How to Retile Your Bathroom

A bathroom with tiled floors.
  • 4-5 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-1000
What You'll Need
New tiles
Plastic sheets
Utility knife
Laser level
Tile cutter
Grout float

Retiling your bathroom can give it an entirely new look and feel. Although a retiling project may sound intimidating, it is actually a straightforward process that you can finish in a few days’ time. Here is a quick guide on how to retile your bathroom and turn it into the oasis you have always wanted.

Step 1 - Remove Old Tile

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Removing the old tile is the most tedious part of this project. Start by covering the entire bathroom with plastic sheeting and place a piece of plywood over the tub. Using a utility knife, score the caulk and grout lines. Then chisel each piece of tile off the wall or floor, being careful not to dig into the drywall. Continue this process until all the tile has been removed. If the tile was set using mortar, then you will probably need to break the tiles to remove them.

Step 2 - Prepare Drywall

A bathroom with wood tiles.

The old tile will likely leave behind some adhesive, depending on what method was used. You can scrape away the old crud with a trowel or a carbide rasp. While cleaning up the drywall, look for any damaged areas and repair as you go. You want the surface of the drywall to be as smooth as possible before installing the new tile.

Step 3 - Determine the Tile Pattern

You need to figure out the pattern of the tile before you start sticking pieces to the wall. Begin by placing two rows of tiles on the ground and see what offset looks good. You typically want to offset every other row to make things look uniform. You may also decide not to offset any rows. Next, you need to determine how many tiles you will need for each row. Calculate the height of the tiles and width of the mortar lines to figure out how many tiles you need for the job. Check out your local Lumber Liquidators store for a great selection of waterproof porcelain tile.

Step 4 - Mark Lines

It is important to lay down your tile in level lines. Start by using a laser level to mark a line where you plan on laying down your first row of tiles. The height of the line should correspond to the height of the tiles. It is important to keep this line as level as possible as it will affect the rest of the tile lines.

Step 5 - Mix Thinset

A man applies thinset to a bathroom.

Once everything is prepared for the new tile, you can start mixing thinset compound. Thinset compound is an adhesive that can be found at stores like Lumber Liquidators. You want the mixture to be similar in consistency to peanut butter. Only mix as much as you can use in 30 minutes. A drill with a paddle attachment can make mixing a lot faster.

Step 6 - Install Tiles

A couple uses a sponge while installing tiles.

Coat the back of each tile with a layer of thinset. The thickness of the thinset should be about the same as the thickness of the tile. Work your way out from the center of the wall and keep checking the level to ensure each row is spot on. Space each row using 1/8-inch spacers and wipe away extra thinset with a damp cloth or sponge. Cut the edge pieces as you go. You may need to use shims throughout the project to ensure each line stays level. Wood shims are also useful for cleaning out excess thinset in between the tiles. These spaces should be kept clean to ensure better grout results.

Step 7 - Dry

A spacer on a tile floor.

The thinset needs about 24 hours to cure and dry. Avoid getting the wall wet during this time and do not install the grout until the thinset has fully dried.

Step 8 - Add Grout

Grout is applied to a tile floor.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions when installing the grout. Like the thinset, only mix as much grout as you can use in 30 minutes. Apply the grout in small sections with a grout float and scrape away any excess by holding the tool at a 45-degree angle. Wipe away any remaining grout with a damp sponge. Don’t forget to caulk around the bathtub and ceiling. Let the grout dry for 24 hours before using the bathroom.

Retiling your bathroom is a relatively straightforward process that breathes fresh life into the room. With products like wood-look tile, you can get a high quality look without the hassle of maintaining real wood (not to mention dealing with moisture damage). Products for this simple DIY can be found at stores like Lumber Liquidators.

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