This article is about how to install wall tile in bathroom. The bathroom is one of the most important areas in our home, so we have to make everything possible to turn it into a cozy and neat space, by learning how to tile the walls. You have to use proper materials, as to protect the bathroom walls from the constant humidity and heat, which can damage the structure of our homes. In order to install the wall tiles properly, one has to know several basic techniques regarding this project: how to cut tile, how to set the wall tile layout, how to prepare tile adhesive or how to lay ceramic tiles. Therefore, you have to pay attention to all these aspects before tiling a bathroom by yourself and read carefully all our articles regarding ceramic tile.
You have to prepare thoroughly the walls before installing tile in bathroom. Make sure the walls are straight and level, without any irregularities or residues, otherwise the tiles won’t stick to walls or you could end up with a crooked wall. In addition, if you have to install wall tiles on drywall, you should prepare the surface thoroughly. Therefore, make sure you have installed green drywall (designed to resist water and moisture) or even better cement boards, in the areas exposed to moisture. These sheets of cement are made of materials which do not absorb water, making them the proper solution for your bathroom walls exposed to moisture.
The cement boards have to be secured with galvanized screws (to prevent them from rusting) to the structural studs, in the same manner as a regular drywall boards (use a stud finder to know were to drive in the screws). In addition, you have to use special fiberglass tape to mask and protect the joints between the boards. Remember that in the shower area, you have to insulate thoroughly the wall against moisture, so it is compulsory to use these cement boards. If your bathroom walls are covered with paint, you have to remove it, otherwise the tiles won’t stick to the surface. In addition, use sandpaper and a special solution (according to the type of paint), to remove the paint from the walls. After you have finished removing it, you have to clean the dust or residues off the wall.
In order to install wall tile in bathroom, you need the following:
- Ceramic tiles
- Trim tile (optional)
- Plastic corner trims (for exterior and interior corners)
- Tile spacers
- Safety gloves, safety glasses
- Measuring tape, framing square, pencil
- Score-and-snap tile cutter, tile nippers
- Notched trowel, margin trowel
- Bucket, mallet, spirit level
- Decide the tile layout before installing it
- Check if the walls are plumb, after laying the wall tile
- 6-8 hours for a surface of 100 ft2 / 10 m2, one diy-er
How to install wall tile in bathroom
On the market, there are many products to choose from, so try to buy the tiles which fit best your needs and tastes. Nevertheless, make sure the bathroom tiles are designed to resist against water. Strange as it might seem, there are several types of ceramic tile that are not water-resistant. Consequently, pay attention before buying the ceramic tile from your local store. In addition, before placing the order, you have to measure the surface on which you are going to install tile (multiply the total length by the height of the wall), and add 10-15% for cutting waste.
Smart tip: In order to tile the bathroom walls, you need several tools: notched trowel, score-and-snap tile cutter, wet saw cutter and a hole saw tile drill bit (to install tiles around pipes). These tools are essential for a project done in a professional manner. Consequently, you should either buy them if you can afford, or rent them for several days (especially the wet saw, which comes at a higher price). In addition, make sure the tile adhesive has the right consistency (if it doesn’t slip off the trowel it has the right consistency).
Wall tile layout
Measure the height from the floor up to the ceiling. Then, lay your tiles on the the floor in a straight line, making sure you put spacers between them. Next, use a tape measure along the tiles to see how much you have to cut from the first row of tiles (you should install full tiles on the last row). In addition, you have to measure the width of the walls, to see how much you have to cut from the tiles around the corners. The tiles have to be wider than 2”/5 cm, otherwise you have to compensate from the opposite corner tile.
We recommend you to set up the layout of the wall tile from the very beginning. You can draw the layout on paper, or by using a computer software. In our case, we used Sketch-up to draw a random layout.
Smart tip: Remember that it is essential to pay attention to the exact dimensions of the room, otherwise you won’t get a proper sketch and the end result might not satisfy your needs.
Spreading adhesive on bathroom wall
Mix a small quantity of tile adhesive in a construction bucket. Fill about 1/4 of the bucket with clean water and pour the thinset powder. Then, you should leave the adhesive to soak water for 5 minutes. In this manner, the water will activate the additives in the thinset.
Next, use a drill machinery with a mixing paddle to prepare the adhesive. Use your feet to lock the bucket into position, while you mix the adhesive with the paddle. From our experience, we recommend you to use average speeds at first and then increase it if needed.
After you have prepared your bathroom walls, you can start installing the tiles. If the adhesive doesn’t fall of the trowel, it means that it has the right consistency.
Load a little adhesive on the trowel and use the straight edge to spread it on the wall. After you’ve got an even layer of adhesive, you should use the notched edge to comb it. Hold the trowel at 45º against the wall and press firmly, as to make sure the mortar bed is evenly distributed on surface.
Installing tile on bathroom wall
Start installing the first row of full tiles from the most visible corner, when entering the bathroom door. Make sure the tiles are not scratched or nicked before you install them over the adhesive bed. Select only the best tiles, to get a neat look.
Smart tip: In order to lay the tiles properly, you have to twist them lightly, while you are pushing them firmly into the adhesive. After you have installed them, you should check if they are level and aligned.
Continue spreading out the adhesive on small surfaces (as to prevent it from getting dried before you install tiles on the whole area), using the notched trowel. The pattern of the adhesive ridges is not important, provided the bed of mortar is even on the whole surface.
Smart tip: It is always better to installing tile on the whole row, before going to the next one. In this way, you make sure the tile rows are perfectly level and the bathroom will have a neat appearance.
Installing wall tile spacers
It is impossible to install wall tiles in bathroom properly, without using the right spacers. Generally speaking, tile spacers come in a large variety of dimensions, so it is up to you the type of tile you are using. Similarly, you could install small or large spacers.
The main role of the tile spacers is to help you maintain an even gap between the tiles and to ensure the joints are consistent. Work with great care and install the spacers every time you lay a tile on the bathroom wall.
Smart tip: Do not reuse tile spacers, as you will end up with a wrong tile layout. This is one of the biggest mistakes that can be done by an unexperienced diy-er. Not only the tile won’t be level, but they will be also vulnerable to impacts (they might break).
In this image you can see an intermediary stage of our project. Consequently, you can notice the tiles are all level and the joints are even due to the proper installation of spacers. The tile pattern is not important, but if you use tiles of different colors, it is essential to decide the pattern from the very beginning.
Smart tip: Use the level on a regular basis, to check if the wall tiles are plumb. It is important to spot any mistake, as soon as possible.
In this image you can see a close-up of a tile spacer. You should be able to notice that a tile spacer plays a fundamental role in the success of any tile project: it helps you install tiles properly and keeps the gaps even.
Smart tip: Remember that you can buy tiles that do not require the installation of spacers, at all. These kind of tiles are more expensive, but worth the money if you like their look.
Installing tile corner joints
In most of the cases you have to cut the tile as to fit along the wall corners. Consequently, use a tape measurement to determine the dimension at which you have to cut the tile. Afterwards, you could use a score-and-snap cutter, a diamond blade or a wet saw, to make the cut in a professional manner.
The tile corner joints are very important when installing tile in your bathroom, as they are extremely visible, so you have to pay attention to this procedure. For an unique look, you can install corner trims, but make sure they match with bathroom tile.
Smart tip: You can notice that it is hard to spread out adhesive in such a small area using your notched trowel. Therefore, you have two alternatives: either you apply adhesive on a larger surface before installing the last two tiles, or use apply adhesive on the back of the cut tile, using a small trowel.
In this image you can notice the corner trim installed. We personally prefer the traditional way of installing corner tile, but it is up to your tastes. The greatest advantage of using corner trims is that it hides the poor cuts.
Smart tip: Install the corner trim properly, otherwise you will end up with an ugly gap between the trim and the wall. In most of the cases, the gap is created due to the use of too much tile adhesive on the wall.
Next, we also have to install tile around the bathroom window. This step is a little bit more difficult, as it implies a lot of measurements and cuts. Nevertheless, if you are using a level and a proper tile cutter, you won’t face any issues while tiling around the window.
Smart tip: Make sure the gaps between tiles are continuous from bottom up to top. If you pay attention to this aspect and make proper cuts, you won’t face any issues throughout the project.
There are more types of corner trim, on one hand there are interior corner trims, as on the other hand there are exterior corner trims. According to your needs and tastes, you can install both of these corner trims.
In addition, you can notice that the gaps between the tiles are continuous, even if we speak of the bathroom window. Use the edge of the trowel to clean the adhesive between the tiles, making sure you don’t move them from position. From our experience, we recommend you to clean the adhesive residues after several hours from the tile installation.
Smart tip: When installing exterior corner trims around a window, you have to use a miter saw, to cut it at 45º. Nevertheless, if the cuts are not perfect, you can fix the issue by using a little grout (of the same color).
After you clean the tiles and grout them, your bathroom window will look neat. Nevertheless, you could choose not to install tiles around the window, but we think that not only it would look better, but it also protects the walls from moisture and impacts. Therefore, you’ll see the results over time.
Smart tip: You should choose corner trims that fit with the color pallet of your ceramic tiles, otherwise the effect would be appalling.
When tiling the bathroom walls, you will face certain situations when you have to cut around pipes, drains or other obstacles. Consequently, you should use a hole saw drill bit, as to cut a perfectly round hole.
Smart tip: Alternatively, you can use tile nippers to cut out a roundish hole. Of course the fist option is better, but you can also do the job using the second method. If the hole is highly visible, you should buy the hole saw drill bit and attach it to your drilling machine.
Installing the last row of wall tile in bathroom
As we have already emphasized, you should install full tiles on the last row, as it is the most visible area from any corner of the bathroom. That is why, you have to make good calculations, before you start installing the tile in your bathroom, otherwise you might have to make additional cuts .
Smart tip: The operation is straight-forward: just spread adhesive on the surface using the notched trowel. The bed of mortar has to be even, otherwise you won’t be able to lay the wall tiles properly.
In order to fix the tiles on position, you have to tap them either with a rubber mallet or by using your hand (we don’t recommend you to use this method, as you could injure yourself).
Use the level to check the alignment of the tiles, as after the adhesive dries out, it would be impossible to fix the problem. Use spacers to make sure the tile joints are even.
After you have completed tiling the bathroom walls, you should also grout the gaps between the ceramic tile rows. You should also use a sponge and a bucket with clean water, to remove dust and residues off the tiles. In addition, use appropriate products to freshen up the look of your bathroom, every week. W
Smart tip: We hope that you have enjoyed our step by step diy article and we recommend you to leave a comment if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading our article on how to install wall tile in bathroom and we recommend you to check the rest of our projects regarding ceramic tile. Don’t forget to share our projects with your friends by using the social media widgets.