Updating your home with new tile can bring new life to a room, but one question that’s often asked is, “can you walk on tile while laying it?” The short answer is no. It is advised that you wait at least 24 hours before walking on the newly installed tile to prevent the tiles from shifting in the mortar or even cracking.
If waiting 24 hours to walk on your newly laid tile is too much, there are many quick-setting mortar brands, which allow you to grout the tile 2 hours after installation and walk on the tiles after 6 hours.
If you don’t use a quick-set mortar and you must walk over the tiles before they have cured, place a clean sheet of plywood over them first. By walking on top of plywood, your weight is distributed evenly instead of being placed on the individual tiles, which could break them or knock them out of place.
How to Lay Tile Without Stepping On It
To avoid ruining your freshly laid tiles, it’s a good idea to tile the floor in sections, leaving a pathway to essential areas in the room that you might need to get to, such as doorways or refrigerators. As the older sections cure, you will be able to walk on top of them sooner than the newer sections.
Another good idea is to use knee pads and kneel on a small dolly, which will help you maneuver as you reach and place each tile. You can also purchase rolling knee pads for the same effect.
Depending on how large of an area you’re tiling, stopping and starting your project again the next day allows for tiles to dry, and you will be able to walk on them as you finish up the rest of the room.
Tips For Laying Tiles
When laying tile, follow these tips to get the best results.
Plan Your Layout
Mortar starts to cure once the tile is set, so it’s essential to plan your layout to avoid mistakes. Before starting your project, place the dry tiles in rows along the floor to know exactly where each tile will go.
Use Proper Mixing
If you are using standard thinset, it’s important to mix it properly before using it. The consistency should be almost like that of peanut butter.
Here’s how to combine the thinset:
- Start by adding water to the bucket and mix in small batches of the powder to avoid clumping.
- Let the thinset sit in the bucket or slake for 5-10 minutes to activate the particles in the mixture and achieve good adhesion.
Remember, Curing Times Differ
If you are using epoxy tile mortar, remember that this type of mortar cures in about 45 minutes once the three parts are mixed. Work quickly since this type of mortar only allows a short window for completing your project.
Apply the Mortar With a Notched Trowel
Applying the mortar with a notched trowel will leave grooves on the tile and underlayment, the stabilizing layer below the tile. Make sure the grooves run in the same direction to ensure the mortar meets the tile.
Set the tile in place and apply firm, even pressure on the tile.
You might need to wiggle it back and forth a bit to smooth out the ridges made by the trowel.
Prepare for Grouting
Grouting helps to bond the tile and prevents cracking due to the shifting of your home. Start by using a flat tool, such as a utility knife, to remove any excess mortar in the joints where the grout will be.
How to Grout Tile
Like mortar, grout begins to set once mixed, so make only as much as you need for your project.
- Pour up to a half-gallon of grout onto the tiles.
- Use a rubber grout float and hold it at a 45-degree angle while spreading the grout.
- Hold the grout float at a 90-degree angle to remove excess grout.
- Once the grout begins to harden, use a damp cloth or sponge to clean the tiles by wiping them in a circular motion.
- Once the grout has hardened, use a dry cloth to remove any marks or hazy film left on the tiles.
Use a sealer on the grout and allow 24 hours for it to dry thoroughly.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about laying tiles and their responses.
What happens if you walk on freshly laid tile?
Freshly laid tile is vulnerable to damage during the initial stages, such as cracking, chipping, and moving out of place. It’s best not to walk on freshly laid tile and risk damaging them.
How long after putting the tile down can you walk on it?
It is advised that you wait at least 24 hours or more before walking on the freshly laid tile. If the mortar is not dry before you step on them, the tiles can crack or shift out of place, causing you to have to redo whole sections of your work.
Is it safe to walk on the tile before grouting?
You should not walk on tile before grouting. Doing so could cause the tiles to become misaligned, and it could be difficult or even impossible to fix.
How long after laying tile can I grout and seal them?
It is advised that you wait 24 hours after laying the tile before grouting and sealing them. Another 24 hours is needed for the grouting to cure fully.
Can I walk on tile after 6 hours?
If you are using a quick-setting mortar, you can walk on your newly installed tiles after six hours. As the name implies, quick-setting mortar dries fast, allowing you to grout your tiles after 2 hours and fully walk on them after six hours.
To lay the perfect tile, the most important thing is choosing the correct mortar for the tile you’re working with and planning your layout before beginning.
After waiting 24 hours for your tile to set, it’s a good idea to wait another 24 hours to let the grout cure as well. Following the above steps will help make your DIY tile project a success.