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DIY Tile Installation Mistakes

Many adventurous DIY homeowners can't resist the temptation of trying to install the tile and grout themselves.

What They Don't Understand

What many homeowners don't understand is that improperly installing the tile and grout can lead to so many potential problems and issues with tile installation. In most cases people are trying to save money by doing the tile installation tehmselves. A properly installed tile job can look amasing and add value to your home. The problem with most DIY tile installations is that they most often look sloppily installed and can actually decrease the value of your home. Many DIY tile installations can also have many additional issues that may not be immediately apparent. It is only after the DIY shower tile installation starts leaking or the DIY floor tile installation starts cracking or grout starts breaking up do they realize that their DIY tile installation has failed.

DIY Tile Installation Mistakes

Many DIY homeowners will read a tile installation book and take their time and perform a beautiful tile installation. There is also DIY homeowners who do not understand that they can waste a lot of money and time by not correctly installing the tile and grout. It is important to spend the time and read at least one good tile installation book before you waste a lot of time and money before you attempt any type of tile installation.

Shower Tile Installation Mistakes

The installation of shower tile and grout is not a DIY tile installation project. Many DIY homeowners can do a quality tile installation on a floor, but installing a tile shower will present many difficult obstacles. A shower tile installation involves many procedures that should be completed by a professional tile installer. A DIY shower tile installation can leak for a multitude of reasons and most often it cant just be fixed or patched to stop the leak. A professional tile installer spends many years perfecting his or her trade and there are many details involved in a shower tile installation that even the best DIY tile installation books just dont begin to cover. It also has the potential to damage other areas of your home. A faulty DIY shower tile installation is real and a DIY shower tile installation should never be attempted.

Improperly Installaing Floor Tile

Installing tile on the sub-floor may seem like a very simple and straight forward procedure, but this can be anything but true. Learning how to properly install tile can take many years of experience. It will take much more than a straight edge, trowel and spacers to properly install and align the tile. DIY homeowners will try to rely on spacers to get the correct spacing between individual tiles. Often what happens is lippage forms between the tiles. Lippage is when one tile is higher than the adjacent tile. The lippage can cause people to trip and fall when walking across the tile. In all cases lippage just looks sloppy and walking on a floor with bad lippage will give you the feeling of an uneven floor tile installation.

Improper Tile Spacing And Alignment

Properly aligning and spacing the tile can be a difficult process. DIY tile installers will take so much time in planning out their tile installation then discover errors in their calculations or errors in their tile installation layout. What can happen is the tile installation looks lopsided or uneven. A bad tile installation layout can leave small sliver cuts of tile on one side of the room while the other side has a full tile. In some cases we have seen where people have tried to adjust a bad laid out tile installation by increasing and or decreasing the width of the grout joints so the tile installation looks more even. Yes the tile installation may look a little more even but the excessively wide and narrow grout joints will distract from the beauty of the tile installation.

Installation Over Unstable Sub-Floor

Many people believe they can just remove the carpet or vinyl and just install the tile right over the existing sub-floor. A sub-floor that is good for a carpet or vinyl installation may not be a suitable sub-floor for the installation of tile. A quality tile installation needs to be installed over a sub floor that does not shift or move when weight is applied to it. A licensed tile installation contractor must follow strict guidelines for how much shifting and movement a sub floor can have before tile can be properly installed. If there is too much movement in the sub-floor then no matter how beautiful the tile installation is, it will definitly fail.

Common signs of a tile installation over a sub-floor with too much movement is cracked or broken grout. The cracked and broken grout is due to movement in the sub-floor and this cracked and broken grout is usually evident in the middle of the tile installation area. In the middle of a tile installation is where there will be the most movement in a sub floor. Many people try to patch up their cracked and broken grout only to realize that the newly patched grout cracks just like the old. This is when people will try using caulk instead of grout to try and fix the problem. Yes the caulk will be more flexible but it will be difficult to clean and will not look the same or have the same texture as the surrounding grout. There is no real fix for the installation of tile over a sub-floor with too much movement and the only solution is to rip out the exisiting floor, correct the sub-floor issues and re-install the tile for a second time, which has costed you time and money.

Improper Usage Of Materials

People fail to realize that they can't just tile over an existing sub-floor or on existing drywall. Tile should be only installed over approved cement backer board, hardibacker or other approved tile installation materials. Tile adhesive will not properly adhere to unsuitable sub-floor or drywall materials and the tile will become loose and possibly detatch. Loose tile will sound hollow when walked on and the loose tile can crack or break with normal usage. Loose tile can also shift and cause the surrounding grout to crack or break. In some cases the loose tile can be re-installed to the sub-floor or drywall but this is only a temporary fix for a bad tile installation.

Vinyl tiles

DIY homeowners often apply grout between horizontal and vertical areas of tile. Whenever you tile between adjacent walls or between say a wall and floor you should always caulk between the two areas of tile. There will almost always be some movement between the walls or other areas that will cause the grout to crack between these areas of the tile installation. You should always use caulk to seal these areas of the tile.

Improperly Mixing And Applying Grout

Applying grout may seem very easy to many DIY homeowners. What the DIY homeowners fail to realize is that a bad grout job can literally ruin the tile installation and end up costing you lots of time and money. The most common mistake that many DIY homeowners make is mixing the grout with too much water. When grout is mixed too thin it will not set up properly. Many times grout thats mixed too thin will break away and become loose over time and the grout will also will loose its color pigments when its applied.

Let The Grout Slake

This is a term that refers to letting the grout sit in the bucket for at least 10 minutes after mixing it. This helps the chemicals interact with one another before use it. After the "slake" period remix slightly then you apply it.


The trick here is to Buy a good grout float. Don't buy the economy floats with the grooved faces on them. They leave lines in the finished grout joint and should be avoided at all cost. A good professional grout float with a totally smooth face on it usually costs just a few dollars more and is well worth it the investment. The grout has to be worked into the joints at a 25 to 35 degree angle. This prevents removing excessive grout from the joints.

When grouting You have to be systematic in the application of the grout. The job needs to be divided into quadrants and apply the grout as such. This permits me to deal with any problems that arise along the way and also keeps me from letting the grout dry too hard.


Don't over wash the grout. This takes away the surface pigments and also produce's lower joints that can vary in color.

Don't continue to wipe and clean the grout after it's begun to set. This will remove the smooth cement surface paste exposing the sand or aggregate. If you do that you get a rough, gritty appearance.

The grout sponge has to be rinsed often. This prevents build up on the tile that will be hard to clean later. Also the paste on a dirty sponge will collect in the voids of the grout joints leaving a rough residue that makes the joints vary in color.

Many people wont properly wipe away and clean up all the excess grout when grouting. It is a common DIY mistake to see excess pieces of grout particularly in uneven tiles. If the grout is allowed to set on a tile installation it can be next to impossible to remove. Many DIY homeowners fail to remove all of the grout haze from a tile installation. The grout haze is the cement residue from applying grout. In most cases grout haze can be easily removed within the 24 hours of applying the grout. Often the grout haze is allowed to set for many days and weeks and removing grout haze that has been allowed to set for a while can be a difficult process.

We hope this information has helped and please contact us know if you have any questions.


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