Do it yourself Re-Tile

Our family moved into our first home last December, and I won’t say that it’s a fixer-upper, but there are a few things that need to be updated. The home was built in 1994, so there’s lots of history that we need to leave in the past.

when we’re looking for our next home, I’ll be more attentive to what’s behind the large pieces of furniture. Staging a home can be a very deceptive act, people.

DIY Retile

Anyway, since December, we’ve been taking on one project at a time. We’re on a tight budget, so we’ve been focusing on projects we can do ourselves. My husband is a “handy man” and grew up working on floors with his brother-in-law. So when he suggested that we re-do the tile in the entryway, I was game. My only stipulation was that he teach me how to do it, so I could share our experience.

The entryway and laundry room were already tiled, but I didn’t like the style. It was better suited for a mudroom, or outdoors. So, I picked up 36 pieces of 12×12 tile from Home Depot.

It took about 2 days, from start to finish, and we took a few breaks. For having 2 kids under 2 years old, I’d say that’s a pretty great timeline. And if I learned how to do it, anyone can. So keep reading, and I’ll try to give you a realistic tutorial for tiling an entry way.



  • Tile
  • Spacers
  • Thinset
  • Grout
  • Mixing bucket


  • Tile removing tool
  • Wet saw
  • Trowel
  • Grout float
  • Paddle mixer

1. Break Existing Tile

First, you need to break up the existing tile. You can use a regular hammer, or a hammer gun, but it would probably be faster to rent a jack hammer from the hardware store. We used my brother-in-law’s electric jack hammer and the tile was all gone in less than an hour.Retile DIY

2. Clean the Surface

Clean up any residue with a broom and be sure that the surface is even. You might need to use a hand tool and scrape off any old thinset. After you’ve prepped the area, start laying out your tile formation. Doing this will tell you how you need to cut certain tile to fit along the corners and doors.

3. Paddle Mixer & Big Bucket

Using a paddle mixer and a big bucket, mix the thinset; this what actually sets the tile in place. Add water to the thinset until it reaches the consistency of pancake mix. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes and give it a final mix. Spread it on the floor using the trowel. Apply the thinset with the smooth side of the trowel, then use the notched part to ensure it spreads evenly. Retile DIY

To ensure that the tiles are all separated evenly, you must use spacers. They’re tiny, plastic geometric “stars” that will ensure your tiles are equally spaced.

Retile DIY


Retile DIY

4. Stick the Grout

When the thinset is dry, you’ll want to “file” the lines where the grout will go. We used some razors, which probably isn’t safe, but it worked. You want the lines between the tiles to be as even as possible, and low enough that the grout will stick.

Retile DIY

5. Grout the Tiles

It’s time to grout the tiles. Mix it with water, according to the directions. It dries quickly, so be sure to use it within 10 minutes of preparing it. Tip: work the grout into the lines, don’t work it against the lines.

Retile DIY

6. Clean the Tiles

When the grout starts to dry, you can clean off the tiles. Try not to get water into the cracks, because the grout won’t fully be dried until the next day.

Erin Emanuel