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Can You Install Ceramic Tile Over Concrete? (How To)

If you want to beautify your home, you may consider installing ceramic tile. Is it possible to do so if you already have a concrete floor?

A concrete slab makes an excellent subfloor for ceramic tile. As long as you prepare the concrete in advance, ensuring that it is clean, dry, and free from defects, you can install ceramic. There may be times that an uncoupling membrane is used to keep cracks in the concrete from causing cracks in the tile.

Handyman working on the ceremaic tiles

As you will see in this article, there are many different options available for installing ceramic tile over concrete. It’s an excellent choice and one that many homeowners have considered.

Can You Install Ceramic Tile Over Concrete? (How To)

Before we discuss the tools and procedures for installing ceramic tile over concrete, it’s a good idea to consider safety. There are a number of factors to consider that will keep you safe during this project.

First of all, you should always wear an N95 mask when working with any concrete dust. That dust contains silica, which could be harmful or even deadly if it is breathed in.

Gloves are also a good idea, and a good pair of all-purpose gloves will work well in helping to keep your hand safe.

Other factors to consider include the use of safety glasses and kneepads. These will help to protect your body parts and make you more comfortable as you are working.

Should You Install Ceramic Tile Over Concrete?

Handyman working on the ceremaic tiles

The question of whether you can install ceramic tile over concrete has been answered. It certainly is possible. Whether you should install ceramic tile over concrete, however, is often down to personal preference.

Here are some benefits of installing ceramic tile to consider:

1. Options – When it comes to options, you certainly have a lot more available with ceramic tile in comparison to concrete. Concrete can be made beautiful, but ceramic comes beautiful and in many colors and designs.

2. Simplicity – There is no doubt that ceramic tiles are easy to care for. Dust mopping on a daily basis and then wet mopping on occasion are all that is needed to help keep the tiles and your home clean.

3. Cost – When you compare the cost of finishing a concrete slab or installing ceramic tile, you will find that ceramic tile offers you a much more cost-effective option. It is something that can improve the look of your home on a budget.

4. Maintenance – There is not much maintenance involved with ceramic tiles, other than cleaning them. It is unlikely that you will have to replace any of the tiles and they last for a very long time.

5. Health – One of the unexpected benefits of ceramic tile is the health and air quality of your home. This is something to consider, especially if you have family members that deal with allergies.

6. Durability – Regardless of whether you are installing ceramic tiles in a high-traffic area of the home or not, they will stand up to plenty of foot traffic.

Tool Needed To Install Ceramic Tile Over Concrete?

confused man standing

It is best to have all of your tools ready and available before you begin the job of installing ceramic tile over concrete. Doing so will help the job to move along and avoid any unnecessary delays.

Here are some of the tools you should keep on hand:




Broom and Dust Pan

Shop Vac

Wet Mop

Tape Measures (Large and Small)

Rubber Mallet

Chalk Line



Tile Cutter

Wet Saw

Carpenters Level

Carpenters Square

Safety Glasses



What Preparation Is Needed To Install Ceramic Tile Over Concrete?

Handyman working on the ceremaic tiles

As is the case with any type of work you do around the home, it is important to prepare the concrete for the installation of ceramic tile. Preparation will help to make the job much easier and will affect the final result.

The most important factor for preparing to install ceramic tile over concrete is the preparation of the subfloor. This would require cleaning as well as leveling the floor and fixing any defects.

As you begin to work with the concrete floor, especially during the cleaning process, you may notice that there are some issues. This can include cracking and holes in the concrete.

You might not think much about a small crack in the concrete subfloor but in reality, a small crack can become a larger crack very easily. It can also transfer to the ceramic tile, causing the tile to crack or separate at the grout line.

Make sure that you repair the issues with the subfloor first, and that way you will not have a problem with the tile later.

If there are any high or low points in the concrete subfloor, this is also something that needs to be fixed. High spots can be ground down and low spots can be filled with a self-leveling compound.

If there are a lot of issues with the subfloor or if you just want to start fresh, you can always float the entire floor with a self-leveling compound. It will start you off with a nice, clean and level surface.

The next step in the process is to add primer to the concrete subfloor. This is a step that is often skipped by many homeowners but it will make a difference in the quality of the installation.

A latex subfloor primer is what is needed. Use rollers and paintbrushes to completely cover the surface.

As a final preparation, an anti-fracture membrane may need to be installed. This will be of particular benefit if the concrete is cracking or experiencing other problems.

A membrane may come in the form of a sheet that is put down using thinset or you may need to use a liquid membrane. Either will create a barrier between the subfloor and the tile that will keep the tile from cracking.

At this point, the floor should be prepared and ready for the installation of the ceramic tile.

How To Install Ceramic Tile Over Concrete

confused man standing

Installing ceramic tile over concrete does not need to be difficult. At this point, you have your tools ready and the concrete prepared. Let’s look into the process of actually installing the tile.

The first step in installing ceramic tile over concrete is to establish the floor layout. Use your tape measure and chalk line to mark the center of the room and begin laying out the tile along that line.

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Doing so helps you to see how the tile will look on the edges. It will also give you a chance to inspect the tile before you begin laying it. If you see any odd coloring or damage, it is better to have it fixed now.

Mix your thin-set in a 5-gallon bucket, being careful to wear an N95 because of the danger of the dust. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes to be properly set. You will need to remix it if you continue to use it on occasion.

After pulling the dry tiles from the floor, put down a layer of thinset large enough that you can work continuously without the mortar getting dry. Put down the tile, making sure that you use spacers so the grout lines will be even.

When putting down the ceramic tile, move it from side to side slightly and press it down with the palms of your hand. This will give the tile an opportunity to firmly set in the area and will keep it from moving or cracking in the future.

Continue to lay the tile in an open field, doing so within one portion of a tile from the wall. You should continue to put down thin-set as necessary, being cautious that it doesn’t get too dry in the process.

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After the large field of tiles has been set, you can start cutting the tiles on the edges. Make sure that you cut them so you leave a small gap between the tile and the wall, as they can expand slightly and that would result in cracking or breakage.

After the tiles have been set for a day, you can mix the grout in a 5-gallon bucket. Be careful to use your N95 so you aren’t breathing in the dust.

Use a grout float to push the grout into the gaps. It may take some work and you might have to work from multiple directions but the gaps will fill solidly.

You can then use the grout float to remove as much of the grout as possible from the tops of the tiles. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then start using the grout sponge to wipe the top of the tile in a circular motion.

Continue to wring out the sponge multiple times, as that will ensure that you are getting as much of the grout off of the tile as possible. More than likely, there will still be a haze the following day, but that can be mopped up with a damp mop.

If you want to install ceramic tile over concrete, you need to prepare the concrete in advance. It has to be dry, clean, and free of damage. In some cases, you may also need to use an uncoupling membrane to keep the cracking concrete from cracking the ceramic tile.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on August 25, 2022.

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