The length of time it takes to tile a floor varies widely depending on the installer's experience and other factors. The first tiling job is certain to take longer than subsequent ones because practice typically improves how quickly a job can be done. After tackling the first tile job, you learn shortcuts and find ways to reduce the time it takes to finish steps.
Room Size and Shape
A small bathroom may only require an hour or two to lay tiles, while a large living area may take days. Square or rectangular rooms without obstructions move along faster than rooms that have walls jutting in, bay windows jutting out or columns anchored to the floor.
Tiles run parallel to walls are placed more quickly than tiles run diagonally -- those set on a 45-degree angle to the walls. Offset patterns, such as a herringbone designs, or the addition of decorative borders and other features also add to the time it takes to tile a floor.
Subfloors must be flat or tiles could break and crack over time. Tile can be set over most subfloor surfaces, but preparation times vary. Raised seams, nail heads and protruding screws must be made flush before tile work begins. Backerboard is often put down over plywood subflooring to adjust for abnormalities in the material and to create a flat surface for mounting tiles. Cement floors do not require backerboard, but they do need to have cracks and low spots filled and high spots taken down.
Layout and room shape determine how many tiles need to be cut and at what angles. Pipes, sinks, cabinets and other obstructions also present a challenge to tile around, often requiring drilled holes or snipped tiles to accommodate the obstruction. Tile nippers and a diamond-bladed wet saw are essential for the tile-cutting phase.
Waiting between steps adds time to the overall project. Thinset mortar must cure for 24 hours before you can walk across tiles. Thinset begins to dry out in 30 minutes, so the floor must be tiled in sections without kneeling on or walking across tiled sections as they cure. Whole tiles are set in place first and the mortar allowed to cure before cut tiles can be set.
Once thinset has fully cured, grouting can begin. Grout is forced into the seams between tiles and allowed to set up before the excess is removed. Sponges dampened in clean water remove grout and haze, but it takes several passes to pick up all the excess grout material. This is the final cleaning step in tiling a floor.