Squaring and Leveling Bathroom Tile

Rooms Are Rarely Square

Squaring and leveling your walking surfaces is a skill you must learn when installing a ceramic tile floor. A problem that many novice renovators have when laying tile for the first time is uneven pieces. Creating beautiful professional looking surfaces is not that hard if you know the skills necessary to keep your inlay flat and at right angles. Many beginner bath renovators are surprised to find that most walls are rarely perfectly square, so in order to compensate for this problem, you have to determine if your tile will need adjusting for a visually appealing fit.

Ensuring Your Lines are Straight

Finding the center of your bathroom floor and dry-laying your tiles will help to minimize any unnecessary adjustments in the future if you simply follow chalked layout lines you have marked on your bath floor. Similarly, using a four-foot carpenter’s level on the edge of your pieces will also ensure your tiles are lined up properly and as a final measure, gently tapping high areas with a beater block, and a rubber mallet will flatten any surface abnormalities for a professional looking finish.

The last thing you want to do is stub your toe or trip over raised pieces when stepping out of your shower. Squaring and leveling your tiles will alleviate this concern. Besides safety, perfectly aligned tile beautify the room and add resale value to your home. Unfortunately finding square bathroom walls are a rarity in any home so here is a simple way to determine if your floor is at right-angles in order to visually align your grout lines with the rest of the room

Determine Where to Start

Find the center of your floor area by first finding the midpoint on opposite walls and snapping a chalk line across the room to form a perpendicular (cross hair lines) at the midpoint of your lavatory, so the lines are at right angles to each other. From the center point measure out three feet on one line and four feet on the other perpendicular line and mark the points. Now connect the two points to form the third line of the triangle, if that third line measures five feet exactly then your bath floor is square.

Accommodating Your Bathing Facility’s Skewed Dimensions

When working with tile, you may need to adjust the lines until the third line measures five feet exactly. Unfortunately, if your walls are really out of whack, you may need to cut your edge tiles to accommodate the rooms skewed dimensions since you need to start the process from the center of the room and work your way out towards the edges.

Your next step to ensure straight tiles is to dry-lay your pieces in both directions along the chalk lines out from the center of the room. Please note: you are laying down the ceramic tiles without the mortar but using the joint spacers in between the individual tiles so you can get a feel of how many pieces you will need and later create a grid to place your tiles in.

Laying Out The Ground Work

Initially, you are forming a plus sign in the center of your bathroom with the tiles you have laid on the floor. Use a four-foot carpenter’s level on the edge of your pieces to make sure all the edges line up along the level. When you are satisfied that the pieces are straight, mark the floor beside the tiles at the juncture of each piece where the grout will be filled in between the squares.

Pick up your tiles and then using the marks on the floor, snap chalk lines in the center of the marks on your bath floor. Using the remaining center marks on the floor, continue snapping chalk lines along your bath floor to form a grid of chalk lines you will later use as a layout when setting your tiles.

To continue leveling your room tiles, spread thinset inside the lines of your chalk layout and set in your floor tiles, inserting spacers between the tiles to ensure you will have enough room between the tiles for the grout. Needless to say, some spots of thinset mortar will be thicker than others and you will have to gently tap the raised pieces until they are level.

Fixing Inconsistencies

To rectify this problem take a two-by-four and wrap it with a piece of carpet or similar shock absorbent material (lovingly called a beater block) and using a rubber mallet, which should be part of your tiling toolbox, gently tap the tile in place, so it is flat and level with the other tiles. And to ensure your washroom’s floor tiles are straight, run your handy carpenter’s level along the edge of your tiles to straighten the joints.

As you can see squaring and leveling bathroom tile is straight forward and doable by anyone. Don’t be intimidated by renovation tiling projects because just like the professionals, once you know how, the sky is the limit. Happy tiling!