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How to Install Tile on Concrete

7 Quick Tips

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Install tile on concrete

What’s the best way to lay large format tile on concrete?

And why the heck should you care?

Here’s the deal,

Lots of people slap tile on a concrete floor without proper planning; this in turn leads to cracked tiles, ugly cuts, and terrible grout joints.

Our 7 quick tips will help you avoid these mistakes and possibly even enlighten your tile setting experience (no, we’re not gurus sitting on a throne but we do enjoy sharing these tips).

Let’s dive in!


Install Tile on Concrete Like a Pro

Before we start, this tutorial is part of our video series showing how to build a curbless basement shower. As such, tiling the bathroom floor occurs before setting the shower pan tile. And that’s where we’re at in this series.

Here are 7 quick tips:

Tip #1: Waterproof the Floor

For this project we used KBRS’s ShowerSeal, it’s a liquid waterproofing membrane that can be used for the shower pan, shower walls, and bathroom floor. It’s absolutely a must to waterproof the entire bathroom floor if it’s next to a curbless shower. We even used the KBRS fabric on at the drywall/floor transition in case of a water back up.

Tip #2: Plan the Layout and Floor Pattern

This bathroom was small, I mean super SMALL. Doing a dry layout with the tiles helped us determine if any wonky cuts would occur along the walls, doorway, and shower entrance. Planning the floor layout on a piece of paper also helps a lot. In addition, the tile for this project was 12″ x 24″ porcelain; this requires a 1/3 offset pattern to minimize tile lippage. Keep the offset pattern in mind when using large format tiles.


Tip #3: Start at the Shower

Our curbless shower is the focal point for this bathroom; starting the tile at the shower entrance allowed us to keep the tiles straight. It’s best to tile the bathroom floor first because typically there will be more thin-set mortar under those tiles. As a result, the shower pan tile needs to be built up a but at the shower entrance so they can lay flush with the bathroom floor tile.


Tip #4: Perimeter Gap

Homes expand and contract just like humans, heck, they also have gas like humans (small joke, hope you chuckled). Leave a 1/4″ gap along the perimeter of the bathroom between the tile and drywall. Baseboard molding is about 1/2″ thick and covers the gap.


Tip #5: Tile Leveling System

Large format tiles have one edge 15″ or longer. Wood plank tiles, 12″ x 24″ tiles, 12″ x 36″ tiles — they’re all large format. Believe it or not, large tiles can be cupped or bowed in the center depending on the quality. Distorted tiles create lippage when butted against each other. Tile leveling systems like T-Lock help reduce this lippage and keep grout joints even; T-Lock in particular has grout spacers in the Clips, which is great.


Tip #6: Clean Grout Joints

Cleaning thin-set mortar from the grout joints isn’t easy one it hardens. Set the tile and clean the joints with a brush, dull carpet knife, and sponge. This is particularly important when using a tile leveling system. Mortar tends to build up around the system and create problems the next day.


Tip #7: Directionally Trowel and Backbutter

Thin-set mortar application is strategic; directionally trowel the mortar such that all the trowel ridges face the same direction. This is important and allows the air gaps to be compressed when the tile is set over the mortar. The back of tile should be covered 95-100% in mortar per industry guidelines. Backbuttering the tile also helps with this.

Watch our video to see the tips in action


What’s Next

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and want to simplify the process enroll into Bathroom Repair Tutor’s Video Library

We show how to build showers (Schluter, Wedi, Curbless, etc.), install tile, upgrade basement bathrooms, and more.

The extra guidance is invaluable

Enroll Today



Jeff Patterson

  1. Sarah says:

    How do you feel about filling the expansion gap at edge of tile where it needs the wall with grout (epoxy grout)?

    1. Jerry Grayson says:

      Hello Sarah
      Do not grout or epoxy grout since it will harden and there no longer an expansion joint. it is best to just not fill this gap and just cover with the wood molding.

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