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Step 1: Sample Boards

You can use virtually any type of wood to create your tiles. Hard, soft, beams, posts, 2x4's, etc. After reviewing all the steps, I encourage everyone to take the time to do a few sample boards before starting. It gives you the opportunity to get familiar with the process, the different materials, the size tiles you want to work with, the patterns, the products, etc. Once you have determined the shape and size of tiles you want to use, you'll want to calculate the number of tiles you'll need for the space to get a rough estimate of how much initial material you need to work with.



Step 2: Your Source

Select what type of wood you want to cut down into tiles and make sure you have enough to cover the required square footage.

Step 3: Cut Tiles

Using a power mitre box, we cut our 4x6 pine beams into 3/8 of an inch thick tiles. You can adjust the thickness of your tiles to insure a smooth transition with any adjoining floors. (save your sawdust as you go in a clean collection bin -- you will need it for the grout)



Step 4: Round over Edges

We rounded over the top edges of all tiles using a 1/4 inch round over bit on the router table.

Step 5: Count and Box Up

Do all your cutting first and cut the estimated number of tiles before you begin laying the floor. Our room was 240 square feet and we used just shy of 1500 4x6 tiles. Count as you go and compile in boxes for easy transport.

Step 6: Laying the Floor

Unlike traditional tiling where you start in the center of the room, we started along the edge of the adjoining floor and worked our way to the back of the room, going from side to side. Trust your eyes. You are working with a material that is not 'perfect', so as you work your way from side to side with each row, you are able to keep things in line with how you position your tiles as you go along. We did not use any spacers or chalk lines, but if you feel this will help you keep things in line, try it. Do a dry fit of a few tiles before you begin applying the adhesive to see how things are going to line up. Embrace any irregularities. They honestly do add charm to this type of flooring application. Working in small, manageable areas, spread a layer of eco-friendly adhesive/mastic with a v-notched trowel and begin securing tiles. We left about 1/8 of an inch gap between each tile and another half inch gap around the perimeter of the room to allow for natural expanding and contracting.

Note: Make sure your subfloor is solid and smooth. No protruding nails, screws or staples.




Step 7: Press Firm

Be sure to press each tile firmly into the adhesive for a strong bond.

Step 8: Cutting to size

To cut tiles into certain sizes to accommodate walls, cutouts, edges and curves, we marked the tiles and used a benchtop band saw.



Step 9: Cure and Seal

Once you have all the tiles installed, allow them to cure in the adhesive for two to three days before any foot traffic. Once cured, be sure tiles are clean and free of any debris and roll over the surface with one coat of 'sanding sealer', which is a wax-free shellac. This will bring out the natural color of the wood and prime the surface for grouting.



Step 10: Prepare Grout

For the grout mixture you will need shellac and the sawdust from when you cut your tiles. The ratio is one part shellac to one part sawdust. Stir thoroughly. Mix in small batches and work as you go.



Step 11: Grouting

Your hands are a good tool for the grouting process. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and use your hands and a float to work the grout mixture into the tile cracks and crevices. Work in small areas at a time. Remove as much grout off the surface of the tiles as you go along to keep things as smooth and clean as possible. Keep a damp rag and an ammonia/water solution handy to help clean the tops of your tiles. This will save you on sanding later on.

Note: the tiles were not primed with the sanding sealer in this photo. this was a tip we figured out quickly after we got started. If you do not seal your tiles, they absorb the liquid from the grout too quickly.




Step 12: Let dry

Once you've finished grouting, allow it to completely cure and set up for 2-3 days.

Step 13: Sanding

Sand over your floor to smooth and remove any excess grout that may have been left on the tops of your tiles. We used a combination of a small hand orbital sander as well as a floor sander.



Step 14: Tip for broken tile

We had one tile partially pop up on us in the sanding process. We simply scraped the area clean with a chisel and reinstalled the broken pieces. Fixed up beautifully and no one is the wiser!



Step 15: Primer Seal

Once your tiles have been sanded, clean thoroughly. Vaccum if needed to remove any dust. (This is also the perfect time to customize a few tiles if you like with the use of a wood burner) Finally, roll over the top with another coat of sanding sealer or 'wax-free shellac'. You'll also need to use a brush to work the sealer into the spaces and crevices as needed. This primer step brings out the natural color of the wood once again and preps it for your final step of sealing. If you don't do this step, the color of the wood tiles is a bit 'dead'.

Step 16: Final Sealer

For your final step, brush on a coat of eco-friendly high traffic floor sealer, taking care to work the sealer into the grout lines. Allow the sealer to dry thoroughly before applying two additional coats for a durable finish.



Step 17: Enjoy

Tread proudly over you beautifully laid hard work. It's definitely one budget-friendly, show-stopping floor. Enjoy!




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