How to Tile a Bathroom Floor

A person laying white bathroom tile.
  • 4-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 300-500
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Chalk line
Thinset mortar
Mixing drill and paddle
Rubber float

Ceramic or stone tile can give an old bathroom floor an elegant new look. Not only does tile improve the appearance of the bathroom, but it also adds some durability to the floor. Fortunately, installing new tile is a relatively straightforward project that only takes a weekend to finish.


Planning is the first step in laying out a tiled bathroom. Measure the entire room and determine how many tiles you’ll need for the job. You also need to consider placement and how the tile intersects major features in the bathroom. It’s always a good idea to lay out a test line of tile to ensure everything is a good fit and exactly where you want it. Once you find a good spot to start the tile, snap a chalk line for future reference.

Mix The Mortar

With the layout planned, it’s time to start mixing a thinset mortar. It's easiest to mix the mortar in a large bucket with an electric drill and paddle. Only mix enough for each section of the floor to avoid drying out the mixture. The mortar should be the consistency of peanut butter.

Apply Mortar

You can dampen the floor with a sponge to prevent the mortar from drying too fast. Using a trowel, brush on the mortar in one direction to avoid air pockets. Work in small sections at a time, so that the mortar won’t get too stiff to work with.

Set The Tile

Open a few cartons of tile and mix them together. This will help mask slight variations in color and texture. Using your chalk line, set the tiles in place and firmly press down to embed them into the mortar. Make sure the corners of the tile aren’t tipped up and inspect each piece before moving forward. You can use spacers to ensure all the gaps are even.

Prepare for Grout

Once the tiles are set and the mortar is hard, it’s time to prepare for the grout. Remove the spacers and add an extension ring to the toilet flange. This will raise it above the surrounding tile. Then, fill two buckets full of clean, cold water. This water will be used to help remove excessive grout once you start the application process.

Apply The Grout

It typically takes about 24 hours for the thinset to dry. Once it is dry, apply the grout firmly using a rubber float. Work in small sections at a time and make sure the grout fills the entire canal between the tiles. Don’t be afraid to press firmly on the float as you want the grout packed into the joint. Once an area is finished, wipe away the excess grout with a damp (not too wet) sponge.

Cleanup Your Mess

You want to avoid leaving excessive grout behind because it will be impossible to remove. Once you are finished with the grout, take a damp sponge and wipe away any leftover grout. Complete the job by wiping the surface with a dry terrycloth and allow the grout to dry overnight before caulking.

Final Wipe-Down

The grouting process will leave behind a haze the next morning. Fortunately, this can be wiped away using a dry cloth. Once the tile is clean, you can caulk any areas that need extra water seals.

Extra Tips

Purchase all of your tiles in the same stock all at once. If you run out of tiles on the job and have to purchase more, you run the risk of having slight color distortions between the stock. The sturdiness of the floor will also determine the success of a tile installation. If the floor is too weak, consider installing backer board to make it strong enough to take the weight of the tile.