If you want to refresh your bathroom while having full confidence in your DIY skills, follow our step-by-step guide to tiling your bathroom. Whether you’re tiling the walls or floor in your bathroom, you’ll find everything your need to know to make a success of it.
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are a stylish and practical choice for any bathroom or -suite. They form an impermeable barrier that stops water reaching more permeable and parts of your home. Bathroom tiles are relatively straightforward to install and cost-effective, leaving you more budget for the rest of your bathroom renovation project.
What you’ll need
Looking for some inspiration for your bathroom redesign? Explore bathroom tile ideas and tips here. Once you’ve decided on the tile colour, shape and size, here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Wall tiles
- Tile adhesive
- Tile spacers
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- Length of wood (to make a gauging stick)
- Pencil or felt-tip pen for marking
- Notch trowel
- Tile cutter
- Tile file
- Grout spreader
- Grout finisher
- Multi-purpose cloths
How to tile a bathroom wall
- First, work out how many tiles you need to cover your wall space and add 10 per cent to that figure. This allows for any breakages and spares, should you need them in future.
- When buying your tiles, try to purchase all of them from the same batch for colour matching purposes. You can find the batch number on the packaging.
- Prepare your walls for tiling, making sure they are sanded, flat and clean. You might have to score the plaster with a notched trowel to help the adhesive stick.
- If you’re using tiles made from porous material, they may need to be sealed before you begin.
- To achieve a symmetrical design, make a gauging stick using a length of wood slightly longer than half the wall you’re tiling. Lay it on the floor and place tiles and spacers lengthways along the stick, using a pencil to mark their position on the wood.
- To find the width of your tiles, repeat this process with another stick, placing the tiles widthways.
- Measure the width of the wall, then use a pencil and spirit level to draw a vertical line at the midway point. Do the same for the height of the wall. You should now have horizontal and vertical lines that intersect in the middle.
- Use your gauging sticks to work out where each tile will start and end and mark these in pencil until you have a grid for the tiles marked out on your walls. Make sure the first and last tiles at the top, bottom, left and right are all the same size.
- Place your first tile (with spacers) at the bottom, mark where it needs to be cut to fit into the space, and then cut it to size.
- Use a notched trowel to apply adhesive to the back of the tile and press it into place.
- Repeat this for all the tiles, placing spacers between them to allow room for grouting.
- Once all the tiles are in place, let them dry before grouting.
- Use a spreader or grout float to apply the grout to the walls, getting right into the spaces between the tiles without leaving any air bubbles. Wipe away any excess grout.
- Leave for 15 minutes, then wipe the tiles with a damp cloth.
- Finally, spray the tiles with a grout protector to stop water or limescale penetrating the grout. Discover more tips on how to keep grout clean here.
How to tile a bathroom floor:
- Before tiling a bathroom floor, make sure it is clean, dry and completely level. If your floor is concrete, you can tile directly onto it. Timber floors will need to be covered with primed plywood before tiling.
- Work out the midpoints by following the same steps you took when tiling the wall.
- Dry lay your tiles with spacers, starting from the middle and working towards the walls or the nearest fixture, like the bath, toilet or sink pedestal.
- Mark the endpoint of the last whole tile before the wall or object. If you’re working on a concrete floor, draw a line from one wall to the other at the endpoint. If you’re working on plywood, drill a batten in at the endpoint, checking for hidden pipes and cables first.
- Repeat this step, working perpendicular to the previous direction.
- You should now have two battens or straight lines, creating a space which whole tiles can fill.
- Using adhesive, apply the tiles to the floor in a neat pattern, checking as you go that the tiles are flat and straight.
- If using battens, remove them now.
- Use paper to create templates to fit around the toilet and sink pedestals. Then cut tiles to this template using tile clippers and sand them. Use adhesive to apply.
- Now apply the tiles around the edges. Measure the distance between the last whole tile in each row and the wall as it might not be uniform. Cut the tile to size and apply with adhesive.
- Leave to dry, then grout your tiles using the same method outlined for walls.
- Don't apply pressure or walk on your floor tiles until the adhesive has completely dried.
- Use a grout protector spray to make grout easier to clean and extend its lifespan, preventing you from having to regrout your bathroom too often.
- When cleaning tiles, only use products suitable for the material, as using the wrong product could cause permanent damage to the tile’s surface.
- Avoid using steam cleaners on tiles with sealant.
Looking for an alternative to tiling your shower walls? Consider installing wall panels. These versatile panels are ideal as splashbacks behind your basin and bath. They are more waterproof, quicker to install, and easier to cut to size than tiles. Thanks to their flat surface, wall panels can even reduce bacteria and help prevent mould in your bathroom.