How to Tile a Bathroom Floor
Tiling a bathroom can sound daunting but, done correctly, you can save yourself the expense of hiring a professional.
There are, of course, two areas to focus on when tiling a bathroom - the floor and the walls. Each one involves alternative tools and requirements. For this guide, Plumbworld will discuss tiling your bathroom floor.
We’ll guide you through the process of cutting and tiling, as well as discussing the tools you’ll need. So, whether you’re a beginner when it comes to tiling or you’ve done it before but need a refresher, we’re here to help.
Read on to find out how to tile your bathroom floor and the equipment you’ll need for the job…
How to remove bathroom tiles
The process for removing your bathroom tiles from the floor is quite simple requiring minimal tools.
You’ll need a chisel and hammer, as well as protection for yourself with gloves and goggles. Lay sheeting around your bathroom so bits of tile don’t fly or fall and damage your appliances. If you can, get a friend or family member to help you remove them.
Process of removing a tile
The first tile is always the most difficult - access isn’t always easy to find to get the chisel under it. Look for a tile that is already loose.
If you find a loose tile, lift it out with the chisel. If you can’t find a loose tile, then you’ll have to break one. Place the chisel in the centre of the tile and hit it with the hammer, which should shatter the tile and allow it to be removed.
Once you remove the first tile, you should be able to access the rest around it. Sit the chisel against the surface with the chisel point tucked behind the tile. Tap it with the hammer so it becomes sunken behind the tile, and then the chisel slowly towards you. This will then lift the tile from the surface.
Once all of the tiles have been removed, clean as much adhesive from the surface as you can with the chisel and hammer. This will help when you come to applying your new tiles, as you’ll need a flat surface.
Put any debris in the bin and run a hoover over the floor. Wipe down the floor to remove any leftover dust.
Why should I buy bathroom tiles?
Bathroom tiles have long been popular for the bathroom for a variety of reasons, the main two being that they are easy to clean and their durability.
Tiles are usually water repellent and require minimal looking after once they’re installed. Any dirt or grime can be cleaned away and, besides applying new sealant every so often, once the tiles are installed, you shouldn’t have to think about floors for quite a while.
This makes tiles extremely cost-effective, especially when combining the costs per square meter with the low maintenance required and their longevity. Tiles will last for years when installed correctly with the right amount of grout and sealant.
Before you buy anything, you need to plan and prepare for tiling your bathroom - mainly, the area you want to tile and the pattern you want.
If you’re retiling your bathroom, you’ll already know the area you need to cover, however, choosing between full and partially-tiled come with their own benefits and drawbacks. Fully tiling a bathroom allows greater choice for appliances while partial tiling restricts you to a certain zone where a bath, sink or shower can go and may lead to splashing.
How many tiles will I need?
To calculate how many tiles you’ll need, work out how many square metres you’ll need to tile based on the surface area. Then, add on 15% to allow for cut pieces so you aren’t caught out and need to order more halfway through the job.
The below calculation will help:
(Length of floor ÷ length of individual tile) x (width of floor ÷ width of individual tile)
If your result is a decimal point, always round upwards.
What do I need to tile a bathroom?
The equipment and materials you’ll need for tiling the bathroom floor are:
- Tile adhesive
- Tape measure
- Adhesive trowel
- Notched trowel
- Tile spacers
- Spirit level
- Tile cutter
- Sealant gun
- Protective goggles and gloves
- Grout spreader
- Tile nipper
- Rubber mallet
How to tile a bathroom floor
When it comes to tiling, if you’re doing both the floor and wall, you should always start with the wall. This ensures that if anything goes wrong, you don’t damage your floor tiles.
If you follow our step-by-step guide, you should find tiling your floor straightforward.
With a measuring tape, measure the width of your floor space and then mark the centre point with a pencil. Then, starting from this point, position tiles towards one of your walls (don’t stick them down yet), placing tile spacers between each one. This will give you an idea of how many tiles you will need.
When tiling your floor, always work from the centre out to the corners.
Use an adhesive trowel to place the tile adhesive on the floor, and use a notched trowel to spread this across a surface area of 1m². Use the smooth side of the trowel to spread the adhesive, then, go back over it with the serrated edge to form ridges. This will leave an even depth of adhesive which helps to create a level surface.
Always check the instructions on your adhesive before applying that it can be used on your bathroom surface.
Place your tiles
Now, place your first tile into the adhesive, using a twisting motion as you press it firmly into position. Repeat this with the next tile and use your tile spacers between each one. These spacers can be upstanding or flat. If they are flat, press them below the surface of the tile so they’re hidden when you apply the grout later.
Check the tiles are level
As you place your tiles, remember to occasionally check that they are flat with a spirit level. If not, lightly tap them with a rubber mallet to make them level. If you have a small length of wood or timber, place it across your tiles, and tap it with the mallet. At the same time, remove any tile adhesive from the surface of your tiles with a damp cloth.
Do not wait to remove adhesive, as it is difficult to remove once it is dry.
If there is a gap between your last full tile and the bathroom wall, you will need to cut it…
How to measure and cut bathroom tiles
The tiles used around the edges of the floor will most likely have to be trimmed down.
Before you lay your tiles, mark where they will have to be cut and use a tile cutter to do so. Floor tiles are much more robust and heavier than wall tiles, so a flatbed cutter is best. Ensure you’re wearing gloves and goggles for this to protect yourself from any flying sharp fragments and debris.
It helps, in the ‘Starting Position’ section, to line your tiles up from the centre point out to the wall as they would appear once secured in place. This will give a clear indication of where a cut tile will need to go and by how much you will need to cut it.
Use a pencil to mark the tile beneath but make sure you take into account the space for grouting and tile spacers. You can smooth any rough edges left on the cut tile with a tile file. You can also use the file to make minor adjustments if the cut piece is slightly too big.
Apply tile adhesive to the back and then fix it in place.
An alternative tool to a flatbed cutter is a tile scriber. Once you’ve marked where you need to cut, place a metal ruler against the mark and use the scriber to score the line several times. Then, place the pencil under the line so the end you want to remove is elevated. Press firmly on the tile to split it.
Cutting tiles to fit around appliances
To do so, you’ll need a tile scribe and a tile nipper - like a clipper or plier.
Start by getting a piece of paper that’s the same size or cut to the same size as one of your tiles. Cut lines or slits in the paper so it has a frilled fan appearance.
Then, fit it into place like a tile - allowing a gap for your tile spacers - pressing your paper down and folding back the slits where they meet the appliance. Use a pen or pencil to draw a marked line where the fold appears.
This line will act as the template for where you need to cut - like with a normal marked line for cutting. Tape the paper onto the tile you want to cut and mark the cut line onto your tile with a pencil.
Use your tile scribe to score along the full line several times. Then, get the nipper and start clipping small parts of tile away. Take care when you get close to the line. Smooth the edge off with a tile file or sandpaper and wipe any dust away with a cloth.
Then fit your tile in place with adhesive.
Grouting bathroom floor tiles
Once your tiles have set in place - this can take up to 48 hours - you can start grouting in between the tiles.
If you are using upright tile spacers, remove them once your tiles are in place and level - you don’t want them getting stuck in the adhesive.
Grout comes in various colours to blend with your tiles for a seamless break between them, so make sure it’s suitable for use with your tiles and that you have enough.
Remove any dust and potential debris from your tiles by giving them a wipe.
If you have premixed grout - great, it’ll save you time. Otherwise, mix it in a bucket. You can use a grout float or spreader to work the mix into the tile joints. You will need to do this quickly. Remember to move the float diagonally to fill the gaps between tiles.
Use enough grout to fill the lines, making sure the grout is level with the surface of the tile for a completely smooth floor. Do this with a grout finisher - which will also compact the grout.
If you used flat tile spacers - i.e. laid in between the tiles to stay there - make sure you cover them with grout.
Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe any excess grout from the tile surface before it hardens - so do this as you grout, not once you’ve finished.
Leave the grout to dry - check your instructions for how long this will take - and make sure the bathroom is off-limits.
Seal your tiles
Sealant will allow for movement or expansion between the wall and the floor as well as preventing any water from getting underneath the tiles via the walls or appliances. Work from one end of the bathroom to the other with a consistent bead of sealant. For a steady pressure and speed, use a sealant or caulking gun. Then, leave it to dry for 24 hours.
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