How to Easily Update Your Kitchen Floor Tiles
Is your kitchen floor looking worn out and dated? Replacing those tired old tiles with new ones can give your whole kitchen a fresh, updated look. With the right planning and materials, you can tackle this project as a DIYer and save on installation costs.
Installing tile flooring in the kitchen provides many benefits that make it a popular choice. Tile is very durable and water-resistant, making it ideal for high-traffic areas prone to spills. The variety of colors, patterns, and textures available means you can easily find tile that matches your personal style. Tile also adds value to your home for resale.
Reasons to Give Your Kitchen Floor a Tile Makeover
There are several reasons you may want to replace the existing tile in your kitchen:
- Update worn, cracked, or damaged tiles – Old tile can start to show signs of wear and tear over time.
- Freshen up an outdated color or pattern – Tile trends have changed over the years and replacing tile is a chance to update to a more modern look.
- Match new cabinets or countertops – New tile can help create a cohesive look if you’ve remodeled other parts of your kitchen.
- Switch to a more stain-resistant tile material – Some porcelain and ceramic tiles are easier to clean and maintain than natural stone.
- Correct any unevenness in the existing floor – Removing old tile allows you to resurface the subfloor and start fresh with a level surface.
Choosing the Right Tile for Your Kitchen
With so many varieties, selecting new tile can feel overwhelming. Keep these tips in mind when evaluating options:
Tile Material Types
Ceramic and porcelain are popular kitchen tile choices thanks to their durability and water-resistance. Porcelain tile is less prone to stains and scratches than ceramic. Natural stone like granite, marble, and slate add timeless elegance but require more sealing. Glass tile can provide brilliant color effects.
Look at the tile’s characteristics to determine if it will fit your kitchen’s needs:
- Glazed vs. Unglazed: Glazed tiles have a liquid glass coating that makes them easier to clean. Unglazed have a rougher texture.
- Size: Smaller tiles like 4×4 inches can make rooms appear larger. Larger tiles are faster to install.
- Color/Pattern: Busy patterns can be tricky in small kitchens. Neutrals work well as a blank slate for decor.
- Texture: Smoother tiles will be more slip-resistant.
Where to Shop for Tile
Browse tile options online or visit home improvement stores and tile specialty shops. Order extra tiles to account for damaged pieces or future repairs. Keep all lot numbers for identical matches.
Plan Your Tile Layout
A tile layout plan is an essential step before purchasing materials. First, measure your existing floor space carefully. Calculate the total square footage, multiplying length and width. Use an online tile calculator to determine how many full tiles you’ll need.
Next, choose a tile pattern. Basic brick patterns are beginner-friendly. Play with different layouts using tile samples before deciding. Mark the center point of each wall to start laying tiles from the middle. Leave even gaps between tiles by using plastic spacers.
Order 10-15% extra tile to account for any intricate tile cuts needed around cabinets or appliances. Extras will also come in handy for future repairs if a tile chips or cracks.
Popular Kitchen Tile Patterns
- Brick: Simple, classic pattern.
- Herringbone: Adds visual interest; more complex installation.
- Subway: Mimics look of subway station tile.
- Hexagon: Gives modern, geometric look.
Prep Work: Remove the Old Flooring
Preparing the subfloor properly is a crucial first step for successful tile installation. Start by clearing out the entire floor area, moving appliances and removing baseboards if necessary.
Taking Up the Existing Tile and Adhesive
Use a hammer and pry bar to carefully remove existing tile and adhesive. Wear gloves and safety goggles during demolition. Be prepared for this messy step to take some time.
Sweep up debris as you work. Use a scraper to remove any remaining bits of old adhesive until you expose the bare substrate underneath. Vacuum and sweep several times to ensure no residue is left behind.
Checking the Integrity of the Subfloor
Examine the newly exposed subfloor for any cracks, damage or uneven areas. Low spots can cause future cracks in your new tile. Use floor leveling compound if needed prior to laying tile.
Install cement backerboard on top of wood or vinyl subfloors to strengthen the surface. For concrete slabs, apply a fluid self-leveling underlayment if the surface is not smooth.
Once prepped, you’re ready to lay the new tile floor. Make sure to work in small sections. Tile adhesive dries quickly so you need to work efficiently.
Mapping Out Your Tile Layout
Following your planned design, mark the center point of the floor with a pencil or chalk. Dry lay the first tiles in your pattern outward from the center without using adhesive to confirm your layout.
Use tile spacers to set even gaps between tiles. Wider grout lines (1/8 inch) work well in kitchens for a more distinct pattern.
Applying Tile Adhesive
Choose the appropriately sized notched trowel for spreading tile adhesive or “thinset” on the floor. Use a thicker trowel for larger tiles. Apply a workable amount of thinset over one section at a time.
Use the right adhesive for your tile type. Check if non-sanded or sanded grout is recommended. Be sure to mix to a smooth, lump-free consistency.
Setting Tiles and Applying Grout
Following your layout, lay tiles in the adhesive one by one. Use a rubber mallet to gently set each tile, twisting it slightly into place. Remove any excess adhesive squeezed up between tiles.
Allow the thinset to cure fully before grouting according to adhesive specifications. Mix the grout, then apply it over the tiles with a rubber grout float. Let it set slightly before wiping away residue with a damp sponge.
Finally, apply a penetrating sealant if suggested by your tile manufacturer. Add transition strips at room borders. Caulk along the perimeter and at tub/sink edges to complete your new tile floor.
Taking good care of your new floor will keep it looking like new for years to come:
- Sweep regularly and use PH-neutral cleaners.
- Re-apply grout in any cracked or missing areas.
- Immediately replace cracked or damaged tiles using your leftovers.
- Re-seal grout lines every 1-2 years.
With some perseverance and attention to detail, you can tackle replacing your own kitchen tile. Enjoy the satisfaction of the finished floor and revived kitchen space.