How To | Install 1920's Penny Tile Flooring

From the day we moved into our 100 year old, outdated bungalow, Peter and I knew that we wanted bring it back to its 1920’s glory days.  Penny tile was the perfect flooring choice to evoke that 1920's - oh so, retro-chic vibe!

Hidden beneath the existing brown floral linoleum and fresh carpet were 100 year old pine hardwood floors. Unfortunately, that linoleum was glued to those beautiful hardwood floors in the kitchen, washroom and bathroom which made the time and cost to refinish them too much. Instead of refinishing the flooring in those areas, we made a trip to Lowes to make my penny tile dreams a reality. Check out our shopping list and step-by-step instructions below.


Step 1

Clear the space where you’ll be installing the penny tile and remove all the baseboards by scoring the tops and bottoms of each baseboard with a good quality utility knife, then carefully pry them off with a pry bar. Give the floor a good cleaning and allow it to dry thoroughly to ensure the best adhesion during installation. 

Step 2

The wall where you start your tile will dictate the angle of the entire flooring design, so think this decision through! Chasing an angled wall will cause the entire tile pattern to be angled. The best practice is to choose the straightest wall possible as your guide.  

Step 3

It's guaranteed that not all of the tile sheets are going to fit perfectly, that's because most rooms aren't perfect squares. Don't worry!

Using a Sharpie or blue painter's tape mark where the excess tile needs to be removed. Using this as a guide, begin trimming the excess whole tiles from each sheet using a utility knife by cutting the mesh netting. If any tiles still need to be trimmed, say in half, simply nip them to the desired length using your tile nippers. Make sure to wear safety glasses and be careful, newly cut tile is very sharp!

Design Tip | Don't freak out if your snipped tiles aren't straight, the grout or baseboards will cover any wayward edges. 

Step 4

Mix your thinset based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you are using premixed thinset, proceed to step 5. 

Step 5

Begin installing the tile sheets in the location furthest away from your exit. We do this to ensure that you will not be crawling across newly installed tile - just me, it's not fun! Work in a 2-4 foot square area at all times and always work in a horizontal or vertical fashion. 


Step 6

Using the V Notch trowel, apply a thin layer of thinset to the ground, then lay a sheet of penny tile in its predetermined location. 

Secure the tile sheet by applying even pressure on it with the rubber tile float. Use a level to ensure the tile is level. Continue this process until the entire installation area is covered, then allow the area to cure for 24 hours. 

Step 7

Mix the grout by following the manufacturer’s recommendations to achieve the correct consistency. If using premixed grout, get right to it! 

Step 8

Working in a 2-4 square foot area at a time, scoop an ample amount of grout on top of the installed tile. Using a rubber float at a 45° angle, work the grout it into the crevices of the penny tile. 

Design Tip | Wipe away excess grout as you work. Wiping while working is so much easier than trying to remove the grout after it has dried.Step 9

Step 9

Allow 20-30 minutes for the grout to set up then clean the tile surface.  It will look messy, but trust me, it will clean up easily with a lightly damp tile sponge.  

Design Tip | This is the most tedious part of the job. The more thoroughly you clean up, the better the results will look!

Step 10

It is important to seal your grout before use. I recommend 511 Impregnator from Home Depot. Make sure to wear disposable gloves or the sealer might damage your skin. 

Apply the sealant based on the manufacturer's directions. 

Step 11

Reinstall your baseboard using a nail gun and silicone on top edge where baseboard meets wall. 

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