Tiling a bathroom: Guide for the kit home builder

Tiling a bathroom is a 'must learn' for kit home builders, so take your time studying how the pros do it, then do it yourself.

Installing ceramic floor tiles
So far we have designed our Bathroom Layout and selected a Tile Floor Pattern . As a rule, bathroom fixtures are installed on top of tiles.

That is, toilets, vanities and free standing baths are installed after the tiling is done. Of course the 'rough in plumbing' has been installed: drains, water pipes and toilet outlet.

Now follow this 7 step process to tiling a bathroom:

Tile adhesive spreadeAdhesive spreaders
Ceramic tile cutteTile cutter

Steps to tiling a bathroom

  1. Gather tile tools
  2. Set up the tile grid
  3. Mix tile glue
  4. Lay the tiles
  5. Cut ceramic tiles
  6. Grout the tiled floor
  7. Clean off and polish the tiles

Tools for tiling

There really isn't a lot of tools required for this job, but get good quality tools and you won't go wrong.

  • Tile cutter
  • Adhesive spreaders
  • Rotary tile trimmer
  • Diamond spade bits
  • Circular hole cutters
  • Glue mixer
  • Chalk line
  • Spacers and wedges
  • Knee protectors
  • Eye protectors
  • Laser guide tool (optional)

Floor tile layout

The first step in tiling a bathroom is determining where to start. Some tilers will recommend standing at the doorway to the bathroom and choosing the longest wall, snapping a chalk line at right-angles to it and working back towards the door (see graphic below). This can work quite well and can look great, as long as you don't end up with a very narrow tile line at the doorway.

Others will find the dead centre of the floor, that's wall to wall, snapping a right-angle line from that point and working away from the centre. This will ensure that equal tiles are layed at each end and sides. Both methods have their benefits so lay some dummy tile setups and make a choice. Be careful with out-of-square walls which will more than likely be from internal frames rather than load bearing walls.

How to cut ceramic tile
Installing ceramic floor tiles involves scoring and snapping the tile to finish up to the wall, or around obstacles. It can be done manually, but nobody does that, now that tile cutters are available.

Mark the tile with a dark pencil, lay the tile on the cutter, lift the lever to place the diamond wheel on the tile mark, draw the wheel down the length of the tile twice, now push down on the lever to snap the tile.

Practice on old tiles first so you get the knack. Odd cuts will require the use of a rotary cutter or manual cutters. Keep offcuts for around drains, pipes, corners and unseen areas such as under vanities.

Tile grid layout

How to lay tiles
Learning how to install ceramic tiles starts with glue, that is, mixing glue. Unless your floor tile installation is a small job, get bulk glue ready to mix with water so you can mix the quantities you want and it doesn't cost the earth. Follow the mixing instructions and only mix what you will use for 30 minutes.

The application of tile glue can happen two ways: on the floor or on the tile.

I use the tile method, but many like to put an even spread of glue over two rows and lay the tiles on the glued up floor. I find my guide lines get covered and I loose my way. The glue spreaders have serrations to allow a standard build level of glue on each bathroom tile. Spread it evenly and scrape off the edges so the glue does not settle between the tiles when layed.

Place (or drop) the tile and push gently to square it up. Place spacers between tiles to keep them square and straight. Stand up and look back along the edges frequently. Work back towards the door, using the guides all the way and making small adjustments for tile variations where necessary.

Tiling a bathroom can be very rewarding, and as long as you take your time, plan well ahead and keep checking your lines, installing ceramic floor tiles in your kit home will add value, function and visual appeal. The next step is installing tile grout.

Return to Bathroom Layouts You can also go to my Tile Floor Patterns Page . Or go back to the Kit Home Basics home page

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