Thursday, January 26, 2012

{DIY} Herringbone Tile Floor

Hi everyone! I'm finally done putting together a step-by-step on how Justin and I accomplished the herringbone tile in our my new laundry room. Yes, we took on a tile project!! Even though the room is TINY it really took both of us working as a team to get it done, I really could not have done it with out him! For the record, we are not professional tilers, but because the laundry room is so small, I thought it would be a good room to get our feet wet on DIY tiling. We are just a couple of people that want to save some dough and do it our self. Of course, I just couldn't be normal and lay the tile in a simple straightforward pattern, no, I had to want an intricate pattern like herringbone. Probably not the best pattern for beginners, but that's what I wanted and so we gave it a try.

Here is what you'll need for this project:

Tile*Tile cutter *Tile adhesive and grout*Notched floor trowel*Rubber grout float*Putty knife*Plastic spacers (these come in all sizes, we used the 1/8")*Sponge*Bucket*Grout Sealer

Just so we are clear, because the room is so small (5X5), I chose to use a combination adhesive and grout, but if your space is large, it would certainly be more economical if you bought the unmixed grout and adhesive and then mix it yourself.

Just so you can remember where the floor began...linoleum with a couple spots of damage, original to the house.

I removed the baseboards and ripped the flooring out and scrapped up all the adhesive spots that remained. Cleaned, swept, and vacuumed the floor.

Because we installed on subfloor (raw wood), I painted it with a primer and sealer combo. This is so there would be no chance of the subfloor absorbing the moisture from the tile adhesive and swelling, thus avoiding possible cracks in the future.

I bought the ceramic tile at Lowe's from Interceramic. The color/pattern is called Marfil Chiaro which is a marble look alike. I chose this tile because it is smooth, and has the look of marble, not rough stone like some of the ceramic tile out there. They come in a box of 15 and are 13X13 square.

I used the tile cutter to cut enough tiles in half to complete the whole floor. Justin handled the outside cuts and cuts around the vents. I totally wimped out on those!

We started from the back of the room which is a little different. If you were laying tile straight, the center of the room is where to start, keeping the cuts on the outside, but in this case, everything is cut. It was easier to keep straight starting from the back and working to the front.

After we had gotten a good dry fit, everything was cut right, fit well and looked good.....I went back and put the adhesive on one by one.

I know, not the traditional way, with this intricate of a pattern, it is how it worked out. There was no way in hades, after making all those pieces fit like a puzzle, was I going to take them all up to lay the adhesive down....It had to be done this way. One painstaking tile after another. You see why it took me so long!

Begin by getting some adhesive/grout on the back of the tile with a putty knife:

'Butter' the back of the tile until it is completely covered:

With the notched trowel, scrape it across the back of the tile:

Lay the tile back into place, give it a little shimmy, and insert spacers. Basically it's the traditional way but in reverse. I can't tell you how badly my fingers and hands hurt from doing it!!

Once the adhesive is dry (recommended 24 hours), remove the spacers

*NOTE* Thankfully, the spacers come two side is if the tile were laid straight (the 'X' side) and then the other side was straight for this sort of pattern

Next, it's time to grout. This went a lot easier than I thought. I worked a small section at a time, putting a glob of grout down and using the rubber float to work it in between the tiles. Once I had a section done, I used the wet sponge to wipe the tiles down and get up the excess grout. When the entire floor is complete, and after another 24 hour dry time, apply another coat of grout. Because of so much shrinkage with drying, it looks better with another layer. Oh, and another 24 hours.....:) Once the second coat of grout is dry, apply the grout sealer (according to the directions).
It's time to reinstall the baseboards....

....and move the appliances back in!

We are beyond thrilled with how it turned out, as you can imagine.

Wanna know what the sad part is????

That half of it is under the washer and dryer!! :)

At any rate, we are glad we took on the tile!By the way, there is a 'haze that forms over the tile, after grouting...and you can purchase Haze Remover, but I found with a warm water and a little elbow grease, it came right off.

If you have any questions, or if I wasn't clear on a step, feel free to ask in the comments.
*Note* Some great advice from a reader and experienced tiler in the comments, be sure to read!

Need a design boost? For advice and guidance on style, contact me!


  1. Fantastic! Can I borrow your energy?! ha! Nice work Michelle. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You did a beautiful job! The herringbone pattern is gorgeous.

  3. This turned out beautifully, Michelle!
    I have done several tiling jobs myself- I can sympathize, this is backbreaking work and it can take a week or two for the skin on your hands to return to normal (mortar & grout suck all the moisture out).
    Just a word of caution for readers inspired by your herringbone installation- cutting square tiles into rectangle tiles for this purpose isn't ideal. There are many types of tile and they react differently to cutting- often leaving varying degrees of chipping in the surface glaze. Nearly all tile jobs require cutting but usually the cut will lie in a concealed area- against the wall or under a register cover, etc. Cut edges are not meant to be laid at grout seams, this will give you sharp edges (tile edges are bevelled & smooth) and possibly (usually) chipped glaze.
    Clearly the tile you had purchased cut beautifully and you weren't left with chipped glaze but this is a likely possibility for others trying to recreate this look. It may be prudent to buy several tiles in advance and try cutting them first before buying all the tile and finding that this method won't work for that tile.
    Also for newbies, do you research on prepping your subfloor- the typical plywood subfloor isn't sufficient to support tiling without flexing. This will be different for each install depending on existing subfloor and the size of the room (you can get away with less subfloor in a small space). And be generous with the mortar (although I've never used tile adhesive for a floor)- I have filled in tight spots by applying mortar to tile rather than floor AND at the end of part 1 of a tile job I've skimped on mortar to avoid mixing another batch- both times my shortcuts resulted in a popped tile and a cracked tile, respectively.

    Tiling isn't a diy job for everyone- you can save loads of dough installing it yourself but do your research and get advice from experts you trust. You won't save any money if you have to rip it all up and start again.

    I'm not an expert but I have done 3 bathrooms, 3 entries, 4 kitchens & 3 dining rooms and a woodstove hearth and learned "loads" from my mistakes. Dont' get too good at this, Michelle, or soon you'll have more experience tiling than you'd like- I think I've done as much tile for my two sisters as I have for my own houses, past & present.

    Congratulations on the lovely job on the installation.

  4. Cred, thank you so much and thank you for your advice!! You certainly sound like an expert and a lot of jobs under your belt.
    I agree with everything you said and appreciate your input.
    My hands are still suffering, I should have worn gloves! :)

  5. So beautiful! And hard work. But aren't you glad you can sit back and show it off now?!

  6. That is so impressive. You must feel great having accomplished this job!

  7. I love how your floor turned out, and I love that you chose a herringbone pattern! This is a project I have wanted to do in my entryway and I've just been too chicken and not sure where to start. Thanks for the tutorial!

  8. Wow! you guys did did an amazing job, your laundry room is really beautiful!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this post. You really did an incredible job. It looks exactly like the work of a professional. This certainly encouraged me to do the same. Our bathroom tiles are not really so good, so I guess I will have to change them. Thank you again.

  11. Do you remember the color grout you used? It is fabulous!

  12. Anon, I just used pre-mixed grout/adhesive in white from Lowe's.

  13. Hi Michelle-
    I did it!!! I am anon... I just tile dour powder room with the tile and adhesive/grout combo you used. My herringbone was more square, so I didn't have the triangle cuts. I am very happy with it! Thanks for the inspiration! I am sealing the grout now - did you seal the tile as well?

  14. Yeah Sarah! You did it! It was quite the job, right? :) So happy for you! I think the pre-mixed stuff saved the day. :)No, I did not seal the tile, just the grout.

  15. I love this! I was looking for herringbone floors and found this post, so I pinned it for helpful tips when we get to redoing our kitchen floor. The square tiles are sooo much cheaper than the long ones, so I'm glad of the tip in the comments to check for chipping and sharpness if we decide to go the cheapskate cut-it-in-half route.

  16. I need to invest a little more time into the tile flooring. My family has had to replace so many tile floors and I could have saved a lot of money. In Sacramento, tile is very popular so that is why.

  17. Asthma and allergy to dust are big issues for kids today. You might have to renovate your home with tiles for improving the health of your kids. The choice remains amazing and they are elegant. Talk about your home style with tile professionals.
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  18. Great job! Two thumbs up! I just can't imagine you doing all these hard work, but the result is self fulfilling. Congrats!

    floor tiler

  19. wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. tile adhesive

  20. Tile is one of the most practical forms of flooring available on the market today. It's a natural, easy to clean surface material that comes in all the colors and shades.
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  21. I appreciate your patience. I love the final look, the tiles are amazing. One time investment and life time relaxation. Tiles doesn't need much upkeep.

  22. Looks amazin so much nicer than lino etc...i love herrin bone design looks more chic well done ...i wanna give it a go not sure my knees can take it!

  23. Love it ...looks very chic and clean. Love to do this in my bathroom, utility room, hallway and kitchen but not sure my knees could take it ...well done looks great:0)

  24. Looks amazin so much nicer than lino etc...i love herrin bone design looks more chic well done ...i wanna give it a go not sure my knees can take it!

  25. Looks amazin so much nicer than lino etc...i love herrin bone design looks more chic well done ...i wanna give it a go not sure my knees can take it!

  26. Looks amazin so much nicer than lino etc...i love herrin bone design looks more chic well done ...i wanna give it a go not sure my knees can take it!

  27. I just came across this post...the tile job looks great!! I have a question your write up you said you selected a 13x13 tile but in the pictures the tiles look like they are rectangular. Did you decide to go with a larger tile? If so, what size? Thanks in advance!

    1. They were 13x13 and then we cut them in half.

  28. nice job of both of you Michelle & Justin, it look nice after completing the project in laundry room.
    Sydney Bathrooms


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