How to Install Tile on an Uneven Floor in an Older House

Written by sarabeth asaff
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How to Install Tile on an Uneven Floor in an Older House
Mosaic tiles can cover an uneven floor. (mosaik image by Emanuel Kluge from

Older homes which have settled over time may have dips, valleys or slight slopes to the floor. These uneven floor areas can make tile installation difficult, as the tiles need a level surface to sit on; a tile with a valley beneath part of it may crack over time from everyday use. Homeowners who choose to tile over an old, uneven floor have two options, using a mosaic tile, which moves with the floor, or levelling the floor with self-levelling compound.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Mosaic tile
  • Latex-additive thinset
  • Trowel
  • Epoxy grout
  • Grout float
  • Damp sponge
  • Latex primer
  • Self-levelling floor compound
  • Thinset
  • Tile
  • Tile spacers
  • Grout

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  1. 1

    Purchase mosaic tile two inches in size or smaller. Mosaic tile will flex along its grout joints, filling dips and valleys and not cracking over time.

  2. 2

    Lay the sheets of mosaic tile out on the floor in a dry layout. This will help determine the pattern and how to lay the sheets together before tiling. Mosaics can be tiled starting from anywhere in the room, but you may find it easier to start from the wall furthest from the door and lay the sheets outward.

  3. 3

    Spread a latex-additive thinset over the floor with a trowel. The latex additive will help the tile flex if the substrate moves after installation. Rake the trowel through the thinset until the ridges are even in size and depth. Press each sheet of mosaic into the thinset, pushing it slightly into place, so that the sheets line up, with even grout joints between sheets.

  4. 4

    Allow the thinset to cure for 24 hours, and grout the mosaic tile by packing epoxy grout, which will flex and not crack over time, into the joints with a grout float. Wipe up the excess grout with a damp sponge, taking care not to over water or "wash" the grout, which can cause it to lose colour. Allow the grout to set up for an additional 24-hours before use.

    Self-Leveling Compound

  1. 1

    Clean the substrate thoroughly, making sure it is free of dust and debris.

  2. 2

    Paint the floor with a liquid latex primer, using a foam paintbrush. The primer will help the self-levelling compound stick to the substrate.

  3. 3

    Mix the self-levelling floor compound according to the manufacturer's specifications and pour it onto the floor. The compound will seek its level, equalising hills, humps, dips and valleys, and provide a smooth, even area to tile.

  4. 4

    Allow the compound to set up according to the manufacturer's specifications. Lay the tiles to be installed out in a dry layout to determine the pattern, and then begin installing the tiles by spreading a small amount of thinset over the compound and trowelling it into even ridges. Press each tile into place and twist slightly to ensure a firm bond with the thinset and the compound. Place tile spacers between tiles.

  5. 5

    Allow the thinset to cure for 24-hours and then grout the tiles by packing the joints with a grout float. Wipe up the extra grout with a sponge, taking care not to over wash the grout, which will cause it to lose colour.

Tips and warnings

  • If the substrate flexes when walked on, use the mosaic tiles, or brace it up before using the self-levelling compound. The compound will crack over time if the floor flexes beneath it, which will then cause the tiles to crack as well.

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