Home upgrades: How To Tile A Bathroom Like A Pro

Tiling a bathroom is a DIY project that you can do, providing you have the right tools. It’s a task that many homeowners are afraid of doing themselves. Thus they address expert tilers. However, with the right guidelines, tools and equipment, tiling your bathroom can be pretty easy. 

featured man putting tiles in bathroom close-up

You don’t have to be an experienced tiler to improve and upgrade your bathroom. You just have to follow our step-by-step instructions, and we promise that you will learn how to do it like a pro!

Planning before you start tiling the bathroom

Planning is the starting point for all DIY projects. It’s the part that you can determine many factors to achieve the best result, like:

  • What you will do
  • How to do it
  • The tools and materials you will need
  • Which walls you want to tile
  • What size tiles you will use 
  • Your bathroom tiles to be fully tiled or partially 

Then, is the number of tiles you will use. When it comes to tiling your bathroom, you need to calculate. You need to know the exact size of your bathroom to find the number of tiles you’ll need. Keep in mind that you’ll need to add 10%-15% more square metres as you’ll have to cut some tiles into pieces, or you might have some wear and tear, breakages and spares during the process. You don’t want to order any tiles halfway through the task!

Hence get a tape measure and measure the area you want to tile. This way, you’ll know exactly how many tiles you’ll need, grout, mortar and any other necessary supplies you’re going to need to bring your project to a successful end. 

Then, select the type of tile. Decide the one that best suits your needs and preferences. However, you should know that certain types are more suitable for bathrooms than others. Here’s a list of the different types of tiles and their differences in application.

A young couple looking for tiles

Type of tileApplication
TerracottaDry areas (unless glazed)
Ceramic tilesBathrooms (when glazed)
Porcelain tilesBathrooms (when glazed)
SlateFloors, countertops, walls
Glass tilesFeature walls within mosaics
Natural stone tilesBathrooms (with a waterproof layer)
LimestoneFloors
Granite Floors
TravertineFloors and walls.

The next thing to do is to select the pattern of your tiles. Again there are several options. Select the one based on your personal preferences. The most common designs are:

  • Diamond 
  • Linear
  • Brick bond
  • Herringbone
  • ¾ Brick Bond
  • Hexagon
  • Mixed Linear
  • Arabesque

Important: Buy tiles with matching batch numbers to look the same. Otherwise, you run a great risk your walls and floor look quite the same. There might be slight differences in the tiles’ colour and patterns. 

Another thing you need to think about when performing your bathroom’s tiling project is that it will take about 1-3 days to complete. This means that you won’t have a bathroom these days. So, you need to make some arrangements, or you’ll have some serious problems.  

The last thing you need to plan is to imagine how your bathroom will look. What features you want in your bathroom, where to place them and what to hide. Once you have determined all these factors, you’ll be ready to start preparing and tiling your new bathroom

Preparing the bathroom before you start

Before starting your DIY tiling project, you need to do some prep work first. You need to prepare the bathroom walls and floor to be ready to install the new tiles. Remove all the hardware and accessories. Leave the shower pan as it is. Just make sure to cover it with a blanket or towel to avoid any damages and spills. 

A man removing wall tiles with a chisel and a hammer

The first thing is to ensure that the walls and floor are level and clean of dust and debris. More details on cleaning your tiles you can find on our Guide On How To Clean Your Bathroom Tiles. The most popular bathroom surfaces are:

Concrete

If you just have applied concrete on your bathroom floor, you need to let it dry for at least 28 days before tiling. If the concrete is steel-trowelled, it needs to be mechanically roughened and thoroughly clean. Or else you won’t get the necessary adhesion. 

Timber

Tiles adhesion over timber isn’t recommended as timber expands and contracts from its nature. You have to prime it first and let it dry prior to tiling

Plasterboard

The most famous wall surface is the plasterboard. However, if you want to tile over plasterboard, you need to waterproof it first. That means you need to adhere tiles to a paper surface. This would be OK for dry areas. However, no waterproofing in your bathroom can help moisture develop and grow to cause bigger problems afterwards.  

Tiles

If you already have tiles, you have to remove them. How? Let’s see! Just make sure before you start removing to turn off the power to the bathroom and any adjacent rooms. 

You’re going to need:

  • A hammer
  • A chisel
  • A pry bar
  • Wire cutters
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles

Now you can start:

  1. The first tile you’ll remove will be the hardest one. Use the butt of the hammer and push the corners of random tiles. 
  2. Once you find a loose one, use the chisel to remove it. 
  3. If you can’t remove it, stick the chisel in the centre of the tile and hit it with the hammer.
  4. Remove the small pieces.
  5. Set the chisel against the wall or the floor and tap it with the hammer. 
  6. Pull the chisel towards you and remove the tile. 

Once you remove all the tiles, it’s time to get rid of the dried adhesive off the walls or floor. Just tap it with the chisel and your hammer—afterwards, clean everything.

Step-by-step guide: How to tile a bathroom

When you remove the old tiles and level the bathroom floor and walls, you can start tiling. Gather your materials and tools and start over.

A man laying bathroom floor tiles

Things you need are:

  • Tiles
  • Tile adhesive
  • Sealant (silicone with applying gun)
  • Grout (with spreader or float)
  • Adhesive trowel
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Spirit level
  • Tile cutter/scribe
  • Goggles and gloves
  • Tile nipper
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tile file
  • A damp sponge or cloth 
  • Tape measure

One tip before starting describing the process: Measure the floor’s width. Mark the centre point with a pencil and begin laying the floor tiles working from that point to the corners. 

Here are the steps you need to follow to tile your bathroom successfully:

How to tile a floor

Apply adhesive

Place the adhesive with an adhesive trowel. Spread it with the notched trowel across a 1m² area. Using the smooth side of the trowel, spread the adhesive and form the ridges with the serrated edge to level the surface. 

Lay the tiles

Place the first one onto the adhesive. Press the tile and twist it to get into the right position. Repeat the same procedure with the rest tiles. As you lay, the tiles use spacers between them. If the spacers are flat or upstanding, press them below the tile to be hidden when applying the grout. Continue until you place the whole tiles

Level the tiles

A man checking the floor tiles level with a yellow spirit level

Once you have placed some tiles, check them with a spirit level if they’re flat. If not, tap them with the rubber mallet. You can also use a small wood or timber. Place it over the tiles and tap it with the mallet. This will prevent any tile breakages. Meanwhile, wipe the tiles with a damp cloth or sponge to remove any tile adhesive

Cut tiles

Whether you’re installing wall tiles or floor ones in a big or a small bathroom, cutting tiles is inevitable, especially if you lay them around the edges. Before installing the tiles, measure the distance between the last full tile and the edge and mark the tile where it will have to be cut. You can use a tile cutter, tile scribe or a flatbed cutter which is the best option for floor tiles since they’re heavier and more compact than wall tiles

When you mark the tile to cut it, consider the space for grouting and the tile spacers. Use a tile file to smooth the edges or make slight adjustments if the tile is slightly bigger. 

Cut tiles to fit around appliances

You’ll have to cut them to fit around a toilet or a washbasin. It requires a quite different cutting than the edges. You’ll have to cut curves. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Cut a piece of paper the same size as your tiles. 
  2. Cut lines to get a frilled fan appearance. 
  3. Place it like a tile, leaving a gap for the spacer.
  4. Press the frilled paper down and fold the lines where they meet the appliance. 
  5. Draw a line with a pen or pencil where the fold appears. You’re going to use this line as a guide where you need to cut. 
  6. Next, tape the paper onto the tile and mark a cut line with a pencil. 
  7. Use the tile scribe to cut the marked line. 
  8. Then, use the nipper to trim the small parts of the tile.
  9. Finally, install the tile in the appliance with adhesive. 
Grout the floor tiles

Once you have finished placing the tiles, you need to grout between them. First, you’ll have to wipe your tiles to remove any dust and debris. Get your grout float or spreader and apply an amount into the tile joints. Act quickly with the tools and go diagonally to fill the gaps between the tiles. Fill the gaps with enough grout, ensuring that it’s level with the tile for a smooth floor. 

With a damp sponge/cloth, wipe any excess residue from the tile and the external corners. If it hardens, it’ll be very difficult to remove it. Let it dry. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure how long it needs to dry. 

Seal the tiles

Last step: Seal your tiles. Apply sealant between the tiles and the wall tiles and between the appliances. Silicone sealant will prevent water from getting into the tiles through the walls. Start from one end of the bathroom to the other. Use an applying gun to work faster. Let it dry for at least 24 hours.

How to tile a wall 

Beyond the floor, you may want to tile the walls as well. The process and the tools are almost similar to tiling a floor. These are the steps to tile your bathroom walls:

A man laying wall tiles over adhesive

Start laying

Begin placing the tiles from the bottom and move upwards. Place the first tile against the wall and add a spacer. Use a pencil to draw a vertical line to ensure that the tiles are straight up and down and across.

Cut tiles

When you finish laying the whole tiles, you’ll probably need to cut a tile again. Use your tile cutter to cut them the right size. Measure the distance and mark the tile. Align the cutter with the mark cut of the tile.

Apply the tile adhesive

Use a notched trowel to apply and spread the adhesive. It’s the same procedure as applying the adhesive on floor tiles.

Add wall trim 

You may need to add wall trim as well. It’ll give a more professional result. What you have to do? Take a length of wall trim and cut it to the right size. Attach it using some adhesive and plush it firmly into the adhesive using a scraper. 

Apply the grout

Again, you’ll have to apply it between the tiles. Use a spreader/float to spread the grout directly onto the tiles focusing on the gaps. Wipe the excess grout with a damp cloth. Leave the tiled walls to dry. 

How to clean and maintain the tiles in your bathroom

The bathroom is the dirtiest room in the house and needs regular cleaning to keep its sparkle as it tends to get dirty pretty quickly. Water stains, grime, mould, mildew, soap scum are the commonest someone comes across. Dirty tiles and grouting are the parts of the bathroom that accumulate grime and the most neglected ones when it comes to cleaning. 

There are plenty of ways to clean the tiles. You can use chemical cleaners or clean it with more natural products you already have on your own, and you use it for entirely different reasons, like white vinegar, baking soda, lemon. You can find all the needed details on our Step-By-Step Guide On How To Clean Your Bathroom Tiles

A stylish modern bathroom with shower, sink tiles on the walls and floor

Tiling a bathroom can, from now on, become a very easy DIY project to accomplish. You don’t need to be an experienced tiler to do so. You just have to gather the suitable materials and equipment, find the time to do so, as it will probably take more than a weekend and of course, read our guide to master tiling!

 

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