What You Should Know About Knoxville Tile Installation

When it comes to updating your floor or backsplash, tiles are truly one of the most beautiful materials homeowners can choose, which is why Knoxville tile installation is so popular. Available in a wide range of colors, materials, textures, shapes and sizes, your tile installation choices can revolutionize your home's aesthetic.

If you’re thinking of sprucing up your kitchen with a new backsplash or swapping out your old bathroom flooring with something new, then you’ve come to the right place. This blog will outline some of the common tile varieties used in Knoxville, explain what you need to know about the different types of grout, and show you how to approach a tile installation project by yourself.

If you're not DIY-inclined, or don't want to spend a Saturday re-doing your shower walls, then don't worry. We've also included a section outlining how the experts at Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville can help make your tiling dreams a reality. Besides, when you hire one of our skillful Knoxville handyman experts, you can rest assured that the job will get done right the first time.

What Are the Common Materials Used for Tile Installation in Knoxville?

When it comes to choosing the best material for your installation project, there are many different options that Knoxville homeowners and businesses can choose from. Whether ceramic, porcelain, glass, granite or stone, the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing colors and materials for your kitchen, bathroom, basement, laundry rooms or any other living/work area. To discover more information about the different types of tile our team can help you install, keep reading.


Commonly used in kitchens and bathrooms throughout Knoxville, ceramic can work well in any part of the house. This man-made material is very durable and water-resistant, making it perfect for areas of your home that have lots of foot traffic, such as foyers, mudrooms, and bathrooms. Also, since ceramic is a hard surface, it's very easy to clean because it does not attract dust, dirt, or allergens.


Porcelain is actually a kind of ceramic. The difference between the two materials is that porcelain is harder, stronger, and even more water-resistant. Porcelain is stronger than ceramic, because it's made with very fine clay that is fired at a very high temperature. Additionally, ceramic and porcelain tiles both come in a variety of sizes and colors.


Derived from a naturally beautiful and exceptionally strong stone, slate is very durable and doesn’t break, chip, or crack easily. However, it does require a little extra maintenance. Slate needs to be sealed regularly to prevent staining. When it comes to repairing slate, often the best course of action is to replace an entire section. If you choose this material for your Knoxville tile installation project, it gives your home a sleek and modern look. However, since it is quite a heavy stone, installation is best left to the professionals at Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville.


A smooth and cool stone that ranges in a variety of naturally created colors, marble is sourced from quarries all around the world. Marble exudes luxury and is a very beautiful, natural stone. However, a drawback to marble is that it is quite a soft stone. This is why it's often used in sculptures. While it's ideal for carving, one drawback is that marble can be chipped and scratched easily. It's also very porous. If water is left too long on a marble floor or countertop, it could discolor. Marble is best used as a decorative feature or in areas of lower foot traffic.

Laminate and Vinyl

Laminate and vinyl tiles can look almost identical to their ceramic counterparts. These materials are synthetic, and each have their own pros and cons. Laminate flooring clicks together, whereas vinyl tiles require mortar to set, making laminate a relatively simpler material to install. It's also highly scratch-resistant and durable. However, laminate can also buckle when exposed to significant moisture. Meanwhile, vinyl is made out of plastic. It's highly durable and water resistant. Modern types of vinyl also look very close to real tile—making it a great option for your Knoxville tile installation project.

What Are the Different Types of Grout Used for Knoxville Tile Installation?

Not all grouts were created equally, and each variety has its own benefits and drawbacks. To learn the basic differences between the most common types of grout, and when to use them for your Knoxville tile installation project, keep reading:

  • Unsanded: The clue is in the name. This type of grout is sand-free, making it very smooth. It’s used best when applied to vertical surfaces and should be used in joints that are less than 1/8” wide.

  • Finely sanded: Since this adhesive contains sand, it's much thicker and more durable than unsanded grout. However, it can’t be used on fine joints and shouldn't be used on vertical surfaces. Sanded grout is best used when applied to floor tiles where the joints are 1/8” to 3/8” wide.

  • Quarry-type: This type of adhesive incorporates a coarser grade of sand than finely sanded grout. It is best used for joints that are 3/8” to 1/2” wide and should be laid on the floor for your Knoxville tile installation project.

  • Epoxy grout: Made out of an epoxy resin and hardener, epoxy grout is highly resistant to stains and chemicals. It is also very strong, making it the ideal adhesive for countertops, backsplashes, and other areas that are stained easily.

DIY Tile Installation in Knoxville, TN

Are you interested in tackling your Knoxville tile installation project on your own? Continue reading to discover our basic step-by-step process for laying a new floor.

1. Collect Your Tools and Materials

Before you begin your Knoxville tile installation project, be sure you have ready access to all necessary tools, including:

  • A level

  • Safety goggles

  • Rubber gloves

  • Knee pads

  • Line chalk

  • Rubber float

  • Tape measure

  • Hammer

  • Notched trowel or spreader

  • Tile cutter or saw

  • Plastic tarp

  • Safety mask

  • Rubber mallet

  • Chisel

  • Drill with bits

  • Floor scraper

  • Sponge

  • Cleaning cloths

  • Buckets

You’ll also want to be sure you've gathered all your materials, including:

  • Tile

  • Grout

  • Thinset

  • Membrane

  • Backer board

  • Spacers

  • Silicone caulk

  • Silicone sealer

2. Prepare for Installation

It’s very important that you've properly prepared your subfloor before beginning installation.

  1. Remove furniture, toilets and vanities. Remove anything that might get in your way—as long as it can be safely removed.

  2. Use a plastic tarp to block-off open doorways and windows. Wear safety goggles and a mask at all times to protect yourself against dust.

  3. Use your hammer and chisel or a drill to break up a section of the old tile flooring. After removing one piece, clearing out the rest will be easier.

  4. Use a floor scraper to remove remaining thinset.

  5. Look at your subfloor. Is it wood, concrete, or an old mortar bed?

  6. Make necessary repairs to your subfloor. Depending on your subfloor type, you will have to make different types of repairs. It should be even, thick, dry, and level. Cracks and dents in concrete and mortar floors will need to be patched with concrete or mortar respectively. Wood subfloors may need planks replaced. In either case, it's imperative your subfloor is in good condition before continuing.

  7. Roll the membrane along the floor and cut it to shape where it hits your walls. Be sure to mark where the membrane goes with chalk.

  8. Mix your thinset mortar according to the package instructions

  9. Use the flat side of a trowel to spread the mortar onto your subfloor. Then, comb over the wet mortar with the notched side. Comb in one direction.

  10. Making sure the bottom of the membrane is face-down, carefully roll it over the mortar. Press it into the mortar using a wood float. You can check to see if it's sticking correctly by carefully lifting a corner.

  11. Mark the floor where the tile should go. Find the room's center by finding the middle of two opposite walls and drawing a line between them. Repeat with the other opposing walls to form a cross.

  12. Add a second layer of thinset mortar on top of your subfloor. This will hold all the tiles in place.

3. Installation

Once you’ve prepared your subfloor and added your top layer of mortar, you’re ready to lay your tiles!

  1. Lay the first piece. Put it at the crossing of your reference lines. Gently press into the mortar.

  2. Place spacers along the corners of the first tile.

  3. Continue laying pieces—working from the center point out—and adding spacers as you go.

  4. Once you’ve completed a three-foot by three-foot section, level it out by hammering gently with a rubber mallet. Use a level to ensure your section of flooring is straight.

  5. Clean as you go. Remove any excess mortar with a damp sponge.

  6. Continue spreading thinset and laying tile in three-foot by three-foot sections. Ensure you use spacers and level each section before moving on.

  7. As you near the room's edges, or if you have to navigate around cupboards and doorways, you may have to use your cutter to create smaller pieces to fit any remaining spaces. Be sure to use an edging strip along carpet, wood flooring and entry ways.

  8. Allow the thinset mortar to dry for at least 24 hours. Do not walk on your new flooring. Remember to keep a ¼-inch gap around the perimeter to allow for expansion.

4. Apply the Grout

Once your tiles have been laid and dried, the final step in your Knoxville tile installation project is to apply grout.

  1. Remove spacers before applying any grout.

  2. Mix your grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  3. Use a rubber grout float to apply the grout to the joints. Remove as much excess as possible.

  4. Allow everything to dry for 20-minutes or as recommended by the manufacturer.

  5. Using a sponge with water, wipe away any excess grout with a circular motion. If needed, follow-up with a grout haze remover to clean any remaining residue.

  6. Allow for at least 72 hours for everything to dry completely.

  7. After around three weeks—you want to be sure the grout is completely cured—use a grout sealer and follow the manufacturer's instructions. This will prevent stains and water damage.

Our Knoxville Tile installation Services

We hope our step-by-step, DIY guide helps those of you who are interested in Knoxville home remodeling projects try tile installation for yourself. However, if you prefer this task to be handled by the professionals at Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville, we are more than happy to help.

Tile installation can be a tricky process for anyone in Knoxville, especially if you don't have a lot of DIY experience. Preparing the subfloor is a particularly important part of the process. If there is damage to your subfloor, it can cause problems down the road. This step is often overlooked by DIYers, but our expert team always ensures we have the necessary materials to correctly prepare the subfloor.

Additionally, our team of highly skilled, experienced technicians will be sure to bring all the tools we need to complete your Knoxville tile installation project correctly the first time. If you’re working with a heavy material like slate, we can ensure your floor has the necessary reinforcements for proper installation.

Once we have carefully laid your tile, we won't leave the job unfinished. Our team will also fill the grout lines and seal it. Since grout requires a few weeks to fully cure, we will come back and apply the grout sealant at that time. We want to be sure your tiled surfaces are built to last.

Hire Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville Today!

Are you ready to get started on your tile installation project with the help of the professionals at Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville? Our team of experts have helped numerous homeowners in and near the Knoxville area with all kinds of home improvements, including in Powell and Oak Ridge.

To get started today, we invite you to give us a call at 865-409-0822. We look forward to your call and want to make your tiling dreams a reality!