How to Lay Tessellated Tiles

Tessellated tiles are characterized by the complex geometric shapes they create on floor and wall surfaces. Alone, the tiles can appear plain, but when an entire set is laid, the colorful design will impress guests and friends. Like most tile installations, laying tessellated tile involves preparing the subfloor (usually wood or cement) and securing the tiles in place with thinset, mortar or tile adhesive.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor cleaner
  • Mineral spirits
  • Filler, grinder or sandpaper
  • Scutching hammer
  • Tile adhesive
  • Notched trowel
  • Level
  • Tile cutter


    • 1

      Clean your subfloor with surface-specific cleaner to remove dirt and dust. If necessary, clean with a solvent cleaner such as mineral spirits to remove grease or wax. The floor should be completely clean prior to installation.

    • 2

      Inspect your subfloor and repair any damage or unlevel areas. Use concrete filler and a grinder, or wood filler and sandpaper, to completely flatten the floor for safest installation. Allow to dry completely before continuing.

    • 3

      Roughen the subfloor surface with sandpaper or a scutching hammer. Do not gouge the surface, but lightly scuff it so that it becomes more accepting of the tile adhesive. Rub the area down with a tack cloth to remove residual dust.

    • 4

      Spread tile adhesive over an area that you can cover within 10 minutes. Use a notched trowel, held at a 45-degree angle, to create grooves in the adhesive for better hold. If you have to use thinset or mortar, you may need to mix the ingredients first; follow specific product ingredients.

    • 5

      Lay full tiles into the adhesive, using a level or guideline to make sure everything lines up. If necessary, use spacers between tiles to ensure even spacing between each one.

    • 6

      Check the level of the tiles after every third or fourth laid tile. If tiles are too low, pull them away and add a little more adhesive. It tiles sit too high, gently tap them into place with a rubber mallet.

    • 7

      Cut tessellated tiles as necessary to fit. The method for cutting will vary based on the make of the tile; you may need no more than a utility knife or you may need a tile cutting saw.

    • 8

      Lay all tiles with the adhesive. Allow the adhesive to dry for 24 hours before allowing foot traffic in the area.

Tips & Warnings

  • Tessellated tiles can be made from ceramic, linoleum or other materials. Use a manufacturer-provided or -recommended adhesive designed specifically for your tile type.
  • Some tile installations will require grouting while others may not. Consult the tile manufacturer for details.
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