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A Comprehensive Bathroom Tiling Guide: Tiling in 2024

Introduction to Bathroom Tile Design & Bathroom Tile Installation

How To Install Bathroom Tiles

A well-tiled bathroom does more than just handle splashes; it's a place where design and function meet. Using the right tiles and installing them correctly can turn any bathroom into a luxury retreat that will last. Whether you prefer the warmth of stone effect tiles or the clean lines of porcelain, tiles are key to your bathroom’s style. Let's start by looking at the different types of tiles there are!

Wood Effect Floor Tiles
Wood Effect Floor Tiles - Burley Herringbone, Ca Pietra


Types of Tiles and Their Perks

Here’s a quick look at the main types:

  • Ceramic: Loved for their strong build and easy upkeep. They’re available in many colors and patterns, fitting any bathroom style. They're often an affordable option when compared to porcelain and natural stone. They can sometimes be a preferred choice as bathroom wall tiles.

  • Porcelain: Great for wet areas because they handle moisture well. They’re tough, less likely to absorb water, and easy to clean. A popular choice in modern bathrooms, especially for the floor.

  • Natural Stone: These bring a bit of luxury and are all unique. Marble, slate, and other stones give your bathroom a natural look with their special patterns and textures.

Picking correctly is about matching them with your style and the vibe you’re going for in your bathroom. Whether it's a sleek modern feel or a cozy natural atmosphere, the right choice starts with the right tile.

Grey Porcelain Tiles

You must also consider the different edges that come with different types of tile.

Ceramic Tiles

  • Glazed Edges: These edges are smooth because the tile's shiny coating wraps around the edge. Great for when the tile's side is showing.

  • Unglazed Edges: The edges here are rough and might need a trim or special finishing if they're going to be visible.

Porcelain Tiles

  • Rectified Edges: Manufacturers cut these tiles precisely to create straight, sharp edges. This lets you put the tiles closer together for a neat look.

  • Non-Rectified Edges: The manufacturing process slightly curves these edges. They give a more classic look with bigger gaps for grout.

Natural Stone Tiles

  • Honed and Filled Edges: Workers smooth out and fill holes in stones like travertine for sleek, comfortable edges.

  • Chiseled Edges: These rough, hand-cut-looking edges add a natural, rustic feel where you can see the tile sides.

  • Tumbled Edges: The soft rounding of edges and corners makes these tiles look old or worn, great for a cozy, vintage style.

  • Polished Edges: These edges are ground and polished until shiny and smooth, giving a more luxurious, modern look.

Each type of tile edge finish has its own look and use. Your choice depends on how you want it to look, where the tile is going, and the type of tile you're using.

Next up, we'll cover the tools and materials you need to get your tile installation underway.


Tools and Materials Needed

Essential Tools and Materials for Tiling Your Bathroom

Safety and Precision Tools

  • Safety Glasses: Protect your eyes from flying fragments when cutting tiles.

  • Knee Pads: Tiling can be hard on your knees; good quality knee pads can provide comfort and protection.

  • Measuring Tape and Pencil: Use these to measure and mark where you need to cut the tiles.

Before diving into your tiling project, it’s important to have all the right tools and materials on hand. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Notched Trowels: For applying adhesive evenly. These come in different sizes so be aware of what size you need. As a rough guide, the bigger the tile, the bigger the notch size.

  • Grout Floats: To smoothly apply grout.

  • Tile Spacers: These keep your layout evenly spaced for a professional look.

  • Spirit Level: Needed for ensuring your floor is level.

  • Tile Cutter and Tile Saw: For making precise cuts.

  • Damp Sponge: Handy for cleaning up excess grout and keeping your work area tidy.

  • Adhesive: To stick your tiles to the walls and floor.

  • Grout: To fill the space between your tiles after you've set them in place.

Optional Additional Items to consider:

  • Tile Backer Board (optional but recommended): Used to form a better surface for tiles to adhere to. Backer board works better than plywood for tiling since it keeps tiles in place more effectively. It also handles moisture well, and stays stable with temperature changes.

  • Top Tip: If you're not up for installing backer board, you can score the plasterboard where you plan to tile. This trick improves how well the tiles stick to the surface.

  • Rubber Mallet: Used to gently tap tiles into place without breaking them. Helps ensure a solid bond with the adhesive.

  • Wet Saw: A power tool that makes clean cuts through tiles using a water-cooled diamond blade. Essential for cutting natural stone tiles or making complex cuts.

  • Oscillating Multi-Tool: You can use this tool with different blades to cut, trim, or sand small, hard-to-reach spots. Ideal for making adjustments to tiles or undercuts on door jambs.

  • Tile Leveling System: This system has clips and wedges that keep your tiles level and stop them from being uneven.

  • Diamond Hole Saw: Attached to a drill, used for cutting precise holes in tile for plumbing fixtures, like pipes or showerheads.

  • Suction Cup Tile Lifters: Tools that help you easily pick up and place large or heavy tiles without dropping or damaging them.


Choosing the Right Tiles

When choosing, consider:

  • Durability: Floor tiles should be strong to withstand foot traffic.

  • Moisture Resistance: Especially important for bathroom floor tiles and wall tiles near water sources.

  • Consider the Wear Rating: Tiles come with ratings that show how durable they are. For bathroom floors, opt for tiles with a high wear rating to withstand moisture and foot traffic.

  • Slip Resistance: Safety comes first. Go for textured or slip-proof tiles, especially on the floor to keep it safe.

  • Size and Pattern: Think about the visual effect you want. Larger tiles can make a small bathroom feel bigger, while patterned tiles add character.

  • Ease of Cleaning: Glossy tiles clean easily but get slippery when wet, while textured tiles aren't as slippery but can trap more dirt.

Keep in mind: Good tools and materials make your job easier and your finish look awesome and long-lasting.

Choosing the right tiles is only part of the selection process however. Next we'll look at different layouts and different bathroom tiles design ideas.


Bathroom Tiles Design Ideas: Exploring Tile Layouts

When tiling your bathroom, the layout you choose can dramatically affect the room's look and feel. While the tiles themselves play a crucial role in your bathroom's aesthetics, how you arrange them can make all the difference. Here’s a look at various tile layouts and considerations for their complexity and the intricacy of work required.

Straight Lay:

This layout is the simplest, with tiles placed in straight lines to make a basic grid. It needs little cutting and lines up easily, making it great for beginners. Still, even though it's simple, you need to plan and set it out carefully to make sure the tiles line up right and space out evenly.

Blue pattern tiles
Straight Lay


Diagonal Lay:

You lay tiles at a 45-degree angle to create a diamond pattern. This layout can make a small bathroom appear larger but requires more cutting, especially around the edges of the room. Setting out is crucial for a balanced look and to reduce tile waste.

black and white pattern tiles
Diagonal Lay Pattern


Brick Bond:

This layout has tiles in staggered rows, making each tile line up with the middle of the tiles above and below, like a brick wall. It adds more interest than straight lay and hides wall or floor flaws. It might need more cuts for clean edges around the room.

tumbled stone tiles
Brick Bond Floor Tiles



This intricate pattern involves laying rectangular tiles at alternating 45-degree angles, creating a zigzag pattern. The herringbone layout is more complex and time-consuming. It requires precise cuts and careful planning to maintain the pattern's sequence across the bathroom.

Herringbone white tiles
Herringbone Pattern


Basket Weave:

This classic layout alternates pairs of horizontal and vertical tiles to mimic the weave of a basket. It adds depth and texture to the bathroom but involves detailed work to ensure the pattern aligns correctly. This is especially true in larger spaces.

Blue tiles in basketweave layout
Basketweave Pattern



Hexagonal tiles create a standout pattern that can be simple or complex, depending on your design choice. This layout needs careful planning to make sure the edges are neat and the pattern flows smoothly.

green floral hexagon tiles
Hexagon Layout

How many tiles do I need?

Assess the Area:

  • Measure the Area: Use a tape measure to determine the length and width of the area you want to tile. Measure in meters for accuracy.

  • Calculate How Many Square Metres You Need: Multiply the length and width to determine the area's size in square metres. If the area has an odd shape, divide it into smaller sections, and calculate each one on its own.

To figure out how many tiles you need, it's essential to consider wastage. Wastage happens when tiles break or need cutting during installation.

  1. Wastage Varies: The amount of wastage differs depending on the pattern and tile format you choose.

  2. Simple Patterns: Basic patterns like straight or grid layouts have lower wastage, usually 10%.

  3. Complex Patterns: Patterns like herringbone or diagonal layouts often result in higher wastage, ranging from 15-20%.

To accurately calculate the tiles required, including wastage, use our Tile Calculator. This useful tool takes into account the pattern and tile size to make sure you get the correct amount.


Next, we’ll go over how to prepare your bathroom.

Small Marble Mosaic Tile

Preparing the Bathroom

Steps for Preparing the Bathroom Floor or Walls

Getting your surfaces ready for tiling is key to a successful installation. Here’s how to start:

  1. Clean the Surface: Make sure the walls or floor are free of dust, dirt, and any loose particles. A clean surface helps the tiles adhere better.

  2. Remove Old Fixtures, Fittings, and Tiles: Start by removing current fixtures. Then, carefully remove old tiles from the walls or floor. Remove any wallpaper using a steamer This clears the way for your new tiling work.

  3. Install Tile Backer Board: In wet areas like showers, put up tile backer board on walls or floors first. It gives you a strong, water-resistant surface to tile on. Cut the boards to fit your space, then attach them with screws to the studs or subfloor.

  4. Check for Level and Evenness: Use your spirit level to check that floors and walls are level. For floors, consider applying a screed or self levelling latex to the floor before continuing. This will ensure the floor is level. For walls, make sure they’re straight and smooth.

  5. Dry Layout: Arrange your tiles on the floor or against the wall to plan the layout and see how they fit. This step helps you avoid small tile pieces at the edges.


Ensuring a Level and Clean Surface

  • Using a Spirit Level: This tool is your best friend for checking that surfaces are flat and even. An uneven surface can lead to crooked tile placement.

  • Filling Gaps: If you find dips or cracks, fill them in with a suitable filler and let it dry completely.

Taking the time to properly prepare your bathroom ensures that your tiles will lay flat, look great, and last a long time. A well-prepared surface makes the installation process smoother and the finished look more professional.

Fluted wood effect tiles

Setting Out Your Tiles:

Regardless of the layout you choose, setting out – the process of planning where your tiles will go before installation – is crucial. It helps you visualize the final look, manage tile cuts, and avoid narrow slivers of tiles along the edges. To set out your tiles:

  1. Find Your Starting Point: Decide on the focal point of your bathroom. It could be the center of the floor or an area directly visible when you enter.

  2. Dry Lay Your Tiles: Arrange your tiles on the floor or against the wall without adhesive. Use spacers to simulate the grout lines. This step lets you adjust your layout to minimise cuts and evenly distribute the pattern.

  3. Mark Your Guidelines: Once satisfied with the dry layout, mark your starting points and lines on the surface. Use a chalk line or laser level for straight lines. For complex patterns, think about making a detailed sketch or using tile layout software. You can also number each tile with sticky notes or a marker you can erase, following your layout plan.

Choosing the right tile layout can elevate your bathroom’s design, but it requires thoughtful planning and precision. The difficulty of installing your tiles depends a lot on the pattern you choose. More complex designs take extra time and need more expertise. If you plan carefully and pay close attention to the details, you can create a beautiful look that's both pretty and practical.

Up next, we will explore the installation process.

Tanked Wetroom former

The Installation Process

Step-by-Step Guide on Laying Tiles

Now that your bathroom is prepared and ready, you may commence the tile laying process. Follow these steps to get a professional-looking finish:

  1. Applying Adhesive: Start by applying tile adhesive on the surface using your notched trowel. Spread it evenly, working in small sections to prevent it from drying out.

  2. Laying Your Tiles: Place the first tile firmly into the adhesive, twisting it slightly to secure it. Use tile spacers to maintain even gaps between tiles for grout lines.

  3. Continue Adding Tiles: Keep laying tiles next to each other, using spacers as you go. Regularly check with your spirit level to ensure tiles are flat and even.

  4. Cutting Tiles: When you reach the edge of your wall or floor, you may need to cut tiles to fit. Measure the space and mark your tile, then use a tile cutter or saw for a clean cut. Always wear safety gear when cutting tiles.

  5. Let the Adhesive Dry: Once you've set all the tiles, let the adhesive dry for at least 24 hours. After that, you can remove the spacers and start grouting.


Advice on Cutting Tiles and Dealing with Obstacles

  • Double-Check Your Measurements: Make sure to measure twice before cutting a tile, to get it right.

  • Dealing with Pipes or Corners: For complex cuts around pipes or corners, use a tile saw that can make precise cuts. Try fitting your tiles dry around these spots first; it helps you figure out the precise cuts you need.

Laying tiles takes patience and careful work, but if you follow these steps, you'll get a smooth and even surface.

Next, we'll cover applying grout and adding the finishing touches to your tile installation.

Tiler cutting a tile

Grouting and Finishing Touches

How to Apply Grout and Achieve a Professional Finish

After your tiles are securely in place and the adhesive has dried, it's time to fill those spaces between your tiles with grout. Here’s how to do it for a neat, professional look:

  1. Mixing Grout: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix your grout until it's smooth and lump-free. The consistency should be like peanut butter.

  2. Applying Grout: Using a grout float, apply the grout diagonally across the tile gaps to fill them in completely. Work in small sections to ensure the grout fills the spaces evenly.

  3. Cleaning Excess Grout: Wait about 10 minutes for the grout to set slightly. Use a damp sponge to gently wipe away any excess grout from the surface of the tiles. Rinse your sponge often and change the water as needed to keep it clean.

  4. Curing Time: Allow the grout to cure as directed on the package. Typically for about 24 hours, before exposing it to water or sealing.


Sealing Tiles and Maintenance Tips

  • Sealing: Depending on the type of tiles and grout you’ve used, you might need to apply a sealant. Sealing helps protect your tiles and grout from moisture and stains, especially important in damp bathroom environments.

  • Regular Cleaning: For easy maintenance, clean your tiles regularly with a mild detergent and a soft cloth. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the tiles or grout.

Take it slow to get the grout just right and nail those final touches. This way your bathroom tiles will look great, last longer, and be easier to keep clean.


Tips and Tricks

Before we wrap up, here are a few expert tips to help simplify the tiling process and avoid common pitfalls:

  • Keep a consistent grout line width for a uniform look.

  • Use a level frequently to check the tile alignment.

  • Lay out your tiles dry before installing to figure out the layout and spot any tricky bits ahead of time.

  • Measure the height of your walls and divide it by the height of your tiles. This way you can avoid ending up with small cuts that look out of place.

  • Put small tile cuts on the walls at the bottom, not the top. They are less likely to draw the eye.

Summary and Quick Reference Guide

To quickly recap:

  • Prepare your surface well, ensuring it’s clean and level.

  • Set out your tiles and do a dry lay to ensure no mistakes and everything fits.

  • Apply adhesive carefully and lay your tiles. Use spacers to keep the gaps even.

  • Cut tiles as needed to fit around obstacles.

  • After the adhesive sets, apply grout, clean off the excess, and allow it to cure.

  • Seal the tiles if necessary and maintain with regular cleaning.

Quick Reference Guide:

  • Tools Needed: Notched trowels, grout floats, tile spacers, spirit level, tile cutter/saw, damp sponge.

  • Materials: Your choice of bathroom tiles, tile adhesive, grout, sealant (if required).


That’s it! You’re now equipped with the knowledge to tackle your bathroom tiling project. With the right preparation and patience, you’ll transform your bathroom into a beautiful and functional space.


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