Fixing up a basement floor is often one of the most overlooked areas of the home, simply because it seems like too involved a project for the weekend warrior. Fortunately, with a little bit of elbow grease and some patience, installing tiles for basement floors doesn’t have to be dreaded. You can easily turn your dingy, dark basement flooring into a brightened and comfortable living space.
First Steps for Tile Installation
1) Clean the floor for any debris or dust, ensuring that the floor will be level once you get it down. Also, check the manufacturer’s instructions for any special steps or tools you might need before you get started.
2) Measure to find the center of the room, and snap two chalk lines so that they are intersecting in the exact center of the room’s floor.
3) Do a dry run before you actually start the project. Lay out all the tiles and spacers, since this will help you to determine exactly where you want to begin, and how wide the grout lines will need to be. Spacers come in various sizes, so it’s really a matter of personal preference.
Just Before Basement Tile Installation
4) Is your subfloor down? Check the subfloor and make sure it’s stable and ready to support the tiles. Then snap another chalk line that’s about the width of a tile out from each wall. Doing this will help to keep your tile placement perfectly in line for the whole room.
5) Lay out your tiles and the spacers until you’re satisfied with how they’re positioned. If it takes some adjusting, that’s alright – it’s why you’re doing a dry run in the first place. If you find that you want to switch spacer sizes, that’s alright too.
Preparing the Mortar
6) Pour enough dry mixture for some thin-set mortar into a large bucket, enough for the room size you’re working with. Add water until the dry mixture is wet, and start mixing. Keep mixing until the mortar has a creamy texture, then stop mixing and allow the mortar to sit for about 10 minutes. This will allow it to become slightly tacky and stick properly.
7) Once the mortar is tacky, you can begin working on a section of the floor. Spread out some mortar on a section that’s about 2’ x 2’, using a notched trowel to keep the mortar spread evenly. From here on, work only with small sections of floor at a time so that the mortar doesn’t dry before the tiles are in place.
Installing the Basement Floor Tiles
8) As you spread the mortar, position the tiles in place and lay them down. You may come to a section of wall where a standard tile will not quite fit, so mark the amount of tile you need and cut the right size with a tile cutter.
9) Continue installation, being aware of the chalk lines and using them as a guide. Place spacers in between all the tiles so that they’re all set at the same distance from each other.
10) Once you have all the tiles down, remove all your tools and equipment, and stay off the tiles for at least several days. They’ll need to dry before grouting.
Grouting the Basement Floor Tiles
11) Use a shade of grout that complements your tiles, but has some history of moisture resistance. Using a rubber trowel, spread the grout across the tiles, holding the trowel at an angle so that it gets between each tile.
12) Once the grout has been applied, remove the excess with a damp sponge. Repeat this a few times, but be careful not to remove any grout around the actual tiles.
13) Stay off the floor for another few days, and then you’re done – and you have a basement floor that’s attractive, modern, and much more inviting.