How to Tile a Bathroom

Never installed tile before? No sweat. Instead of calling a professional, learn how to do it yourself. Armed with the right tools—and our five easy steps—you'll have a tiled bath in no time.

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Tiling a bathroom floor, shower, or wall can reward with durability, low maintenance, and good looks for years—but only if you install the tile properly. If you've never worked with tile before, don't worry. You're in the right place. All tile installation is similar, no matter the desired design or size. You'll use an adhesive to hold the tile to the surface, and grout creates a water-tight surface and fills the spaces between the tile. We've broken the tile installation process down into five easy-to-follow steps to help your bath look better in no time. 

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What You Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk line
  • Tile
  • Tile adhesive
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile nippers
  • Removable plastic spacers
  • Grout
  • Grout sealant
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile float
  • Bucket
  • Sponges
  • Cushioned knee pads

Step 1: Measure, Design and Lay Out Tile

Get started by using measuring tape and a chalk line to organize the space you plan to tile. Use those dimensions to select the tile, then lay out the design and add any accents before attaching to the wall. This way you will know how many cuts to make.

Step 2: Cut Tile

As you're learning how to tile a bathroom, it's essential to realize that you'll have to cut tile, either to create diagonal patterns or finish ends. Use a manual scoring cutter or a motorized wet saw equipped with a diamond-tip blade (either can be rented from a home improvement center). Cut the tiles you'll need to finish your pattern.

Step 3: Attach Tile

First, glue the ceramic tile to the surface. There are several types of glue available, including thin-set mortar adhesive. Apply the adhesive to small areas and run the notched side of the trowel along the surface at a 45-degree angle in long, horizontal strokes. Lay the tile and place removable plastic spacers between each joint for even spacing. Apply from the bottom up for a wall or the outermost corner forward for a floor. Press tiles into the adhesive with a slight twist to ensure proper bonding. Then move to the next section and repeat.

Step 4: Apply Grout

After adhesive has properly dried and set, remove the plastic spacers and fill the joints with grout using a rubber tile float held at a 45-degree angle. Grout is either cement-base or epoxy, so choose what works best for your bath and budget. Epoxy grout is highly water- and stain-resistant and requires no sealer, but is typically more expensive. Nonsanded cement-base grout is typically used for joints smaller than 1/8 inch; for larger joints, sanded cement-base grout is the choice. Allow the grout to set for a few minutes, then remove excess (but not too much grout between the joints) with a clean sponge and a bucket of water.

Step 5: Seal Grout

Most cement-base grouts are enhanced with a protective sealer to increase water-resistance. Once the grout has dried, apply grout sealant to help prevent stains.

More Tips for Sealing Grout

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