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Tiling a Bathroom - How to Get Started

Julie Lord

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Floor tiles and wall tiles make exceptionally beautiful coverings for surfaces and are particularly popular for use in bathrooms. This is because well laid tiles resist condensation and water damage which is important in a room where water is used regularly. Tiles can cost a bit more than other materials such as lino or carpet, but they also bump up the value of your property because they modernise it and give it a clean and light appearance.

Installing tiles in a bathroom can seem like a daunting task to complete alone, but it is doable with the right tips and tools to hand. Here are some basic instructions to help you get started tiling your bathroom:

Ensure the subfloor is reinforced

You must ensure the subfloor is reinforced before you put any floor tiles down. There are several ways to do this, but the most effective is to purchase a cheap mortar and apply a thin layer of this before covering with backer board and nailing it down. You are only doing this to remove air pockets so, you needn't buy specialist thinset mortar.

Start from the middle

Although it might seem tempting to begin the work at the side, it is actually most effective to start laying the tiles in the centre of the room or the wall. To find the centre you will need to use accurate measuring tools like tape measures and rulers to ensure you have the correct point to begin your tiling. Don't be afraid to be picky about this as it's the most important part of planning your tiling. Once you have found the centre and marked a dot, turn that dot into a cross with the lines you draw facing each wall.

Spread some mortar

Spread some high-quality mortar at the starting point on the wall or floor, ensuring your marking is still visible for reference. Use a trowel with a notched edge to spread the mortar about ¾ of a CM thick.

Lay your first tile

Put your starter wall tile or floor tile in one corner of your cross and then push it firmly into the mortar. Use spacers if you need them and continue to apply your porcelain tiles ensuring they are in line with the original cross you drew out.

Get to the edges

When you get to the edges you will need to cut your tiles down to fit the gaps. Ensure you speak to a professional in a hardware store to ensure you select the right saw for the tiles you are cutting.

Leave the tiles for a day

The tiles will need a good 24 hours to set to the mortar so leave them with plenty of ventilation and ensure people and pets do not walk on the surface during this stage.


You will then need to grout the tiles well using the correct type of grout for the surface. If you're tiling a wall use non-sanded grout, if you're tiling a floor use sanded grout. If you are using porcelain tiles , particularly if they have rectified edges, you can use a very narrow (1-2mm) grout line for a much more unified look. However, some tiles will need a larger (3mm) grout line, especially if they have uneven edges. If you are not sure what size grout lines to go for then opt for 2mm for porcelain tiles, otherwise 3mm.

Remember these are just basic guidelines for laying your bathroom tiles. If you are ever in doubt, seek the help of a professional and always adhere to health and safety guidelines throughout.


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