Tile Fix Direct Blog

How To Get A Wooden Floor Ready For Tiling ☝️

A tiler ready to tile a wooden floor standing on installed tile backer boards

How to get a wooden floor ready for tiling ☝️


When renovating properties or converting sheds to outdoor offices, many people often wonder how to tile a wooden floor.


There are two problems with wood and timber floors when it comes to tiling – and two things you need to take care of before tiling can commence.

  • Firstly, you need to remove the bounce. Timber beams and wooden floorboards may feel solid, but will have an element of bounce in them between joists and supports.
  • Secondly – solid wood flooring moves – a lot. You’d be surprised how much it expands and contracts with temperature changes. So you need a layer between your moving wooden floor and your tiles.

Luckily, there is an all in one solution in the form of tile backer boards! If you haven’t heard of these before, they are essentially cement boards that you can tile directly onto. They act as a decoupling layer – which gets rid of the lateral movement, and in thicknesses of 12mm and higher actively remove the bounce from wooden floors too!

Watch the video above for a handy step by step guide that shows you how to measure, cut, and secure your boards in place – the easy way!

You can also follow the in depth guide below for more details, tips, and tricks to getting the job done. We’ve also put the relevant parts of the videos into the steps below incase you don’t need to watch the whole thing!

Step One ☝️ 🔨

To get started you’re going to need to work out the size of your room and the amount of wooden subfloor you need to cover. Here’s a handy calculator to help your work out the square meterage or square footage of your space.

Step Two ☝️🔨

Now it’s time to gatherer the materials you’re going to need. We love using Orbry Tile Backer Boards as they are water resistant, easy to cut and work with, and have great insulating properties at thicker thicknesses – this makes them perfect to use with underfloor heating. You’re also going to need a flexible tile adhesive, an electric mixer, mixing buckets, screws and washers (we used the Orbry ones) a notched trowel, and self-adhesive scrim tape for the joints. If you’re working in a wet room or bathroom make sure to use waterproofing scrim tape like one Marmox makes.

Step Three ☝️🔨

a tiler cutting tile backer boards to size

Now you’ve got all that – let’s get to work! Lay your boards out onto the floor and cut them to size using a standard working knife. Orbry boards cut easy, other brands may take a little more work but should still be a simple job. You should always lay them in a broken bond pattern (like bricks) and always lay them perpendicular to floorboards. Laying your boards out on the floor to start with ensures that your measurements and cuts are accurate.

Step Four ☝️🔨

a tiler smoothing tile adhesive onto a wooden floor

Once they’re all laid out and you’re happy with your board arrangement, it’s time to get messy! Mix up your tile adhesive using the manufacturer’s instructions using your electric mixer and buckets. We used BAL Flex One Tile Adhesive in the video as we love working with it. Lift the first board up, and slop a good amount directly onto the wooden floor. Smooth it over with the smooth side of your notched trowel, then score lines into it with the notched side. Put enough on to cover the entire space the first board will take – don’t dot and dab it.

Step Five ☝️🔨

a tiler lowering tile backer boards onto tile adhesive

Lower the first board onto the area you have just applied the adhesive too, press down and move it around slightly to ensure the board is properly bedded into the adhesive. First one done! Easy right? Now repeat this process until you’ve covered the entire floor, but remember to keep back some of your flexible adhesive for later! Once this is complete, walk around on the boards and apply pressure to them to make sure they adhere as well as they can.

Step Six ☝️ 🔨 

a tiler screwing tile backer boards in place

Now your boards are stuck down we can secure them further using our screws and washers! Use plastic washers for non-wet areas, and stainless steel washers for areas like wet rooms and bathrooms. You should always use stainless steel screws no matter where the installation is. Screw your washers into place between the joins and the centres of the orbry boards about 300mm apart. The washers ensure that the cement boards don’t pit when screwed in.

Step Seven ☝️ 🔨

a tiler using tile adhesive and scrim tapes on joints

Once the boards are secured with your tile adhesive and mechanically with screws and washers, they’re not going anywhere! Next, cover the joints in the boards with your self adhesive scrim tape. Tape over the washers and screws along the joints. Now, using your remaining tile adhesive, smooth a layer over the scrim tape to ensure that the joins are secure and waterproof.

a wooden floor covered in tile backer boards ready for tiling

Guess what? You’re done! Allow the adhesive to set using the setting time from the manufacturer’s instructions, and you’re ready for tile installation. Laying tiles directly onto tile backer board couldn’t be any simpler, and you can even use them on walls too. Plus, you don’t need an additional decoupling membrane – saving you time and money. If do choose to install an extra decoupling membrane or uncoupling layer like Schluter Ditra Matting, you can install it right on top of the tile backer board itself using a matting adhesive like Ardex AF200.

Decoupling & Crack Bridging Systems for Tiles

Decoupling Layer

When tiling floors with porcelain or ceramic tiles it is necessary to protect the tiled surface from movement and stresses in the underlying floor (the substrate) which can cause the tiled surface to fail or crack. Here are some of the reasons that can cause the substrate to move;

  • Thermal expansion and contraction. For example: the warming or cooling of a heated screed, or external temperature changes on a patio between day and night. Tiling behind large areas of south facing glazing are also particularly prone to movement.
  • Moisture movement in wooden floors. Wooden structures expand when humidity increases and shrinks when it decreases.
  • Shrinkage of a newly laid sand & cement, anhydrite or concrete screed. In the days and weeks after a new screed is laid it will shrink as it dries and cures.

Decoupling and crack bridging systems provide a layer between the tiled surface and the flooring substrate. This layer ensures that the stresses caused by horizontal movement are not passed on to the tiled surface, which may cause deformation and cracking.

Decoupling and crack bridging systems will not accommodate vertical movement and deflections, however. These are typically found in poorly braced timber floors, between adjoining substrates (i.e. a join between a timber and screeded substrate), or when covering an expansion joint. Timber floors must be well braced to prevent deflection (bounce).

In addition, expansion joints will generally be required over a substrate expansion joint or between adjoining substrates. Additional movement joints will also be required round perimeters, columns, over supporting walls and in large areas.

Always read the manufacturers detailed fixing instructions.

Most systems require fixing to the substrate, but BAL Flexbone2Easy is a loose lay system that speeds us install time. This can also be particularly useful if later refurbishment is expected, or you’re fixing over an anhydrite screed. Orbry and Marmox boards can be mechanically fixed to timber flooring and any fleece-based system can also be fixed to dry sand and cement screeds using Ardex AF200 vinyl adhesive.

We currently stock ten different De-Coupling and Crack Bridging systems that offer varying functionality and pricing. We offer solutions for low height systems, anhydrite screeds, easily removable, indoor or outdoor, integral waterproofing, fast tracking traditional screeds, vapour equalisation and integrated electric cable grids.

Key benefits of each system

Bal Rapid Mat at Tile Fix Direct

BAL Rapid Mat
• Low height (3mm from substrate to top of mat)
• No adhesive required to fill cavities

BAL Flexbone Varied at Tile Fix DirectBAL Flexbone Varied
• Easy-fill adhesive cavities saves time
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation

BAL Flexbone 2Easy at Tile Fix DirectBAL Flexbone2Easy
• Suitable for anhydrite screeds without significant preparation
• Loose lay so no adhesive required for fixing
• Easy-fill adhesive cavities saves time
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Kerakoll Green Pro MattingKerakoll Green Pro
• Suitable for external use
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Provides some impact sound reduction

Ditra Matting at Tile Fix Direct

Schluter Ditra 25 Matting
• Long pedigree, is the original system with proven record
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• When placed over underfloor heating the matting’s interconnected air channels help evenly distribute heat.

Ditra Heat Duo Matting

Schluter Ditra Heat Duo Matting
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas (but not suitable for permanently wet areas)
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Comes with integrated grid for electrical underfloor heating
• Thick fleece creates a thermal barrier
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Durabase Matting

Dural Durabase CI++
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds

Durabase UFH Matting

Dural Durabase CI FH
• Allows for vapour pressure equalisation
• Can be used as a tanking system for wet areas (but not suitable for permanently wet areas)
• Fast track new sand & cement screeds
• Comes with integrated grid for electrical underfloor heating
• Fast track new sand & cement screedsOrbry Boards at Tile Fix Direct

Orbry Board
• Can be used as a tanking system for permanently wet areas
• Can be mechanically fixed (incl anhydrite screeds)
• Has strong insulating properties
• No adhesive requirement to fill cavities
• Suitable for external use

Marmox Boards at Tile Fix Direct

Marmox Multiboard
• Can be used as a tanking system for permanently wet areas
• Can be mechanically fixed (incl anhydrite screeds)
• Has strong insulating properties
• No adhesive requirement to fill cavities
• Suitable for external use

Note: always refer to manufacturers instructions before specifying or installation.

Know your Ceramic and Porcelain Cement Based Adhesives

Tile adhesive being applied

What Are The Differences Between Cement Based Adhesives?

Tile adhesive being applied for tiles

There are many different types of tile adhesive available today, each for a different purpose and application. Selecting the correct adhesive your job is of paramount importance to ensure your tiled surface looks great and remains strong and stable during its lifespan.

This help sheet only relates to cement based adhesives, excluding ready mixed and resin based options which have their own features and benefits. Cement based adhesives are primarily split into two different classes, C1 and C2 – but what do these mean?

C1 Cement Based Adhesives

C1 adhesives are basic cement based adhesives and not stocked by Tile Fix Direct. As these adhesives are generally not suitable for Porcelain tiles, the most common type of floor tile.

C2 Cement Based Adhesives

Improved adhesives that often have their polymers modified, resulting in increased adhesion and bond strength. This also adds a degree of flexibility as well as water repellent characteristics. This type of adhesive is suitable for most tile types and on a wide range of background surfaces.

Suffixes and Additional Adhesive Properties

These C1 and C2 adhesives may also have some suffixes after their name that tell you a bit more about the tile adhesive and indicate it’s additional properties. You may see some of the suffixes listed below, so we’ve created a handy guide to let you know what they mean!

F = Indicates that this tile adhesive is Fast Setting or Rapid Setting, shortening curing time and allowing you to grout and complete your project quicker.

T = This indicates that the adhesive is Thixotropic or Slump resistant/Non slip. This can be particularly useful for wall tiling as the adhesive will not slump with gravity and weight.

E = Indicates Extended Working Time or pot life and can apply to both fast setting and standard setting adhesive. Extended pot life means you don’t have to rush, and is particular useful when tiling larger areas or projects with a complex design where a lot of tile cutting is required.

S1 = The S rating relates to how Deformable the adhesive is. S1 tile adhesives are suited to most tiling surfaces subjected to limited movement or subject to vibration, such as well braced timber floors. S1 adhesives are the industry standard tile adhesives for flooring as they have flexibility and strong support for your tiles.

S2 = This indicates that the product is a Highly Deformable adhesive. A highly deformable adhesive may seem the ideal product for floors with more movement, however, the S2 adhesive doesn’t provide as much support to the tile as an S1 version. This means that thinner or softer tiles may not have the strength to cope with the deformable nature of the adhesive and a less than stable background.

British Standards

All adhesives conforming to British standards should have packaging marked with the appropriate adhesive coding e.g. C2 FTE S1. Using the suffixes above, we can tell that this product would be an Improved Cement Based Adhesive, Fast Setting, Extended working time with some deformability.

pallet deals on tile adhesive at Tile Fix Direct

Tile Adhesives at Tile Fix Direct

As well as our wide selection of tiles here at Tile Fix Direct, we also offer a wide range of solutions to help you fix tiles and complete your project. Whether you’re a DIY hero looking to adhere wall and floor tiles, or even a flooring contractor getting tile materials for your next project – we’ve got you covered.

The backbone to any tiling job is tile adhesive and with an unrivalled selection of professional tile adhesives, you can be sure to find one that will meet the needs of your specific tiling project. We have a wide selection of tile adhesives currently in stock, with ready mix, rapid setting, and cement based options available. Our smoothing compounds ensure that your floor coverings site on a smooth and level floor. We have a range of indoor and outdoor solutions to suit your needs.

It’s no secret that your tiling project will only come out as good as the materials that you’ve used, and that’s why we hand pick our range from trusted brand names such as Norcros, Ardex, Kerakoll, and BAL to ensure quality. We’ll let you know which adhesives and floor levelling compounds are rated to use with large format tiles and underfloor heating so you pick the right materials.

Product Feature: Lithofin Stain-Stop

Had enough of stained tiles? Look no further than Lithofin Stain-Stop. It will help protect all types of natural and engineered stone including polished marble, so the tiles will keep that freshly installed look for longer.

What Stain-Stop Does

Lithofin Stain-Stop is an impregnator that provides protection for porous natural stone and artificial surfaces. Lithofin Stain-Stop penetrates into the surface of the tile and coats the capillaries with an extremely thin, invisible film. Oil, grease and water cannot penetrate through this film and so are not absorbed into the tile, instead remaining on the surface. The dirt can then be easily removed without leaving stains.

Where to Use Stain-Stop

Lithofin Stain-Stop is ideal for protecting unglazed ceramics against stains and to help facilitate every-day maintenance. We highly recommended using this product in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas which frequently come into contact with water and oil.

How to Use Stain-Stop

  • The surface to be treated must be completely dry and clean.
  • Always test the product in an inconspicuous area prior to use.
  • On highly absorbent surfaces: evenly and generously apply Lithofin Stain-Stop with a brush or roller. Avoid foam.
  • After approx. 20 minutes, apply Lithofin Stain-Stop again to ensure that the entire surface is saturated. Then carefully remove all surface residues with a cloth.
  • Do not allow any product to dry on the surface.
  • On highly absorbent surfaces, a second application after approx. 24 hours may be necessary.
  • Attention! the liquid product must sink into the surface.
  • Dry residues will not be removable once product is fully cured.
  • Lithofin Stain-Stop can only be used on absorbent and completely dry surfaces. Glass, ceramics, wood, and other surfaces sensitive to solvents must be protected against splashes.
  • Application Temperature: the temperature of the surface should be between 5°C and 25°C. Switch off under floor heating.
  • Drying Time: most solvents will evaporate within two hours. The product will be fully effective after approx. 48 hours.

For invisible protection against staining and for aiding the maintenance of all natural stone surfaces, including polished marble, use Lithofin Stain-Stop. Perfect for use on wall and floor surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as on table tops, window sills and other sensitive surfaces. It’s even suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Purchase Lithofin Stain-Stop online at Tile Fix Direct and protect your tiles today!

The 10 Tiling Tools You Need in Your Toolbox

Tile adhesive being applied

It is said that a bad workman blames their tools, so a wise one knows to keep their toolbox happy with what we think are the top 10 tiling tools any tiler needs.

  1. Tape Measure: Making sure you measure accurately is probably the most essential part of any tiling job. Once the tiles have been cut and adhered to the substrate, if the measuring was off to begin with then there’s no going back. It is therefore vital that you have a good quality tape measure (with no obscured markings) before you start and measure both the surfaces you intend to tile on to and the tiles themselves before moving on to the next task. We recommend measuring it all a second time, just to be 100% sure.
  2. Pencil: Pencils are often overlooked until you are in the middle of a tiling job and desperately need to mark up accurately, then they are like gold dust. Therefore, though it may seem a bit ridiculous to have placed pencils in our top 10 list, you’ll be very thankful when you reach for that pencil and there’s one waiting for you. We recommend investing in a pack of chinagraph pencils – they’re great for marking on hard, glossy surfaces such as ceramic and porcelain.
  3. Manual Tile Cutter: The tool in your toolbox which will most likely become your most treasured is the manual tile cutter. Powerful, versatile and easy to use it can transform your hardest project into a walk in the park. With a manual tile cutter, the cut will be clean and precise, and it won’t affect the quality of the surface material, whether you’re working with ceramic or porcelain.
  4. Tile Spacers: Picture this, the perfect tiles have been selected, the cut and lay is just right, but when you go to grout you realise the spacing is a disaster – it’s every tilers nightmare. All this can be avoided with just a few small tile spacers. These tile spacers help you create equal space during the tile installation, by pushing between four corners of adjoining tiles or being turned on edge and positioned where the edge of one tile sits atop of another. We sell T, Y and X tile spacers so there’s no need to try and adapt them for an unusual shaped tile.
  5. Tile Trowels: No matter what type of tile you are installing, you’ll need to fix them to the surface with some form of tile adhesive . The tile trowel means you can apply the mortar cleanly and evenly to get the best, most professional finish. There are many different options available to suit the tile size and material – one option we love is the Genesis Trowel Set which comes with a range of interchangeable blades so you’ll always have the one you need handy.
  6. Tile Levelling System: There is a fine art to creating a perfectly level tiled surface, and sometimes you need a bit of help getting it. To avoid lipping and achieve the best possible finish a tile levelling system really is an irreplaceable tool.
  7. Grout Float: Comprising of a flat rubber base topped off with a handle, a grout float, similar to a kind of trowel, is used to press the grout into the gaps between your freshly laid tiles. The rubber part prevents damage to the tiles when applying grout. A grout float is an essential tool for those wanting to achieve a professional finish.
  8. Mixing Paddle: Whilst this tool is not considered by everyone to be essential, it is always a good one to have on hand. Whilst you can mix grout and adhesive with an improvised stirrer like a trowel, having the equipment designed for the job will make your life much easier. Mixing paddles are normally made form steel and are designed to fit most power drills.
  9. Sponge: It is the end of the job, the adhesive has cured, the grout has taken hold between the tiles, but it’s likely that there is grout over the surface of the tiles as well. This is where a heavy duty sponge comes in handy – it means you can clean up as you go. We recommend purchasing a proper, dense-celled sponge to remove any excess grout without pulling it out of the joints.
  10. Bucket: Alongside the sponge a proper bucket (not just any old washing up bowl) can help minimise any mess you will make during the tiling process. By buying a proper sturdy bucket, and having a sponge on hand, you can radically reduce your post-project clean-up. A bucket is also essential for mixing up grout and adhesive – pick a good one with with measurements printed on the side to make life easier.

So, there it is, the 10 tiling tools we think of as essential. By keeping all these crucial tools in one place you’ll save both time and energy (no digging through the back of your van for a tape measure or having to go to the nearest DIY store), meaning you can focus on the tiling project at hand. See the full range of tiling tools available online at Tile Fix Direct here.

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