How to Lay Ceramic Tiles on Chipboard

How to Lay Ceramic Tiles on Chipboard

Ceramic floor tiles give an attractive finish to many floors, with their range of sizes, colors and patterns suiting any d?�cor. In the majority of cases, ceramic floors are laid on a solid foundation, but in some instances, chipboard is used as the underlay. This is far from ideal as chipboard is prone to absorbing moisture, and as such can swell, causing the floor tiles to crack. The solution is to overlay the chipboard with a layer of cement board.

How to Tile a Chipboard Floor

1. Choose the tile you would like to lay, and note its length and width. Measure the length of the room, divide it by the length of the tile, and round the number up. Do the same with the widths. Multiply the two numbers to establish the square footage of tiles you require.

2. Plan the design and layout on paper first. This is especially important if you plan to mix various shapes to make a pattern.

3. You may have some original house plans to show this.

Identify the runs of the floor joists beneath the chipboard, either by noting the uniform pattern of nails in the board, or by lifting the chipboard slightly. Joists are typically spaced at 16-inch intervals.

4. Using a circular saw, cut sheets of cement board, making sure that the joints meet along the joist lines. This will give a firm base to fix the sheets to.

5. Glue the back of the sheets and fix to the chipboard, screwing the cement board to the joists at 6-inch intervals using 2-inch wood screws. You may wish to use 1 A�-inch screws at regular intervals along the board to fix to the chipboard beneath for added security.

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6. Lay some mesh drywall tape along the cement board seams, and seal these joints by mixing and spreading thinset mortar along the tape. Let this dry for 24 hours.

7. Sweep the cement board free of any dust and debris. Working from the center of the room, spread tile adhesive onto the cement board; enough to lay around 10 tiles at a time. Lay the tiles, ensuring a good bond, and space each equally using spacers. These range from 1/16 to 3/8-inch; choose the size of spacer carefully, as small tiles with large gaps in between can look unattractive.

8. Lay as many full tiles as possible, and wait 24 hours for the adhesive to dry. Use a balancing bubble to ensure that all tiles are horizontal.

9. Using a platform tile cutter, score and cut any tiles required for the edges of the room. Ensure the cut edge faces the wall, so it can be hidden under any skirting boards.

10. Remove the plastic spacers using a screwdriver or a putty knife. Mix your grout, following the instructions on the packaging, and spread over the floor using a rubber trowel, ensuring that it is worked into the cracks between the tiles. Use a damp sponge to wipe any excess off the tile face before it dries. Let dry for 24 hours.


Buy waterproof grout if tiling in a bathroom or kitchen.


Be sure to wear suitable protection when cutting and sawing.

Beware sharp edges of cut tiles.