Minimum Ceramic Floor Tile Spacing

How Close Together can you Set Ceramic Floor Tiles

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: We are reflooring our entryway and hall with ceramic floor tile. We want to create a “seamless” look with the ceramic tiles. As a result, we want to set the tiles as close together as possible. The ceramic floor tiles are 12″x12″ tiles and we are planning to place them in a subway pattern.

My question to you is what is the minimum spacing we should use between the ceramic floor tiles? I read that you don’t like to use more than a 1/4″ spacing, and I agree. But can we use even less?

Answer: Personally, I like to see 1/4″ spacing between large ceramic floor tiles such as 12″ x 12″.

Proportionally I believe it is more eye appealing. In addition, having a slightly wider grout seam helps insure the grout seam stays in place.

If you are compelled to have a narrower grout line for larger ceramic floor tiles, I would suggest having a minimum tile spacing of no less than 3/16th of an inch. Any narrower and you may run into problems with your grout lines. Ceramic tiles typically have some dimensional variation. If the grout lines are too narrow these variations may show up by either having effectively non-existing grout lines, or skips in grout lines, on some sections of the finished ceramic tile floor surface.

See how to install ceramic floor tile here.

In addition, it is best to have some grout penetrate down in between the tiles to help create a better bond. Grout that is effectively just laying on top of the bevel ceramic tile edge is more susceptible to cracking / breaking away from the tile.

For a more specific answer with your particular ceramic tile choice I would also suggest contacting the tile manufacturer and ask for their recommendations.

In order to maintain a consistent and proper tile spacing there are number of removable tile spacer products on the market today that you can purchase.

Use tile spacers when tiling walls

Here is an example of using tile spacers on a shower wall.

They are simply installed between ceramic tiles while installing the ceramic tiles. Once the ceramic tiles have set up, you can simply remove the tile spacers and grout. Removable tile spacers are available in a number of widths including 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″ and 3/8″.

For information on installing a shower pan membrane liner for a ceramic tile shower, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation Ebook from  The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

See’s Ceramic Tile Calculator

See my “How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower” Ebook to learn how to tile your own shower:  For a detailed set of instructions on tiling a shower floor and walls, including pictures for every step in the process, see my “How to Tile Custom Ceramic Tile Shower Ebook”.

Related Information

Additional Ceramic Tile Resources from


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