Can I install ceramic tile directly on a cement floor?

I have never worked with ceramic tiles - what type of mortar do I use - what prep do I need to do?

12 Answers

  • John J
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I did it 8 years ago and it still looks as good as the day I finished it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The A-number one most important factor has been missed by ALL the poeple helping out here, please read carefully.

    The primary problem with laying tile onto a concrete florr is that concrete is usally ina basement, or in a multiple unit apartment/condo building.

    The probelm brought up by this is that if there is ANY leak or drainage issues in anything from the floor, wall, or underground seepage You will lose the grout from underneath the tile. Grout is made by mixing a powder with water, and un-made the same way.

    If You're going to do this project ...

    Yes be sure the floor is super-clean.

    As far as any cracks are concerned, You may actually want to consider creating some holes to be filled with Your grout, to act as a sort of Rebar and form with the grout and concrete together. This will stabilize the subfloor of grout in case of a small leak to be repaired later so You won't have to worry aboiut the rest of it shifting and floating away, You'll just have to patch and color-match the section that gets damages directly by the water.

    The last item is to use the one thing most amateurs and Slumlords leave out of their grout mix. A good strong sealer or sealer/adhesive mix instead of just a simple glue. You should also use a decent (but not over-thick) coat of wax to seal the tiles from any dampness when it's finished.

    Before You start the project, do some research on a good mehod of sealing the wall edges from moisture and dampness from all sources, it can be a paste-on solution, a plastic solution, or whatever, but make sure You provide a strong seal from all othe rooms connecting to it, or the undergound especially.

    Good Luck!.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Step 1. Ensure the concrete sub-floor is clean.

    Step 2. Ensure the sub floor is level, no peaks or valleys. If so, grind down any peaks or use a self leveling compound to fill the valleys in your slab.

    Step 3. Square your work area with chalk lines and the tile you're going to use.

    Step 4. Use a mortar such a Versabond by Custom Building materials to lay your tile, ensuring to follow the directions. I recommend Versabond due to the fact that it is a just add water formula, others may require an Admix additive to other mortars. This of course is assuming you are laying just ceramic tile. Custom does make other mortars specifically for porcelain, marble stone and granite.

    Also attend a how to clinic at your local Home Depot. Usually on saturday's a tile clinic is held.

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  • 4 years ago

    Do not do this if you want a good long lasting job. Moisture from the shower and vapor from the block work both ways. A plastic liner first attached to the wall then cement backerboard lagged to the wall will give a better result. Not perfect but better. If you just attach the tiles the vapor that comes through the walls will affect either the grout or the block itself causing it to efforvescence making the bond less strong. Painted areas should also be avoided to attach tiles to. Once again the vapor and water work both ways. Once you get the tiles up really pay attention to the condition of the grout and any cracks that develop along the sides to repair them as soon as possible. Also take into account the moisture that you are getting in the basement naturally. Is it a 'dry' basement or do you have water problems. It may be that it would be less hassle to just paint the wall in the shower and be able to maintain the paint than going to all the effort of tiling methods just to have a mold machine.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


    If the sub floor is rough, it can be leveled with Quick Patch. This is similar to concrete, but is easily mixed with water. It should be like a honey consistency. Spread and smooth out. If any high spots appear, they can be scraped smooth with a tool with razor type blades. No need to sand.

    Once the floor is ready, begin at the center of the room. Never at the walls.

    Measure across the length of one wall, mark the center. Measure across the other length wall, mark that center.

    Strike a chalk line from one mark to the other.

    Follow the same procedure along the width of the two walls.

    Strike a chalk line

    Now you have both lines intersecting at the center of the room.


    You must be certain the the two intersecting lines form perfect 90 degree angles.

    To do this.

    On either the horizontal or the perpendicular lines, accurately measure from the intersection, out to a distance of 3 feet.

    On the other line, accurately measure from the intersection, out to 4 feet.

    For clarity, lets name the intersection, A.

    From A out to 3 feet, name the point, B.

    From the A out to 4 feet, name that C.

    This is a right triangle.

    NOW! Measure the distance from B to C. This is the hypotenuse of the triangle. This distance MUST BE 5 feet.

    More or less, and the intersection at A are not 90 degrees.

    (See my explanation at the end)

    This can occur because walls are not always square at corners and thus, not perfectly parallel with the opposite wall.

    If the hypotenuse is more or less than 5 feet. You must adjust the lines at intersection A, until they form 90 degree angles, resulting in the hypotenuse to read 5 feet.

    All this is critical in order to begin square.


    Even though intersection A is now square, you MUST check one more thing.

    Along each line, from intersection A, lay a row of loose tiles up to the walls in both directions. Use the spacers which you'll use for spacing for grout lines.

    When you get to each wall, you may/should have a space, less than a full tile.

    Measure the width of the space and compare it with the opposite wall.

    You want those to be as nearly equal as possible. These are "fills" which will require cutting the tiles to fit flush to the walls.

    DON'T FORGET Doorways. Tiles will extend partially into the openings.

    Now, in order to adjust for the "fills", you must move the tiles in one direction or the other about "half the difference" in the measurements of the spaces/fills.

    This will result in the fills being about equal, AND, you will avoid any possibility of having fills much more narrow then the opposite wall, or worse, having fills of about an inch and the opposite wall about 6-7 inches.

    I hope you can follow this.

    Now, you should be able to lay the tiles from the absolute center of the room in both directions.

    The centers of the tiles should align with the corrected chalk lines.

    Spread the thin set adhesive in small areas at one time.

    Begin by laying tiles, left and to the right, in a stair step fashion.

    Use the spacers to space the tiles for grout.

    This method will allow you to check the square as each tile is placed into the corners of the "stair step".

    After the entire room is done, then go back and fill along the walls.

    Measure the distance from each tile to the wall, from the left and right corners of the tile, considering the spacers. CUT EACH TILE separately. Do not cut more than one tile at a time.

    Trust me, the walls are not square and will run at an angle, and each fill tile may be a fraction more or less than others. This may require that the wall edge of the tile be "cut out of square" in order to follow the walls..

    You can grout along the walls as well as the tiles.

    Explanation of right triangle.

    Since the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the Square Root, of the Sum of the Squares of the other two sides, this is how it works.

    Side A:B = 3 feet, squared = 9.

    Side A:C = 4 feet = squared = 16

    Added together = 25.

    The square root of 25 = 5 = the hypotenuse.

    This site may help.

    If this is unclear, you're welcome to contact me. below

    Source(s): 35 years flooring owner. Ret.
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  • 1 decade ago

    I am assuming that the concrete is new. Then when you are ready to start, the concrete needs to be swept super clean and then damp mopped. What you use to put it down is tile morter. It needs to be mixed exactly as directions and too a very smooth texture. No lumps at all. You will need a good straight edge, and generally you start in the middle of the room and work out. That way all cuts are on the edges and even. Also, it needs to be square to the walls. I usually marked a line in the middle of the room and then measured foreward and backward exactly 1/2 of the tile. That way you first course is exactly centered. Take your time, and only put your morter in a couple of places. Don't try and spread it all over and then hurry to get the tile down before it sets. Also, I usually leave the first course over night to dry exactly in place , as if you try to keep going, things move around and your job turns to s..t. Good luck

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  • Gordan
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Before you begin to lay the tile over your concrete slab, make sure that the concrete is properly prepared. Mix up a bucket of the TSP solution and use it to scrub the floor with a scrub brush and some elbow grease. Allow it to dry thoroughly. At this point, examine the floor and see if there are any cracks or pits that need to be fixed before you lay the tile. Keep in mind, any uneven areas will allow the tile to rock back and forth, even after you install them.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Yes but you need to ensure it is free of dirt/debris. I would suggest a mixture of water and TSP (Trisodium Phosphate). Allow to dry completely then use some leveler, there are self leveling products. Actually concrete is the best thing to tile, since there is very little chance that the sub-straight (what you are tiling on) will move.

    Hope this helps.

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  • R K
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    yes you can. make sure the floor is clean of any debri and is fairly

    smooth. you use whats called thin set mortar. the grout you use

    will depend on how big a space you want between the tiles. where

    ever you buy the tiles some one can help you with picking grout

    and thin set and tools you will need.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Your best bet is to ask where you buy the tile.

    They will tell you honestly what to use. Every company has a different name for the mortar and grout mix they sell.

    IMO, you should have someone that knows what they are doing help you the first time. Tile is not as easy as it looks. You need floats, sponges, spreaders, saws and spacers.

    Check out this site and think about it.,,22...

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  • 1 decade ago

    Yes you can. Depending on the type of tile, you may need to put a glue or a tile grout. But yes you can. Infact that is how tile is normally laid on floors.

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