How to Lay Tile on Dirt

When laying tile a solid understructure called a "bed" is required. The tile sits on and adheres to this level surface. There are many different materials that can be used to create a bed for tiling but dirt is one of the most economical and efficient types. Using a clean, fine dirt, such as sand, allows you to create a quick bed and give extra strength to the tile joints without having to deal with messy permanent materials like cement and mortar.

Learn how to install tiles on dirt, soil and sand.

Step 1

Pour the sand out on the tiling surface into a half-inch-thick layer. Spray the sand with a garden sprayer to wet it moderately and tamp it with a hand tamper.

Step 2

Run a bladed screed over the wet sand to smooth it out and remove excess sand. If the bed becomes reduced to less than a half-inch, add more sand until it is the correct depth.

Step 3

Set the first tile down in place and tap it lightly in the middle with a rubber hammer. This gently forces the tile into the sand bed without breaking it.

Step 4

Place the next tile directly to the side of the first tile and tap it down with the hammer. Continue to lay tiles until your entire tiling area is covered.

Step 5

Spread sand over the tiles so they are entirely covered; then work the sand into the narrow gaps between the tiles with a stiff broom. Brush away any sand that won't fit into the gaps.

Step 6

Wet down the tiles with the garden sprayer and check the sand for gaps. Fill any displaced areas with more sand; then let the tiles dry completely.