How to Install Tile Bathroom Wainscoting

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Notched mortar trowel
Tape measure
Carpenter's square
Clean rags
Rubber grout float
Old toothbrush
Ceramic field and trim tile
Ceramic tile adhesive
Tile spacers
Grout sealer

Bathroom wainscoting has a stylish, dignified look regardless of the material. Using tile instead wood panels or bead board is a nice alternative, especially when it complements the tile lining a shower or sink.

Step 1 - Picking Tile, Deciding on a Pattern, and Laying Out Deign

Decide on the size and style of tile you'd like to use, then pick a design pattern. 2 common choices are the running bond, where grout lines are offset with each successive row, and the jack-on-jack, where alternative colors are used to form a checkerboard pattern. Finally layout the design. Determine the number of tiles you'll need horizontally and vertically. Wainscoting is typically 45-inches from the ground, but choose whatever height that works for your bathroom.

Step 2 - Prepare the Space

Remove all outlet coverings, toilet paper holders, and baseboards from the work area. Tile requires a clean, dry substrate on which to be adhered. Don't tile over wallpaper or painted walls. Install the tile on unfinished, moisture-resistant cement fiberboard. When remodeling an existing bathroom, installing the proper drywall is a necessary preliminary step that requires a separate procedure.

Step 3 - Draw the Grid on the Wall

Draw the tile grid on the wall. Decide how many tiles to install vertically. Take the sum of their heights plus .25-inches between each tile and another .25-inches off the ground to make a horizontal line on the wall using the level.

Use the carpenter's square and tape measure to mark out the placement of all tiles, remembering to leave a .25-inch space on the top, bottom and sides of each tile. Account for any wall fixtures. Install outlet extenders or use longer hardware to account for additional depth.

Step 4 - Set Tile

Mix the ceramic tile adhesive to the consistency of pancake batter. Work from the top down in case the floor is uneven. Any unevenness can be covered with molding. Apply an even amount of adhesive on the backside of each tile with the notched trowel before pressing it to the wall.

Tile spacers are set at the intersections to prevent the tiles from drifting into the spaces reserved for grout. Constantly check to ensure that horizontal lines are level. Once the tile is in place, allow the mortar to cure for 24 hours before grouting. Set the trim tile as the top row of the wainscoting once the field tiles are set.

Step 5 - Grout the Tile

Grout the spaces between each tile using a small grout float. Work in sections, packing the grout into the gaps. Use a damp sponge to smooth the filled spaces and wipe the excess. Don't let any grout residue dry on the tiles. Use the old toothbrush to shape the grout. Always have the moist, rung-out sponge handy to wipe away runoff. Allow the grout the cure for a day. Once complete, you can reattach the fixtures, molding, and baseboard.