Tiling your own bathroom can be a challenge, but if you fancy yourself as a bit of a dab hand at DIY then it could well be a good option for you.
Having the job done professionally can be expensive, so if you’re renovating part of your home and you want to avoid any unnecessary expense then it’s certainly worth tiling your own bathroom. There are, however, a few things you’ll need to bear in mind before you set to work. For one thing, you’ll need to take great care – if you get the preparation wrong, the whole job could soon go to pot.
Here are some of our top tips for tiling your bathroom.
Make the proper preparations
Before getting stuck in, you must take the time to attend to the necessary preparations. First things first, you need to ensure that the walls are clean, dry and flat. Remove your wallpaper until you get right down to the plaster, taking care to get rid of any and all plaster or paint flakes, and then fill any holes. You can also use a stabilising primer to coat tricky flaking paint if you need to. In addition, use a PVA-based adhesive to prime porous surfaces.
To help you plot the position of your tiles on the wall, it’s a good idea to make your own gauging stick. Softwood is ideal for this purpose – just take a piece of wood and place several tiles next to it, marking the position of each tile along the stick. Also, make sure you’ve got sturdy safety goggles for when you’re cutting tiles and heavy duty gloves to put on when removing broken ones.
It’s also important to think about the number of ceramic tiles you’re likely to need to tile your bathroom properly. Working out roughly how many tiles you’ll need is fairly simple – ceramic tiles generally come in packs of a square metre, so just measure the height and width of the area you intend to tile and then do the math. You should bear in mind though that breakages are very common, so you’ll need more tiles than you’ll actually end up putting on your bathroom walls.
You should also account for any fixtures and fittings you’ll need to tile around, including doors, cupboards and windows. Work out how much area they cover, then subtract that from the total area you worked out earlier.
Getting the layout right
When tiling your bathroom walls, it’s best to start from the centre rather than from one of the corners, for instance. Measure and mark the horizontal and vertical centre lines on each wall to establish where your starting point is. Then, take your gauging stick and place it along the lines you’ve marked out to establish the layout of your tile grid. Mark It’s really important that you get this right so it doesn’t end up looking all skew-whiff when it’s done – because by that point it’ll be far too late to set things right.
Before you start laying your tiles, you’ll need to cover the area in adhesive. The adhesive you use will vary depending on the surroundings. For example, a waterproof adhesive will be needed around showers and baths because your tiles will inevitably come into regular contact with water. Finding an adhesive that’s ready-mixed shouldn’t be too difficult, though others will require you to add water before you apply them. Make sure you remove any adhesive from the surface of your tiles, otherwise it’ll look a bit unsightly.
Laying your tiles
Using a horizontal batten as a base from which to tile, place your first tile along the batten and then line its side up with the vertical mark made earlier. Make sure that the tile is secure in the adhesive; push it firmly into place. Then, place a second tile alongside the first and make sure you leave an adequate gap for grouting. Plastic spacers can help you keep the gaps between tiles consistent. Once your first row of tiles is in place, lay a second row above it, ensuring that each tile is directly above the one below it.
Keep tiling the wall in this manner until all the tiles are in place. Leave the batten where it is until the adhesive is fully set, or else your tiles may start to slide out of position. Finally, use your cut tiles to fill any remaining space. When tiling around fixtures and fittings, put a temporary batten in place to support the first row of tiles. Use masking tape to hold cut tiles in place until the adhesive sets, then remove the tape.
When grouting, you’ll need to have the right type of grout – there are a number of them – for the job in hand. Leave the tile adhesive to try for around 24 hours before you start grouting. Take a squeegee, hold it at a 45-degree angle and fill the spaces between the tiles with grout. Make sure you stick to working on small areas of tiling at a time, otherwise the grout may dry out before it’s properly in place. Push the grout into all of the joins and use a small piece of dowel to smooth it.
Be sure to remove excess grout from the tile surface quickly – don’t give it chance to set. Take a damp sponge and use it to wipe wet grout off the tile surface, but take care not to remove grout from within the spaces where it’s been applied. Use a rag to buff up your tiles and remove the remaining film of grout on the surface.