DIY Network

Installing Tile in a Bathroom

A couple's bathroom gets a makeover with the installation of travertine tile.

More in Bathroom

Step 1: Select Tiles

Tile Selection Tips:

  • Make sure to purchase enough tiles to finish the job, plus extras for any future repairs. The exact tiles may be impossible to find at a later date.

  • For an easier installation, place whole tiles first, and then come back and place cut tiles.

  • When focusing on boosting value, select larger tiles. This gives the illusion of a larger room and conveniently requires less grouting.

  • Natural stone tile is less likely to go out of style.

Step 2: Install New Backer Board

After removing the old existing tile and drywall, screw new panels of water resistant backer board directly onto wall studs forming the surfaces of the bath and shower areas.

install new backer board

Step 3: Spread Thinset on the Backer Board

After screwing on a straight board called a batten, which temporarily creates a level brace for the tiles, load a toothed trowel with thinset mortar and spread it onto the backer board. The key to the process is keeping the trowel at slightly less than 45 degrees to achieve a uniform bed.

spread thinset mortar onto backer board

Step 4: Create Suction Bond

With a small section of mortar applied, place a few tiles onto the batten board as close to final position as possible and shimmy each into place to create a suction bond. As you set each tile, insert plastic spacers for uniformity.

Step 5: Ensure Tiles are Flush

Before moving on to the next row, run your fingers across the seams to ensure the surfaces of the tiles are flush.

Step 6: Cut Remaining Tiles to Exact Dimensions

Once all the full-size tiles have been set, use a wet saw to cut any remaining tile to exact dimensions. Once positioned, allow the tiles to set for 10 hours before applying grout.

Step 7: Grout the Tile

To prepare the grout, hand-mix it with water in a small bucket until achieving the consistency of toothpaste. Next, load a small amount of grout onto a rubber float and fill between the tiles using a wiping motion perpendicular to the seams. If any pinholes form, immediately fill them using your finger.

grout the tile

Step 8: Clean Residue with Sponge

Once a small area is sufficiently grouted, gently wipe across the tile surface with a damp sponge to pick up any excess residue. Approximately 12 hours later, wipe clean any remaining grout film.

wipe tile surface with damp sponge

Step 9: Apply Caulk

To further protect against water seepage, finish the tile work by running a bead of bathroom caulk between the tub, shower basin and along the newly tiled corners

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