Hey Remodelaholics! Corey here from TinySidekick and I’m really excited to share a project that can seem really scary, but I’m here to tell you that it is so much easier than you might think. If you are willing to get a little dirty, you can absolutely tile a bathroom floor yourself (which will definitely save you some money.)
I too can get intimidated by the idea of taking on really big projects, but I don’t let that stop me from trying and one of the reasons I love blogging so much is that I can show you that you don’t have to know exactly what you are doing to get a beautiful result. You just have to be willing to try. There will be an element of “figure it out as you go” with every. single. project. Embrace it and go for it!
The hubs and I have taken on a few tile jobs around here, but tiling the floor in the kid’s bathroom that we completely gutted and remodeled ourselves was the easiest of all the tile work I’ve done, and perfect for someone looking to gain some confidence when it comes to taking on some serious DIY.
If you can put icing on a cake, and are willing to use a tile saw, you can totally do this!
How to Tile a Bathroom Floor
- two 5 gallon buckets for mixing mortar and grout
- a drill with a universal mixing paddle
- a couple large sponges
- large putty knife
- grout float
- a level
- a marker
- a tile saw (we rented ours from the Home Depot)
- (maybe) cement board
- floor tile
- tile spacers
- thin Set Mortar (we used white since we planned to do white grout)
- tile and Grout Sealer- you will want one that doesn’t change the color or create shine.
- sanded grout (You will want non-sanded if working with glass tiles.)
First things first….
When I originally set out to tile the bathroom floor I thought I could just tile right on top of the wood subfloor. WRONG! My bathroom is on a second story and the wood subfloor naturally has a little bit of give to it when you walk on it which would cause the tiles to eventually crack. To avoid this, you will need to lay cement board (hardibacker) on top of your wood subfloor.
To cut your cement board to size, clamp a straight edge onto the board and score it with a utility knife. You will need to score it many many times until you have a deep enough line to break the board. It sometimes helps to score on both sides.
Once your boards are cut to size attach them to the subfloor. Predrill your holes and then attach with screws.
When your subfloor is prepared, you are ready to lay your tile. The first step to tiling is to lay the tile with mortar.
Mix your mortar in a large 5 gallon bucket according to the directions. This mixing paddle that attaches to our drill makes mixing mortar and grout really easy.
Assuming you’ve already thought out where to start with your tiles, when your mortar is ready spread a nice layer of mortar onto the floor just like you are frosting a giant cake. Then go over the mortar with your trowel at a 90 degree angle to create ridges in your mortar. Lay your tile and press firmly and evenly.
You will want to check your tile with a level to make sure it is level. This is especially important at the beginning because anything that is off now will only get worse as you lay more tile.
You will want to work in about 3 foot sections at a time.
This tumbled hexagon tile came in 11 x 14 sheets, which made it really easy to lay. In order to get a consistent grout line I found tile spacers that fit snugly into the existing spaces and used them between sheets of tile when laying my tile.
You will need to cut your tile with a tile saw for the areas along the edges. It’s best to have one person laying tile and another person on standby to do the cuts as needed. As spaces come up we figure out how to cut a piece to fill the spaces. It is like a giant puzzle really.
Don’t be afraid to get creative to get the right cuts for your tile. When we came to the area around the door jam we needed a really exact cut to make it look professional. So I created a template with a piece of paper and used the template to mark the cuts needed on the tile. (Sorta impressed the hubs with this one )
When you are done laying the tile you will need to let it set. The instructions on your mortar will tell you how long. It is usually at least over night.
Once your mortar is set, you will want to clean out any excess mortar that came up between the cracks using a scraper before you grout your floor.
Now you are ready to grout.
You will want to mix your grout in a clean 5 gallon bucket according to the directions. You will also want to have handy a bucket of water and a large sponge.
Apply a layer of grout with your float. I think it works best to get some grout on the area that I’m working on and then spread it around with my float swiping in an X pattern. This ensures that I get the grout pressed into the cracks really well. Once you have the grout pressed into the cracks in the area you are working (I do about 2 x 2 feet at a time,) go back over the tile with your float to remove as much excess grout from the surface of the tile as possible. You will still have a foggy look to your tile like you see in the picture below.
After the time given on the directions of your grout, you will wipe the tile clean with your sponge. This is my favorite part because you get to see your work come to life!
As you clean the surface with your sponge, you may see a little unevenness in your grout. Keep wiping until the grout lines are smooth and look almost sealed.
The final step after the grout is dry (your instructions will say how long) is to clean the surface of your tile with cheese cloth.
You will want to wear a mask for this part and be ready to create a lot of dust. Take a good amount of cheese cloth and wipe the surface of your tiles. You will start to see the fogginess disappear and your beautiful tile show through!
Once your surface is clean and you’ve waited the allotted time for your everything to cure, you will want to use a sealer.
If the surface of your tile is glossy you can just seal the grout. The tile I used here is natural stone (which is porous) so I had to use a sealer with an impregnator. An impregnator creates an invisible barrier that is resistant to stains and moisture but still lets vapors escape.
Tiling a bathroom floor is definitely a process that takes a few days, but it can be done, even if you’ve never tiled anything before.
I’m so proud that we took on this bathroom and the floor is definitely the wow factor that I was looking for!
The floor was just one of many DIY projects that went into completely remodeling our kid’s bathroom. Come on over and check out the rest of the bathroom!
See you there!
Ready to tile? Read these other posts for more tips to tile in style!