There are many design and style considerations you need to have in mind when tiling a small bathroom. To make this process easier, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’t of tiling a small bathroom you’ll need to follow in order to make your bathroom look bigger and function well. 

DO keep everything the same colour

When tiling a small bathroom, the most important thing to keep in mind is to incorporate the same colour, tone and style as much as you can. Avoid clashes in colour and tone, such as having dark walls and light floor tiles. This can make your space look much smaller than it actually is. If you do want to incorporate some contrast, stick to using fixtures, cabinets and other objects to achieve that, rather than the colour of the tile.

DON’T skimp on bathroom tiles

Since you won’t need to buy too much material, you might also get the idea to try and economise furthermore by purchasing low-quality tiles. While you might be able to save some money in the beginning, over time, you might need to invest even more to repair broken, cracked or damaged tile which will end up costing you even more in the end.

DO blend the colour of the tile with the wall

If you want to make your bathroom look more spacious than it actually is, try to blend the colour of the tile with that of the walls. This will make the room look larger and basically double the space.

DON’T avoid using large tiles

While many might think that using large tiles will make the space look tinier, the truth is actually the opposite. Our brain is programmed to associate large tiles with large spaces and will, therefore, view the space as larger as well.

DO keep it simple

While you might be tempted to do something very creative, using bold colours and patterns, you may end up overwhelming the space and making it seem more cramped than it actually is. Sticking to a single colour, basic designs and blending the tones and colour of the walls and floors will make your bathroom seem more spacious than it would if you were to go with bold colour choices and designs.

DON’T be scared of using mosaics

Stone, ceramic or glass mosaics over smaller areas of your bathroom can give the space an exciting and inviting look. If laid meticulously, a mosaic can pull everyone’s focus towards it as soon as they walk into the bathroom. By pulling your attention towards the design, mosaic tiles can visually expand a small and limited space while giving it a pop of colour and artistic design.

DO focus on the preparation process

Before you start laying the new tile, make sure you’ve cleaned and prepped the surface so you can have a solid and smooth base to install your tile on. Don’t forget to remove any wallpaper from the walls and prep the surface by sanding it and levelling any uneven parts.

If you've already chosen the bathroom design you'd like to go with and decided to do the entire bathroom renovation yourself, here are a few tips and guidelines that you can use to make the process a lot easier on yourself, especially if you're a novice DIY-er.

Step-by-step guide on bathroom tile installations

If you're working on renovating your bathroom and replacing your old tiles, or you want to instal tiles in your new bathroom there are a few simple steps you need to follow to make sure everything goes smoothly and according to plan.

While bathroom tiling is a delicate and demanding process that requires a lot of work, precision and focus, if you follow our guidelines and get the required tools and materials for the job, you will be able to get an amazing result and transform your bathroom floor and bathroom walls like a pro.

In today's guide, we'll be going over the main steps of installing floor tiles and will help you incorporate your preferred tile patterns making sure you can complete your bathroom makeover like a pro.

Let's begin.

Step 1 - Prep

What you'll need:

  • safety mask and goggles

  • hammer

  • chisel

  • floor scraper

  • levelling compound (if required)

  • tile membrane

  • utility knife

  • modified thin-set mortar

  • notched trowel

  • hand roller

As with any home repair or renovation project if you want to get the desired results you need to spend some time on properly prepping the area for the work you're about to do, which in this case is laying bathroom tiles.

Getting the subfloor ready is as important as properly laying the tiles because if you don't do it right in the beginning, your floor could crack which can end up costing you a lot of money on repairs later on.

In order for your entire project to be a success, you need to focus on the following steps before you start installing your new tiles.

1. Figure out how much tile you'll need

To figure out how much new tile you should buy multiply the length times the width of the area you'll be working on and add 10% so you can have extra tiles in case of waste, breaks, and mistakes. One more reason to buy extra tiles is to store them for future repairs or replacements as that particular style or colour may get discontinued and you won't be able to find the right fit. 

2. Take out the old tiles

Start by taking out everything that's in the way, such as the vanity, the toilet and all other items that are covering your bathroom floor.

Open up a window and close the bathroom door or cover the doorway, as there will be a lot of dust you'll have to deal with while you're removing your old tile.

Once you make way so you can work properly, get your safety gear on, including your safety goggles and a safety mask and start removing the old tile.

Start by using a hammer to break some of the tiles up. Then use the hammer and a chisel to remove the tile one by one. When you take out the old tiles, use a floor scraper to remove the old thin-set.

Once you remove the old tile, you need to make sure that your sub-floor is level, uniform, dry, clear of residue and in good condition. If your subfloor isn't level, make sure you fill in the lower spots with a levelling compound before you move onto the next step.

3. Lay the tile membrane

The next thing you'll need to do is install the tile membrane. The membrane is used to protect the subfloor as well as to allow for expansion under the tile.

To install the membrane start at one corner of the floor and roll it out across the surface of the floor. Measure and cut your pieces accordingly and use the utility knife to cut around pipes.

While this method of applying the membrane might be a bit more time-consuming it is quite simpler than other methods and therefore easier for novice DIY-ers. This method includes embedding the membrane in thin-set so let's see how the whole process goes. 

Mark each piece of the membrane and the part of the floor it will be laid on before you begin. Mix the thin-set. Apply a thin layer of the thin-set mortar on the floor using the flat side of the notched trowel and then comb the mortar using the notched side of the trowel. Lay each piece flat side down according to their matching numbers on the floor and embed them using a hand roller or the flat side of the trowel. Work from the middle of the membrane outwards, to maximise the bond.

Lift up a corner of the membrane periodically to check if you're getting full mortar coverage.

4. Install a waterproofing band

If you need to waterproof your floors or want to add a moisture barrier you can add waterproofing band to the seams and transitions between each piece of membrane. 

Spread a coat of mortar where the seams meet, and apply the seam tape firmly over the mortar, making sure there's at least a 5 cm overlap at all seams. Use the flat side of the trowel to firmly place the seam tape in place. Use the same seam tape to waterproof your corners by following the same principle. Apply mortar to the floor and wall in the corners, place the seam tape firmly in place and use your trowel or a putty knife to push the seam tape into the mortar. Seal the flap that appears in the corners by applying mortar on the bottom and on the top of the triangle, securing it in place.

5. Make reference lines for the new tiles

Mark the centre of two opposite walls and run a line across the room. Form a cross and check to make sure it's square.

Once that step is complete you can start laying the tiles.

2. Laying tiles

What you'll need:

  • tiles

  • spacers

  • thin-set mortar

  • bucket

  • notched trowel

  • rubber hammer

  • level

  • tile cutter

  • tile drill bit

Once you've run the two main lines across the room creating a cross in the middle of the bathroom, you can start loose laying the square tiles along the lines, using spacers in between each tile. 

If the layout requires thin cuts on the sides move the lines to allow for one wider cut on one side instead of thinner ones on each side of the walls.

Now it's time to start laying the tiles.

Before you begin, it's always a good idea to mix tiles from different boxes in case there are some variations in colour, shade and texture.

Next, you'll need to mix some thin-set mortar following the instructions on the bag. 

Start applying the mortar in the centre of the room, covering the cavities in the membrane using the flat side of the trowel and then combing additional thin-set in straight lines using the notched side of the trowel. Hold the trowel in a 45-degree angle when applying the mortar. Make sure not to cover your reference lines in the process.

Start laying your tile along the reference lines and lightly press each tile into the thin-set. Use spacers in between the tiles and keep laying them along the lines. When working with larger tiles, coat the back of the tiles with thin-set before you lay them down.

To make sure there's full contact between the tiles and the mortar, lift one of the tiles from time to time to check the coverage. If there isn't enough coverage, use your trowel to coat the back of the tile.

Wipe away any mortar that may end up on the surface of the tiles so it doesn't set and become harder to clean.

Use a level to check for high spots and a rubber hammer to even the tiles out.

Leave a half a centimetre gap between the corners and the tiles to allow for expansion and do not grout in this space when it's time to fill in the grout lines.

Use a tile cutter or rent a wet saw to cut tiles so the tiles can fit perfectly. Use a tile drill bit to drill holes for the tile that will go around plumbing, remembering to leave a half a centimetre gap around pipes for expansion. 

3. Grouting

Let the thin-set dry for 24 hours and then start grouting. 

Mix the sanded grout according to the directions on the bag and start applying it onto the joints. Press the grout with a rubber float and pull the excess diagonally across the joints. Leave it for about 20 minutes and use a damp sponge to remove the remaining residue.

Once the joints have been filled, leave the tiles to rest for at least 24 hours up to 72, depending on the instructions on the box.

Use a silicone sealant to fill in the expansion gaps you left earlier and apply a grout sealant once the grout is completely dry.

Reattach your toilet and other plumbing fixtures and your bathroom renovation will be completed.

If you've decided that tiling your new bathroom or renovating your old one is a bit of a difficult task to handle on your own, and would like to make sure you get an amazing result you can be satisfied with, our qualified and experienced tilers have got you covered. At our platform, you can find the best tiling services available in all of Melbourne. Our tile installation services include all the steps that are needed for a tiling job to run smoothly and provide amazing result. Our tradesmen work with all types of tiles including porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles, terrazzo, natural stone, mosaic tiles and much more. So if you're looking to get the bathroom makeover of your dreams, let us handle the entire process for you including prep, tiling, grouting and clean up, so you can focus your time on other tasks and activities that you enjoy.