Anyone ever tile their bathroom?

Is it really hard? What are some tips?

The general deal is that for some reason the people that owned the condo I purchased before me thought that it would be a good idea to carpet the bathroom. I have recently picked up a good amount of tile at a garage sale, and am interested in not having carpet in the john anymore.

Careful investigation has shown that they carpeted over linoleum, and that under that is particleboard. I assume that both carpet and linoleum will have to go, but do I tile on particleboard, or do I need to put something down first?

My main issue is that I have a holy dread of pulling up the commode. As the place only has one bathroom, I really don’t have wiggle room for the job getting away from me, so really want to get an idea of what is ahead. Also, just hiring someone to do it for me is not really in the budget at the moment.


Get yourself a cheap power tile saw - they’re a bargain at less than $200, even if you never use it again. Don’t even think of cutting the tile by hand.

You’ll have to put down something stiffer than particleboard, or else the floor will flex too much and after a while your tiles will loosen up. You will need to put down thick plywood flooring, nailed to the floor joists.

Lay everything out carefully beforehand. Get a book that tells how to do the layout and follow the instructions precisely. They may seem arbitrary, but if you lay it out any other way, it’ll look “weird”.

Use tile spacers.

Moving the toilet is not a big deal. Shut off the water, flush it a few times, and sponge out the (eeagh) leftovers. Then take the plumbing and bolts loose and lift it away. You’ll have to buy a toilet installation kit (< $10) with new bolts and a new wax seal ring to reinstall the toilet.

I’d estimate that if you are reasonably handy around the house, it’ll take you one weekend to move the toilet. pull up the old floor and install the new plywood, another weekend to put down the tile, and a third weekend to grout, seal and reinstall the toilet. It’s a reasonably manageable job and one worth doing once yourself. Next time, when you can afford to hire someone to do it, you’ll know all the ins and outs firsthand.

Rather than using plywood as an underlayment for ceramic, use Eternit or Hardibacker 1/4" cement board. Place this product per manufacturer instuctions, and use a latex modifier to improve bond and flexural strength of the mortar setting beds.

Hmmm. Here is the issue though. The condo has 1 bathroom. Not sure that 3 weeks sans john will go over too well. Not sure what to think, 'cuz I sure would like to get rid of that carpet and have a decent floor.

My advice. Don’t.

Mr. Ruby and I installed 12" floor tile in a small bath. I thought my back, legs, and knees were going to explode before we got the job done.

If you’re still insistent on doing it yourself, many of the previous posters have excellent ideas.

We didn’t use a wet saw, but rather used a manual tile cutter and nippers for the tough cuts. The wet saw would have been easier for straight cuts but you still have to use nippers for those blasted curved cuts around the stool opening.

Tile spacers were a godsend. The job just looks professional.

When starting, measure the center of the room and start there. You will likely have a row of cut tile on the perimeter of the room but it looks right to the eye to have the tiles centered in the room.

Your tile shop will also have a transition piece that you can use if you don’t have a threshold at the bathroom door. We were installing on a concrete slab and there was carpet in the hall. We installed a very thin (1/4") transition molding that fits right into the grout and looks dynamite.

As for the toilet issue, could you install the tile in the early am, allow the mastic to dry and then re-install the toilet in the afternoon? You can leave it to dry permanently for a week if need be. Another alternative is to rent a hotel for a couple of days while you’re working on it.

Good luck and be sure to come back to tell us how it all went!

I just did this. Since I was also replacing the sink and commode, I had a nice empty floor to work with. I removed all the old linoleum, and the underlayment looked OK. So I just screwed down Hardibacker, cutting it to fit over the drain & into the space I had. Great stuff – I highly recommend it.

Laid the tile right on the Hardibacker, then put the toilet in. I know, I should have grouted first, but it’s a single bath home, OK? So I grouted after the toilet was in. Not a problem.

Floor looks great!

I also recommend using a tile saw. Hand cutting is teh suxors.

Yipe! Sounds painful. The carpet has got to go, though. I really wish I knew what the previous owners were thinking.

I’ve done a number of tile floors. Really, it’s pretty easy in my opinion.

Not having a john is going to be a bit of a problem though.

Pulling the potty is not that hard, but will become a pain if you have to do it too many times. Don’t know what to say there.

And you don’t need to buy a tile saw, you can rent them. Once your ready to go, the tile goes down fast. There are tools that you can use to score and break the tile, but they really don’t work that great.

If you have never done a particular job before, take the time you estimate it would take to do finish and triple it. I tiled my shower last year and it ended up taking three weekends. Since I had very little time to work on the project during the weekdays, three weekends translated into three weeks. Do you know your neighbor well enough to ask to use their potty for a couple of weeks?

Get a wet tile saw, this will make all the difference. We didn’t have to cut the tile into arcs around the toilet; we just roughed it out, filled it with grout, and stuck the toilet on top. You couldn’t see the edges of the tile. Me and my dad did a marathon session of tiling the floor in the bathroom. If you have all the tools you need it won’t take very long. Just make sure you have enough tile, grout, miscellaneous.

Pulling up the floor: hardly any time at all. Cutting and putting down the plywood and hardibacker: a long afternoon. Laying out and cutting tile: if you have a helper, less than a day. Grouting and sealing both don’t take much time, but they do take a while to dry.

Definitely read up on it before you do it. I found the Home Depot Tiling 1-2-3 book to be the most helpful. I still own it and consult it every once in a while. The Home Depot also sometimes has weekend classes where they will show you how to tile. It’s free, why not go?

I don’t blame you for getting rid of the carpet in the bathroom. That’s the reason we tiled, although the carpet was so far gone it had began to rot.

If you tear out the baseboard molding and all flooring up to the toilet ahead of time, you can reduce downtime. Once you pull the toilet, remove the flooring up to the toilet flange, and then flop the cement board underlayment.

To fast track your tile installation, use Ardex S-48 CEMastic which permits grouting after 5 hours. If you protect the finished installation with plywood, you could reinstall the toilet, making sure you’ve installed a flange spacer to bring the floor flange back to or slightly above the new finished floor plane.

Investment in a pair of gel-filled kneepads will make the job go much easier on your body.

Granted, those gel-filled kneepads would have made it less painful.

All of the bathrooms in our house were also carpeted. I have no idea what the prior owners were thinking. Mr. Ruby is even very “tidy” but carpet in the bath was almost impossible to keep clean, IMO.

I just want to add to others comments regarding the wet saw: buy, do not rent.

For us, we found an $80 dollar wet saw at Home Depot. To rent a saw was going to be atleast a couple hundred. Plus, you have no idea how long you were going to need it.

Oh, and try not to use tiles under half a width unless you absolutely have to. That is standard tile etiquite - or atleast that is what I have been lead to believe.

Cheaper to buy then rent a tile saw?

:looks around:

I’ll be damned. $88 at Home Depot. The ‘WorkForce 550’. Heh. Hard to say how good it is, but for $88… Wow. I sure would consider it. It should be good enough for a couple of floors.

When we tiled the kitchen, we used a manual tile cutter which we borrowed from the tile store. As someone suggested, it is hard, heavy work (just moving the tiles will get old after a while) and can give you a backache or pain in the knees. I wouldn’t consider it if you aren’t in shape to begin with.

Is it neccessary to lift the toilet and tile under it? We’ve been working on redoing our (also formerly carpeted) basement bathroom, and the toilet is sitting right on the concrete that was under the carpet. Tiling around it is a no no?

If I can tile around it, things just got a lot better. Anyone want to comment on that? Also, what if instead of fancy cement board or what have you I just get a pag of cement, mic it up and pour it down? Would that be bad?

The major drawback to tiling around a toilet is that at some point, the toilet will need to be replaced, and unless you find one with the exact same footprint, it will then look like shite. Also, if you’re going to tile around a toilet, then you’re obligated to fit them all nicely such that an even grout line is produced, e.g. a helluva lot of work. When the toilet is removed, you only need to get reasonably close to the flange with your tiles. The 15 minutes to R&R the fixture is more than offset IMO with the time needed to perform a quality fit job around the fixture.

Sure, you can do a tile installation using “wet bed” technique, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a weekend warrior. If you’re instead talking about a layer of cement instead of cement board, I have to ask “Why?” If you’re interested in a fast turn around for the project, that approach strikes me as counterproductive.

IANAContractor; however, wouldn’t you have the same flexing problems with a layer of cement on regular underlayment as you would just installing the tile directly on the underlayment? Would the underlayment be designed to hold the additional weight of a layer of wet cement, which I’m assuming would be much heavier than cement board?

Lessons learned in our bathroom:

Save a few dollars and buy the manual tile cutter. For the arc cuts, we marked the tile and brought it into Home Depot. They charged something like a buck a cut.

Someone had suggested using those plus sign spacers vertically between the sides of the tiles, rather than horizontally at the corners - the idea they’re easier to remove. We tried this, big mistake. The tiles shifted and many no longer line up properly. When we did our living room, we placed the spacers horizontally in the corners and everything was fine.

Measure three times, cut once.