How To Tile A Bathroom Floor

We’re going to share how to tile a bathroom floor using 18” x 18” travertine tile and get it looking awesome. So one of the issues with travertine is sometimes the back of the tile can have divots in it or be uneven. So we’re going to share several tips with you today on how to back butter that tile and use T-lock to get the tiled floor nice and even and the grout joints uniform. So let’s dive into those tips right now. Our preferred isolation membrane is DITRA. This prevents cracked tiles and grout. The first step is to clean the underlayment with a damp sponge then to burn the thinset into the plywood. We’re using ALL-SET in this case by Schluter. And then you use the notch side of the trowel to get your notches all running in the same direction. Cut your DITRA to size using a utility knife and then embed it using a float. Steve is also going to cut out a portion of the DITRA here for the toilet flange and then do the exact same process for the other side of it.

Just make sure that you embed the DITRA really, really well into the ALL-SET. Again, when putting DITRA down, you always want to have an 1/8” to ¼” of room around the perimeter of the room. You don’t want to just have it tight against the wall. And that’s just for expansion/contraction. So you want to try to make this as flat as possible because this does actually raise above the DITRA. It’s not problematic mostly for a big format tile. But if you would do a small mosaic tile, that little bump can actually kind of create problems. So try to really smooth it out. Okay, then there’s really two ways to go about this.

You can take this KERDI-BAND and wrap it kind of slightly up the tub like this and then set it. And then if you tiled against it you can always just cut that edge off of it. Or you just buy some KERDI-FIX and just caulk that whole joint. And so we’ll just take this KERDI-FIX and go alongside the tub here. I’d say this is a pretty important joint in a lot of ways because when water rubs down the tub… Get that good beneath that grout joint. Right at the corner here, this is where you end up with problems. We’re going to install some 18” x 18” travertine tile. It’s really kind of basically the same way you install any tile. Only a couple things you have to consider when doing it. One, that when you buy a box of travertine, this stuff is going to look… you know, there’s usually just so much variation and the difference of it look. And I happen to get kind of like, I don’t want to say it’s a low-grade, but it’s a cheaper travertine.

It’s like $2/sq ft, which is really inexpensive travertine. So my stuff is really going to have quite a bit of flavor to it. And also just have a lot more imperfections than probably something you pay a little bit more money for. So like look at this. Look at the back of this tile. You can see how porous it is. And what you really have to do is back butter this completely so you can fill in all these voids. It’s just kind of the character of the travertine. So anyway, we got a 6’ bathroom by 7’. So it’s fairly simple with an 18” tile. We’re just going to start on this wall. And I usually like to work from my tub back. And the main reason for working off the tub is because that’s going to be your main focal point of what you see as far as being straight. Going off the tub I think usually makes the most sense. You square off the tub and then work your way back.

And a lot of times when you have trim on the sides and stuff like that, you can hide some of the unsquareness. So with 18” tile, a full tile will bring us straight over into the middle of that doorway. So like I did, on this one. So I’d advise just playing it out by hand first, at least the first row, and make sure that everything’s going to look okay. And then if your tub wasn’t 100% straight, you can always just take a pencil line and just scribe cut your tile that little bit and then fit everything in. So that’s kind of a little trick in case you had like a round tub, or maybe your tub isn’t 100% straight. Actually this looks like it could use a little bit of that. So that will work out all right.

So what I’d normally do is… See my door is obviously on the inside of the bathroom, and I just go straight to the edge of where that door is. Then your carpet would basically wrap around right to the edge of that. Always try to go into your door frame at least 1” so that you can see all your tile inside the bathroom. Okay, so we’re going to use a pretty large trowel for this. Basically that travertine is almost ½” thick.

So I’d recommend using like a ½ x ½ square notch trowel. It really just gives an extra bit of cushion to it and allow you to level it out. You kind of want to go the thickness of the tile, or you want to go at least that thickness of a joint on it. And I will definitely recommend using a white thinset as well mainly because you’re filling in all those grooves underneath that stone, and you don’t want to darken the tile. So using a white thinset will avoid that from happening. Definitely back butter every bit of this. Back butter all of those grooves. So this looks pretty bad against this tub, and I think it’s because my tub kind of bellows out here. So I’m just going to actually put my pencil against here and scribe and just cut that.

Take these two pieces out and try to scribe cut that. As you can see here, it took Steve some effort to pull those tiles off the floor. We had great coverage on the back of the tiles. That’s the coverage you want to see. Now he’s using an angle grinder here with the continuous rim blade. Be very careful when you do that when you’re cutting your tiles to size. But you’ll see Steve taking a very methodical approach to this installation.

Back buttering the tiles. Setting them into the T-lock system. And doing this one tile after the other. The best thing that you can do is follow his approach here because you’re going to clean the tiles, add your T-lock like he’s doing, cinching them down with the pliers, and this really gets a great professional look when you’re done. Now the other thing he’s doing here is using an old carpet knife to clean out the grout joints and then sponging off the tiles as he goes.

You’ll notice that he’s using directional troweling, cleaning the edge of the tile from thinset, and then back buttering and setting the tile for every single tile. And then compressing those ridges with his hands and then using the T-lock. Yup, this is about as good as it gets. A cheap paint brush can also be used to clean the grout joints. Okay, so it’s always a good idea, since I don’t have a laser or anything, I’m just going to use my 6’ level just to make sure that everything’s sitting nice and straight.

But again, the tub is where your eyes are really going to go to. Steve is tracing the location of the waste pipe for the toilet flange and then using an angle grinder with a continuous diamond blade. So one of the best methods when cutting out a circle on a tile is using an angle grinder like this. But take your time. Wear your safety gear. Steve’s holding up a sponge against the angle grinder blade as he goes to try to reduce the dust.

Okay, that works pretty well. If there’s one thing with travertine and stone, it’s that it’s a very straight edge. So lippage is very easy to see on this type of thing. While all those porcelain tile, they kind of have a round edge, and you can get away with having lippage. But when it comes to stone, you really need to have everything nice and flush or you can see that edge, and feel that edge for that matter, very easily. So it makes it nice to use a leveling system like this to make sure that everything is even. This T-lock system is definitely a nice system.

But if you’re using something like a high-gloss travertine or a high-gloss marble, it might not be the best suit just because when you’re actually pushing this together, it would scratch the tile. But this is a honed tile. I’m not too worried about it. I don’t think you’d ever even see any of the minor scratching. But something that’s high-gloss could be seen in the right light. Clean excess, then set off the edge of the tile before inserting the T-lock clips. This will help prevent excess thinset from oozing us between the clip and the tile.

Continue to fill in the waffles, and use directional troweling. So all the trowel’s just going in the same direction. And then back buttering your tiles as you go. You’ll notice here as Steve sets the tile, he tries to set the tile such that it hits the clips first. And that really helps prevent the thinset from oozing up in between the tiles. And then he installs his wedges using the pliers. You don’t necessarily have to use the pliers with the T-lock. You can just use your hands, and that’s good enough. Now the deal is here we’re getting the measurement off the doorway to cut out that notch for the door jam. And Steve just used an angle grinder to do that, by the way. And then you compress the tile into the thinset and clean it off with a sponge. You’ll notice that you want a really clean edge at the doorway. You want your tiles to be nice and even. That’s super important, especially if you’re going to use a Schluter metal profile in the doorway to kind of cap it off. Now cleaning the grout joints with that carpet knife is super important and critical.

It helps reduce the cleanup the next day. Steve continues to use directional troweling and then back buttering as he goes. The nice thing about using a tile leveling system like T-lock is the T-lock system will compress the tile down into the thinset and create a better bond overnight. I know some people will definitely argue that point, but we have found that to be the case, and you definitely want a good bond with your tiles. Now Steve is using the wedges as he goes. And notice he’s using two wedges per side for these 18” x 18” tiles. He’s also leaving about ¼” gap at the wall for expansion and contraction. So another thing, when you use travertine and you cut it in a wet saw, you want to wipe it off before you’re thinsetting it because the thinset might not bond to it very well if it’s wet.

So dry it off. If you have pipes coming out of the floor like Steve does, you’ll have to transfer those pipe locations to the tiles like he is doing here. Leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room, maybe about 1/8”. That way you don’t have to be super perfect. He had to predrill a hole for his diamond bit. And then he just wiggled the diamond bit back and forth, as you can see.

Dipped it in water to cool it down to preserve the diamond bit. And then that’s how he got his hole. Now for the vent register, he’s cutting out a slot for it using his angle grinder. This is really kind of the easiest way to do it. And then dry fitting. Make sure that it fits. And then setting it into thinset and using the T-lock to get it nice and tight. So you’ll see him doing this for the cold water side of the vanity there. So just the same technique for that. And we think the tile floor turned out pretty good. Not too shabby. As you saw, we back buttered every single tile in today’s video, and we used T-lock. Those two things are what allowed us to get a perfectly flat travertine bathroom floor. And so if you’re looking to do a similar project or you’re using large format tiles in your bathroom on the floor or on the wall, we highly recommend T-lock.

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