Tile is a popular floor and wall covering in bathrooms where surfaces need to resist water and moisture. A little more expensive than linoleum for floors or fiberglass for shower walls, tile increases the value of a home and adds a quality look. Installing tile in your bathroom is a project you can complete on your own, with the right tools and preparation.
Floor Tile Application
- Reinforce the subfloor before installing floor tile. The commonly accepted method is to smooth a layer of thin-set mortar on the floor, covering it with backer board before it sets. Use screws to fasten the backer board down. This provides a solid secure surface for the tile.
- Begin in the center of your room when laying the first tiles. You will use two chalk lines as guides. The first is halfway from the longest wall, running parallel to that wall, in the exact center of your room. The other chalk line runs perpendicular to the first between the adjacent walls. By using your longest wall as a guide, you reduce the effect of an uneven floor area.
- Spread an even layer of thin-set mortar on the floor at your starting point, keeping a portion of the chalk line visible for reference. Use the notched edge of the trowel to spread the thin set approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Place the starter tile at the corner of your guidelines, and maneuver it by pushing into place on top of the mortar. Put spacers on each side (if desired) and add more tiles, keeping them even with the existing tiles and with the guidelines.
- Continue until you reach the edge of the wall. Measure and cut the outside tiles to fit using the tile saw. A wet saw is superior to a dry saw since it reduces the heat generated by the saw blade, preventing tile dust and chipping. Wait 24 hours for the tiles to set before grouting.
- Mix grout according to package directions. You can use a sanded grout or a non-sanded grout. Non-sanded grout usually comes pre-mixed. Use a grout float to spread the grout between tiles. Let grout sit 20 to 30 minutes, then wipe off the excess with a damp sponge or cloth. When grout is completely dry, wipe tiles with a dry cloth to remove any grout haze. Spray grout with a sealer to prevent stains.
Wall Tile Application
- Prepare bare walls for tile with moisture-resistant drywall if they will not be in direct contact with water. For shower walls, install cement backer board, screwing it into place.
- Measure and make chalk lines on the wall as you did on the floor, popping the starting lines in the middle.
- Smooth tile glue onto the surface to hold wall tile in place. Use the notched trowel to spread the glue evenly. Press the tiles into place, working quickly to position the tile before the glue sets. It's important to use tile glue instead of mortar because it sets quickly, although this shortens the period in which you can move the tile.
- Use spacers, if desired, although wall tiles often butt into adjacent tiles to provide a water-resistant surface.
- Apply silicone caulking between wall tiles, and quickly smooth off excess with a clean rag dipped in rubbing alcohol. Silicone that dries on the tile is difficult to remove.
Tips & Warnings
- Use proper eye protection when cutting tile.
- Use gloves when working with grout or caulk.