Tiling a Bathroom Floor

Tile is a great material for bathroom floors: tough, attractive, and easy to clean. Many bathrooms have tile on every surface; plan ahead if you want to resurface your walls, countertops, or tub and shower areas. One of the great joys of tiling a bathroom is the chance to experiment with bold colors and unusual designs. A typical bathroom floor does not require a waterproof installation, although you should choose tiles and setting materials that are suitable for a surface that will get wet from time to time.

Tools: Wrench, hacksaw, and tiling and grouting tools.

Removing Sinks - If you have a pedestal or wall-mounted sink with legs sink, remove it before you start to tile. Shut off the water supply and disconnect the supply lines. Remove the trap with a pipe wrench. Unbolt and remove the top of a pedestal sink, then unbolt and remove the pedestal. (One-piece pedestal sinks are bolted to the floor and wall.) Remove the legs of a wall-mounted sink and pull the sink up and off of the mounting bracket. You may also want to remove a vanity, depending on its position.

1. Assess the toilet. When tiling over a finished bathroom floor, the toilet can be left in place. But you will have to cut tiles to fit all around the base, which will probably leave you with an unprofessional-looking job. It is easier in the long run to remove the toilet and tile up to the closet flange. With fewer cut tiles, the job will look better and pose fewer maintenance problems.

2. Remove the toilet. Shut off the water supply and disconnect the supply line. Flush the toilet, then sponge the remaining water from the tank. Pry off the decorative caps, then unscrew the flange nuts. If the nut is rusted tight, cut through it with a hacksaw; the easiest way is to cut down, as shown, and then unscrew it. With a helper, lift the toilet off the flange, and carry it to another room. Stuff a rag in the closet flange (make sure it’s large enough so it won’t fall down the hole) to contain sewer gases, and scrape off any wax, putty, or caulk.

3. Lay out the job. Small, rectangular bathroom floors are relatively easy to lay out. Arrange grout joints so that they are parallel to the most visible straight edges in the room, such as along counters and tubs. Hide cut tiles in less exposed spots. In such a small area, it is worth your while to check the layout by dry-setting all of the tiles before you begin the installation.

4. Set the tiles. Set full tiles as close as possible to the closet flange. Use nippers to cut tiles to fit around the flange. You don’t have to worry about precision here, since the toilet will cover the area.

5. Rest the toilet. After the tile has been grouted, reset the toilet. Install new bolts in the flange; they may need to be longer than the old ones to compensate for the height of the tiles. Clean the horn of the bowl and install a new wax ring. If the flange is well below the tile surface, you may need a second wax ring to seal the gap. Set the toilet over the bolts, then tighten the nuts.

Tiling over Tile

■ When remodeling a bathroom, you may want to replace an old tiled floor with new tiling. Removing the old tile can be a major headache, and it may not be necessary. Instead, you can use the existing floor as a setting bed for the new tile.

■ First, make certain that there are no structural problems with the floor—if the grout is significantly cracked and tiles are loose, it could signal underlying problems that need to be addressed before proceeding. Talk to your tile dealer about the best products and techniques to use over a tiled floor. Normally, the old tiles will need to be sanded heavily, to rough up the glazed surface. You may also need to fill in old grout joints if they aren’t level with the tile surface.

■ Keep in mind that the new tile will add to the height of your bathroom floor. Place tiles on top of your existing floor to find out whether this new height will make it awkward to move from the hall into the bathroom. Usually, a threshold will smooth the transition.

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