Tile Style: Avoid These Porcelain Tile Installation Mistakes

April 26, 2018

With the endless stream of tv shows dedicated to home buying, decorating, and remodeling right now, it is no surprise that more and more people are attempting DIY porcelain tile installations. And it’s easy to see why porcelain tile is one of the hottest surfaces on the market today. After all, it is offered in a wide range of sizes, colors, textures, and patterns, spanning the design gamut from traditional to modern. 

Equally important, porcelain tile is beautiful, affordable, durable, easy to clean, and nearly maintenance free! That makes it perfect for projects including floors, countertops, accent walls, showers, backsplashes, and much more.

These days, tile isn’t just for kitchens and baths; with its fresh designs and luxurious patterns, porcelain is right at home in entries and well-appointed living spaces as well. If you are thinking of doing your next porcelain tile project DIY style, be sure to follow these professional installer tips to avoid common (and often costly) tile installation mistakes.

Pro Tip #1:

Level floors and properly prepare the underlayment to save time and frustration. 

Featured: Silt Capella Porcelain Tile

If you live in an older home or condo, you can pretty much expect to find floors that aren’t perfectly level and walls that aren’t plumb. Be sure to address these problems before you start installing your porcelain tile, or you may put the entire project in jeopardy. 

As an example, in this sun-drenched space, an unleveled floor and improperly prepared underlayment could cause these large, beautiful Silt Capella Porcelain Tiles to end up uneven, creating trip hazards. In addition, because many walls aren’t entirely plumb, you should always start installing wall tile in the center of the room and work your way out. This will ensure that your finished project preserves the integrity of your intended pattern. 

Pro Tip #2:

Lay the tile out fully in your space before starting installation. 


Featured: Silver Eramosa Porcelain Tile

This gives you an opportunity to try a variety of patterns and to see which layout direction complements both the overall space and the pattern of the tile. Expansive spaces where busy kitchens blend into comfortable living spaces are a perfect place for porcelain tile. Also, when considering which tile is best for the kitchen, be sure to select one that is easy to clean and slip resistant when wet. Our Silver Eramosa Porcelain Tile fits both of these needs beautifully. In this contemporary space, these matte-finished large format porcelain tiles serve as the anchor for the room’s modern design. 

Pro Tip #3:

Apply thinset evenly, and be sure to use enough of it. 

Featured: Copper Vintage Wood Look Porcelain Tile 

This earthy and warm living space features one of the hottest trends right now–the look of reclaimed wood. Wood look tile adds a depth of character that simply cannot be denied, and our Copper Vintage Wood Look Porcelain Tile features a pattern reminiscent of reclaimed hardwood planks, right down to the saw hewn texture. 

It would be a shame, after all of the time and money spent on this install, to have tiles pop up or crack, and that is exactly what can happen if not enough thinset is evenly applied. Take your time. Use a level as you go, and if you’ve prepared your underlayment properly, there shouldn’t be any surprises. 

Pro-Tip #4

Don’t rush the curing process!


Featured: Cafe Aspenwood Wood Look Porcelain Tile 

After you’ve installed your beautiful floor, it is tempting to just tip toe across the room to admire your work. Resist the urge! The thinset takes time (often 24 hours or so) to cure; walking on it too soon will cause the tiles to shift, ruining your pattern. And that would be especially noticeable with our Cafe Aspenwood Wood Look Porcelain Tile. This tile’s character comes from the realistic veining, and just one slipped porcelain tile would ruin the pattern’s effect. 

The warm tones and the dramatic hardwood veins of this tile are the perfect complement to the soaring white walls. They provide a much-needed natural texture that warms the space. You will have plenty of time to enjoy your craftsmanship, once the floor is completely dry. Just have some patience, follow the directions, and let your thinset and grout cure as recommended. 

Pro Tip #5:

Plan for doorways, outlets, windows, and lighting.

Featured: Glacier Focus Porcelain Tile

Until now, we’ve only address floor installations, but it’s time to shift our attention to porcelain tile installation on walls. In this charming bathroom, gorgeous Glacier Focus Porcelain Tile is used on both the floor and the walls. In this kind of installation, it’s critical to get the pattern just right so the joints and grout lines are aligned from floor to ceiling. 

As you can imagine, there are bound to be a number of challenges. A toilet, recessed walls, and other fixtures could easily lead you astray. Unlike an expansive living space with endless rows of uncut tiles, a room like this takes extra time, patience, and plenty of advance prep-work and layout to make a bathroom tiling project a success. 

Installing porcelain tile is an art, and it does take a bit of practice. But that doesn’t mean DIY’ers can’t get professional looking results. Just be sure to follow our five porcelain tile installation tips to help insure your project’s success.

And if you’re ready to get started selecting materials, check out MSI’s entire collection of porcelain tile and flooring, and get inspired!