6 Steps for Laying Tile When You’re Clueless

This post covers 6 steps for laying tile when you’re clueless, but I gotta “lay” some background.


Gary and I always yard sale together…that’s what happens when your man is retired. He’s not a junker…he likes to explore, and enjoys the aesthetics of people’s houses.


Us at estate sales:

Gary: Did you see those kitchen cabinets?

Me: Huh?

Gary: Did you see the pretty paneling and how the kitchen cabinets were laid out? I really liked that bedroom paint color. Did you see that old bathroom? Did you see the 40’s tile? Did you notice the layout of the house? Did you see the back patio and the porch?

Me: Whaaat??? Uh no, I don’t see any of that. I’m only looking at STUFF!


But I digress….so when we happened upon this UGLY motel nightstand, I didn’t give it a second glance. I had a booth back then too, but I sure didn’t catch a vision for it. Gary stopped me, commenting that it had possibilities. I grunted disparagingly, but it was only $5, and bargains give me pause.


Wish I had a picture to show you how truly tacky it was. Painted silver, it looked like something a college student had slapped on, and the only redeeming factor was the mirrored drawer. Someone had glued on little silver charms, making it sparkly and eye-catching. Later I discovered the charms disguised a cracked mirror. There was no way this was gonna fly. The mirror had to go. The silver definitely had to go.


6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless
This is the after


I painted it Sherwin Williams “Heirloom White,” which was my “go to” paint. That definitely improved it. I removed all the little charms, saving them for future use, then chipped away until all the mirror pieces were off.  But how to fix the drawer front?


I decided to try tiling it. Had I ever tiled? NO! But I discovered Youtube was my best friend. I just happened to have some bits of tile on hand because you know us yard salers always have stuff in case we need it.







Tile (ya think?)

Where to Find Tile for Free:  Salvage stores always have broken tile, which they throw away. Probably tile retailers will give it to you, but I haven’t had to go there yet.


Tile cutter

6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless
Tile Cutter

(yes you can take tile outside and hit it with a hammer, and believe me, I considered it because “Cheapskate Southern Girl Picker” HATES to spend money buying supplies, and hates even worse driving through congested traffic to buy supplies!)


But I discarded that notion because I wanted control over how big my pieces were, and I didn’t want to crack my concrete.


Tile Adhesive

6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless
Tile Adhesive









Non-Sanded Tile Grout

6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless


See the cat? “Wes” just loves to have his picture taken.

I don’t have a clue why you use “non-sanded grout” rather than “sanded grout,” but that’s what youtube said to get, so I got it.



Grout Spreader/Putty Knife

6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless
Putty Knife




*The hardest part for me was the design because my mind goes on vacation where design and styling are concerned. I played with my tile bits and came up with this.


6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless
Drawer Front


“Butter” the tile bits with the adhesive, and place them into your design area.

*After you have them placed, let it cure for 24 hrs.

**The important thing is to have your tile pieces the same thickness so that when placed, everything is even and at the same level. Perhaps you can see below that all the pieces are about the same height.


6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless
Another tile project


*Mix up grout. Take as much powdered grout as you think you’ll need, mix with water so that it is the consistency of cake batter, and start spreading between the tile with the putty knife. **A little grout goes a long way, so don’t go overboard mixing it up. I had to throw a bunch away.

*After everything is spread and filled in properly including the edges, wipe down the surface with a damp rag to remove the grout residue.

*Dry for 24 hrs. You are done!

I went an extra step and covered the bottom of the drawer with Dollar Store contact paper, and now we love our UGLY motel nightstand makeover!


6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless
Dollar Store Contact Paper Drawer Lining


We liked it so much, we decided to keep it!

Let me know what you think!



6 steps for laying tile when you're clueless

10 comments on 6 Steps for Laying Tile When You’re Clueless

  1. That came out looking very pretty Florence. Now if you can teach me how to lay tiles on the floor I can get started with much dreaded work.

  2. I did some lamp tables that way a few years ago after removing the blonde finish to show the natural mahogany wood. They look great and go well with my fireplace surround of natural stone.

  3. Great job, Florence! Such an adventure, learning a new craft. You must be so pleased with the results 🙂 Thanks for sharing it with us at Vintage Charm–

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