What You Need to Know About Tiling Your Bathroom

by Editor on October 4, 2013

How to Tile A Bathroom Image

Tiling your bathroom can sound like a mammoth task only left to the experienced professionals, and for good reason. Tiling tends to get a lot more complicated when you’re working around tricky complete bathroom suites. Whilst this can be true, a significant amount of tiling can be done over a weekend, given the correct guidance. Here are seven helpful steps to get you on your way to becoming a bathroom DIY pro.

Before you begin, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Tile Saw
  • Tile Cutter
  • Tile Cutting Jig
  • Grout Spreader
  • Adhesive Spreader
  • Spirit Level
  • Tile Nibblers/Nippers
  • Gauge Stick*

*To make a gauge stick, place a piece of wood on the floor. Lay a series of tiles alongside it including the plastic spacers and mark the position of each tile along the stick. This will act as a guide when you come to place the tiles on the wall.

Step 1: Prepare

Before you start tiling, it’s incredibly important that the walls are clean, free from dirt and as dry as possible. The surface you tile onto should be as flat as you can make it, meaning any unevenness should be corrected with a stabilising primer before you start the tiling process.

Step 2: Setting out your guide

As with the majority of DIY tasks, the key to success is all in the planning. To mark out exactly where the tiles will be placed on the wall, you’ll need to make yourself a drawn out guide. Setting out the tiling guide on your wall will depend on the size and shape of your bathroom. If you need to tile around an object, pipework or an appliance, make sure you start tiling from this point as it will help to keep all surrounding tiles an equal size and will prevent any unnecessary and fiddly tile cutting throughout the process.

First, work out where the bottom line of tiles will be placed and attach your gauge stick to the wall as a guide. This will need to be aligned with a spirit level unless the edge of your bath is already perfectly level and you can work from that. Mark each bottom edge of where the tiles will be placed with a pencil. After you have done this, move your gauge stick to a vertical position, making sure it’s completely straight with a spirit level, and mark the height of each tile once again with a pencil. You may need to repeat this process several times depending on the surface area of the wall you’ll be tiling.

Once you’ve done the above, you should not have a pencil guide of exactly where each tile will be place on the wall. This will ensure that each tile will be placed perfectly where it needs to be and limit any potential mistakes.

If you do need to cut any tiles to fit around tricky pipework and appliances, it’s always best to cut a semi-circle shape out of two adjacent tiles. To ensure that you cut these shapes correctly, take a piece of thin card and draw a template of how the tiles should look. Use this to lightly pencil mark the tiles that need to be cut and use it as a guide when cutting them.

Step 3: Applying the adhesive

Use your adhesive spreader to spread a thin layer of tile adhesive onto the area you will be tiling. As mentioned previously, it’s best to start off in a corner or with any object that’s tricky to tile around and do it at around a meter square at a time. Once you’ve spread your adhesive over the wall, use a serrated edge to create horizontal ridges within the adhesive. This will help even out the spread of adhesive on the wall for a smoother finish.

Step 4: Placing the main tiles

Using your guide created in step 2, place each tile into the allocated space, giving it a little wiggle as you do. This will ensure as much surface area as possible of the tile will be in contact with the adhesive, allowing it to stay stuck to the wall. After each tile has been laid, place a tile spacer between them to make sure there isn’t any movement and they remain straight. This process can now be carried out across the entire wall. Don’t forget to check the level of each tile you lay using your spirit level. If it’s uneven, add a little more or a little less adhesive and place the tile again.

Once you’re done, make sure that you wipe away any excess tile adhesive with a damp cloth or sponge. This is very important as tile adhesive, once hardened, is incredibly difficult to remove and may ruin the overall finish of your tiling. Once this has been done, leave the tiles to dry.

Step 5: Placing the border tiles

Once the main area of tiles has been finished, you should be left with just the borders and edges. To measure the remaining tile edges, place a tile against the wall and draw a line down the length of the tile where it needs to be cut. For these straight line tile cuts, use a cutting jig as it will make precision cutting a doddle.

For curved border tiles, it’s best to cut slowly and by hand. First, sketch the needed cutting line on a tile. Once this is done, slowly cut away the unnecessary piece of tile with tile nippers. It’s important that this is done slowly and in small pieces to avoid the risk of cracking the entire tile.

Once your border tiles have been cut, re-do step 4 for each tile. When finished, allow the tile adhesive to harden for at least 24 hours.

Step 6: Grouting and sealing

In your bathroom, it’s absolutely essential that you use waterproof grout for bath or shower surrounds. This will ensure there are no leaks will limit any potential mould or mildew build up. If you’re tiling around a bathtub or shower tray, make sure the far edges of the tiled area aren’t grouted. These will need to be sealed using a silicon sealant compound which is explained in step 7.

Using your grout spreader, spread the grout mix in all directions over every tile to make sure all of the joints have been filled. Once this has been done, compress the grout by running a blunt edged stick along each joint. This will ensure that the grout is as water-tight as possible and will look professional when you’re done. Once this has been done, wipe off all the excess grout from the tiles. This, like the sealant, is really tricky to remove from the tiles when it’s hardened.

Step 7: Sealing Bathroom Fittings

As mentioned previously, you shouldn’t use grout when sealing the gaps between the wall and a shower tray or bathtub as there’s a possibility that it will crack and lose its waterproof seal. The main reason for this is the potential for movement of the fitting when a person’s weight is present either within the bathtub or when standing in a shower. This can cause the shower tray or bath to move slightly which can dislodge or crack grout.

The solution for this is to use a silicon sealing compound or rubber caulking. When applying the sealant compound, make sure you stand in your bath or shower tray. The join between the wall and the bathroom fitting will be made larger to accommodate your body weight. Squeeze the compound into the joins at a 45 degree angle, making sure to apply it evenly. Once finished, use a wetted teaspoon handle to smooth over any uneven sections.

If you don’t wish to use a silicon compound, a lot of hardware retailers will sell strips of plastic coving. These are really easy to cut to size and fit.

This article is brought to you by Island Bathrooms, a specialist bathroom retailer in the United Kingdom with two large showrooms in Bournemouth & Salisbury.

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