Wondering how to tile a bathroom floor? Follow along with this step by step tutorial and learn how! This is a project that even a beginning DIYer can take on.
Tiling a bathroom floor….it sounds pretty intimidating, right? If you are a beginner and you’ve never tiled before it may honestly feel completely out of reach. But just like most things in life, with a little investment of time (with research and learning) along with an investment of your money (with buying the tools for the job) – you can definitely learn how to tile a bathroom floor!
Advice for trying new DIYs (like tiling a bathroom floor) for beginners
My best advice for someone starting out is to take your time in the research and learning part.
- Start with reading DIY blog posts (like this one) and watching helpful YouTube videos
- Then take it one step further and read the detailed instructions provided by the manufacturer!
- Many people look over this simple step because the instructions provided by the manufacturer can sometimes be pretty boring to read or use terminology that you’re not familiar with! But you can rest easy knowing that you’re getting expert advice.
You can usually find the manufacturer’s instructions easily online by searching for the brand & product name. Once you find the product page, you want to look for something called TDS (or Technical Data Sheet)…see I told you it was boring sounding! Haha!
However, within the Technical Data Sheets, you’ll find a wealth of information, including exactly what to do with the product and how to use it.
You may need to look up TDS info for multiple products as well… For example, if I was doing research on how to tile a bathroom floor I would look up the installation instructions for my tile, the concrete backer, the mortar, and the grout! A lot of research I know, but just think of how smart you’ll be after you’re done!
Disclaimer: don’t follow this tutorial for shower floors!
Keep in mind that this tutorial is NOT for how to tile a shower floor. Since showers are subjected to a ton of water & there needs to be proper slopes for draining, the process for shower pans (which is what shower floors are called) is very VERY different. This tutorial is for bathroom floors outside of the shower.
This how to tile a bathroom floor tutorial contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend anyway! Read my full disclosure here.
Let’s learn how to tile a bathroom floor!
Supplies for installing bathroom floor tiles:
- 1/4” WonderBoard
- Cement Board Screws
- Bathroom Floor Tiles
- Thin Set Mortar (be sure it is the right kind for your bathroom floor tile material and size)
- Chalk Line
- Tile Saw
- 5 Gallon Bucket
- Mesh Tape
- Grooved Trowel
- 1/4″ Square Notch Trowel
- Rubber Mallet
- Grout (be sure it is the right kind for your bathroom floor tiles)
- Rubber Grout Float
Step 1. Ensure level & clean subfloors.
Before you get started on the tile, let’s start with tiling bathroom floor preparation. First, remove any debris and dust from your floors. If you’re going to be removing tile floor, be sure to read this post for some tips and tips.
Next, you need to make sure your subfloor is absolutely level. You are spending a lot of time putting in your bathroom floor tiles and if your space isn’t level you can expect to spend the same amount of time redoing the floor, which would be a major bummer.
We were kind of in luck here because we laid brand new subfloor for this bathroom so it was nice and flat.
Step 2. Lay WonderBoard.
The bottom layer when laying bathroom floor tiles is concrete backer. And if you’re wondering… NO you can’t just install the bathroom tile floors on top of the plywood subfloors. Plywood (just like all wood products) expands and contracts, so it’s not a good surface for tile. You definitely need a first layer of concrete backer board before tile floors.
We used 1/4” WonderBoard laid directly onto the subfloors to provide a stable surface for installing tile floor. (Note: there are two sizes of WonderBoard 1/4″ and 7/16″…1/4″ is for floors and countertops and 7/16″ is for walls, including shower walls).
Using a 1/4″ square notched trowel, apply thin set mortar directly on to your subfloors and lay cement backer boards on top. (See Step 6 below for more information on how to mix up your thin set).
Secure the cement backer boards with cement board screws screwed into the floor joists spaced about 6 inches and drive them until they are flush with the cement boards, but not countersunk.
The seams of the backer board also need to be taped with mesh tape, but we did this as we laid the tile later in Step 7.
Step 3. Line up tile placement.
Measure the middle between two walls and make a small mark on the floor. Repeat for the other two walls. This will get you a middle point for the room that you’ll want to start your tiles from.
Tile looks best with long and straight runs. So measure the distance from the mid point to the longest wall. Take that measurement and make marks on opposite sides of the longest wall and snap a chalk line.
Repeat with a perpendicular wall so you make a cross on your floor with chalk lines. This will be where you place your first tile to make sure everything else is nice and square.
Step 4. Lay out bathroom floor tiles.
Lay out your bathroom floor tiles along this line starting at the cross you made with the chalk lines. Go from one end of the room to the other.
Make any adjustments based on potential traffic on grout lines and to ensure you don’t have small tiles cuts on either end.
If you are working on this project alone, we would recommend laying out your entire tile project and make all your cuts first. This is called “dry fitting”.
You will not have time to mortar, measure, and cut tiles to fit as you go alone, which can get a little stressful when you’re going back and forth to the tile saw a million times as your mortar starts to set up.
Don’t forget to use spacers when you are dry fitting the bathroom floor tiles.
Step 5. Cut edges pieces with a tile saw.
Cut any edge pieces as necessary with a wet tile saw.
UPDATE: You’ll see here that we are using this tiny little tile saw and we actually ended up not loving it! Read more here about why we don’t think you should use cheap tile saw like this and why we got so frustrated. You’d be better off renting a nice tile saw for your project or investing in something that work better if you’re going to be tiling more than 1 time. When we started our master bathroom renovation, we ended up investing in this larger tile saw and we love it!
Step 6. Mix up thin set mortar.
Go to your pantry and pull out that jar of creamy peanut butter. Open the lid and take a good look. This is the consistency your mortar should be when you go to lay your tile.
Follow the instructions on your mortar to get it mixed properly. Also, be sure to grab a bucket of water and a sponge/rag so you can clean the mortar and bathroom floor tiles as you go.
Step 7. Lay bathroom floor tiles.
With mortar mixed and bathroom floor tiles cut and laid out, it’s time to start installing your floor.
Start by removing tile where your chalk cross is, lay down your mortar with a grooved trowel held at 45 degrees.
Make sure your first piece on the floor absolutely square by using your chalk lines. Any flaw here is going to show up in the rest of your design.
Mortar dries pretty quickly so only lay enough for about 2-4 feet of one row at a time.
Gently set the floor tile down on top of the mortar and with even pressure, push down the tile with an ever so slight twist to work out any air bubbles.
When setting your bathroom floor tiles try to get them as close to the other tiles as possible, then add tile spacers and adjust for a tight fit.
You’ll want to be sure you are leveling the edges of the tile to its neighboring tile with a level and a rubber mallet.
UPDATE: On our next bathroom remodel, we tried out these tile spacers and clips and we’re big fans now. We tried them out for the first time on this renovation and we loved them. They help you space your tile out properly and ensure everything is level and flush.
Step 8. Wait 24 hours before grouting bathroom floor tiles.
Close off the area and wait a full 24 hours before you step back on the floor to grout.
Step 9. Apply grout to bathroom floor tiles
Mix up your grout and start glopping it onto the tiles. Work in small sections and spread grout over tiles with a rubber grout float held at 45 degrees as you skim over and push the grout down into the tile gaps. Work the grout into all of the bathroom floor tile joints.
Step 10. Wash tile surface
Wait about 20-30 minutes and then use a damp sponge to rinse away any leftover grout. Be sure the sponge is well squeezed so you don’t get too much water on the tile. Repeat until the tile is clean.
Step 11. Remove grout haze
After the surface is cleaned, you’ll still notice a bit of “haze” or film on the surface of the tile. Sometimes the haze isn’t noticeable until a few days after you’ve grouted your floor. But it is really pretty easy to remove!
First, wait 3-24 hours before removing the haze. Different grouts waiting times will vary here, so check your instructions for the exact time.
If you aren’t using marble tiles (like we were), you would just mix together warm water with distilled vinegar (4:1 water to vinegar ratio) in a bucket or a spray bottle and wipe the grout with a clean cloth. However, vinegar can’t be used on marble.
For marble surfaces, you can try to wipe the haze off with a microfiber towel in a circular motion. Whatever isn’t removed with that method, can be taken off with a neutral cleaner, like this all-surface cleaner that is safe for marble tile.
Step 12. Celebrate
Once all your tiles are laid, spaced, level, and grouted….you can celebrate! You did it!
Bathroom tile flooring is a project that may seem a little overwhelming, but it’s really fairly simple.
Hopefully this step by step tutorial for how to tile a bathroom floor was helpful for you to learn everything you need to know if you’re going to do it yourself.
Here’s a quick look at the bathroom all finished and prettied up with decor!
- Ensure level and clean floors.
- Lay wonderboard.
- Line up tile placement.
- Lay out bathroom tile floors.
- Mix up thin set mortar.
- Start laying bathroom floor tiles.
- Wait 24 hours before grouting bathroom floor tiles.
- Apply grout to bathroom floor tiles.
- Wash tile surface.