Home » How To Install Mosaic Floor Tile Part 1

How To Install Mosaic Floor Tile Part 1

Our home was built in 1929 and we love all the charm older homes have. Unfortunately for us, ours was extensively remodeled in the 1960s. Keep reading to see how we used modern materials to add back some vintage charm.

Kitchen before remodeling.

The cabinets would look cool in a 60s or 70s

The kitchen was totally redone with a sort of plywood cabinet covered in a vinyl, countertops and backsplash were the same sort of vinyl. The wood floors were covered in linoleum. However, the bathroom floors were left intact. The penny tiles were very cute, but we needed to gut plumbing and electrical and didn’t have time wrap our head around saving the tile. Instead, we used new black and white hexagon shaped tiles in a pattern reminiscent of 1920s tile patterns as a way to pay homage to the home’s era. Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict would be so disappointed with our decision not to re-do the wood floors in the kitchen or to save the bathroom tiles. I’m sorry Nicole! When searching for inspiration, I was drawn to images of French bistros and brasseries. The floors are always so interesting and I loved the black and white tile that many have. I have a board of tile inspo over on Pinterest if you’re interested to see.

The instructional pictures I used in this tutorial are from the back entry, the before and after I included are from our kitchen. Process and tiles used are the same. We just didn’t have the step-by-step photos from the other rooms; the mister had done those floors before we moved in and he didn’t take instructional photos as he worked. I split the tutorial into two parts because the process is very long. And if you are like us, working on projects in short spurts, the end of this tutorial will be a good stopping point. The first part, this tutorial, is preparation for laying tile and the second part is laying, grouting, dehazing and sealing the tile.

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Gather Materials

Not pictured: Bag of Thin-set & tile saw.
Not pictured: bag of thinset and tile saw

Yikes I did not take a photo of the cement board, but you will see it in the third and fourth steps, and it is shown in the clickable material photos above. The rolled up material is the Redgard decoupling membrane without the packaging. The clear wrapping of the tile with name is laying under the utility knife and red grease pencil. Then there is the drill and screws for cement board.

Fill a clean 5 gallon bucket with about 1 inch of water to start mixing thinset.

Mixing the thinset is messy. Make sure to do this outdoors or in an area where you do other messy projects. You will need to add water, so it is best to be near a hose or utility sink.

Pour half of the thinset bag into the bucket.

diy vintage inspired hex floor tile part 2

Make sure to wear a mask when mixing because the thinset dust will rise and spread as you are pouring it out. It’s best to mix in smaller batches to prevent the thinset from hardening as you are working. Fill the bucket with water until the bucket is about half full.

Using a mixing paddle attachment on your drill, mix the thinset and water.

diy vintage inspired hex floor tile part 2

You want the thinset to be the consistency of peanut butter. Add in a bit of water and mix continually as needed until you reach that peanut butter feel. Make sure to move the paddle all the way to the bottom of the bucket to mix in any thinset that settled to the bottom.

Use the v notch side of the trowel to swipe the thinset. If the peaks stand, you are good.

diy vintage inspired hex floor tile part 2

After the trowel test, you will either keep mixing or if the desired consistency is met, you will let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes are up, you will mix with the paddle for 1 minute before using.

Apply your thinset to plywood subfloor.

diy vintage inspired hex tile floor part 1

Make sure you have the correct 3/16 inch v notch trowel. Apply in long even strokes. Start from a corner, moving top right to left or vice versa.

Secure your cement board to the wet thinset.

diy vintage inspired hex tile floor part 1

Before mixing the thinset, you would measure out the cement board to fit your space. Use a utility knife to cut the board to your needed dimensions.

Screw the cement board down.

diy vintage inspired hex tile floor part 1

Using screws specifically for cement board, screw down the boards. My husband spaced the screws out about 5 inches. Once all board sections are screwed down, wait the recommended 24 hours before walking on the board.

Apply the uncoupling membrane.

Uncoupling membrane laid in place

Measure and cut the uncoupling membrane prior to mixing the thinset, as was done with the cement board. You will mix another batch of thinset following the same steps listed earlier. Apply the thinset onto the cement board as you did when laying cement board, then lay down your pre-cut pieces of the uncoupling membrane. Wait the recommended 24 hours before walking on the surface.

Lay out tile sheets to determine how they will fit in the space.

Father son time!

Lay out the sheets of tile as though you were putting puzzle pieces together. Choose a small area to work on and go section by section, laying out a few squares to cover the width of your floor space. Using the grease pencil, draw where there is overlap to cut off. In the photo you can see that the sheet in the lower half of the photo has already been cut to fit up against the edge of the stair. Meanwhile, the sheet in the top of the photo is being marked to cut. Our son loves helping and marking the tiles is a perfect job for him!

Cut tiles to fit your space.

diy vintage inspired hex tile floor part 1

After making the necessary markings on the tile, use your tile cutter to cut off excess. Follow the instructions provided with your tile saw.

If you are laying different tiles to form a pattern as we did, you will need to cut out individual tiles.

diy vintage inspired hex tile floor part 1

After cutting the square sheets of tile to fit the space, you will lay them on the floor to see they fit. If you are using different colored tiles to form a pattern, use a grease pencil to mark the tiles to be cut out, in order to fit in the other color tiles. We get some loose black pieces and lay them on the white tiles to plan a design. This part is fun and creative! Lay out a couple different options and let them sit for a few days to help decide on the winning pattern. This is also a great time to cut out any individual tiles that might have a chip, or color is off.

Cut out marked tiles using a utility knife. Cut the mesh backing along the tile shape.

diy vintage inspired hex tile floor part 1

We are mixing in black tiles to form our pattern, so we made markings on the white tiles to be removed and replaced with the black. The more complex the pattern, the more time you will spend arranging and cutting. And once tiles are cut out, you should lay the squares back down to ensure you cut out the correct tiles! Of course you can always add the tile back in, but it’s just another step. Whew! This work can be tedious! I decided to end the first part of the tutorial here. It is a good place to break before the rest of the process. You will want to be well rested before mixing more thinset, applying the thinset, setting the tile, and grouting.

Before…

After!

We love how the tile turned out. It is hard work, but my husband is a glutton for punishment ha ha! Round penny tiles or slightly larger hex tiles would look great for a vintage feel as well. I also love the large checkerboard look, and that would mean less work! Stay tuned for the final steps in a follow up post!

Thank You!

I appreciate your visit. Pin the image below if you have an upcoming tile project or just because you enjoyed the the peek into my casa. To see some more of my kitchen renovation, check out my breakfast nook bench top tutorial.

18 thoughts on “How To Install Mosaic Floor Tile Part 1”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Marie. I am considering whether to use mosaic on my bathroom floor. I’ve been a little scared of it. Now, I have all the information I need.

  2. Marie, I adore mosaic tile and I love how you laid it out. It’s gorgeous. Wish I had your DIY skills … the work you’ve done in your home is amazing! xo

  3. Pingback: How To Install Mosaic Floor Tile Part 2 – This Dear Casa

  4. Marie, I can only imagine how hard this job was, but you and your husband do beautiful workmanship. I can sympathize over just needing to get the job done so you can make a home useable. Its always a hard choice to make!

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