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Can You Lay Tile on Uneven Floor?

Laying tile looks great, and is an excellent option for both indoor or outdoor spaces. When you lay tiles how flat does the ground need to be? Here’s the advice of professional tilers:

As a general rule the floor needs to be almost perfectly flat. When the underside of the tile is uneven it’s difficult to get enough glue coverage. And the recommended glue coverage for indoor tiles is around 80%. Any less than that and the tiles become damaged very easily.

Tile floor installation and level

You can achieve a flat surface and the best practice among tilers is to use what’s called ‘screed’ but more generally as a levelling compound. It’s a cement mixture that is runny and there are many different types.

Whether you’re interested in exactly how to lay tile on an uneven floor, whether you should, and if you can just use adhesive instead of levelling compound, this article will cover everything you need to know about laying tile on uneven floor.

Can You Install Tile on an Uneven Floor?

Tile floor installation

You may wonder how flat the floor needs to be to set tiles on it, and the answer is – very flat. But, how do you go about installing some great looking tiles when the floor is uneven. Here’s what you need to know.

As a whole you can install tile on an uneven floor, what you need to do first is apply a layer of levelling compound. It will fill in any gaps, and go hard like concrete. You use a trowel to spread it out and make it flat and even.

The reason it needs to be flat is so that the glue you use to stick to the tiles makes good contact. The more air holes and spaces underneath the tile the easier it is for them to break. When there are a lot of air bubbles on the underside of the tile they will crack even under normal conditions. Such as people walking on top of them, or moving furniture around.

The most important thing when installing tiles correctly so that they last a lifetime is to cover the bottom of the tile in as much glue as possible. And there is one method that works the best. I’ll cover exactly how to do that further below.

Should You Put Tile on Uneven Floor?

Man installing tile flooring with mortar and hammer

Knowing what kind of floor you should use will make sure that your floor lasts a long time. So, is tiling on an uneven floor a good idea?

On the whole tiling uneven floors is a good idea and will give you the same result as tiling on a very flat floor. Before you lay the tile, however, you need to apply a leveling compound. A leveling compound will fill in any spaces and create a flat surface to apply the tiling adhesive.

Having an even layer of glue is extremely important to create long lasting tiles that never pop up, or crack. For outdoor tiles you want to aim for 90% glue coverage on the underside of the tile, and for indoor tiles you want to aim for around 80% coverage.

There are different patterns you can use in the glue that you stick the tiles to. For example, you can use a circle pattern, apply spots of glue to the underside of the tile, or use alternating side to side and up and down lines in your tiling adhesive.

But, only one of them is effective at getting the glue coverage you need. I’ll explain what it is in the next section.

How to Lay Tile on Uneven Floor?

Floor installation and red level

Laying tiles on uneven floor is not difficult when you know how. And for that I rely on the advice of very experienced tilers. And they say

As a whole there are two important parts of laying tile on uneven floor. First you apply a levelling compound and spread it out flat using a hand trowel. Then apply tiling adhesive using a vertical row method. It’s the most effective glue pattern to reduce air bubbles underneath the tiles.

I’ll explain each step separately in detail next.

Tools / Prep Considerations

Before applying the leveling compound you should thoroughly sweep the error and remove any paper, and rubbish from the area. If there are any nobbly bits striking out from the floor, you can hit them off using a hammer. You may want to use a chisel if it’s particularly stubborn.

Next, you’ll need to buy a levelling compound online if you search on Google for “buy leveling compound’. It will bring up some options that are local to your area. You can buy around 5 quarts (5 kg) of leveling compound for $30 to $50.

On top of that you’ll need a hand trowel to spread the levelling compound out. Leveling compounds come with detailed instructions when you buy it.

After that you need to wait for the leveling compound to dry. Some of them can take up to 7 days to dry.

Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on April 16, 2021.

And it’s so that it meets the building regulations. The video also shows how to apply the adhesive to the underside of the tiles.

How to fix/level an uneven floor for tile (needed/unneeded)?

The process for leveling an uneven floor is to apply a levelling compound. To get the best deal by buying it from a tiling supply store. Sometimes they will only sell it to people who are registered tilers.

Other times the public can buy directly from them. When you buy it, it comes with detailed instructions. Another good option is to join a tiling Facebook group.

If you go onto Facebook and search under the Groups tab for the word ‘tiler’ you can find some great tiling groups where people will be happy to help you. You can take photos of your floor and ask them what they recommend.

For the most part if you follow the instructions that come with the levelling compound, and you can’t go wrong.

Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on April 16, 2021.

Can You Level a Floor With Tile Adhesive?

Man using a level to install tile floor

You may be wondering if you can skip using levelling compound and just use the tile adhesive to make it flat. Since they cost about the same amount, should you use levelling compound?

As a general rule you should always level the floor first using a levelling compound. It is much easier to apply the adhesive when the floor is already level. When the floor is uneven it’s more difficult to get the groove patterns you need in the adhesive.

Without the groove patterns you get a poor connection between the tile and the adhesive which makes them weaker and more susceptible to damage. Tile adhesive will work perfectly fine.

But, it’s easier to squirt the adhesive out and get even coverage on a flat surface.When there are bumps and dents you need to apply more tiling adhesive and it’s difficult to get an even amount.

Tiling adhesive doesn’t find a level on its own because it’s too thick. And it ends up taking more work and being more difficult to fill in an uneven floor without first using a leveling compound.

When you press down on the tiles the glue also doesn’t squeeze out the sides evenly and you can easily get more air pockets under the tile. Therefore, it’s always best to use a leveling compound to level the floor first rather than using tiling adhesive to fill in any imperfections.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on April 16, 2021.

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