Laying bathroom floor tile is an easy first-time tile project because bathrooms tend to be much smaller and less visible than a kitchen or foyer. If you are laying tile over a sub-floor, rather than a cement foundation, you should first lay cement board, which seals out moisture and helps the tile to adhere to the floor. Once you have purchased your tile and a complementary color of grout, you just need a few more supplies and inexpensive tools to tile a bathroom floor yourself.
THINGS YOU’LL NEED
- Measuring tape
- Cement board
- Utility knife
- Thin-set mortar
- 2 large buckets
- Notched trowel
- Roofing nails
- Chalk line
- Tile cutter or wet saw
- Tile spacers
- Large sponge
- Grout float
- Grout sealant
- Knee pads
Laying Cement Board
- Mix a batch of thin-set mortar with water in a bucket, according to the manufacturer directions. It should be thick, but not so thick that is doesn’t fall off a trowel. Don’t mix more thin-set than you can use within an hour, or it will begin to dry out.
- Spread a layer of thin-set on the sub-floor with the notched trowel.
- Cut the cement board to fit the space, if necessary, by scoring it with a utility knife. Lay the cement board over the thin-set.
- Pound in roofing nails along the edge to secure the backer board to the floor.
- Continue this process until the floor is covered in backer board.
- Apply a thin layer of thin-set mortar over the joints.
- Wait until the next day to begin laying tile.
Laying Bathroom Floor Tile
- Establish a straight vertical and horizontal reference line from the center of the room. If you simply start laying tile along a crooked wall, it will look really crooked by the time you reach the opposite wall.
- Identify the most visible wall when you walk into the room. This is the wall with the longest area of continuous tile.
- Determine a 90-degree angle from that wall, using a square, and snap a chalk line across the room.
- Use the square again to mark a perfect 90-degree angle from that chalk line and snap another chalk line that’s perpendicular to the first one. Now you have two intersecting chalk lines as a reference to lay the first tile.
- Mix up a small batch of thin-set mortar and spread a thin layer on the cement board with the notched trowel.
- Lay several pieces of tile with tile spacers to establish even grout lines.
- Firmly press the tile into the mortar so there are no air bubbles underneath.
- Set a level across the top of the tiles to make sure they are perfectly flat.
Grouting Bathroom Floor Tile
- Pull the tile spacers out from between the tiles before adding grout.
- Mix the sanded grout with water in a bucket, according to the manufacturer directions.
- Scoop some grout onto the file floor with a trowel, and then firmly press it into the grout lines with the grout float, working in small sections at a time.
- Remove the excess grout from the surface of the tile before it has a chance to dry.
- Fill a second bucket with water and use it to wet the large sponge with rounded corners.
- Wring out the sponge and then wipe over the tile so that you are moving at a diagonal to the grout lines. If you wipe parallel to the grout lines, you might gouge out some of the grout and leave an uneven surface.
- Rinse the sponge in the bucket of water and repeat until all the grout is removed from the surface of the tile.
- Purchase your tile all at once, accounting for at least 15 percent overage for cut tiles and breakage, because the dye lot can vary from shipment to shipment.
- Wearing knee pads during tiling and grouting, which requires kneeling on a hard surface for long periods of time, protects your knees.
- A sponge with rounded corners is best for removing grout from the surface of the tile, because a sponge with squared edges may gouge out some of the grout when you wipe across the grout lines.
- Expect the grout to appear much darker when applying it. If you aren’t sure the color is correct, dry a small area with a hair dryer before grouting the entire floor with the wrong color. It’s extremely difficult to remove grout once it’s dried.
- Don’t add too much water to grout or it won’t harden as well. It should be about the consistency of thick batter.