How to Install a Bathroom Tile Floor

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
I'm on my way to the unofficial birthplace of NASCAR, Charlotte, North Carolina for a visit with Kathy and Dave Shue.  Now I'm not really sure whether or not stock car racing is a high priority for them but tiling their bathroom floor certainly is.
KATHY SHUE:
Hi.
RON HAZELTON:
Hi. Kathy?
KATHY SHUE:
Hi, yes, Kathy.
RON HAZELTON:
How are you?
KATHY SHUE:
Hi, it's so nice to meet you.
RON HAZELTON:
I know the project is in the bathroom.
KATHY SHUE:
Yes.

RON HAZELTON:
A new floor.
KATHY SHUE:
Yeah.
RON HAZELTON:
You guys want to show me?
KATHY SHUE:
Sure. Come on.
RON HAZELTON:
Show me what you have in mind.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
KATHY SHUE:
So here's the bathroom.
RON HAZELTON:
Oh, this is a large bathroom.
KATHY SHUE:
Yes, it is.
RON HAZELTON:
Very nice.

KATHY SHUE:
Thank you.
RON HAZELTON:
Now the floor doesn't look in that, in that bad a shape.
KATHY SHUE:
I've stripped it twice to clean it and it just doesn't get any better than that.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay, so --
KATHY SHUE:
It's still really dirty.
RON HAZELTON:
So what were you thinking? More vinyl on top of this?
KATHY SHUE:
Actually, I think the tile, ceramic tile.
RON HAZELTON:
Ceramic tile, okay.

DAVE SHUE:
So we've got to take this up.
RON HAZELTON:
Now you've got a toilet over here. We'll lift that out and tile up underneath and then put it back again.
KATHY SHUE:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
We start by prying off the shoe molding, removing the toilet and then peeling up the old vinyl flooring. And this comes off a lot easier than many I've encountered. But there is some adhesive left behind, so we scrape it off with putty knives, leaving a clean, smooth surface.
KATHY SHUE:
[UNINTELLIGIBLE]
RON HAZELTON:
Now Kathy's decided she wants a rectangular field of green tile somewhere in the middle of this room. The question is, exactly where. So in order to help us make that decision, we've made up this cardboard template. What do you guys think?
KATHY SHUE:
How about this one?
RON HAZELTON:
Over this way.
KATHY SHUE:
I think I like the idea of using the tub, centering it on the tub rather than the entire room.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay.

The island of green tile we're putting in the center will go down first and dictate the layout of the remaining tiles. Once we position the island where we want it, we extend the edges with a chalk line, creating guidelines for the rest of the room.

Okay, good.

Then we use a little hairspray to seal the fragile line, making sure it won't rub off as we continue working. To mark the edges of the center island, we attach strips of wood with hot melt glue, just in case the mortar covers up some of our lines.

Okay, Kathy. Just tuck the mixer down in there and I'll start to mix it.

For today's job, we'll be using a quick-setting thin-set mortar. This will allow us to grout the floor after only a two-hour wait. Kathy and Dave mix just enough for a section about six feet squared.

Now, everybody gets a trowel, okay?
KATHY SHUE:
Well, all right.
RON HAZELTON:
The trowel, as you can see, it's got two sides: It's got a notched edge here and here and it's got a flat edge here and here.
KATHY SHUE:
All right.
RON HAZELTON:
And we're going to use both of these.

The flat edge is used to distribute the mortar and press it firmly in contact with the floor.

Now push it into contact with the cement.

Then we switch to the notched edge, and tipping the trowel to a steep angle, create furrows or ridges of uniform thickness.

Pick one tile. Drop it in place and as you put it down, just give it a little wiggle like this.

Between the tiles, we insert vinyl spacers. These will help keep all the joints the same width.
KATHY SHUE:
I've been wanting to tile the bathroom floor since I bought the house. So I think it's going to look really good.
DAVE SHUE:
Doing things on your own make the project itself seem that much better because now you can take some real pride in something that you've accomplished, something that you've done yourself.
RON HAZELTON:
Nearly all the tiles that we've put down so far have been full tiles. But now it's time to do some cutting. Now here's an easy way to figure out how to cut the partial tiles that will go along the wall. First, I place a full tile directly on top of a tile in the row closest to the wall.

Then I use a scrap tile to simulate the grout line. I put a second tile on top, push it against the wall and then trace the edge onto the tile underneath.

Now this piece of tile right here will be exactly the right size to fit in here.

Out in the garage, Kathy and Dave use a wet saw to cut the tiles.

Let's see how that one looks.
KATHY SHUE:
Oh, that looks good.
RON HAZELTON:
That's perfect.
DAVE SHUE:
That's right on the money.
RON HAZELTON:
To cut a tile to fit around odd shapes like this molding, I use a template gauge to duplicate the molding's shape. Next, I transfer that shape onto card stock, cut out the pattern and trace it onto the tile.

Okay? Now let's go cut it.

I take the tile out to the wet saw and cut narrow strips in the section we need to remove, then use a tile nipper to cut them off as close to the line as possible. Finally, I use the saw blade to grind the rough edges down to the line.

That precision work pays off with a perfect fit.

Okay, what have we got here?

Our last section to cut is around the toilet drain. I start by measuring the diameter of the drain hole.

Seven inches.

Then using a compass, I draw a circle on a piece of card stock and cut it out. Before cementing the tiles to the floor, I put the first two in position. After centering the template on the drain hole, I'll trace the outline onto each tile. I'll use the same cutaway technique that I used for the molding.

After repeating the process for the remaining two tiles, we cement everything in place and it's time to grout.

Okay, now this is what we're going to apply the, the grout with, it's a grout float, rubber --foam rubber float. I want to dip this in water to start with and there's sort of two operations here. The first one, you want to take your float and you want to force this grout into the joints.

You want to push down so that it's going all the way to the bottom of those joints, okay?
KATHY SHUE:
Mm-hmm [AFFIRMATIVE].

RON HAZELTON:
Now the second part of this process is to scrape off the excess.

For this, tip the float up at a 45-degree angle and draw it diagonally across the face of the tile. If we pulled it straight across the tile, it would scoop the grout right out of the joints.
KATHY SHUE:
Oh, that makes sense.
KATHY SHUE:
There you go.
RON HAZELTON:
Dave and Kathy get down to work and have the floor grouted in no time. After the grout on the tiles' surface dries to a haze, we use damp sponges which we rinse frequently and wash off the excess, being careful not to pull the grout out of the joints.

We also want to dress the joint a little bit. Very lightly going over the joint like this, we can kind of begin to shape it and clean it up.

Well, we did it.
KATHY SHUE:
We sure did.
RON HAZELTON:
You know, this is the first time that I've put a pattern into a floor like this.
KATHY SHUE:
Do you like it?
RON HAZELTON:
Very much. How about you?
KATHY SHUE:
I think it's great.
RON HAZELTON:
Wait a few days, then put a grout sealer on this and that will keep the grout looking fresh.
KATHY SHUE:
Right. Thank you so much for coming. This is great.
RON HAZELTON:
You're, you're very welcome.
KATHY SHUE:
We learned a lot [LAUGHS].
RON HAZELTON:
I hope you guys do some more projects.
KATHY SHUE:
All right.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay?
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
DAVE SHUE:
Definitely.
KATHY SHUE:
Thank you.
DAVE SHUE:
Thank you.

Remove the Existing Outdated Vinyl and Design a New Look for Your Bathroom with Ceramic Floor Tiles

Update your bathroom with ceramic tiles. After removing the toilet, bathroom floor trim, and the old vinyl and adhesive, use a cardboard template and chalk lines to position a central design and grid for the field tile. Learn to mix and apply thin-set mortar, cut tiles to fit around walls and drains, and to grout and clean the finished floor.

Remove Existing Vinyl Flooring, Fixtures and Trim
Step 1

Remove Existing Vinyl Flooring, Fixtures and Trim

Remove the toilet and baseboard shoe molding. Pull up the vinyl flooring from the bathroom floor and scrape up adhesive residue.

Make a Template for the Central Design
Step 2

Make a Template for the Central Design

Make a cardboard template sized to match the decorative ceramic tiles for the central design or "island" of special tile. Decide where the template looks best.

Outline the Island's Position and Mark a Grid
Step 3

Outline the Island's Position and Mark a Grid

Mark the edges of the island template and field tile positions with chalk lines, spraying them with hair spray to preserve them while you work. Temporarily mark the edges of the center island with glued wood strips.

Mix and Apply Thin Set Mortar
Step 4

Mix and Apply Thin Set Mortar

Mix thin set mortar in a five gallon bucket using an electric drill with a mixing paddle. Apply the mortar with a notched trowel tipped up at a 45-degree angle to produce uniform rows or ridges of mortar.

Set Ceramic Tiles in Decorative Island
Step 5

Set Ceramic Tiles in Decorative Island

Set tiles into the mortar, press down firmly using a very slight twisting motion. Use tile spacers to keep the grout lines uniform and straight. Remove wood strips.

Set Full Field Tiles
Step 6

Set Full Field Tiles

Follow the same process for setting whole field tiles, working from the island outward toward the walls. Leave the tiles that require special cuts until the next step.

Mark and Cut Edge Tiles That Fit Against the Bathroom Walls
Step 7

Mark and Cut Edge Tiles That Fit Against the Bathroom Walls

Use a wet saw to cut the edge tiles. Follow the video steps that demonstrate how to cut these tiles to precisely the right size.

Cut Tiles to Fit Around Door Casing and Toilet Drain
Step 8

Cut Tiles to Fit Around Door Casing and Toilet Drain

Use a template gauge to transfer intricate shapes like the door casing onto the tile. Make a cardboard template for the toilet drain. Make major cuts with the tile wet saw and cut tight corners and curves with tile nippers. Cement everything in place.

Grout the Tile Joints
Step 9

Grout the Tile Joints

Mix grout. Force the grout into the joints with a rubber grout float, then tilt the float to a 45-degree angle and draw it across the tile from corner to corner to avoid scooping grout from the joints.

Clean off Excess Grout and Shape Joints
Step 10

Clean off Excess Grout and Shape Joints

Let the grout dry until firm to the touch. Using a damp sponge and light to moderate pressure, smooth the joints and clean the remaining grout and haze from the face of the tile. Re-install the toilet and wall trim.