How to Tile a Small Entryway

Spruce up your entryway with a DIY tiling project even beginners can manage in a matter of hours.

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner

A small entryway is a good beginning tile project because it requires a straightforward application of basic skills. Plus, an entryway is the first impression guests have of your home, so you want it looking fresh and sharp. This project will take you about 30 to 45 minutes per square yard to prepare the floor and set tile. If you have no prior experience with tiling, you'll learn a lot of valuable skills in this project. Let us walk you through the steps in our instructions below.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 4-foot level
  • Small sledgehammer and cold chisel
  • Right-angled grinder or belt sander for wood floor
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalkline
  • Margin trowel
  • Roller
  • Notched trowel
  • Straightedge
  • Carbide scriber
  • Utility knife
  • Snap cutter or wet saw
  • Nippers
  • Grout knife
  • Caulk gun
  • Grout float
  • Hammer
  • Cordless drill
  • Putty knife
  • Bucket
  • Thinset mortar


  • Masonry stone
  • Isolation membrane
  • Tile
  • Spacers
  • Caulk
  • Grout
  • Rags
  • Sponge
  • Water
  • Threshold and fasteners
  • Backerboard and tape for wood floor
  • Foam backer rod


  1. Even Out Surface

    Examine the entryway slab for high spots, depressions, cracks, and other defects. Work in sections with a 4-foot level and mark the defects. Fill depressions, level high spots, and roughen slick surfaces.

    If your entry has wood subflooring, shore up the joists and the subfloor, if necessary, and prepare the surface with the same methods used for a slab. Mix enough thinset to allow you to use it within its working time (the time it takes to "skin" over) and trowel it on the floor, smoothing first with the straight edge of a trowel and combing it with the notched edge.

    Screw down cement backerboard with the edges centered on the joists, offsetting subsequent joints and spacing the edges ⅛ inch apart. Drive screws into the backerboard on the edges and within the field. Tape the backerboard joints with 2-inch pregummed tape and spread a thin coat of thinset over the tape.

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    Apply Membrane

    Bandage each crack in the slab with an isolation membrane. Apply the adhesive with a roller, let it cure (follow the manufacturer's directions), and cover the adhesive with the membrane.

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    Set Layout

    Dry-lay tiles to test your layout, keeping small cut tiles to a minimum. Then use a chalk line to snap a reference and as many layout lines as the pattern needs. Starting at the first row of field tile near the door, trowel on thinset in a smooth and even manner.

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    Begin Laying Tile

    Set field tile first on the layout lines. You will do edge tile last. Insert spacers in-between each tile as you go and check the sections with a straightedge to make certain they're straight. If they're not, adjust as needed before thinset dries. Clean excess mortar from the joints with a utility knife as you go.

  5. Lay Edge Tile

    When the mortar under the field tiles is dry, it's time to lay the edge tile. Mark and cut the tile as needed. Round the cut edges with a masonry stone to give them a finished appearance that blends into the full tile. Spread mortar and lay tile, using spacers as you go. When you're finished laying the edges, clean the joints and caulk the joint at the wall. Use your finger to smooth the caulk as it dries.

    Tile floors expand and contract with changes in temperature. Expansion joints cushion the expansion of tile against the wall and keep the tile from cracking. An expansion joint is a gap filled with a compressible material and topped off with caulk. Foam backer rod is available in a variety of thicknesses. Purchase backer rod that fits snugly.

    On a slab, insert foam backer rod into any control joints in the field of the slab and also along the perimeter at the wall. Push the backer rod into place with a wide putty knife. On a wood subfloor, insert the backer rod into the ¼-inch gap between the cement backerboard and the wall. Finish the joint with caulk colored to match the grout.

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    Apply Grout

    Let the edge tiles cure before you grout. Force grout into the joint with a grout float, let it set slightly, then scrape the excess off the surface. Be sure to use the tool suggested by the manufacturer so as to not scratch the new tile. Clean the grout from the surface, and wipe off the haze with rags. Let dry.

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    Install Threshold

    If the threshold didn't require installation before the tile, install it now. Cut the threshold to fit the doorway, if necessary, and install it with fasteners recommended by the manufacturer.

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