• Share:
Modern Tile Installation Tips

Wondering what's new in tile installation? A tile expert shares his tips for dealing with porcelain, glass and other modern tiles and materials.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Modern tile

Tile just keeps getting bigger and bigger—in popularity and in size. The materials have changed too: Ceramic is still around, but porcelain and glass are now almost as common. Our tile guru, Dean, has had to change how he works. Here are some of his tile installation tips.

Pick a large-notched trowel for big tile

Cut without cracking the tile

Upgrade your grout sponge

Flatten the framing

Back-butter large tile

Flatten thin-set before installing mosaic tile

Clean grout joints with a toothbrush

Make a custom trowel

Dean has discovered that inexpensive auto-body filler spatulas, available at home centers and auto parts stores, are perfect for making custom trowels for special circumstances. One way Dean uses a custom-made trowel is for insetting thinner tiles into a field of thicker tiles. After finishing the field tile installation, he cuts notches on each edge of the spatula with a utility knife to create a mini screed. He cuts the notches about 1/16 in. deeper than the thickness of the decorative tile to allow for thin-set. Then he uses this trowel to add a layer of thin-set that acts as a shim when it hardens. After this layer hardens, he cuts 3/16-in.-deep teeth in the spatula to make a notched trowel and uses it to apply thin-set. Now when he sets the decorative tile, it's perfectly flush with the field tile.

Finish your job with premium grout

Level mosaic tile with a block

Back to Top

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Microfiber sponge
    • Level
    • Grout float
    • Toothbrush
    • Safety glasses
    • Diamond wet saw
    • Trowel

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Thin-set mortar
    • Cardboard shims
    • Premium grout
    • Auto-body filler spatula
    • Hardwood 1 x 6

Comments from DIY Community Members

No comments on the article have been posted yet. Be the first to add your comment!

You will be required to log in or create an account to post a comment.


Add Your Comment

Modern Tile Installation Tips

Please add your comment

Log in to My Account

Log in to enjoy membership benefits from The Family Handyman.

  • Forgot your password?
Don’t have an account yet?

Sign up today for FREE and become part of The Family Handyman community of DIYers.

Member benefits:

  • Get a FREE Traditional Bookcase Project Plan
  • Sign up for FREE DIY newsletters
  • Save projects to your project binder
  • Ask and answer questions in our DIY Forums
  • Share comments on DIY Projects and more!
Join Us Today

Report Abuse

Reasons for reporting post

Free OnSite Newsletter

Get timely DIY projects for your home and yard, plus a dream project for your wish list!

Follow Us

Featured Product

Buy Now