Inlay Tile Into Wood in 4 Steps

What You'll Need
Tile cutter
Notched trowel
1/4 inch underlayment
Tape measure
Latex thinset
Mixer with paddle
Utility Knife
Roofing Nails
Framing square
Tile spacers

Installing inlay tile into a wooden floor can be an intimidating task. However an inlay tile look is something that will add beauty and value to your kitchen. It doesn't matter what type of tile you are using, the process is pretty much the same.


Step One - Layout Tiles

Grab several tiles and lay them out on a flat service. Use the spacers in between them for a realistic measurement. Measure the area of the inlay and locate the center point. Check the distance from the center to the edge of the inlay and then check the laid out tiles. If this measurements are the same, or the end cut for a piece of tile is 3 inches or more, then you can begin laying your tiles from the center of the inlay.

Step Two - Install Underlayment

The end result of the inlay tile project is to have the tile flush with the wood trim. Measure the height of the bottom of the inlay and the trim. If this is too small to allow for the 1/4 inch underlayment and the tile, then you will have to skip this step. If there is enough room, then mix the latex thinset according to the instructions. Cut the underlayment board to fit in the area with a utility knife. Spread out a thin coating of thinset with a notched trowel and set the underlayment in place. Secure in place with the roofing nails set in 4 inch spacings.

Step Three - Install Inlay Tile

Starting with your center point, spread out an even coat of thinset in a small area. Leave some of the marks you made earlier to keep things aligned. Start laying the tile from the center out and use the spacers to keep a uniform spacing. Stop when you get to within 1/8 inch of the edge. Use the tile cutter to cut each piece of tile that is long the edges. Let the tile dry for at least 24 hours.

Step Four - Grout the Tile

To finish off the inlay tile, mix a batch of the grout according to the instructions. Tape off any exposed wood trim and start to spread the grout across the tile surface. Force the grout into the spacings between each tile. Pull the grout float across the tiles at a 45 degree angle to remove the excess grout. After the grout has had enough time to become "tacky" to the touch, sponge off the dried grout from the tiles themselves. Move your sponge in a light circular motion. Rinse it often to keep the sponge clean. Wipe off the area and wait for 20 minutes. Rinse the tiles again with a final washing.

Using a caulking gun, apply a bead of caulking around the area between the wood trim and the tile. Do small sections at a time and run your finger over the caulking to smooth it out. Before it has a chance to dry thoroughly wipe off any excess with a damp sponge.