Kendall "aka Renos"

Founder, Lead Instructor of Renos 4 Pros and Joes and Bathroom Update Guide

When I did my very first tile project I remember calculating how many 12×12 tiles for 100 square feet. Adding new tile is a great way to improve the overall look and feel of a space. When you are planning your project and purchasing supplies it is important to be able to estimate approximately how many tiles you will need based on the size of the space.

For a 100 square foot tile project, you will need to install a total of 100 12×12 tiles. But some tiles could be damaged during transport or installation or maybe otherwise unusable.  It’s customary to purchase an additional 15 percent above the exact calculated amount of tile. 100 (12×12 tiles) times 15% equals 115 tiles.  The extra tiles will help ensure that you have enough tiles on hand to finish the project even if some of the tiles you purchased cannot be installed for any reason. 

How many square feet is a 12×12 tile?

For clarification, (1) 12×12 tile covers 1 square foot. And the term “12×12” actually refers to the length and width of the tile in inches. So a 12×12 tile is 12 inches in length by 12 inches in width.

Can you use 12×12 tiles on walls?

Yes, 12×12 tiles are one of the most if not the most common size tile. 12×12 Tiles are commonly used on walls of tub and shower surrounds. They are also commonly used on the walls in commercial bathrooms. 12×12 tiles will not work well as a kitchen backsplash because the height of the space between the countertops and the bottom of the wall cabinets is usually 18 inches. This means that you would have to use one whole time and then cut another tile in half, which isn’t going to look very good.


Upfront Tile Advice

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that if you are reading this post that you are new to the trade of tile installation. And you are probably trying to learn as much as you can in order to get ready for an upcoming project. You are definitely on the right track. Regardless of whether you are hiring a contractor to perform the work, or you are planning to do the work yourself, the more knowledgeable that you are on the subject the better off you will be. Because at the end of the day you want the job done correctly no matter who actually does the work. And for that reason, I would suggest checking out a basic guide to tile installation, like the one by Stanley (click here to see it on Amazon).

Tile Walls or Floors First?

There is not a right and wrong answer here but, most pros prefer doing walls first then floors because it’s faster and easier. If you tile the floor first be aware that you will then have to allow the floor to dry before you can tile the walls. And once the floors are dry and you return to tile the walls, you will have to be careful not to make a mess because you will have to stand and work over the freshly installed floor tile. I’ve written a post about a bathroom renovation project (with pictures) where the floors were literally caving in. Let this post serve as entertainment and motivation for your project.

What size trowel for 12×12 Tile?

3/8″ x 1/4″ or a 1/2″ x 1/2″ are the most commonly used trowel sizes for 12×12 tiles.


Tile Underlayment

Remember to install the appropriate underlayment before you begin installing your tiles. With the exception of a concrete floor, you will need some type of underlayment. The most common tile underlayment is cement board.


Installing Cement Board

When installed tile on a wood-framed floor system, cement backer board or some other type of underlayment must be installed with a thin layer of thinset spread on the subfloor before the cement board is placed. Lots of tile installers skip this step or don’t do it unless asked. Skipping this step can cause you whole floor tile project Then the cement board must be screwed down. Play it safe and used the screws that are specified by the manufacturer of the underlayment. Also, pay close attention to the specified screw spacing.

Why Use Tile Underlayment

The purpose of the underlayment is to make the floor system more rigid by making the floor function as one unit. If the floor is able to move in certain areas, the tiles and grout will usually crack and fail over time in those areas.

Installing Tile Directly to Plywood Subfloor

You should never Install tile directly to the subfloor. The tile is almost guaranteed to crack and it won’t take long for the tile and grout to completely fail. if you don’t have the time or resources to do it right, then just wait until you do. you are basically throwing away time and material by installing without the right supplies.

Where to Shop for Tile

It may just be in my region of the country (the southeast), but it seems like the big box home improvement stores are stocking fewer types of tile. On the flip side, the tile and flooring specialty retailers seem to be stocking a larger variety.

If you aren’t in a rush take a day or two to visit the different stores in your area that sell tile so that you can get a complete picture of what your option are.

Tile Vs Hardwood

This is a common question and the debate typically centers around the kitchen floors (and sometimes bathrooms). Tile floors are going to typically cost more once you factor materials and labor. Tile is more durable in a kitchen because its far less likely to be damaged by water and grease than wood floors. On the flip side, the tile floor cannot be changed without pulling all the tile out and starting over. Hardwood floors, on the other hand, can be refinished to give the space a different look.


12×12 Tile Installation Options

There are three main patterns used to install 12×12 tile. The first and most popular part is called straight lay. This pattern looks like a tic tac toe board. Each tile is equally spaced from the next.

The next pattern is the diagonal lay. This is very similar to straight lay except that the design is turned by 45 degrees. This design does involve more work to get started, and if you are not taking this one on yourself there is a good chance that your tile installer will charge a little more in labor.

The third pattern that is common for 12×12 tile is the running bond or brick lay. IN this pattern each row or line of tile is staggered by half the width of the tile, which for a 12×12 tile is 6 inches.

There are various other installation patters.

Before you decide on a pattern, take the time to read the tile manufacturers product details and specifications. Often the manufacturer will state the amount of overlap as well as the necessary grout spacing required to keep from voiding the product warranty.


Selecting a great grout color can really help tie your whole project together. It best to shop for grout color at the same time that you are shopping for the tile. There are tons of different grout colors available. A paper color chart is a cheap and easy way to get a feel for grout colors. Usually, the bags of grout mix have a small sample color square on the bag to help shoppers get a better idea of the actual color of grout.

Grout Sealant

Grout Sealant is a liquid product that helps to prevent dirt, staining, and discoloration of the grout by preventing dirt and dust from penetrating the grout. Grout typically comes in powder form and must be thoroughly mixed with water to prepare it for installation.

Once the grout is completely dry it is quite porous and nature and can be susceptible to absorbing things that come into contact with it. This is not what you want, especially if your tile is on the floor in a high traffic area.  If you are using a grout sealant, you may be able to forgo mixing the grout powder with water and used the sealant instead of water. Of course, check the manufacturer’s information.

Hauling Tile vs Tile Delivery

We all know that hauling our own material can help save money. But it’s important to make sure that its worth it. If you only have 100 square feet of tile to install, you may need as few as 7-8 boxes of tile. But don’t forget about the other products. You will need thinset cement to install 12×12 tile.

And unless you are installing on concrete you will also need a tile underlayment. These are the tile products that will take up the most space and weigh the most. Now if you have a pickup truck and a strong back then go for it. But if you have a smaller vehicle or a nice vehicle you need to consider whether it’s worth it to potentially damage and soil your vehicle while transporting the materials.

If you are ordering from a big box store, they usually charge less than $100 dollars to deliver and most deliver for free if you spend a certain amount. Even if you ultimately decide to brave it and haul your own materials, its worth it to at least explore the option of delivery.

Tile Underlay Sizes

The most commonly used tile underlayment is cement backer board. These boards come in 3 foot by 5-foot sheets. Each board will cover 15 square feet.

Tile Underlayment Thickness

Cement backer board comes in two thickness 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch. The 1/4 inch backer board is for the floor and the 1/2 backer board is for the walls.

Tile Safety

When you are laying tile make sure to protect your eyes when you are cutting tile. Protect your knees if you have to kneel. Good kneepads can sometimes be hard to find. This pair of heavy-duty cushioned knee pads have excellent reviews on Amazon. And be sure to keep your work area free of trip hazards. If possible set-up a tile cutting station outside the property, but far enough away that you don’t get tile dust everywhere.


Have Fun and Good Luck!