This article is about how to install tile flooring in bathroom, but these techniques could help you tile any concrete floor. Ceramic tiles have a nice appearance and make a very good flooring material, as they are very resistant to water, heat and humidity, provided they are installed properly. If you choose to install tiles on your bathroom floor, you have to read carefully both the manufacturer’s instructions and our step-by-step guide, as to get the job done in a professional manner. The installation itself is not as difficult as it might seem, but choosing the right materials and laying out them can give you a hard time. Nevertheless, there are a few essential aspects one has to take into account, before installing tile flooring.
Prepare thoroughly the surface before installing ceramic tile flooring. Consequently, use a scraper to remove floor irregularities and a vacuum cleaner to remove dust. However, if the floor is not level, you have to take into consideration pouring a 2” mortar bed, or install cement board underlay for tile floor. Use a large 4′ spirit level to ensure the surface is prepared for a proper tile installation. If the bathroom sub-floor is made of wood, then you should install cement backer boards, tape their joints with thin-set and drive in several galvanized screws to lock it into position.
Measure the size of the room and set an appropriate layout. Consequently, use tape measurement and determine the length and the width of the room. Next, when buying the floor tiles have in mind these dimensions , as to get the highest number of full tiles and to make sure you don’t have to install small stripes (<3”) along the walls of your bathroom. Nevertheless, if you cannot find a convenient layout, at least make sure you install the stripes in the less visible areas, when entering the room.
In order to install tile flooring in bathroom, you need the following:
- Ceramic tiles
- Trim tile
- Tile spacers
- Safety gloves, eye protection
- Measuring tape, framing square, pencil
- Rubber mallet, spirit level
- Score-and-snap tile cutter or wet saw
- Notched trowel, tile nippers
- Margin trowel, bucket
- Spread the adhesive on small surfaces, to avoid getting dry
- Use a level to check the quality of your work
- 6-8 hours for a surface of 100 ft2 / 10 m2, one diy-er
Installing tile flooring in bathroom
Use the right tools, as to do the job right. Consequently, for an average surface of 100 ft2/10 m2, you need a score-and-snap tile cutter. For larger areas we recommend you to buy or rent a wet saw. In addition, if you install tile flooring in your kitchen or bathroom, you will have to cut out tiles, as to install them around floor drains or pipes. That is why, you will have to rent a wet saw and hole saw drill bit to make round cuts accurately.
Smart tip: If you are beginner and you haven’t installed tile before, we recommend you to draw chalk lines on the floor, as to guide you. Make sure the lines are perfectly straight and parallel, as to get the job done in a professional manner. This step is not compulsory, but it is helpful to have guidance lines when you don’t have experience in working with ceramic tiles.
Preparing the floor before installing tile
Make sure the surface is clean, otherwise your tile floor won’t be level. Use a trowel to remove all bumps and irregularities on the floor. Nevertheless, if you cannot solve these issues, you have two options: either pour a 2” bed of mortar, or install underlay for tile flooring. In addition, use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and other residues, to make sure the surface is level and the adhesive will stick to the floor. Seal the wooden floors by installing cement backer boards. Next, tape their joints and drive in anti-corrosion screws to lock them into position.
Before installing the ceramic tiles, you have to lay them on the floor and set the right layout. Consequently, start laying them from a wall (the area most visible from the door entry), and lay the tiles in a straight line making sure you use spacers between them.
Smart tip: If the last row of tiles are less wide than 2”, move the row of tiles to increase its width (cut the this difference from the first full tile row).
Preparing tile adhesive
Next, we have to prepare adhesive in a clean bucket. In order to avoid making dust, fill one third of the bucket with water and pour the adhesive powder.
There are two generic types of adhesives: mastic and thinset. We recommend you to go for the second one, as it secures the tiles better and it is more resistant to water and heat. Nevertheless, read carefully the instructions or ask a qualified professional from your local diy store to give you more information.
Let the adhesive to soak water for 5-10 minutes, before you start mixing the compounds. In this way, the water will activate the additives that make the mortar so resistant to water and humidity. Make sure you wear a respiratory mask when pouring and mixing the thinset.
Smart tip: If you want to mix the adhesive quickly and in a professional manner, you have to use a drill machinery and a mixing paddle. If you don’t have a drill machinery, you should use a margin trowel.
Installing tile flooring
Set the layout from the very beginning, making sure the full tiles are installed in the most visible areas when entering the room and the cut tiles are laid under vanities, as much as possible.
Smart tip: Use a notched trowel to spread out the mortar on the floor. First, load mortar on the trowel and spread it on a small surface using the straight edge. Afterwards, you have to use the notched edge, to comb the adhesive in a even coat. In this way, the bed of mortar will have the same thickness.
There are situations in which you have to cut out a tile, as to fit in a certain location: around floor drains, pipes or any other obstacle. In this case, you can use either a wet saw or a grinder with a diamond blade.
We strongly recommend you to rent a wet saw, as it is safer for unexperienced diy-ers, as compared to a grinder. There are both efficient for making these types of cuts, but a diy-er should choose the safer option: the wet saw. Remember that we have a large experience, so we can cope with the risks, but you should use the grinder only if you know how to use it.
Smart tip: Use safety glasses and a respiratory mask as to avoid getting injured or inhaling toxic dust. Before cutting the tile, you have to use a carpentry pencil to mark the cut line.
The tiles have to be installed in the following manner: push them firmly in the adhesive and then twisting them gently, till they are locked into position. If they are not level, you should use a mallet to tap them gently. If you still face problems with installing them properly, there are two possible explanations: you might have used too much adhesive or the floor is crooked.
In both cases, lift the tile from one corner with a trowel, remove the adhesive and spread it again, this time properly.
Use a spirit level every time you install a new tile, as to make sure you have installed them properly. Nevertheless, you could tilt slightly the tiles towards the floor drain, as to prevent water from staying on the floor.
Smart tip: Do not spread adhesive on a large surface, otherwise it will dry out before you are able to install tiles on the whole area. When spreading the adhesive, hold the trowel at 45º and push firmly, as to get a even ridges.
Install spacers between tiles, as to make sure the joints are even. There are several types of spacers, so you can use the ones recommended by the manufacturer or the ones you like the most. Thick spacers will create large gaps between the tiles, while thin ones will create small gaps.
Smart tip: By pushing the tiles in the adhesive with your hand, you ensure the tiles are level and that there are no pockets of air underneath them. If the tiles are not installed properly, they are vulnerable to impacts (they will break or crack).
In this image you can see the way you should make the cuts around the floor drain. Before installing the tiles into position, you have to verify again if you’ve cut them properly and if the drain fits properly.
Smart tip: Use a sponge and water to clean the mortar off the tiles. After it dries out, it would be harder to remove the residues. In addition, use the edge of a trowel to clean the space between the tiles, to ease the grouting process.
Afterwards, you have to grout the floor tiles in a professional manner. Therefore use a colored grout (to match with the bathroom tiles) and a float to distribute it evenly over the whole surface. Sprinkle water on the tile flooring before spreading the grout.
Smart tip: Work with patience and prepare a sponge and a dry cloth to clean the tile flooring. Make sure you remove the excess gout, as after it dries out it would be harder to get the job done in a professional manner.
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