It is really easy to get too far ahead of things when you are laying ceramic tile or any type of tile. I have made this mistake myself!(back when I was a rookie)

I know I’m not the only either. Time and time again I see this mistake being made by many. I have seen my share of tile installations, where the original installer tried to go too fast and let the thin set skim over. Now the homeowner has to pay me to fix it and I explain what happened. It’s sad because the installer could have avoided this!

It is really an easy mistake to spot because it doesn’t take long for it to be exposed.

Some of the signs of this mistake are-

  • cracked grout
  • cracked or broken tile
  • loose tile
  • hollow sounding tile

These are just a few of the problems that can come about from this mistake. Some others can be even worse than this. Water can get under the tile and cause mold and mildew. This of course is not good for anyone. It can then start to smell bad because of the damage the water is causing.

So how can you avoid this mistake?

It is actually a very simple mistake to avoid. The way that I have avoided it is, I use a grid that I measured out onto the floor. I then snapped some lines on the floor with a chalk line.

This method will help me avoid this mistake and many others. It gives me a guide on the floor when laying ceramic tile that will help me –

  • measure my tile cuts before I start installing any tile
  • keep the tile straight
  • guide me through the entire installation
  • It will provide sections(grids) to install the tile and the results are-
  1. I can then install one section at a time
  2. This will help in me in those tight, hard to get into areas.

So what is this mistake?

This mistake is- letting the thin set skim over .  What this means is it gets a dry film over the top layer and when this happens, the tile will not bond properly with the thin set.

That is what causes tile failure and all of the problems I mentioned earlier. There is a simple way I test this while I’m laying ceramic tile or any any tile.

I lightly touch the thin set with my finger and if I have thin set sticking to my finger, then it is okay. If there is not any thin set on my finger, then it has filmed over.


When you touch the thinset, you want to touch it very lightly. Imagine you are trying to touch a bubble and don’t want it to break.(just a little harder then that). 

If the thin set has skimmed over then I will take some thin set from the bucket and run my trowel over that area again. If it has been on the floor or wall for too long of a period of time, then I just scrape that area with a 6 inch taping knife and throw the thin set away.

Now that you know this commonly made mistake 

Obviously, I want you to be aware of this mistake because it can happen to anyone. I also want to encourage you to be aware of it and not let it happen to you.

This is really why I love to use a grid. I can’t stress to you enough how simple your tile installation can be if you use a grid.

There are a few links I listed at the end of this post that you can check out. These are articles I have written here on my site. They also have a few videos to watch. Then you can see for yourself the how simple this method is, as I  guide you on how I measure for tile cuts. 

Also you can see how much easier it is  laying ceramic tile following the grid lines. If you have any questions or you want to leave a comment, you can do that below.

Here is a Great Guide for You

I also have a guide that will walk you through creating and using a grid for your tile installation. This is a step by step guide that includes videos, checklists and written instructions.

just click on the button for more info


Tile University


Here are the links I mentioned earlier-   Measuring Tile Cuts Using a Grid   and   How to Lay Ceramic Using a Grid



Joe Letendre

Jesus payed the price for our sins