Bathroom remodels don’t have to be insanely expensive, or a job left only to the experts. But don’t be fooled, laying down tile for even a small bathroom requires 15-20 hours of dedication. With equal parts hard work, planning and prior experience (we do not recommend trying this if you have little to no familiarity with DIY projects) you can accomplish updating your bathroom on any budget.
Remove Old Tile
Start by taking the bathroom door off the frame, emptying the entire room and removing any fixtures – this will ensure the process is easier, and gives you more room to work without obstacles.
Cut off the water supply before removing a sink or toilet. If removing a toilet, drain the reservoir, remove bolts and gently rock it to break the wax seal.
The most helpful tools for removing old tile are a hammer, chisel and pry bar.
Carefully rip out the old tile. Depending on the construction of your home, the tile may be attached to bare cement, plywood or mason board. Whatever you encounter, exercise care and spend extra time removing materials because the ease and method of redoing the floor beneath depends on the condition of the surface.
Once you’ve successfully removed the old tiles, clear any debris left behind with a shop vac or broom. Remove or pound any exposed nails, and ensure you’re leaving behind a flat surface.
Inspect the sub-floor for any damage that may need to be repaired before you lay new tile. You will have to replace rooted wood or patch divots in concrete floors if encountered before moving on. Once you’re surface is damage-free, you’re ready for the fun part.
Choosing New Tile
This is the easiest and most enjoyable part of tiling your bathroom (aside from admiring the final project).
Choose a tile pattern, material and colors that compliment your existing decor, and will remain timeless if you choose to eventually sell your home.
A trick for small bathrooms is to use diagonally placed tiles to make the room appear larger.
Creating A Template
Once you’ve removed the old tile and prepared the sub-floor, it’s time to get the pattern and placement of your new vision correct. Arrange the tiles in your desired design. This is a very important step, as you want to make sure everything fits correctly and looks as anticipated before you begin to cement.
Use chalk to trace the outlines of the tiles so you remember the placement, especially if you’re creating an intricate pattern. Don’t forget to add space for grout lines, so you know how much room you have left in the corners, and if you’ll need to cut the tiles to fit snugly for these nooks.
If you are redoing the floor of a small bathroom, have your local hardware store cut the tiles for the edges.
Get a few pairs of gloves and even a set of knee pads just to make laying down tiles more comfortable.
Laying Down Tile
Once you’re confident in your placement and design, you’re ready to prep for cement.
Purchase a formula with top notch adhesive properties. Do not mix the entire bag at once – placing each tile takes a fair amount of time, and you don’t want your cement to dry up before you use it.
Investing in a notched trowel is critical when it comes to laying down tile. It ensures that the tiles are all placed at an even height, and that the cement sticks to the entire backside of the tiles.
Lay the tiles carefully, then use a wooden block and hammer to gently press them into place.
It’s best to start at the center and then work your way to the corners so the grout lines are straight.
If you even encounter a problem midway, don’t feel embarrassed to call in an expert for help, and be proud of the work you completed on your own. Aside from saving some dough, the project is bound to give you some invaluable experience and an ability to handle future floor dilemmas with improved confidence!
Grout + Sealing
Using a grout float, apply the mixture evenly and gently sponge the tile surface when you’re finished.
Clean the tiles completely with a simple sponge and lukewarm water. This step is crucial, as it is the only chance you have to get those grout lines straight. Once the grout sets in, you will not be able to make any changes, so make sure everything is symmetrical.
Do not enter the bathroom or step on the tiles for 24-48 hours. Once proper time has elapsed, you can wash the floor clean again.
Apply a sealer once everything has set. It will help keep the floor in tip-top shape for a longer period of time by making it more resistant to steam and water, and maintaining a shiny appearance.