Tiling a Bathroom

Tiling a bathroom may seem like a big DIY project, but following these simple steps will help you get your bathroom tiling project up and running in no time.

Ok first thing have you decided on tiles for the bathroom?

There is a massive selection of bathroom tiles available in a variety of colours shapes and textures from a variety of tiling suppliers. Deciding on the right tiles for the bathroom can be difficult but most good tiling suppliers will let you take samples home to see how they look in the bathroom.

Bathroom tiling may seem like a daunting task but most bathroom tiling projects can be completed within a weekend.

Bathroom Tiling Preparation

Before you get started tiling you should make sure that you have the correct tools for the job. You will need the following DIY tools

  • Tile Cutter
  • Tile Saw
  • Bathroom Grout Spreader
  • Spirit Level
  • Tile Nibblers
  • Adhesive Spreader
  • Tile Cutting Jig
  • Tile Spacers
  • Ok now we have the correct tools, we can get started with preparing the area to be tiled. Before you start it is essential to make sure that the walls in the bathroom are clean and dry. The surface should essentially be flat so you should remove wall paper and flaking paint (which is common in bathrooms).

    Laying out the tiles

    The size and shape of your bathroom will guide you with setting out the walls. First of all mark the bottom of the lowest row of tiles. It is a good idea to us a thin piece of wood in line with the mark, this is a good time to use the spirit level to ensure that everything in on the level. The best plan is to start from the centre and lay tiles out getting a feel for the number of tiles required to make one row. Re align the bathroom tiles to make sure that you are not cutting both ends because that would be a waste of time.

    Applying the tiling adhesive

    Always make sure that when you are tiling a bathroom you use a waterproof tiling adhesive. You don't want your tiles falling off the walls when they get wet. Tiling adhesive is normally sold ready mixed which I find is the easiest option. There are adhesives that require you to add water yourself but this job is messy enough without mixing your own.

    Apply the tiling adhesive to the wall so that it covers about metre squared and using the jagged edge of the tile adhesive spreader make horizontal ridges in the adhesive. You are now ready to position the first tile. Line the tile up and ensure that it is securely fixed to the wall. Place a plastic tile spacer between tiles to ensure even spacing and enough space for the grouting. Continue to tile along the row until you get to the end.

    DIY Focus Tiling Tip - use a damp sponge to wipe away excess adhesive.

    Cutting the tiles

    It is unavoidable you will have to cut tiles at some point during this project normally once you have tiled the main area.

    Place the tile face down and mark where it needs to be cut with a felt pen. Remember to leave enough room for the normal tile spacing. Take the tile cutter and holding it against a straight edge score across the face of the tile. Use the cutter to finish the job.

    Grouting and sealing the tiles

    Use waterproof grout and I would recommend using a pre mixed paste. Check the colour as Grout is now available in a few different colours. This is a consideration when choosing tiles.

    Allow at least 24 hours for the tile adhesive to set before attacking the tiles with grout. Use a rubber bladed spreader ensuring that all the gaps are filled.

    Use the damp sponge to wipe clean before it sets and you are done job's a good un leave some time between finishing the job to using the bathroom a couple of days should do it.


Tiling on brick or plasterboard.

Hi, I have just had my extension done but not the inside, I'm trying to save money by doing it myself bit by bit though. I'm now ready to start my bathroom and have put plasterboards up for the ceiling, I am going to tile my bathroom walls all round do I need to plasterboard the walls to tile them or can I just tile straight on to the block on 2 walls and brick on 1. the 4th wall is studded so will have to be plasterboard. Also do I need plaster on the board to make the tile stick the them. Hope you can help.

Hole in tiles


Four tiles in my bathroom have been pushed back, so there is now a hole in the wall (the tiles are still stuck to the wall though) I think the board behind the wall has been broken. This is an inside wall, do you think this can be easilly fixed or will the whole bathroom need re-doing.

Some advise would be much appreciated!

Many Thanks, Lana

Hole in bathroom tiles

Hi Lana

I would carefully remove the tiles that have broken and assess the state of the wall, If the board is cracked in one place it could be that damp has damaged the inside of the wall. If this is the case I would think about replacing the board and re tiling the area. If it is just one area that is weak it could be possible to fill the gap plaster and re tile the smaller area.

It is key to find out if there is a bigger problem that has caused the tiles to push back.

DIY Daddy - DIY Focus Admin

Ceramic tiles seam easly pulled off

I am tiling my bathroom at the moment with ceramic tiles. I have used a a waterproof wall adhesive. I have NOT grouted the tiles yet but just now realised that I can pull off the tiles very easily which made me panicky.

Many thanks in advance.

Tiling Adhesive

It can take some time for the adhesive to set properly. I would suggest leaving the tiles for a while and then check if they stick to the bathroom walls firmly.

If not you should check the adhesive if you have mixed your own you may have the quantities slightly out.

DIY Daddy - DIY Focus Admin

Damp but not a damp problem

I have been reading the posts and none of them seem to totally answer my question. I have had a shower fitted in my bathroom and originally only tiled half the back wall, the water has since been splashing on a bit of the wall next to it and created small mould spots. Its plasterboard, and still slightly damp. Will I be ok just tiling over these or should I remove the top layer of the plasterboard - just Im not sure how far back it has effected the board. The room has no windows but does have a good extractor fan?

Damp Plaster Board

I would try to test the plasterboard, it is better safe than sorry. If you cut out a small hole you should be able to see how much the damp has affected the plasterboard. If it is only surface damage you can simply fill in the hole and tile over the damp. If the damp is too bad I would think about removing the to layer as you have suggested.

DIY Daddy - DIY Focus Admin

Bathroom Tiling Below the Bath

Hi Catherine

It sounds like you have this one sorted, I can't see any problems with your approach.

DIY Daddy - Focus DIY Admin

Can I tile below the bath?

Hi. We are about to start tiling our new bathroom but I am unsure of one thing. The bath filer is now wall mounted so apart from the waste connection our new bath is essentially free standing. Other than wasting tiles is there any reason why I cannot tile the walls and then put the bath in place and seal it rather than cutting tiles to suit. Obviously I wouldn’t bother going down to the floor behind the bath but it would just save me doing a few cuts. My reasoning behind this is that if I ever have to take the bath out to deal with any problems with the taps which are in the middle of the long side of the bath I should be able to do it without disturbing the majority of the tiles.

I hope this makes sense.

I'd appreciate your thoughts!

Tiling on Damp Walls

This sounds interesting, I would not recommend tiling on walls that have been effected by damp. You need a solid foundation to start tiling on and from the sounds of things the damp walls don't sound like they are a solid foundation. It may not be good news and it obviously depends on the extent of the damp but I would opt for fixing the before attempting to tile on them, if it all goes wrong after the tiling then it could end up costing you more in the long run by having to get the bathroom re-tiled.

With any tradesman it is key to look at credentials. We are planning on adding a tradesman's area to DIY Focus listing a range of tradesmen and areas of expertise. So if you are Joe Bloggs the Tiler you can be listed in DIY focus and users can rate your work.

DIY Daddy - Focus DIY Admin

Tiling damp walls

In our bathroom we have at least two walls with damp due to previous water ingress from above, the result of this is staining and slight blistering to the paint work. The other two walls are tiled and frankly we don't know whether they have damp as well. We have been visited by several damp 'specialists' recommending different and expensive courses of actions from tanking and membraning to injecting the wall and replastering.
Today a guy came who said that if we wanted to have the entire bathroom tiled (which we were considering) we would be able, with the right adhesives, to tile over the damp walls and he expected this to hold them for 5-10 years. This appeals because it is cheaper and easier but is this realistic?


Tiling on Cement Board

Cement board is not a material I have had a hugh amount of experience with. Cement is not waterproof, I would recommend sealing the cement board. The water from the shower may not damage the board but if it gets through it can damage the wall behind unless there is a barrier of some kind.

DIY Daddy - Focus DIY Admin

Bathroom Revovation

We have stripped the bathroom tiles, the walls are back to brick, render and tile cement wich is quite rough. We are considering using Ferro cement board to line the walls, thinking that this would be better than plaster board. Do we need to seal the cement boards or put in a waterproof membrane of any kind. (The floor will have new concrete laid)

Wobbly Tooth Tiling

Hi Jennifer

Sounds like you have a bit of a headache, I don't see a problem with tiling to the plasterboard, provided you don't have great big cavities behind it. Make sure it's dry and then seal it well with PVA sealant.

Let me know how you get on with the job.

DIY Daddy - Focus DIY Admin

Tiling on to plasterboard

We're re-doing out bathroom as it was leaking into the kitchen - the last person to fit tiles into it fitted them without filling the bath, so the one at the bottom started to stick out like a wobbly tooth, and shower water ran down that, down the back of the bath and through the floor.

Anyway, we've stripped the tiles and found the old tiles underneath, and have stripped those. We're getting ready to re-tile, but slightly worried about retiling onto plasterboard - we're going to use a PVA adhesive/sealant thing to coat the plasterboard first, and obviously waterproof tile adhesive. Is this the best thing to do (we can't afford to replaster the room)?

Tiling Nightmare

Sounds like you have been having real trouble with your tiling, without seeing the extent of the botched job that the builder has done of your bathroom it is difficult to advise you.

My option would be to consider doing the bathroom again, depending on the cost. If you have had issues with the tiling and leakages who knows what else may go wrong. Adding a selant may do the job in the short term.

The compromise is to grind a gap and fill the corners and if you have any further problems take the dive and consider tiling the bathroom from scratch. Let me know how you get on.

DIY Daddy - Focus DIY Admin

leaky bathroom

I have a new bathroom that is leaking. First sign - water was tracking along the wall/floor join, second sign water was leaking outside the house. The bathroom is on one corner of the house. There is no shower hob. The bathroom was first sealed with a waterproof membrane to building standards. We than paid a 'builder' to do the tiling. He did the wall tiles first so that they go 'behind' the floor tiles. He then used dunlop indoor grout which we have since discovered is not water repellant but absorbant. The tiles in the corners have been butted hard against each other, with no gap for sealant or grout. I have since removed the grout at the wall/floor join and have thoroughly dried the area using wind and heat lamps for a period of three weeks. The weather is dry here.

My questions are:

1. Would grinding a gap into the corners to create a space for sealant (sikaflexpro) be the way to go?

2. And would a self-recommended (stuff from hardware store) grout sealer be enough to fix this problem?

3. Or do we have to pull the bathroom apart and start again?

Your comments and advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Floor Tiles on the Wall

Hi Dave,

Glad you found the post useful, I would seal the walls prior to any tiling, heavy tiles are a worry you do get some strong adhesives but I would be cautious using floor tiles on the walls.

Try to judge how solid the walls are before tiling and let me know how you get on with the project.

My Flatmate did the exact same thing but with a sample tile, it turned out that it was way to heavy for the wall so we got new tiles, the original tiles looked good on the floor in the ensuite bathroom.

DIY Daddy - Focus DIY Admin

Tiling Bathroom

Champion advice. I have a few queries though. I bought some floor tiles cheap and we think they will look good on the wall. They are 450mm x 450 mm and quite heavy.

Will ordinary water proof adhesives hold these tiles?

The walls in the bathroom are plasterboard. Do I have to waterproof them first with PVA and will they be strong enough?



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