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Ultimate Guide: Tiling On Wooden Floor

Tiles are a fantastic flooring option for many rooms in your home, from bathrooms and kitchens to hallways and living rooms. They offer a strong, durable and practical flooring option as well as being available in endless styles, designs and colours to suit any home décor.

Tiles are a fantastic flooring option for many rooms in your home, from bathrooms and kitchens to hallways and living rooms. They offer a strong, durable and practical flooring option as well as being available in endless styles, designs and colours to suit any home décor.

The practicality of tiles makes them an attractive alternative to other more high maintenance flooring options, which may get you wondering … can you tile over wooden floorboards?

Tiling on Wooden Floors Bathroom Tiling on Wooden Floors Bathroom
Tiling on Wooden Floors KitchenTiling on Wooden Floors Kitchen
Tiling on Wooden Floors Dining Room Tiling on Wooden Floors Dining Room

Can You Tile On Wood Floorboards?

In short, the good news is, yes, you can tile over wooden floorboards! You can’t, however, lay tiles directly over wooden floorboards, as the flexibility of floorboards makes them susceptible to movement, which could cause tiles and grout to crack and break.

There is no need to concrete over the boards or rip them up before tiling, however, you will need to use plywood or backer boards. Adding a layer of board over the floorboards before tiling will create a flat, even surface, keeping it strong and sturdy to help minimise movement and prevent any cracks forming in the tiles or grout.

If you are thinking of tiling over wooden floorboards yourself, then this will act as a handy step-by-step DIY guide to help you through the process.

Equipment & Tools Checklist

The key to tiling over wooden flooring is in the installation, and with some simple DIY preparation, you can create a smooth and rigid surface that’s perfect for floor tiling. 

Before you begin, the first thing you need to think about is what tools and equipment are required to get the job done. We’ve created a handy list of what you’ll need, to help you get started:

- Electric drill and mixing paddle

- Mixing buckets

- Sponges

- Tile spacers 

- Short, countersunk screws

- Electric cordless screwdriver

- Spirit level

- Measuring tape

- Pencil

How To Prepare A Wooden Floor For Tiling

When it comes to tiling, as a rule of thumb, always make sure the surface is secure and even, to ensure a long-lasting finish. The key to successfully laying tiles on wooden floorboards is all in the preparation work. 

Follow these straightforward step-by-step instructions, to help guide you through, and you should be left with a fantastic, professional finish:

Measure UpMeasure Up

1) Measure up

When deciding on which tiles you want to use for your DIY project, it’s important to remember to choose floor tiles that are extremely strong and hard-wearing, so they can withstand heavy footfall and impacts. 

Before you get stuck into your DIY project, you’ll need to accurately measure the floor with a tape measure and calculate how many square metres of tiles you’ll need – multiply the length of the area by the width. 

Use our handy tile calculator, located on each of the individual tile pages of our website, to calculate how many of your chosen tiles you’ll need.

Secure Loose FloorboardsSecure Loose Floorboards

2) Secure loose floorboards

Next up, it’s time to clear the furniture from the room and have a good stomp around to check for any creaking and loose floorboards. Make sure you mark up with a pencil, any floorboards which move or creak when you walk on them.

You’ll then need to secure down those floorboards you’ve identified as troublesome. Keep an eye out for hidden pipes and wires when nailing down the loose floorboards! When securing the floorboards, you’re aiming to screw into the joists below, which run perpendicular to the floorboards. Using shorter countersunk screws, and looking for where current screws are placed, will help reduce the risk of puncturing any hidden pipes or wires.

Choose Your OverboardChoose Your Overboard

3) Choose your overboard

You will now need to cover your floorboards with a smooth, rigid surface to prepare the floor for tiling. 

There are two main options of overboard available: plywood or backer board, and both are easily accessible from most DIY stores.

If you opt for plywood, you’ll need to ensure it’s at least 12mm or more in thickness, to create a rigid surface for your tiles. This, along with your tiles, will raise the level of your flooring, so be sure to bear this in mind.

The other alternative is backer board, which is specifically designed to provide a smooth base when laying tiles. Backer board offers excellent rigidity, and is thinner than plywood, which helps maintain a more consistent floor level from room to room. Waterproof backer boards are also available, for use in bathrooms and wet rooms.

Lay Your OverboardLay Your Overboard

4) Lay your overboard

Before you lay your overboard, give the floor a good clean. Measure the plywood or backer boards and cut them to size to make sure the whole area to be tiled is covered, take care to ensure there are no gaps that could cause movement. 

Start with the larger, easier areas and save any awkward corners and crevices until the end. When laying the overboard, it’s a good idea to place all the pieces down first to check that you have enough, before securing the boards in place.

A combination of screws and adhesive will ensure that your overboard is nice and secure, to prevent any movement underneath the tiles.

To lay your first board, use a caulking gun to apply tile adhesive to the overboard. Lay the boarding adhesive-side down and use your foot to tap the board down to ensure it’s firmly adhered to the floorboards. 

Immediately after securing the boarding down with adhesive, use short countersunk screws every 15cm, in a grid like pattern, not forgetting each corner, to ensure that the overboard is fixed firmly in position. Repeat this process until the entire floor is covered with the overboard.

Prime The SurfacePrime The Surface

5) Prime the surface

You’re almost ready to tile, the last step before you start laying your tiles is to apply an even coat of diluted SBR primer to your newly created flat surface. This will support better adhesion, flexibility and waterproofing, and result in an improved overall tiling experience. Leave the primer to dry for approximately two hours before you begin tiling.

Floor Tile Installation

Now that you have a nice smooth, flat, and stable surface, you are ready to start laying your floor tiles. To give your tiles a bit of extra give from any movement, and reduce the risk of cracking, it is recommended to use flexible adhesive and grout when laying floor tiles on wood.

Find The CentreFind The Centre

1) Find the centre

When tiling a floor, you should always start in the centre of the room and work your way out. It’s important to make sure that the tile pattern looks uniform and that you are not left with any small, untidy cuts around the edges.

To find the centre of the room, measure both the length and width of the floor and mark the centre point where the two lines cross.

Plan Your DesignPlan Your Design

2) Plan your design

Now that you have found your central point, you can decide how you want to lay your tiles by pre-planning your design. A dry run design allows you to play around with the tile layout to achieve your required design. It also enables you to pre-cut the edges so that all the tiles can be laid in one go.

Mix And LayMix And Lay

3) Mix and lay

Prepare your tile adhesive using a mixing bucket, cold water and electric mixing tool to create a smooth paste. 

It’s best to work a square metre at a time, applying an even layer of tile adhesive onto the boards and using the notched edge of the trowel to create grooves in the adhesive. 

Next, carefully press your tile into the adhesive, making sure it’s level and straight. Continue to lay the remaining tiles following the same method, remembering to use plastic tile spacers between each tile edge for even spacing between each tile.

Grout And SealGrout And Seal

4) Grout and seal

Now that you have laid all your floor tiles, once your adhesive has set and the tiles are firmly in place, it’s time to grout and seal your tiles. 

To apply the grout, use a rubber float to push the grout paste all the way into the tile joints, then use a damp sponge to gently wipe over the joints for a smooth, even finish. Before the grout is totally dry, use a damp sponge to go over the area again to remove any remaining excess grout. It’s best to repeat this process a few times once the tiles are completely dry, to get rid of any grout residue.

Finally, use a silicone sealant to seal the floor edges. Silicone will allow your tiles to flex as you walk over them, rather than pulling away from the wall or skirting board and cracking.

Once you understand the importance of thorough preparation and correct installation, to ensure the correct balance between flexibility and rigidity, tiling on floorboards should be fairly painless, following our straightforward how-to guide.

Wood Effect Tile Designs

You might still be thinking … what is the point in tiling over wooden floorboards with wood effect tiles? The main benefit of wood effect tiles over wooden floorboards is low maintenance. Tiles are much more durable, and easier to clean and maintain than natural wood. Natural wood requires regular upkeep, as well as annual sanding and re-sealing to maintain its quality. Tiled floors are a much more durable option and great for high footfall areas and moisture prone rooms such as bathrooms.

Another added benefit of tiles over floorboards is the great choice of wood effect tile designs, available in a range of styles, textures, colours and shapes.

Our stunning Alberta Parquet tiles combine the elegant look of real parquet wood flooring with the benefits and practicality of porcelain. Available in Oak and Grey, this range is a perfect accompaniment to both contemporary or traditional homes, and its soft wood grain features reflect the trend for homes that mix classic design with a contemporary twist.

Add an extra layer of protection to your home environment whilst keeping it stylish and modern with the Sibillini Antibacterial tile collection. These porcelain wood effect planks are available in three colours, Walnut, Caramel and Smoke, and feature an antibacterial finish that eliminates over 99.9% of bacteria.

Sequoia is one of the most beautiful wood effect tiles in our collection. Available in six beautiful colours, these tiles appear to be real wood. The natural look is exaggerated by random patterns and textures, and when running your fingers over the tiles, you can actually feel the wood-grain effect beneath your fingertips.

Looking for a low cost, value for money wood effect tile, look no further than Finlay, a lovely wood effect matt finish porcelain tile available in 2 colours, Smoke Grey and Oak.

Currently, wood effect tiles are one of the hot emerging trends in interior design and home decor. Imitating a natural ambience, they are guaranteed to make an impression and add style to your floor. ​​Take a look at our vast range of stunning wood effect tiles on our website or visit one of our 50+ stores nationwide. Find your local store here!

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