Hi! I’m not quite ready to do a full master bathroom reveal, but today I wanted to share a post about all things tiling. This modern subway tile bathroom is definitely the biggest tile project I’ve ever undertaken. In the past I shared “How to DIY a Subway Tile Backsplash“, but an entire bathroom is a whole different animal.
I always tell friends that backsplashes are perfect first tiling projects. You don’t have to walk on your work, your working at a nice eye level, and they don’t need to be as durable or as waterproof as a floor or a shower. Once you’ve done a backsplash or two, you’re definitely ready to tackle a bathroom. Here’s EVERYTHING I think you need to know tile a bathroom.
- Prep-work- This is practically as time consuming as the tiling. Be sure that all tileable surfaces are prepped with Hardi-backer and siliconed seams. We learned that it’s MUCH easier to cut when you have one of these tools.
- Cardboard- In our bathroom we laid the floors first, and followed with the walls. In order to protect our new floors I laid cardboard everywhere and this took a lot of the stress away from making a mess while working on the walls.
- Tile Saw **contains affiliate links**– In the past we owned this saw, but would often borrow my dad’s nicer tile saw. Finally we invested in our own nicer wet saw and it made everything SO much easier. I wish we would have bought this one a long time ago.
- Spacers- When tiling I use spacers liberally, two on every side. It’s not worth it to eyeball spacing, or risk your tile shifting once you’ve moved on to another row. I like to use 3/16″ spacers. Also when removing the spacers needle nosed pliers will save your fingers.
- Pre-mixed mortar- For the floor we mixed our mortar, but for the walls I used pre-mixed mortar which makes the job so much easier. This way you can just put a lid on it and take a break when you want to. You’re also not constantly wondering if you’re getting the consistency right. It definitely costs more, but I think it’s worth it.
- Corners and Edges- Subway Tile is SUPER simple, but it gets a bit more complicated when you’re talking about anything other than a flat wall. I learned the hard way on our first tiled shower that exposed subway tile edges really don’t look nice. Now I always splurge for prettier edge pieces. I think it’s easiest if you plan and install these first.
- Finishing Pieces- Similar to #6, be sure you have a plan to finish exposed edges. I used these long pieces at almost $5 a piece which weren’t cheap. I think it gives the edge a much more finished look though.
- Thresholds- Watching how the professional tilers did the thresholds in my friends bathroom, I learned that it’s easiest to find plank tiles to match your flooring, rather than trying to use your floor tiles on your threshold. I almost wish I would have done this up and over the threshold, rather than a single row of subway tile. At some point I may be chiseling those off to go that route.
- Pre-mixed Grout- This is another place that I think splurging on pre-mixed grout is nice. It’s got a sealer in it so you don’t need to worry about sealing your grout. I’ve also learned that I LOVE an epoxy grout float vs. a rubber one.
- Grout Caulk- Don’t worry about trying to shove grout into corners and edges, just purchase grout in a tube for finishing the edges. This was very helpful around the window as well.
- Cleaning- The pre-mixed grout is MUCH easier to clean up than the stuff you mix yourself. I’ve learned that the sooner you clean it the better. I’m also a Melaleauca lover, and I think that their “Tough and Tender” does wonders for scrubbing off any grout haze.
You might notice that we finished the entire right side of our subway tile bathroom, before starting to hang tile on the back or left side. This is because before Christmas our plumber was able to come and install the toilet, vanity, and shower. We were tired of living with only one toilet, so I hustled and pulled a few all-nighters to prep this side of the bathroom. Then we enjoyed having a second toilet and vanity for a full month before I completed the rest of the bathroom.
As you can see, at this point I still had to do a bunch of touch up painting, some final tile cleanup, hang hooks, hang a shower curtain, hang roller shades, get a rug, and more. Hopefully next week I’ll be ready to share a FINAL REVEAL with you all! This really wasn’t hard, but was very time consuming. Between the floors and walls, hanging tile, grouting, and cleaning it probably took me around 80 hours! Now that it’s all done I’m glad I powered through it all! Exactly three years ago I tackled my first tile project when I tiled this bathroom. Since then I’ve tiled MANY backsplashes, a few bathrooms, and I’ve helped a few friends with their projects. I learned everything I know through YouTube, other blogs, and asking lots of questions at the hardware store. I hope this post inspires you that even though tile is time consuming, it’s something that anyone can learn to do!