HOME & GARDEN — Updating the flooring can help infuse new life into tired, outdated bathrooms. For an upscale, polished look that doesn’t have to break the bank, consider installing tile flooring.
Before you get started, you’ll want to make some decisions about the look and feel of your 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 hinges on the needs and uses of your family.
Complement or contrast? Define the overall style you want as well as the colors and tones that will help 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 introducing a splash of color.
When you’ve got your overall look and materials selected, keep these steps in mind as you begin laying the flooring:
- Prepare your subfloor. Use a level to check for uneven spots; you need an even surface to prevent cracks in the tile or grout as well as rough spots that could pose tripping hazards. Use patching and leveling material to create a consistent surface. Apply a thin layer of mortar then attach your cement backer board with screws. Cover joints with cement board tape, 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 the center as possible. Mark additional reference lines as space allows, such as 2-foot-by-2-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 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.
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, 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 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 sealer to protect it.