Install Bathroom Tile Like a Pro

August 18, 2014 Editorial Staff
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(Family Features) Updating the flooring can instantly infuse new life into a tired, outdated bathroom. For an upscale, polished look that doesn’t have to break the bank, transform your bathroom with a fresh style by installing a new tile floor.

Before you get started, you’ll need to make some critical decisions about your new tile flooring:

Ceramic or stone? Weigh factors such as porosity, how slippery the surface may be when wet and how well it retains heat or cold. Ultimately, your decision will hinge on the specific needs and uses of your family.

Complement or contrast? You’ll be less overwhelmed when faced with aisle after aisle of options if you start by defining the overall style you want and the colors and tones that will best achieve your vision.

Big or small? Generally, the larger the tile, the fewer grout lines, and too many grout lines in a smaller space can create the illusion of clutter. However, smaller tiles can eliminate the need to make multiple awkward cuts, and small tiles are perfect for creating accent patterns or for introducing a splash of color.

When you’ve got your overall look and materials selected, follow these steps to achieve a whole new bathroom:

  • Prepare your subfloor. Use a level to check for uneven spots; ultimately you need a completely even surface to prevent cracks in the tile or grout and rough spots that could pose a tripping hazard. Use patching and leveling material to create a consistent surface. Apply a thin layer of mortar and then attach your cement backer board with screws. Cover joints with cement board tape, then apply another thin layer of mortar, smooth and allow to dry.
  • To ensure square placement, draw reference lines on the subfloor using a level and carpenter square. Tile should start in the middle of the room and move out toward the walls, so make your initial reference lines as close to center as possible. Mark additional reference lines as space allows, such as two-foot-by-two-foot squares.
  • Do a test run with your chosen tile by laying it out on the floor. There are color variations in most tile patterns, so you’ll want to verify each tile blends well with the next.
  • Mix your tile mortar and use the thin side of a trowel to apply mortar at a 45 degree angle. Use the combed side to spread evenly, and return excess mortar to the bucket. Remember to apply mortar in small areas, working as you go, so it doesn’t dry before you’re ready to lay the tile over it.
  • When laying tile, use your reference lines as guides. Press and wiggle tile slightly for the best adherence.
  • Use spacers to create even lines between one tile and the next, and continue laying new tiles, removing excess mortar with a damp sponge or rag.
  • As you complete a section of tile, use a level and mallet to verify the tiles are sitting evenly.
  • Let mortar dry for 24 hours before grouting.
  • Remove spacers then apply grout to joints, removing excess as you go.
  • Allow grout to dry per the manufacturer’s instructions, then go back over tile with a damp sponge to set grout lines and clean grout residue.
  • Once grout has cured (usually at least a couple weeks), apply a sealer to protect it.
  • Once your new tile floor has thoroughly dried and you’ve applied a protective sealant, you’ll have a beautiful, low-maintenance floor to enjoy for years to come.

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