How to lay ceramic tiles onto wood floors

Updated July 16, 2018

Installing ceramic tile over a wood floor can improve the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Ceramic tiles provide a durable floor surface that is easy to clean and maintain. Tiles are available in a variety of colours and sizes to accommodate any room size or decorating plan. Before installing ceramic tile on a wood floor, you may have to make a few repairs to ensure that the surface is stable and can support the weight of the tiles.

Sand the floor if it has buckled in spots and fill in any dips or holes with wood putty. The floor must be level before beginning the ceramic tile installation.

Add a layer of plywood to the floor if the entire wood surface is less than 1 inch thick. Floors less than 1 inch thick are not strong enough to support the weight of ceramic tiles. Particleboard isn't as strong as plywood and shouldn't be used if an extra wood layer is needed.

Use an isolation membrane made of a rubberlike substance if you are laying ceramic tile in a bathroom. When the isolation membrane is applied over the wood, it protects the tile from damage caused by the wood floor contracting or expanding from temperature or moisture changes.

Measure the distance between each pair of opposite walls to find the centre of the room. Snap a chalk line from each wall to the opposite wall. The chalk line should form a cross-shape, with the centre of the cross being the centre of the room.

Spread tile adhesive on the back of the tile with a trowel. Place the first tile at the intersection of the lines. Continue placing tiles, working your way from the lines at the centre of the room outward.

Insert plastic spacers between the tiles if the tiles do not already have attached spacers. Spacers help ensure that each tile is an equal distance apart. Remove the spacers after you have installed all the tiles but before the adhesive is fully dry.

Set the tiles into the adhesive. Place a small block of wood on top of each tile and gently tap the block with a mallet. Cut tiles as needed to fit around the edges of the room or around fixtures or appliances. A ceramic tile cutter or a wet saw will be needed to make the cuts.

Add the grout that is placed between the tiles after the adhesive has set. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer's instructions and apply it to the edges of tiles with a rubber float. Wipe off excess with a damp sponge. A rubber float is a flat-surfaced tool with a handle used to press grout into the spaces between tiles. After the grout has cured for at least one week, apply a silicone grout sealer with a small paint brush.


Walk over your wood floor before you begin tiling and look for any areas where the floor bounces or squeaks. Add extra nails in those areas to make the floor more stable. Wood floors that have been warped due to water damage should be replaced before applying ceramic tile.


Use a tack cloth to remove any sawdust that lingers after you sand your wood floor. Sawdust could interfere with the tile adhesive if it is not removed.

Things You'll Need

  • Ceramic tiles
  • Plywood
  • Chalk line
  • Tile adhesive
  • Spacers
  • Wood block
  • Mallet
  • Tile cutter or wet saw
  • Grout
  • Rubber float
  • Grout sealer
  • Small paint brush
  • Sponge
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About the Author

Working at a humane society allowed Jill Leviticus to combine her business management experience with her love of animals. Leviticus has a journalism degree from Lock Haven University, has written for Nonprofit Management Report, Volunteer Management Report and Healthy Pet, and has worked in the healthcare field.