DIY Project: How to Tile a Vestibule Floor

Before and After Hexagon Tile Floor in Vestibule

When we first moved into our house the floor of our entryway was in poor shape - although it had a pretty cool custom jigsaw floor, it was covered in peeling red paint and a thick layer of dirt. We tried sanding it down and staining it black but it still wasn't quite right - the wood would get covered in dust and dirt and looked grey and dirty.

A few weeks ago I was inspired by an image of a vestibule filled with hexagon tile and fell in love. I already have a few re-tiling projects under my belt so I was able to finish this project in about 5 hours of work (with two days drying time).

Hexagon Tile Floor in Vestibule

Materials for Tiling a Vestibule Floor:

  • Tile
  • Spacers (if your tile isn't sold on mesh sheets)
  • Thinset Mortar or Mastic
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout
  • Rubber float
  • 2 buckets
  • Sponge
  • Tile cutter, nippers, or a diamond cutting wheel for your dremel
  • Cheesecloth or lint-free towel

Should I use thinset or mastic?

See the table below for the differences between thinset vs mastic to help determine which you should use for your project. Since I'm tiling a vestibule floor - essentially where we'll be stepping in from the outside, I'll be using thinset since it's unaffected by water.


MasticThinset
AvailabilitySold pre-mixedSold pre-mixed or dry
MoistureNot suitable for wet areasUnaffected by water
VOCsEmits some VOCsNo VOC emissions
Set Up Time30 minutes15 minutes
Dry Time24 hours before applying grout6 hours before applying grout
Tile SizeCannot be used for tiles larger than 10"x10"Can be used for tiles larger than 10"x10"
MaterialsCannot be used with glass tilesCan be used with glass tiles
Places to UseWalls, dry backsplashesFloors, showers, tubs, backsplashes

Should I use sanded or non-sanded grout?

Use a non-sanded grout if the space between your tiles is less than 1/8" and a sanded grout if the space is larger than 1/8".

How to Tile a Vestibule Floor:

The most important rule that I learned from the past few tiling projects I've done is that no house, even new ones, are completely even. Be prepared to have to make odd cuts in order for your tile to all fit evenly, but most importantly don't cut everything beforehand - it's much easier to cut as needed.
  • Lay your tile onto the floor to figure out where it will lay
Once I laid down my tile to measure the space I found that I would need to cut each tile in half to fill along the edges - I bought a snap tile cutter for $20 and it has more than paid off - you can't really use it for custom cuts like cutting along a corner for an outlet, but it'll snap anything in half. If you're tiling around outlets or the like you'll most likely need a wetsaw or a cutting wheel for a dremel.

Tiling Supplies
  • Apply thinset or mastic to a section using the notched trowel
  • Place the tile, pressing down evenly to ensure it's set in place
  • Apply thinset/mastic to the next section of tile until completed
After I had a game plan of what order I'd be placing my tiles in, I began smoothing on the thinset with my notched trowel in sections - just enough to cover the next section of tile, and then used my rubber float to make sure that the tile was pressed down evenly before moving on to the next section. After all of the tile was in place I cleaned off any areas where I'd put too much thinset and it had squeezed through the spaces between the tiles.
  • Let the thinset dry
If your tiles are on the floor like mine, try to walk on them as little as possible. Because my tiles were right in front of the door, I laid down a plank of wood when we had to enter/exit so that we at least wouldn't disturb the tiles too much. I also kept my interior door open with a box fan on to help with drying.

How to Tile a Vestibule Floor

How to tile a vestibule floor

Once your thinset is dry you're ready to grout!

  • Grout your tile
  • Use a damp sponge to remove excess grout
  • Let your grout dry for 24 hours
  • Buff off any remaining haze with a cheesecloth or lint-free towel

Working in small sections, load up your rubber float with grout and spread it over the tiles, pressing down to get it into all of the spaces. Then clear off the excess grout off the top of the tiles by pulling your float at a 45 degree angle - this will not remove all of the grout but that's okay. Once all of the spaces are filled go back over with a damp sponge - wring out all of the excess water before using the sponge - you don't want any water getting into the grout. The tiles will still be a little bit hazy even after sponge cleaning but that's okay. Let your grout dry for 24 hours, then buff off any remaining haze on the tile with a cheesecloth or lint-free towel.

Hexagon Tile Vestibule Floor Grout

Hexagon Tile Vestibule Floor Sealant

I used polyblend's non-sanded grout and was happy with ease of use (mixing, application) but very disappointed in the color - I wanted black grout but once the grout had dried it became a medium grey! Luckily, you should also be sealing your grout and polyblend's grout renew colorant/sealant is very true to color. I find it easiest to use a toothbrush to work in small sections by scrubbing the sealant into the grout and then wiping the excess off of the tiles with a damp paper towel.

I've also used their grout renew (in white) on dingy grout to whiten it up if bleach and water isn't doing the trick.

Black Hexagon Tile Vestibule Floor

I'm ecstatic on how this project turned out - the difference that can be made in a weekend on redoing a backsplash or an entryway is pretty remarkable, and is totally easy to do yourself. Or, in my case, to get yourself ready for that faraway but inevitable bathroom renovation.