How to Do Tile Installation the Right Way!

Tile installation can be a daunting task. It demands perfection during installation, or you will be unhappy with the result. However, tile installation can completely transform the look of a space. Tiling doesn’t have to be difficult. If you have the right tools and follow the step-by-step tutorial detailed below, you can create a beautifully tiled area. Set aside your tiling fears and start tiling!

Tile Installation (South Cypress)

See post: South Cypress|Fort Reno Modern Bathroom Update

How to Install a Tile Shower

Showers are one of the most popular areas of a home to tile. Custom tiling in a shower significantly increases the value of a home. It can also take a drab shower and transform it into a spa-like oasis. When choosing to tile a shower, you must consider your design preferences. What type of tile fits most closely with your design style? What tile will be durable and easy to clean? Colored grout generally resists discoloration better than white grout. Subway tiles are a popular choice in showers, but large square or rectangular tiles are also in style and can be an excellent choice that cuts down on tiling work. Whatever type of tile you choose, the general process you use to install it will remain very similar. See below for the steps to get started on shower tile installation.

1) Gather your supplies 

Tiling requires a fair number of supplies. Here are the essentials for tiling: Tile, cement board, cement board screws, mortar or RedGard, thin-set, sponge, level, wet saw, trowel, spacers, and a waterproof material for protecting other surfaces.

Wet saws are quite expensive so if you don’t have one already, it’s smart to consider renting one. Wet saws work a lot better than snap tile cutters. Therefore, you’ll avoid a lot of frustration if you ensure that you have a wet saw to use when tiling. Regarding a level, a simple level will work just fine but if you plan to do a lot of tiling and budget isn’t a concern, a laser level and level jamb are great tools. Learn more about them in this video, plus get tips on other great tools to use to make tiling easier.

Like all DIY projects, there are a wide variety of tools you can use depending on your preferences. However, the above list is comprehensive enough to enable you to complete a shower tile installation project without running into any issues.

Tile Installation Cost (Birdz of a Feather)

See post: Birdz of a Feather|The Ultimate Guide to Installing a Porcelain Tile Backsplash


2) Remove old tiles and boards, getting down to the studs

If you are redoing a shower that is currently tiled, you will need to remove all the current tile before you can start laying your new tile. You can do this using a masonry hammer and a chisel. It is best to remove all the tiles and the boards behind the tiles to get down to the studs. Ensure that you protect the bathtub as you are doing this demolition so that you don’t damage it with falling tiles.

How to Install Tile Shower (Emily Glover)

See post: Emily Glover|DIY Tile Shower: Before and After

3) Install a waterproof membrane such as cement board and seal the cracks between the boards

To ensure that the tiles adhere properly and you don’t encounter mold issues, a waterproof membrane is necessary behind the tiles. Install cement board, attaching it to the studs using cement board screws. Seal the cracks between the boards using mortar or RedGard. Allow to fully dry. 

How to Install Tile (Pretty Crafty Girl)

See post: Pretty Crafty Girl|DIY Bathroom Renovation

4) Prepare to start tiling in the middle of the second row from the bottom

It is important that you avoid starting to tile on the very bottom row, closest to the floor or tub. It’s also important that you do not start tiling from a corner of the shower. You need to start on the second row from the bottom, in the middle of the shower. To do this, you should install a board right underneath where that second row of tile will sit. Use a level to make sure that the board is exactly level. 

DIY Tile Installation (Emily Glover)

See post: Emily Glover|DIY Tile Shower: Before and After

5) Start laying tile in the second row

Depending on the size of your tiles, you can choose to either apply thin-set directly to the cement boards or directly to the back of the tiles. For small tiles, it’s best to use a 9” x 3/16” x 5/32” V-notch trowel to apply the thin-set to the cement boards. Then lay the tile into the thin-set. For larger tiles, it’s best to use a 9” x 1/4” x 1/4” square notch trowel to apply the thin-set directly to the back of the tiles. This is known as back-buttering the tile. Then set the large tiles in place. Always start from the middle and work your way out so that you are cutting only the tiles that are on the ends of each row.

DIY Tile Ideas (Birdz of a Feather)

See post: Birdz of a Feather|The Ultimate Guide to Installing a Porcelain Tile Backsplash

6) Cut tiles as needed as you continue to lay tile throughout the shower

It’s inevitable that you will need to cut a lot of tiles for this project. A wet saw is the best way to do this. Practice a few times on spare tiles to get used to how a wet saw cuts before getting started with the tiles you need for your shower. Place spacers between the tiles. Spacers ensure that your tiles are evenly spaced. You can choose the exact width between your tiles depending on the size of the spacers you buy. For shower spacers, 1/8” is a standard size.

Tile Installation Ideas (Birdz of a Feather)

See post: Birdz of a Feather|The Ultimate Guide to Installing a Porcelain Tile Backsplash

7) Lay tile throughout the entire shower, including the first row that you initially skipped

You’ll want to be patient and exact as you fill the entire space with tile. Rushing will cause mistakes to be made that you might later regret. Take your time and fill the entire space, making sure to remove the board that you initially installed so that you can also complete the bottom row of tiles. Once finished, allow at least 24 hours for the thin-set to dry. The exact time will depend on the type of thin-set you use so please reference the packaging for the exact drying time.

How to Install Shower Tile Ideas (Pretty Crafty Girl)

See post: Pretty Crafty Girl|DIY Bathroom Renovation

8) Grout the tiles

Remove all the spacers. Using a grout float, spread grout over a small section of your tiles, ensuring you get grout pushed into the crevices between every tile. Keep applying and pressing in the grout with the grout float until all crevices are filled in that specific area. Do not grout the interior corners of the shower though, as those two areas are prone to cracking over time. Simply caulk those two seams in the final step. 

How to Grout the Tiles (Pretty Crafty Girl)

See post: Pretty Crafty Girl|DIY Bathroom Renovation

9) Wipe off excess grout using a damp sponge

Inevitably you will get grout all over your tiles during the prior step. To remove this grout and ensure that your tiles look sparkling clean, use a damp sponge. You’ll want to have two buckets of water close by, one to wash out the sponge in and another to ensure that you are putting clean water on the tiles. Keep wiping until the tiles have no more grout on the top of them and the grout lines look clean and even. Ensure that you do not wipe out too much grout from between the tiles during this process. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until all tiles have been grouted. After you are done and the tiles look clean, a grout haze will appear over all your tiles as they dry. Don’t worry because this is normal. Simply take a dry sponge and polish the haze away.

Tile Installation Steps (Pretty Crafty Girl)

See post: Pretty Crafty Girl|DIY Bathroom Renovation

10) Allow the grout to dry and then seal the grout

It’s important that you seal the grout to ensure waterproofing and durability. You will want to wait until your grout is completely dry before sealing it. The exact dry time for grout varies by grout type so please reference your grout packaging for drying time details. Then simply apply a grout sealer to your grout and allow it to fully dry before using your shower.

Tile Grout (Emily Glover)

See post: Emily Glover|DIY Tile Shower: Before and After

11) Finish the shower as needed with caulk, a faucet, a showerhead, etc.

Congratulations! You have officially tiled your entire shower now! Add any finishing touches such as caulk, a faucet, and a showerhead, and your shower will be ready for use.

How to Finish Shower Tile Installation (South Cypress)

See post: South Cypress|Fort Reno Modern Bathroom Update

How to Install a Tile Backsplash

Installing a tile backsplash is very similar to shower tile installation. Therefore, you can follow the previously detailed step-by-step tutorial with only one modification.

You do not need to install your tiles against cement board. You can simply install your tiles against drywall. Since a kitchen backsplash will not be getting wet frequently like a shower wall does, a waterproof membrane like cement board is not needed.

Other than that step, you should ensure that you follow the same general steps as noted above to ensure that you produce a high-quality, gorgeous tiled wall.

How to Install Tile Backsplash (Katie @ Little House of Four)

See post: Katie @ Little House of Four|{Basement Progress} Installing Mosaic Subway Tile Backsplash

How to Install Bathroom Tile

Bathroom floor tile can be installed using a very similar methodology to what is described above. However, the key difference is in the prep of the surface prior to tile installation. You must ensure that the floor is completely level. If it’s not level, you should make it level using self-leveling compound. Like shower tile installation, you need to put cement board down before you start tiling. This will ensure that the tile adheres properly to the floor and that you have a waterproof membrane underneath the tile.

Bathroom Tile Installation (Home Repair Tutor)

See post: Home Repair Tutor|Bathroom Floor Tile: Prep Work that's Crucial for a Gorgeous Look

If you follow this step-by-step tiling tutorial, you should end up with a beautifully tiled shower, backsplash or floor. Tiling takes time and perfection to get right but it is worth the time and effort. Tiling can completely transform the look of a space, especially a bathroom or kitchen. Once you complete your first tiling project, don’t forget to share pictures and details on Hometalk to inspire others!

Written for the Hometalk community by: Mary | The Handcrafted Haven

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