Do It Yourself: How to Tile Your Bathroom Floor Like a Pro

Installing bathroom tile is one of the best ways to cut costs. Tackle this DIY project quickly with tips from the pros.

Flip Your Bathroom From the Floor Up

Dreaming of a spa-like bathroom but your old flooring squashes your zen? Whether it’s peeling linoleum or outdated vinyl, replacing your bathroom floor will quickly modernize your space. This two to three-day remodeling project will not only impress guests, it can increase your home’s value.

Flooring materials for the average bathroom typically cost between $100-$500, depending on your selections. Hiring a professional for the installation can double or triple your expenses, so this project can be a cost-effective option for the intermediate to expert DIYer.

So how do you lay tile yourself? Well, we called in the experts — Allie Bloyd of Builders Surplus and James Upton the DIY Tile Guy — to provide helpful tips and advice.

Supplies Needed for Your DIY Bathroom Tile Project

If you don’t have these supplies on hand, visit your local home improvement store and ask about tool rentals for a budget-friendly alternative.

ToolsMaterials
Circular sawGrout
DrillKnee pads measuring tape
Grout floatMeasuring tape
JigsawRubber gloves
Mixing bucketSafety glasses
Notched trowelSealant
SpongeTile and spacers
Wet tile sawUnderlayment

How to Prepare Your Bathroom

In addition to towels, toothbrushes and decorative items, you’ll need to take out some bathroom fixtures to give you room to work. Remove these items to prep your bathroom:

Toilet: Remove the toilet and place an old rag in the hole to block sewer gas. Depending on the height of your new tile, you may need to install an extension ring over the toilet flange before reinstalling.

Vanity: If you plan to replace your sink or vanity now or in the near future, make sure the entire area surrounding the drain pipe is covered to keep it level.

Door: Removing the door keeps the space well-ventilated and allows more room to work. You might need to undercut the door before reinstalling it to accommodate the new tile height.

Baseboard: This is optional but recommended. Reinstalling baseboards at the end of the project helps cover slight measuring mistakes for a cleaner look.

How to Install a Tile Floor Step-by-Step

1. Measure the Area and Purchase Materials

Measure your bathroom wall-to-wall to figure out how much tile, grout and underlayment to buy. For the correct amount of tile, calculate the square footage of your room. After you select your tile, determine how many tiles you need per square foot. Consider purchasing a few extra tiles to allow for breaks or cutting mistakes.

A person measuring their bathroom floor to purchase the right amount of materials.

Tips for Selecting Floor Tiles for Bathrooms

More often than not, neutral colors are the way to go, especially if you plan on selling your home. Also, be sure to select a tile that can handle a lot of foot traffic.

 

 

2. Clean the Area

To keep your new tile from cracking, thoroughly prepare the surface. If you’re removing old tiles, consider renting a renovation dumpster and make sure to vacuum away the dust and debris.

You can lay tile over linoleum or vinyl. If you go this route, keep these tips in mind:

  • Scrape away loose, peeling ends of linoleum or vinyl and vacuum dust and particles.
  • Fill cracks or low spots with thin-set.
  • Scrub the floor with a vinyl floor stripper to dissolve wax and residue, carefully following the label’s instructions.
  • Use an abrasive scouring pad to texturize the floor’s surface so the underlayment easily sticks when installed.
  • 3. Install Underlayment

    A layer of cement backer board provides a clean, even surface to lay bathroom tile. Plywood backer board also works, but experts recommend the sturdier cement option. This will offer the best support for heavy tiles.

    Cement backer board ready for installation as tile underlayment.

    How to Install Cement Backer Board

    • Cut the cement board into panels with your circular saw to fit your measurements.
    • Be sure to cut panels at a manageable length to fit through doorways if cutting outside.
    • Use a jigsaw to cut inside corners and circles for sinks, toilets and other bathroom fixtures.
    • Lay panels so that four corners never meet at one point.
    • Using your drill, screw the underlayment to the sub-floor, spacing screws about 6 inches apart to maintain a level surface.
    • To secure the cement board, opt for a thin-set adhesive. Be sure to read the thin-set’s label and follow instructions carefully.

      Enjoy Your Refreshed Bathroom

      Reinstall doors, trims and fixtures. Wipe down floors once more and replace rugs and bathroom décor. Voilà, your bathroom is now ready for luxurious bubble baths aplenty. Next, you can move on to refreshing other areas of your home with updated flooring like new carpet, tile or even the popular vinyl plank flooring.

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