Tiles have been used in bathrooms for millennia. They were common fixtures in ancient Roman bathhouses as well as those found in Turkey, elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and beyond. Tiles are not only used because of their undeniable beauty. They are also water resistant and easy to maintain.
Today, tiles come in many different varieties ranging from ceramic and porcelain to cement and even wood. Hiring a professional to do your tiling may seem like a given, but this can be expensive, and it’s at least important to understand the process in order to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.
For those who are a little more adventurous, tiling is actually something you can do with little prior experience, granted that you’ve familiarised yourself with the necessary steps first. In either case, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide to tiling like a pro that will help make your endeavours more manageable.
As they say, prior planning prevents poor performance. This is certainly the case when it comes to tiling the bathroom! The key to success is mapping and measuring the dimensions of the area you’d like to tile and ensuring that it is compatible with the tiles you’d like to use.
Consider which areas of the bathroom you’d like to tile. One of the best parts about bathroom tiling is that there are few conventions when it comes to deciding which spots you’d like to cover. For example, you can create continuity by tiling the walls and the floor, or you can choose to tile a mere portion of the bathroom like the shower area or washstand.
When it comes to planning the tiling project, pay special attention to the tile sizes. You’ll want to make sure the one’s you’ve selected will fit nicely before you invest in hundreds of them! Equally as important, make sure you purchase enough tiles for the space so that you have what you need when the time comes to begin the project.
Of course, tiles can be cut into smaller pieces if you need a few halves to fully tile a given space, but you’ll want to keep this part of the project to a minimum. Note that smaller tiles are cheaper and more versatile when it comes to fitting them into the space. Though larger tiles are more expensive, they can help make a smaller space look more spacious and they tend to be subtler in appearance.
Now that you have a game plan, you can begin the tiling process. Remember that, no matter where you place the tiles, always start tiling from the ceiling down. There are a few different reasons for this, but the most significant one is that tiling from the ceiling will help ensure that the mitred tiles are directly aligned with the grout joints.
Further, any tiles you’ve had to cut in half will be situated at the bottom rather than in the line of sight. Pay special mind to tiling around windows, doors, and drains. It can also be useful to draw a rough sketch of the tiling layout on the cement before you begin placing them.
Because the bathroom tiling will likely be exposed to lots of water, it is imperative that any leaks are promptly sealed. Try using silicone sealant or any other products marketed towards sealing tiles against moisture in the bathroom.
This is also something to consider when it comes to the window frames, where moisture can pass in and out easily if the tiles haven’t been sealed correctly. Keep in mind that the tiling in the shower must be angled at a slight incline around the drain in order to draw water towards it for better drainage.
Grout is the material that goes in between each tile. It is usually white or slightly grey in colouring. When it comes to adding grout and allowing it enough time to set, a process known as curing, it’s best to do this as you go rather than waiting to do all of the curing at the end. This way, you don’t have to walk back over all the tiles while you wait for the cement to dry.
The instructions on the can of grout will tell you how much time the grout needs to cure, but it can take as long as one week. Take note that curing requires the presence of some humidity. One way to trap the humidity is to cover the finished tiling with a plastic sheet. Give the tiles some time to cure before sealing them.
If you’d like to enhance the convenience of your bathroom, a tiled niche is a good way to do it. The niche can serve as a built-in shelf, like this one by Loveridge Kitchens & Bathrooms. Larger ones can even be used as alcove where the washbasin or shower can be situated.
It’s better to aim for a niche that’s larger by a couple of inches than the size you need because you can make a larger one smaller but you can’t exactly enlarge a niche that ends up being too small without starting the process all over again. A larger niche will make aligning the tiles with the niche’s grout joints easier because you’re less likely to have to cut the tiles to make sure they fit. Niching involves a good number of steps, so it’s best to get it right the first time!
The key to a good tiling job is in the detail. Cutting corners or lacking precision may seem like small issues when it comes to many different endeavours, but tiling requires that you bring out your inner perfectionist. Be thorough and pay mind to your grout lines in particular. Make sure they are straight and even in terms of width from row to row.
If you’re planning to combine different tiles to create a pattern, be sure to keep your concentration as you go along so as not to make a mistake in placing the tiles into your pattern. When it comes to using tiles in bold colours or patterns, a small tiles area can go a long way. Even these multi-coloured mosaic tiles make a statement, even if they only cover half the wall.
Stuck on deciding which tile pattern to choose? Check out our guide to the coolest tile patterns to try out now.