How to Install Bathroom Tiles

So I may not be a tiler, but I have just had two new bathrooms tiles, so that makes me someone of an expert now, right? While I thought I understood how to lay bathroom tiles, the process of tiling a bathroom is so much more involved than tiling the floor or a splashback.

Of course, you have the waterproofing aspect, but aside from that, there are many other considerations to make to ensure you do a ‘smicko’ job installing bathroom tiles.

Being the curious person that I am, I wanted to know everything there is to know about this project so I could share it with you. I watched and took note of all stages. By following the guide below, you end up with a lovely tiled bathroom with a professional-quality finish.

Make It water-tight

Presuming you have already sheeted the room with Water Resistant (WR) plasterboard and laid 8mm fibro sheeting to the floor, the first step is to make the floors and wet area water-tight by applying a waterproof membrane.

But before you can apply the membrane to the area, you need first to prime it. For this, we used this Universal Primer, which is just $65.00. Once you have applied the primer and it is dry, you can then apply the waterproof membrane.

If you have an enclosed shower, you will need to apply the membrane to all walls of the shower. If you have a bath and shower, apply the membrane to all walls of the area, and so on. We used this waterproof membrane on my bathrooms, which we stock for just $85.00 a bucket.

If you take a look at the photo below, which is from my main bathroom, you will see the blue waterproofing membrane covers the floor entirely and also completely covers my wet area which will house my bath and walk-in shower.

waterproofing bathroom

Be sure to apply the waterproof membrane to the floor and the walls of the wet areas liberally to cover all sight of the WR plasterboard.

Lay the screed

The next step in how to install bathroom tiles is to lay the screed. Screed is the cement bed that sits on top of the waterproofing membrane, in which you install the floor tiles over.

There is a definite art to this process. It isn’t a case of just throwing down some cement and letting it dry. It’s all about fall—meaning, the angle of the fall that the water will naturally flow to for drainage.

The popularity of modern walk-in showers, which use only a shower panel means this process is more important than ever. Without an enclosed screen to capture the water and funnel it to the drain, walk-in showers more than anything else, are dependant on the fall to lead the water to the drain. Furthermore, the increasing popularity of channel drains means even more thought has to be taken in this process.

If you look at the photo below, which again is of my bathroom, you will see the area behind the yellow level falls downwards towards the right wall. Where the wood lies against the right wall is where my channel drain will be. Therefore the downward fall to the wood means water from my shower will run back to the drain, which is what you want it to do.

bathroom screed

When laying the screed, you need to be mindful to make it thick enough to give you the amount of fall you need. Usually, in a standard bathroom with an enclosed shower and floor waste, you would only need a slight fall so the screed would be around 20mm deep. However, with my walk-in shower and channel waste, a more significant fall is necessary; therefore, the total height of my screen is 40mm.

Do the setout

Don’t overlook the importance of the setout! This is one of the steps that will elevate your DIY tiling to give it the professional I know you will want.

First of all, let me start by explaining what the setout is because I didn’t know about this until my tiller came, and chances are you don’t either. The setout is the process of determining where you lay your tiles to proved the best finish. By this, I mean, where the grout lines will be.

The best way to explain this is by giving you another example. The picture below is of my ensure bathroom, which is long and narrow. You can see that the setout of the Terrazo Grey floor tile and  60cmx30cm matt white wall tile strategically places a full tile in the centre to create symmetrical vertical lines. Had the tiler started with a full tile from the wall, it would look much different. You would have two full-size tiles, and then a tiny slither of a tile to fill the excess gap. Conscious tile placement decisions, such as the above, are what the setout process is all about.

bathroom setout

Start with the floor

When the setout sorted, you are now ready to install bathroom tiles. Start with the floor. Follow the setout and use a laser level as your guide. Start at the end of the room and work your way backwards, towards the door. Apply the tile adhesive liberally with a notched trowel, ensuring the entire surface area under the time is covered. Work in your immediate area only and apply the adhesive as you go.

For the tile adhesive, we used Uni-Grip Tile Adhesive, which is $34.00 a bag.

As you will see in the photo below, my tiler used the Clip-It levelling system to achieve a quick and seamless installation. I recommend you check these out as it ensures a professional finish. You can get them from ClickTile also.

The clip system works by locking down a tile in line with the previous tile, so they are all level with one another. There will be no raised edges that will be prone to chipping, and you’re sure to get a much cleaner, more professional-looking result.

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tiling bathroom floor

Tile the Walls

Once you have installed bathroom floor tiles, you can then move onto the walls. You will want to repeat the setout process for the walls to ensure the cuts and grout lines are best positioned to the wall and adjoining tiles.

For large white wall tiles, such as the 60cmx30cm matt white wall tile that I used, you use the clip-it living system to ensure a seamless finish. For feature tiles such as subway tiles, you will want to carefully install these by hand without relying on any clip system.

Pro-tip: If you have small tiles on a feature wall, subway tiles or otherwise, have your plasterer finish the wall as if it were being painted; i.e., set the joins and sand it back. Having a smooth surface to install small feature tiles on will prevent them from buckling and becoming uneven on joins.

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tiling bathroom walls

Detailing Counts

It’s all om the detail, so they say! Detailing is one step of the tile installation process that many professional tiles don’t bother to do, but again, it makes all the difference.

Detailing is simply the process of going over every tile with a small pointing trowel tool, picking out excess tile adhesive from the joints before grouting.

This process will ensure the grout will fill the joints better and provide a smoother finish. It may be tedious and time-consuming, but it all goes towards a better, more professional-looking job.


Finally, we come to the grouting. This is a straightforward process, but you do want to give thought to the colour of grout you use. For a seamless finish, you will want to match it to your tiles.

We used FS-DD Coloured Grout in Ultra White on the walls and Misty Grey on the floors. This grout comes in 11 colours, so you’re sure to find one to match your tiles.

Apply the grout in a circular motion with force, pushing it into the joint as you go. Ensure all joints have enough grout and leave the grout to set for 24 hours, with no walking etc. on the tiles over this period.

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bathroom grouted

Finishing Touches

Your bathroom tile installation is complete with a little wash over and sealer.  After allowing 24-hours for the grout to set, its time to give it a good clean.

We used Muck Off, which is just $10.50. It’s an excellent commercial-grade tile cleaner that will remove any grout or adhesive residue from your tile, leaving them sparkling clean and ready for you.

With the tiles sparkling clean, the only thing left to do now is to seal the room with a sealant. Go around all door frames and window architraves with a matching sealant to ensure the bathroom is water-tight. If you have tiled to the ceiling, you will also want to run the sealant around the cleaning. It also pays to match the sealant to your tiles. For example, my tiler used a grey sealant around my floors and a white sealant around my ceiling, walls, and architraves.

You may want to get a professional Chalker in to do this if you are not confident as finishing touches such as this make all the difference.

bathroom caulked


If you’re wondering how to install bathroom tiles, then this article offers you the complete how-to guide, looking at the entire process from start to finish. We look at the waterproofing process, including priming and the screeding process, including the importance of fall. We also look at the setout, defining what it is and its importance in getting a professional finish. Of course, we look at the tiling of the floor and walls. We also look at the detailing and the finishing touches, which are essential if you’re looking to achieve a professional finish.

In addition to these steps, you should now also know what products you need for each stage, and know where to purchase them from (here !)

By following the steps outlined in this article, you have everything needed to tile a bathroom like a pro at a budget price.

You will find everything you need to complete your bathroom tiling project at Ross’s Discount Home Centre. From wall tiles, feature tiles, and floor tiles, to waterproofing membranes, primers, and adhesives, and more, get everything you need under the one roof and at great prices, right here. We have a team of experienced salespersons on the floor who have knowledge in all home DIY projects, including how to install bathroom tiles, and they will be more than happy to further assist you.

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