How to Install Mosaic Tile

13 Materials
3 Days

A Step-by-Step How-to For Installing a Classic Cafe Style Tile in your BathroomThis tile project almost did me in. I had never installed tile before and I made a LOT of mistakes. But you know what, that’s part of the DIY process and I learned a bunch so that I could teach you how to install mosaic tile too!

This room was previously covered in vinyl flooring. These are the powder room ‘before’ images. This tiling project is just one step in updating this bathroom.

If you want to see more of my home before all the renovations, check out this Tour de Palmetto.

I was so ready for a new space but I wanted a style that would withstand everchanging trends. I chose these mosaic tiles because of how they can be customized for your space, plus the tile was on sale at The Home Depot!

Note: Affiliate shopping links are provided for your convenience. By shopping through the links on my site, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks!


1. It's important to start with a clean slate. Remove baseboards and door trim and anything in the way

2. Including the toilet! Be sure to store it somewhere if you intend to reinstall the same one

3. You'll need to replace the wax ring when you reinstall the toilet so I cleaned off the wax ring

4. Next, remove the existing floor. I chose to remove the laminate instead of tiling over it

5. The tile and cement board need to fit under the door frame so you may need to trim it to make room

6. Next, cut the cement boards to size! Triple check all your measurements and use a strong blade

7. Follow package instructions to mix the thinset. Consistency should be similar to pudding

8. Start applying with the smooth side of a trowel then grooves before you put the board(s) down

9. Next screw it down every 8" using cement board screws (not pictured here, oops)

10. Next I dry-fit and cut all my mesh sheets to size to get the pattern and space that I needed

11. It takes time to get the pattern just right but it's worth it to not have to cut while thinset dries

12. I recommend starting in the middle and working your way out. I had a TON of spacing issues here. See how I'm starting from one end?

13. Starting from the ends and working my way in resulted in a ton of gaps and irregular spacing. Starting at one end and working all the way across, in one direction, or starting from the middle and working outward will save you from having gaps like this.

4. With tile this small, the spacing may get weird where sheets meet, I recommend using spacers!1

5. Trying to fix my spacing issues caused tiles to pop up and needing to be re-secured with thinset

16. At this point, I was frustrated/disappointed but keep going! I promise it's not as bad as you think!

17. Grouting is where the magic started to happen

18. This grout float is what you use to apply the grout. It's got a rubber base to protect the tile. I started from the outsides so that I had a place to stand/crouch and reach the far ends

20. Be sure to wipe away all excess grout or you will spend hours scraping it after you dry

21. Don't wipe too much grout between tiles and remember that you may have to come back to fix air holes

22. Wipe away excess grout 20 minutes after application. Wipe again after it sets.

23. You may need to wipe, flip the sponge, wipe, clean the sponge and do it all again to get the tile perfectly clean. See the difference?!

24. White grout is prone to staining. Using a grout sealer will keep it looking new!

25. All done! Be proud of yourself cause that was really hard work! Now you (and I) can finish the rest of our bathroom renovation!

It was such a long, and sometimes painful, journey. Tiling is not necessarily hard, it just takes a couple of times to get into a groove. I’ve learned so so much and I’m excited for my next tiling project!

Resources for this project:
See all materials
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info
Morgan Nelson
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 5 questions
  • Erin Erin on Mar 07, 2021

    Did I miss the AFTER photo?!

  • Odette Linnane Odette Linnane on Mar 07, 2021

    I'm confused!!!!!

    In step 12, you state -:

    I recommend starting in the middle and working your way out. I had a TON of spacing issues here. See how I'm starting from one end.

    Then step 13 you state -:

    Starting at one end instead of trying to meet in the middle will save you from having gaps like this1.

    So which one do you actually do.

    Also where is final reveal.

  • Darrel Bickel Darrel Bickel on Mar 09, 2021

    You cleaned off the old wax ring and the flange bolts looked uncut and reusable, however did you raise the ring with stackers, use a Sani-Seaxl, Korky or other synthetic ring, or wax ring? The flange height is a common problem when floors have tile added.

Join the conversation
2 of 34 comments
  • Linda Vee Linda Vee on Mar 09, 2022

    Like how this turned out. I do, however, question sealing the white grout. Many times the sealer yellows as it ages.

  • Doreen Kennedy Doreen Kennedy on Mar 10, 2022

    I really like your tile. I have a 1/2 bath like yours that I’d like to tile. Do you have an after picture?