically ranges from 3% to 15% and is added to the total square footage.

Purchasing Floor Tiles

After determining the required square footage of tiles, you can proceed with the purchase. When buying tiles, consider the following:

  • -Tile Size: Choose tile sizes that match the dimensions of the interior spaces to minimize cutting and use them most efficiently. For example, for a room measuring 2.5 by 3 meters, tiles measuring 60x60 centimeters are recommended.
  • -Finish and Color of Tiles: Some tiles have a glossy finish, while others are matte. Glossy and lighter-colored tiles can make a space appear larger. Matte tiles are more commonly used in areas prone to moisture and spills, such as kitchens and bathrooms, due to their resistance to stains and slips. However, matte tiles are also used in living spaces.
  • -Tile Warpage: Tiles are graded based on their manufacturing quality, and one factor that can lower a tile's quality grade is warpage.

Warpage refers to deviation from a flat surface, which can occur due to the type of clay used, the firing temperature, or defects in the tile mold. Generally, warped tiles are cheaper than flat tiles but come with disadvantages:

  •   - These tiles often break when cut with a tile cutter, increasing wastage.
  •   - The finished tile surface usually ends up uneven or with lippage.

To check for warpage, take a tile out of the box, place it on a flat surface, and use a straightedge and filler to measure the warpage. The acceptable level of warpage, according to the Iranian National Standard No. 25, is ±2 millimeters.

  • -Calibrated Tiles: Sometimes, after several uses, tile molds become defective, resulting in tiles that do not match their nominal dimensions. When these tiles are installed on floors or walls, the joints open up, and the overall appearance is compromised. To address this issue, tiles are cut to uniform and square dimensions after production, referred to as "calibrated tiles." Generally, the dimensions of calibrated tiles are a few millimeters smaller than their nominal sizes, which can lead to discrepancies in large areas. Therefore, always pay attention to the actual dimensions of calibrated tiles.
  • -Tile Application Area: The tile chosen for a parking garage floor should differ from that used in a living space, as the garage floor constantly withstands the movement and pressure of vehicles. These differences are typically reflected in characteristics such as thickness, scratch resistance, water absorption, acid resistance, and other properties.

Important Note: Generally, tiles used for flooring differ from those used for walls, and this distinction is usually indicated by a symbol on the tile box.

  • -Tile Price: Another important factor in choosing tiles is their price, determined by factors such as quality and dimensions. For example, the price of porcelain floor tiles is higher than some other types due to their high quality.

Preparing the Substrate for Tile Installation

Typically, floor tile installation occurs after the completion of mechanical and electrical installations. To prevent damage to these installations and their subsequent breakage, they must be covered. We will discuss the required height for substrate preparation and the materials to be used.

To determine the height of the substrate, we first establish the height of the highest mechanical installation on the floor, usually floor drains or sewage pipes. We then add the thickness of the substrate (minimum 3 to 5 centimeters), the thickness of the tile (1 centimeter), and the thickness of the adhesive (minimum 5 to 6 millimeters).

The total height, considering the method of mechanical installation (below or above the ceiling), averages between 10 to 20 centimeters, with the least height achieved when sewage pipes are installed below the ceiling.

We typically use lightweight concrete or expanded clay aggregate as the substrate for flooring, upon which the tiles are installed.

Waterproofing the floor in areas such as bathrooms, toilets, and kitchens is carried out after the application of lightweight concrete or foam and before tile installation. This waterproofing can be achieved using materials like bitumen or other common moisture barriers.

Methods of Floor Tile Installation

In this section, we will explain the different methods of floor tile installation, focusing on the best technique.

Generally, floor tiles are installed using either a mortar or adhesive method. As the names suggest, the mortar method involves installing tiles with a sand-cement adhesive on the floor, while the adhesive method uses tile glue.

Installing Floor Tiles with Sand-Cement Mortar

This installation method can be performed in two ways:

  • -Direct Installation with Sand-Cement Mortar: In this method, the sand-cement mortar is spread over the substrate according to the floor level and thickness specified, and tiles are installed on top. This method is less commonly used as tiles do not adhere well to the mortar, and the final grout cannot fully fill underneath the tile, leaving gaps that may cause the tiles to break under minimal pressure or impact.
  • -Slurry Bonding of Tiles: Here, sand-cement mortar is used, but before tile installation, a layer of cement slurry is applied to the mortar. The cement slurry is a mixture of gray or white cement and stone powder in a 2:1 ratio. This ensures that the area beneath the tiles is filled, preventing future damage to the tiles.

The sand-cement mortar method is typically used for standard tiles, and installing porcelain tiles with sand-cement mortar is not recommended due to poor adhesion.

Floor Tile Installation with Adhesive

Tile adhesive is a modern building material recently used for installing tiles on floors and walls, especially porcelain tiles. Tile adhesives are available in both paste and powder forms, with powder adhesives being more commonly used for floor installations.

Given the production of low-quality and less durable tile adhesives that lose their properties over time, it's important to research and choose high-quality products.

For tile installation with adhesive, prepare the substrate precisely to the level below the tiles, then follow the manufacturer's recommendations for tile installation.

After completing the installation, use grouting powders to fill the joints between the tiles.

The Best Method for Installing Floor Tiles

Based on experience and contractors' recommendations, due to the impact and pressure commonly present on most floors, the best method for installing floor tiles is using adhesive.

Important Tips for Floor Tile Installation

- It's strongly advised not to install floor tiles without joints. This is particularly important when using underfloor heating systems. Ignoring this can lead to floor uplift due to expansion and problems with tile replacement and visible lippage.

  • - The mortar used beneath the tiles should be damp, meaning it shouldn't be too wet.
  • - The thickness of the adhesive used under the tiles should not exceed the manufacturer's recommendation.
  • - The surface beneath the tile adhesive must be dry, free of dust, stains, grease, etc.
  • - In moist areas, use specialized adhesives.
  • - Since floor tiles in bathrooms and toilets are installed with a slope to direct water towards the drain, smaller tile sizes yield better installation results. Using large tiles in these areas can lead to uneven tile edges.


In this article, we explained why using the adhesive method is the best for installing floor tiles. While tiles can be installed using either adhesive or mortar, given the significant pressure they endure after installation, using adhesive generally leads to better outcomes. However, this method has its own set of principles, which we have detailed earlier.