Most of us are unwilling to admit this, but we spend a lot of time in the bathroom. According to a recent study performed in the UK, the average person will spend a grand total of 1.5 years in the bathroom during their lifetime. That’s a lot of time staring at an ugly floor. But spending time in an outdated bathroom can be more than just depressing.
For the owners of rental units, bathrooms are surprisingly important. Beside kitchens, bathrooms are consistently ranked as the primary selling, or renting, point that potential tenants consider in their decision making. Luckily, renovating a bathroom isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Tiling A Bathroom In 6 Steps
With a little planning, and the right materials, tiling a bathroom yourself is a great way to rejuvenate a tired space and add both desirability and value to a rental property.
1. Buy Tile
As you’ve probably guessed, the first thing you’ll need to buy is tile. But first, you should do some research.There are several materials out of which tile can be made, so what will renters expect in your area? What colors and styles are likely to conform with their aesthetic? Will they want:
- Vinyl? The cheapest option, vinyl tiles are probably easiest to install. Usually self-adhesive, vinyl tiling won’t require as many additional materials to put in. But watch out, most renters won’t associate vinyl with “luxury.”
- Ceramic or porcelain? More expensive than vinyl, both ceramic and porcelain are attractive, classic choices for a bathroom. Both materials are used in many applications, so make sure that the kind you’re buying is appropriate as flooring.
- Laminate or linoleum? Laminate and linoleum, which are plastics, can look eerily similar to wood or marble. Generally more expensive than the previous options, plastics are chosen for many bathrooms because of their hygienic properties.
- Wood or stone? Most expensive, and often desired by higher-income renters, natural materials are beautiful. Most will require additional treatments to protect against damage, a fact that often prevents amateurs from trying.
Buy more tiles than you’ll actually need. Some will have to be cut to fit in tight corners and you might break a few in the process, too.
2. Buy Mortar, Grout, & Tools
But you can’t just throw tiles down on top of a bare wooden floor and call it a day. You’ll have to lay down a solid base first, one that can hold individual tiles in place and prevent water from seeping through to the wood below.
Mortar is a mix of cement, sand, water, and lime (stone, not citrus), and thin-set mortar is we’ll use to prevent further complications down the road. You can buy either pre-mixed or unmixed mortar, it doesn’t matter for our purposes. Mixed is usually more expensive, and all you’ll need to mix is water.
Grout is a kind of paste that we’ll use to hold our individual tiles together.
In addition to materials, we’ll need tools. A lot of tools, many of which you may already own and some you might not:
- Measuring tape
- Cement board
- Two buckets
- A sponge
- Utility knife (X-Acto knife)
- Tile spacers
- Wax pencil
- Square (or triangle)
- A chalk line (also called “chalk box”)
- A grout float (looks like an old-fashioned clothes iron)
- Sanded grout sealant
Phew! Once the shopping is done, you’re ready to tile.
3. Lay A Strong Foundation
Clean your bathroom’s existing floor so it’s clear of debris that could get trapped in the mortar foundation.
Mix your mortar with water, following the manufacturer’s instructions. It should be the consistency of mud, but loose enough to fall from the end of your trowel with little trouble. Using the notched trowel, spread an even layer of mortar over the floor. Start at the room’s center and work outward in large, sweeping motions. Go quickly; mortar can dry out pretty quickly.
Now you’ve got a strong foundation that will hold support your tiles. Wait a day for the mortar to set and then come back rested and ready for more tiling!
4. Lay Your Tile
Begin by laying tiles out across the entire floor, to ensure correct placement. Now remove them, except for your center tile. Use the wax pencil to trace the outline of that center tile. You can use the square and chalkline to draw reference lines directly on the foundation if you need guidance.
Start laying tile in the corner furthest from your door. Work in small batches, so you don’t inadvertently walk over tiles that haven’t quite finished setting.
Mix up a small amount of mortar and spread it over your foundation with the notched trowel. Lay down your tiles, separating them from one another with the tile spacers so you can put grout in later. When you lay a tile into the wet mortar, press it firmly and give it a little wiggle. Then just keep going!
If you need to cut tiles to fit, use a wet saw or tile cutter.
Once you’re finished, and the floor is completely tiled, you’ll need to wait another day for the mortar to set.
Pull out your tile spacers, and start mixing the grout you purchased with water. Now trowel out some of your mixture and work it into the cracks between the tiles with your grout float. Use the sponge to wipe away any excess. Wipe horizontal to the grout line, so you don’t create any divots in the desired grout.
Grout can take a while to set fully, so you may want to wait several days before disturbing it with your steps. A humidifier can help, too.
6. Sit Back, Admire Your Work, And Rent That Unit!
You’ve done it! Your bathroom is refreshed and beautiful. Now you can either sit on your laurels for a bit, or start marketing!