The tiles you select for your DIY bathroom renovation will almost certainly be the most noticeable feature of your bathroom. But choosing your tiles is only the start. Laying the tiles is the tricky part and if you’re a first timer you will need to be extremely careful with this stage of your DIY bathroom renovation project.
First step is laying down the cement base. This is what gets your flooring level, and gets your water to flow to the drain. Your tiles only follow the cement base so this is crucial to be done correctly otherwise repairing can be costly.
You want to get a ratio of 4/1 – 4 sydney sand – 1 bag builders cement. Mix this up, than apply water. You want to apply just enough water to ensure you can screed the floor correctly otherwise if you put too much it will be impossible to get a level finish with falls to the drain.
Start by mixing up dry cement with water into a bucket. You will need approx. 10 handfuls of cement with 5L of water. Mix this up and pour on your slab. This is going to allow your screed to bond to your existing slab! Without this, your screed will be completely drummy/hollow! Make sure your drains are blocked so the water doesn’t run down. Spread this out evenly using a broom. You want to apply your just mixed sand and cement on this while it is still wet, otherwise it won’t bond. Start by applying the cement to all perimeters of the bathroom. You want to make sure this is all 100% level. You will need the cement bed to finish 10mm below your door angle to ensure the tile sits flush with it. Generally minimum requirements for a cement bed is 30mm at the highest point and minimum 20mm at the lowest point. We always recommend a step-down into the shower, so if possible, drop your bed in the shower area by approx. 5-10ml. This will help the water remain contained. Once all your levels are complete use a trowel or float to clean off all the edges. Start from one corner of the bathroom to the drain. You want to do 4 of these from each corner towards the drain. Ensure all your falls are equivalent. You require approx. 10mm fall per 1m2. So work out the calculations and work accordingly.
Once all your borders are complete start by filling in the rest of the areas with cement and start screeding backwards. Where fall is necessary, you will have to run the straight edge/level in a circular motion to ensure the fall is adequate. You also want to make sure you don’t dig in to any borders, remember these are the base you are working off. Every 60cm-100cm you screed, have a break and float it off to ensure the screed is a smooth surface for the tiling works and fill up any small gaps or holes.
The cements screed generally required 3-6 days to cure properly before tiling. This also applies if you choose to waterproof on top of the cement screed rather than below. Both methods work equally as good with some pros and cons to both.
Start by measuring up all walls and working out the sizes of the cuts. Aesthetically, you want to try and avoid small cuts where possible. Not only does this look better, but it avoids wastage of tiles.
We recommend using a rubber glue adhesive to lay your tiles. You require a 10-12mm notch to do this. Australian standards for floor tiles are 3mm. Although many like to go smaller and do 1.5mm on the floor, it is not recommended as the grout will be weaker on the floor.
Start by doing 1 row at a time and work your way back towards the entry. Make sure there is no lippage with your tiles, press them down firmly. You don’t need to put the level over the tiles as you are following your level cement screed you done prior. The tricky part is avoiding lippage of tiles around areas with fall to the drain so take your time with this and pack up glue where necessary.
Start by laying the first row around your complete bathroom walls. Some like to use a laser level to gauge this or alternatively use a long level, mark out your walls and follow accordingly. This is very important as the rest of the walls will follow this base row. Work your way up, using spacers in between tile joints. You want to make sure with every row that your work is still level and adjust accordingly. You may need to lift a tile by a few mms at times, so use a tile wedge when required. Cutting is very important around tap holes, windows etc. Mark your cuts out as close as possible and use a diamond wheel on your grinder to avoid chipping tile while cutting.
Once all tiling is complete proceed to grout. You want to ensure all gaps are filled, give them approx. 10mins to dry and start wiping down with a wet sponge. Generally a rule of thumb is to do 1 wall at a time otherwise it will become very difficult to clean off.
Install your drains using sand and cement and make sure they sit level with the tile. Keep all the perimeters unfilled as grout will crack due to movement. These will require a silicon sealant after the grouting is complete.