Laying Long, Wood-Look Tile

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Wood-look tile is beautiful, durable, comes in all different sizes and colors.

When our kitchen broke-down and we had to get new flooring because of a water leak, I knew I wanted wood-look tile, so I went with the long 48″ tile by Style Selections in Natural Timber Chestnut.

I had our tile guy price out laying tile in our 12 x 12 dining room as well (the one with the paper floor), but it was going to be an extra $700 for labor and almost $800 for the wood-look tile.  So I passed on the “deal” he was giving me.

Imagine my surprise when (a few months later) I find the wood tile is on sale at my local Lowes! The tile is normally $9.85 per tile and one tile covers 2.54 square feet, but Lowes had it for $3.49 per PIECE!

This wasn’t just a sale y’all…THIS was clearance!

Was it a mistake??  Did they mess up?

I didn’t wait around to ask any questions.  I bought EVERYTHING they had, which was just enough for my dining room.

 

It cost me less than $200!

Tip:  I purchased the tile online through Ebates and set it up for an in-store pickup.  By doing this, Ebates gave me an additional 6% back (at the time)!  If you haven’t used Ebates, I highly recommend it if you do a lot of online shopping.  Click here to sign up, if you haven’t already!

 

After just tiling my bathroom floor, this dining room didn’t scare me at all.

Here are the steps you’ll take when tiling.

Step 1:  Remove The Old Flooring – 

My paper floors have served their purpose well.  They held up beautifully, were strong, and I received a ton of complements on them.  But they were ALWAYS going to be temporary. The great thing about the paper flooring was that I didn’t have to remove it in order to tile.

If you have a wood sub-floor, you’ll want to prep it by cleaning it good and making sure all staples, nails, etc are removed.

If you are on a concrete slab – make sure your concrete is level and doesn’t have any holes then skip Step 2 and move on to Step 3.

Step 2: Lay Cement Board

I always use Hardibacker, it’s my favorite because it has all of the little circles that show where you are supposed to put your screws in.  Be sure to buy the screws for the Hardibacker as well, they come with a bit that fits the screws and they really do work great at grabbing the sub-floor and securing the cement board down.

I started screwing the cement board to the sub-floor and got two boards down, then started questioning my decision.  I had read differing opinions on whether it was necessary to also mortar down the cement board and the general consensus was… some people say they’ve never done it and their work has always been top notch… but not one person said it was a bad idea.  So, in order to do things the right way, I took up the cement boards and put a layer of mortar under each one as I was screwing it down.  Believe me… this floor isn’t going ANYWHERE.

Tips:
  • Stagger your seams when laying the cement board
  • Secure the cement board in the center of the board first, then work your way to the edges.
  • Make sure you countersink all screws.  If you rub your finger over the screw and you feel it, it’s too high.  That can lead to cracked tiles.
  • Invest in an impact driver… for real. It makes screwing these things in go very fast.  An impact driver punches while it screws (I’m sure that IS the technical definition).  This is when I purchased my Ryobi Impact driver and it was worth every penny!  I found the driver $15 cheaper at Amazon.
Once your boards are all down, tape your seams with fiberglass mesh tape and put a thin layer of mortar down, this “stitches” the boards together making a firm, secure surface for your tile.
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Step 3: Dry-Fit Your Tile Pattern

The manufacturer typically will recommend a pattern or two for laying the tile.  I wanted my floor to look like real wood flooring so I opted for the 1/3 pattern.  Since my tile was 48″ long, I cut several 16″ pieces and the remaining 32″ from each 16″ cut served as my middle length.
wood tile layout

Step 4: Mix Your Mortar

You will want your consistency to be like peanut butter.  I use two buckets.  One for mixing and one with plain water to clean up my mixing tools.

 

Step 5: Lay the tile

I did not use spacers.  I wanted the grout line to be thin, so I estimated about an 1/8 inch grout line.  If I were laying any other tile, I would absolutely have used spacers…but for this, it was pretty easy for me to eyeball it.

 

With your 3 cut lengths ready, trowel the mortar on the floor with a notched trowel.  Start in the back of the room you are tiling and work your way out to the door.  Make sure your troweled ridges are good, because when you lay the tile on the mortar and press, it will create a suction-like effect that “smooshes” the mortar and holds the tile in place.

Once your tile is laid, DO NOT WALK ON IT!  The mortar is not dry and your tile WILL shift.

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Step 6: Figure Out Your Transitions

The guy that tiled my kitchen left me with a floor height difference of about 1.75″ when I had my paper floors.  Once this tile was down, there was still about 3/4 of an inch offset.  I came up with a fix for it which I go over in this post.

 

Step 7: Grout

I chose black grout for this tile to make it look more like real wood flooring.  I also purchased a grout additive that mixes the sealant right in the grout so you don’t have to mess with sealing your grout every year.  It makes the grout dry out FAST, and you can’t just add water in to bring the moisture back in because it balls it all up.  It may have also lightened the grout color a bit too, so not too sure I’d do this again.  I called in my hubby to help and we were able to get it all done pretty quickly with only a minor headache from the fast drying grout.  Needless to say, no pictures were taken, but I’m sure there’s still a cloud of swear words hanging above this room.  :\

 Step 8: Remove the grout haze
I put together this post on how to remove grout haze.  I have used it on ALL of my tiling projects and it has not failed me yet!  Seriously, so amazing and so easy!!
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Isn’t it beautiful!!!  I’m in love with these long beauties!

 

I have to admit, I never really gave much thought to the shorter pieces… they look too much like tile and not actual hardwood to me.  BUT!! I have found a way to lay and love the shorter pieces and will have a special post on it next week. Be sure to check back for the details on how to lay the “shorter” tile in a unique way!

 

XOXO
~Karrah~

 

**This post contains affiliate links, however all opinions are my own.**

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Comments

  1. Your floor looks gorgeous! I’m so glad I saw this today. I’m remodeling my entire home and using ceramic wood look tile floors. Great idea about checking Lowe’s and using Ebates online. I am a huge Ebates fan!!

  2.  you really did a beautiful job! I love how bright & fresh everything looks. What an improvement. 

  3. Your site is great source of inspiration for all the people searching for design ideas.I appreciate your great work. keep posting.