How to Avoid The Most Common Tile Installation Mistakes

ceramic tile center - decorative grout

Tile installation can be a complex and tedious undertaking, but with proper planning and execution, tile work can be a beautiful addition to your home or business. Whether your project will feature wall tiles, floor tiling, or a combination of the two, doing the proper research and practicing time-honored techniques will provide an outcome you can be proud to show off.

Just be aware that it’s not uncommon for tile installation projects to encounter issues that can seriously affect the final outcome, both aesthetically and functionally. Let’s discuss the most common tile installation problems, and the best ways to avoid them.

Uneven Subfloor

One of the most common problems you may run into during tile installation is an uneven subfloor. This can lead to tiles cracking, breaking, or becoming loose overtime. It will certainly add another layer to your project, but leveling the subfloor is your best bet for an aesthetic outcome. If necessary, use a self-leveling compound or a layer of thin-set mortar to even out the surface. From there, you can have confidence installing the tiles and rest assured that you didn’t overlook this critical setback.


Lippage occurs when tiles are not level with each other, creating a stair-step appearance. This can happen when tiles are not cut to the same height, or when the tile uncoupling membrane (the material to which the tile is fastened with mortar or mastic cement) is not level. To avoid lippage, make sure your tiles are cut to the same height and check that the substrate is level before installation. Additionally, use a large notched trowel when spreading the thin-set mortar to ensure proper spread and levelness throughout the workspace.

Cracking Grout

Cracked Grout is another common issue that stems from improper installation. This can occur when the grout is not mixed to the correct consistency, or when the grout is applied too thick or too thin. To avoid this, make sure to mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s specified ratios, and use a float to spread the grout evenly, filling all the joints completely.

A set of hand is shown using a tile saw to cut designer ceramic tiles.
If you’re a pro, you may be able to eyeball the perfect cut. If not, don’t be afraid to measure twice, and mark your tiles before making the cut!

Inconsistent Grout Lines

Inconsistent grout lines can detract from the overall look of the tile work. This can arise when the tiles are not spaced evenly, when the grout is not spread evenly, or when the area being worked on is not square. To prevent wandering lines, measure and mark the tiles before cutting, and use tile spacers to ensure even spacing. It also helps to ensure the workspace is square, and if it’s not, have a plan in place to account for the abnormalities. Lastly, remove any excess grout before it dries, and wipe the surface clean with a damp sponge for a clean, professional look.

Loose Tiles

Loose tiles can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor adhesion, improper curing of the thin-set mortar, or movement of the substrate. To counteract this common mistake, make sure to clean and prepare the surface properly before installing the tiles, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for curing times. A quality tile uncoupling membranecan also provide increased resistance to cracking. For areas that may experience movement, such as around bathtubs or sinks, consider using a flexible adhesive that will further bolster the tile pattern’s structure.

Visit the Tile Store Reno DIYers and Contractors Trust

Tile installation can be a great project to take on when looking to improve the look and feel of your home or office space, but it’s important to be aware of the most common issues that can arise. Consider these tips for a long-lasting, functional finished product, and when in doubt, consult the experts at Ceramic Tile Center in Reno. We source materials from all around the globe, including the finest designer ceramic tiles, porcelain, and natural stone. For trusted expert advice and the right materials for your next project, contact Ceramic Tile Center Stonework & Design.