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How to tile a bathroom

Tiles are a popular choice for bathrooms. Not only are they resilient enough to safeguard against mould, leaks and water ingress, but they will stand the test of time, too.

After you’ve measured your bathroom and know how many tiles you’ll need to complete the job, then you’re ready to get the tiles fitted.

Need to know more about measuring up? Check out this article in our buyer’s guide.

If you consider yourself something of a DIY pro, you might be thinking about fitting your bathroom tiles yourself. Follow our comprehensive expert guide for tiling your bathroom.

Preparation

Wash or wipe the walls down using a damp cloth and detergent, removing any grease on the surfaces, as this can have a detrimental effect on the adhesive. Make sure that the surfaces are completely dry before you start tiling.

Most ceramic tiles can be laid on concrete as well as timber floors. Timber floors will need a layer of plywood fixing to the floor first.

Concrete floors should even and level. If yours is not, then apply a self-levelling compound first, and leave overnight to fully dry.

Materials

- Tape measure
- Pencil
- Adhesive trowel
- Tile spacers
- Spirit level
- Tile cutter
- Tile adhesive
- Tile grout
- Protective goggles
- Grout spreader
- Pliers
- 2–3 lengths of timber (at least 2m)

How to tile a bathroom

Planning and marking out

Plan the layout for your tiles first. For floor tiles, start at the bathroom doorway and draw a vertical line with a pencil from the entrance to the other side of the room, and then lay a row of tiles along this line, with the tile spacers in between. Once you reach the opposite wall, it’s likely that the last space will not be big enough to fit a whole tile.

Lay your length of timber next to the row of tiles and mark the top and bottom edges of each tile, including tile spacers. This will be used as a guide to measure all your tiles against.

Should you have a different-sized space at the other side of the room, then you can adjust the original line of tiles to rectify the issue.

You can take a similar approach to planning your wall tiles:

Create a timber tile gauge for your wall tiles in the same way as for floor tiles (described above) in order to measure the vertical lines for the walls.

Measure the height of the wall and then divide it by two, marking this point on the wall. Using your wooden tile gauge, mark the top and bottom edges of your tile from this line down to the bottom of the wall. It’s likely that the last part of the wall will not have space for a full-sized tile.

If the size of the space is less than half a tile, move your starting point either up or down by half a tile, to accommodate for the bottom border to be at least half a tile.
Using your spirit level, mark a horizontal line at the bottom of what will be the lowest row of full tiles on the wall.

Fix a straight piece of wood to the wall, at the bottom of where the lowest row of full tiles will be. This will help to support the rows of tiles as they are fitted into position, preventing them from sliding out of place. This will be removed before you start fixing your cut tiles to the wall.

Then, using your timber tile gauge, start from this line to mark where the tiles will start and end, including cut tiles, for the full height of the space.

Use the gauge to mark out the position of your wall tiles, starting from the piece of wood at the bottom of the wall.

Cutting wall tiles

Mark your tile where it needs to be cut and, holding a straight edge on the cut line, run the tile cutter along it to score the tile. It’s important to wear protective goggles at all times whilst using a tile cutter.

When you’re ready to cut the tile, place it on a board, ensuring that the score is directly in line with the straight edge of the board. Apply pressure to snap the tile along the score line. You might choose to use a pair of pliers to cut along the score line if the tile is very narrow, or curved in shape.

You’re now ready to get tiling!

Tiling your floor

Using the adhesive towel, spread an even amount of adhesive on a small area – about 3m by 3m. The trowel should leave small ridges within the adhesive.

Fix your tiles into place. Use tile spacers between each tile to ensure they are evenly spaced. Once you have fixed a row into place, use your spirit level to ensure that the tiles are level. If you find that they are not level, simply place a piece of wood over the raised tile, and firmly tap into place using a rubber hammer.

Alternatively, if one tile is too low, you’ll need to lift it out of position, and reapply the adhesive before replacing it.

For cut tiles at the edges of your floor, spread the adhesive to the back of the cut tile, rather than the floor, and then fit into place using tile spacers as before.

Once you’ve laid all the floor tiles, leave the adhesive to fully set. The time it will take for the adhesive to set will depend on the type of adhesive you’re using, and how much of it has been applied.

The instructions on the product will advise how long you’ll need to leave it to dry – but generally, most adhesives will need a full 24 hours to dry before it’s safe to start grouting.

There are lots of different types of grout available, so make sure you have the right one for your tiles. (We can always advise if you’re not sure!)

Tiling your walls

Starting at the bottom of the wall, where you have fitted the piece of timber, spread adhesive using the adhesive spreader and set your first tile into position – lining it up with the marks you made earlier.

Press the tile firmly into the adhesive, and set the next one into position, using the tile spacers (in the same way to fitting floor tiles) to ensure that they are evenly spaced.
Continue, row by row, ensuring that each line of tiles is correctly aligned vertically and horizontally. The timber will ensure that the tiles do not slip out of line – keep this in place until the adhesive has fully dried. You can then remove the timber and fit your cut tiles along the bottom edge of the floor.

In a similar way to floor tiles, cut each tile for your borders individually, and spread adhesive directly onto the back of the cut tile before fixing it into position.
Once the adhesive is fully dry, you can start grouting.

Grouting

Follow the instructions on the grout’s packaging to mix it up. Then, using a squeegee (with a rubber edge) evenly fill the edges of your tiles – pushing the grout to seal all the joins. You can smooth the grout after applying by running a small rod over the joins while the grout is still wet.

It’s a good idea to work on small, manageable areas to ensure you can remove excess grout while it is still wet.

Leave the grout for 10–15 minutes and then, using a damp sponge, wipe each tile down to remove any grout from the surface of the tile – this is particularly important in textured tiles, where grout may sit in ridges on the face of the tile. Wait for five minutes and then repeat. After a further hour, buff the tiles with a dry cloth or rag.

 

Tiling a bathroom can be tough, but for the experienced DIY-er, the results can be amazing. However, if you’d feel safer with your tiles being in the hands of a professional, then our team of experts are on hand to fit your floor and walls tiles to a very high standard.

We’ve got FIRA gold accreditation, meaning our installation services are of an excellent standard. What’s more, we’ll give you a five-year craftsmanship guarantee, so you can be sure your bathroom is in good hands.

 

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