How to tile a bathroom floor (it's done!)

May 08, 2017

Well hello!! We had such a fantastic weekend -- get an event we attended on Saturday we bid on an African safari trip...and won! Holy cats, I am so stinking excited. We have a couple years to use it so it may be awhile. But wow, right?? Truly a trip of a lifetime. 

So anyway, I shared the progress on the bathroom tile last week, and if I remember right I mentioned at some point that it had gone pretty easily up till then. I know better. Those words are the the kiss of death. 

By the time I was done I was breathing fire...ask my husband. ;) I know the correct way to lay the tile would be to start in the tighter areas -- those on the right of the room. But this was my first time tiling a floor (I've done many other spaces, all on a wall) and I wanted to make sure that the lines you see when you walk in were as straight as possible. Sometimes as you move across a space things can get a little wonky and just in case I wanted those to be the areas behind the pony wall and the area that will be under the vanity. 

Also, this tile is HEAVY. It's big and because it is genuine stone it was much heavier than the ceramic or porcelain version I was looking into. My back and arms were killing me after working on this here and there for three days. 

So anyway...the first few lines were pretty darn easy. If you are doing a room without notches or toilets then it's a pretty simple process to put it down. Here is how it looked when I last shared the process
How to tile a bathroom floor

You can see the tile I chose in that post I linked to above! I only had two more rows and some ends to finish up but those took the longest by far. 

I didn't take pictures during the process because it was so similar to how I tiled the basement fireplace last year. There are only a few things to consider when you're tiling and I go over them here. 
  • You want to make sure to start with a straight line for your first row of tiles. If you have a chalk reel that is easiest. I didn't have one so I just measured the same distance away from the wall and marked with with my level on the floor. Most recommend finding the middle of your floor and starting there with your tile but sometimes you'll end up using a lot more tile that way. This room fit five tiles across almost exactly so that was easiest. I had to cut a bit off each tile on the right side of the room but all but two of those will be hidden by the vanity. No biggie!
  • Decide on the pattern for the tile. This article is helpful with visuals to see the differences. I almost did the brick pattern but am so glad I went with the 1/3 offset instead. It's recommended for larger tiles and I just like the look better. 
  • See this post to see the premixed mortar I used. When I researched tiling with these larger tiles it was recommended to use it on the floor but also back butter the tiles as well, just like I did on the basement fireplace. This uses more mortar obviously, but it felt more secure to me with the longer tiles. 
  • This is the trowel I used -- for larger tiles you'll want this 1/4 and 3/8 sized trowel:
Correct trowel for 12x24 tiles
  • I used these 1/8 spacers for between the tiles. The grout spacing is up to your preference. I don't love a huge grout line but with these bigger tiles I felt this was the best option. 
  • I picked a sanded warm gray grout and it went much lighter than it looks on the package. I was a little frustrated with how white it looks but I think in the end it's going to look good with the white trim in the room. It looks much brighter from far away and darker close up: 
Warm gray grout

There will be a haze on the tile that takes quite a few cleanings to get up -- I still need to wipe it down at least one more time. But I LOVE THIS TILE: 
Dark gray slate 12x24 tile

It looks so sharp! I think it was worth breathing fire (not sure my husband would agree) 😂.

This is a slate product and as I've told you before, slate can be hard to work with. It's such a beautiful stone and usually very inexpensive. But there are height differences in the tiles usually and it can flake off a bit if you go with a very natural look. 

Every single tile was pretty uniform except for one -- so if you use it I do recommend to check them over quickly before installing. This one is right in front of the toilet and has some variation in the height. You only notice it if you're standing on it in bare feet and even then it's not much: 
1/3 offset pattern tile layout

I didn't even notice it when I put it down. The variation doesn't bother me -- it's that one part is slightly higher than the others so it messes with the sight line of the grout -- the grout disappears when you look at it from certain angles. Just something to watch out for, but again this was the only one! 

Now, the final decision to make on the floor! I have to decide on the sealer and get that down. If I use a matte sealer it will stay looking like it does here. If I use a glossy sealer it will make the tiles darker, bring out more of the different tones and make them shiny: 
Picking out a sealer for tile

You can just get the tile wet to see how it will look with a high gloss sealer. :) I thought the wet look would go to dark, or almost black, but I quite like it. The color stays a dark gray. It's just a completely different look so it's a big decision! 

This was a HUGE hurdle to get over in this makeover and I'm SO GLAD it's done. Goodness. :) Now I can move onto smaller items -- I was going to do the vanity next but first I need to install the baseboards and wall trim. Next week I'll work on the vanity. Whoot!! 

Here's a reminder of how this space looked for ten years until a small painting update I made last year: 
Bathroom makeover with wall separating spaces

Here's how the room looked as I took down the wall: 
Tearing down a wall in bathroom

And here it is now!: 
Bathroom makeover with dark gray tile

I love how the tile elongates the room! And those lines are straight! Virtual high five! :) 

What sealer would you pick? Keep them lighter gray or give them the wet, deeper look? 

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  1. I'd stick with the matte sealer. You are getting a modern feel from the tile color, set and shape but the matte look reads a little rustic which I think fits your house. The glossy sealer would give the tile a completely modern look that I don't think fits the style of the rest of your home. Great work, it's an amazing transformation!

  2. I like the matte look. Great job!

  3. Looks great! I like the look of the glossy sealer. A matte finish will highlight every little drop of water (or whatever 😳) gets on the bathroom floor. (I have boys so I'm aware of the special messes they can make in a bathroom. 😂)

  4. I think the matte looks great.

  5. Looking fantastic!! I like the matte look. one of my bathrooms has the same layout as yours and it needs a remodel. Anxiously awaiting your final product. Thank you!

  6. Nice job! Those lines are PERFECT! I love the matte finish.

  7. I like the darker tile. But I also like the lighter way, too. I think you should only listen to your own heart on this one. It's your house and you are the one who should love whatever you decide.

  8. I like the matte - that way if there is water on the floor, you will be able to see it and decrease the risk of slipping. And it looks great!

  9. I prefer the glossy sealer. I grew up with slate walkways and loved them wet, but always thought they needed "dust" washed off when natural!

    What a trip of a lifetime! Awesome!

  10. The matte look, all the way. That's what slate is supposed to look like. Great job!

  11. I, too, love the very natural look of the matte sealer. It reminds me of soapstone.

  12. Oh my gosh, I love, love, love this tile!!! You did such a great job, you truly amaze me with your talents! I think whatever you decided on the sealer would look amazing, you can't go wrong either way!

  13. After living with last for years, I'd choose the glossy sealer and if you find one that lasts in high traffic areas I'd love to know about it!

  14. I love the white grout with dark tiles! Everyone nowadays tends to use dark grout.

  15. Okay first of all I am totally jealous about the trip but so happy for you. That is one thing I've always wanted to do. The tiles look Fab and I think I'm with the majority as in preferring that matte finish. Looking good! Great job!

  16. Both look nice, but I prefer the glossy look.

  17. I forgot to vote on my initial comment...I love the glossy! I have a similar tile in my laundry/hallway/half bath area and it has a satin finish, but I really like the glossy. Plus, you will likely have a few area rugs down so factor those in...

  18. I would go with the glossy wet look. Left natural, I think you would get tired of the floor always looking a little "dusty" and the gloss will bring out the colors and textures in the slate. It's a personal preference, for sure, so whatever you choose will be fine - it's your home.

  19. Thank you for sharing all the great tips about installing this floor. I am planning to use the same slate tile in our laundry room, so it really helps to read about your experience with it. Personally, I like the glossy finish.

  20. Dark tile looks great. But I have to tell you light grey grout in our half bath always looks dirty no matter how hard I clean it. Yours may not be that bad since the tile is dark, our tile is bright white, so even a little dirt on the grout shows.

  21. That looks so good. I like the lighter.


  22. I love how open & fresh/simple everything looks now! Can't wait to see the finished look & decor aka the fun part hehe!

    Happy Tuesday!


  23. Sarah, I vote for light grey. Just talked to a friend who'd just sold her home, but lost a bit of money because all buyers want now are white cabinets, grey back splashes, wood floors...or light grey tile floors.


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