Floor tiles (ceramic or porcelain) are a great investment in your home. They’re attractive, very hard wearing and low maintenance. As an extra bonus, you can install them yourself. Any special tools you might need can be rented. All you need to supply is labour and patience.
Prepare the Floor - Remove baseboards and moldings and any existing floor coverings on wooden floors. Ensure the floor is stable and doesn't flex. Floor tiles are hard but they're also brittle so if the floor underneath bends they will crack over time. If your floor gives when you walk over it, you need to stabilize it before laying the tiles.
Stabilise your floor by setting and adding nails in the existing subfloor, sistering the floor joists underneath the floor and adding bridging between the joists. Install cement backerboard onto the stabilized floor. Fasten it with manufacturer recommended glue and then nail the backer board into the floor joists with two inch galvanized nails.
Check that doors will able to open over the new floor. Put a tile on top of a piece of backer board and see if the door can open over the new floor height. If not, you will need to trim the bottom of the door. Clean up all dust and debris prior to beginning to put down the tiles.
Layout - Measure the length and width of you room to determine its area in square feet. Divide the area of the room by the coverage (in square feet) a carton of tile provides. It's a good idea to get more tiles than you actually need because some tiles break during installation and if you ever need to replace a tile in the future, the matching tile pattern may not be available. Use a chalk line to mark two lines that intersect in the center of the room. One line running the length of the room and the other going across the width. Check that the lines are square to each other (at 90 degrees).
Dry fit the floor by laying a row of tiles along both lines. Use spacers between the tile to ensure you leave enough room for tile grout. Evaluate the layout. You want to have as many full tiles as possible in the center and have matching width cut tiles on the sides of the room. Adjust your layout until you are satisfied with its appearance.
Tile Setting - Use thin set to hold your tiles in place. Thinset is a cement like product that comes as a powder that you mix to a consistency similar to peanut butter. Use a notched trowel to spread the thinset where you will lay your first few tiles. Only put down as much as you can easily reach while down on your knees.
Install your ceramic tile into the thinset with firm downward pressure. Tap the tile into place with a rubber mallet at all four corners as well as in the center of the tile. Put spacers between the tiles to ensure you leave room for tile grout.
Start at the center of the room and work your way out to the walls. Border tiles and cut tiles are installed last. Use a tile cutter or a special tile saw (both can be rented) to cut them to size.
Use tile nippers (can also be rented) to cut shapes to go around obstructions (like the toilet flange). When using nippers work slowly and take small bites. Trying to take off large sections will likely break the tile.
Leave the tiles to set up in the thinset overnight.