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How To Tile A Bathroom Wall With Large Tiles

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Large tiles in the bathroom and a few grout lines give the impression of a bigger space and sleeker finish, which makes cleaning a lot easier. If you're planning to redecorate and install large tiles but are still not sure how to proceed, don't worry! We searched the net and compiled for you the steps to install large wall tiles on your bathroom wall.

Tiling a bathroom wall with large tiles requires following this procedure: 

  • Begin with the layout. 
  • Measure the wall.
  • Cut and seal the tiles.
  • Clean the bathroom wall surface.
  • Install a level ledger board.
  • Mix the mortar.
  • Trowel the mortar and apply it to the tiles.
  • Use leveling spacers and set the tiles.
  • Proceed with the final finishing touches.

Continue reading as we elaborate on the prep stage and the steps we've listed above. We'll also share some useful tips and answer related questions you may have about how to install large bathroom tiles.

worker installing tile on bathroom wall. tile layout on paper. measuring wall. cutting tile using power tools. placing level marks. mixing mortar. spreading mortar on tile. using tile spacers. cleaning after installing wall tiles. How To Tile A Bathroom Wall

What Surface Can Hold Large Tiles?

Before laying your tiles and starting your project, you need to know which surface can safely hold large tiles.

  • A plastered wall can support 44 lbs per square meter, the combined weight of adhesive tile and adhesive.
  • Unskimmed plasterboard can hold up to 71 lbs per square meter.
  • A concrete board or cement board can hold up to 143 lbs per square meter.
  • A ledger board can swiftly make or break your bathroom project.

worker tiler hands installing light beige ceramic tiles on walls of future bathroom

Materials And Tools You'll Need 

You need to create a checklist of the required materials for installing tiles. We've listed what you need to prepare beforehand:

  • Tiles
  • Grout
  • Mortar mix
  • Ledger board
  • Heavy-duty cleaner
  • 511 Impregnator
  • Gallon buckets
  • Mixing paddle
  • Leveling spacers
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Sponges
  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses
  • Pencil
  • Laser level
  • Screwdriver
  • Tile cutter
  • Driller

worker using electric power tool to cut tile using diamond blade

Step-By-Step Guide

Installing large tiles could be tedious and requires a lot of patience. Ensure that you carefully follow the steps below.

  • Layout: First, create a layout without adhesive or mortar. Use a pencil to draw on the surface.
  • Measure the wall: Next, start measuring your wall from the center to balance the installation. Then, the next tiles go to the sides of the first one.
  • Cut the tiles: For smaller areas, cut the tiles into smaller parts and place them at the far end of the wall.
  • Seal the tiles: Seal the tiles using 511 Impregnator before installing to protect them from stains due to mortar.
  • Clean the wall surface: Cleaning the bathroom wall surface is important. Make sure to fix all holes and bumps before working on your project.
  • Install a level ledger board: Screw it to the wall to support the first row of tiles. Use the laser level to ensure the tiles are aligned during installation.
  • Mix the mortar: Follow the instructions on the packaging for mixing the mortar. Mix it in a bucket using the mixing paddle.
  • Trowel the mortar: Trowel the mortar to the surface. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle and cover the entire area. Trowel it in the opposite direction of the longest side of the tile.
  • Apply mortar on tiles: Use the flat surface of the trowel and apply a thin coat of mortar to the back of the tiles before installing.
  • Use leveling spacers: The leveling spacers keep the tiles from moving while curing. This is also to ensure that your wall is even and level before applying tiles.
  • Set the tiles: Set the tiles. Then, press them against the wall and carefully slide them up and down to ensure all the tiles' ridges are settled.

Check out these tile leveling spacers on Amazon.

worker scrubbing off excess tile grout and mortar from newly installed wall tiles

Finishing Touches After Installing The Tiles:

  • Remove the leveling spacers once the tile adhesive sets. 
  • Apply grout to the seams using the grout float. Flatten and wipe the excess grout as much as possible.
  • Let it settle for a few minutes, then come back later to remove excess grout using a sponge. Wipe the surface and prevent pulling too much grout from the seams.
  • Wipe the tiles with a wet sponge to clean them and to avoid grout haze, which is the excessive grout stain on the tiles.
  • Let the grout cure for 3 days before cleaning. Use a heavy-duty cleaner to clean any grout residue before sealing the tiles.
  • Sealing is important if you have natural stone tiles. Apply 511 Impregnator to the tiles, and you're done!
  • You may need to drill holes for light wiring and for a toiletries rack.

Check this impregnator sealer on Amazon.

Check this heavy-duty cleaner on Amazon.

plan and layout of tile pattern of a bathroom

Tips And Tricks

  • Choose the right tiles for your bathroom. Don't just choose the color you want, also consider the materials, quality, and durability. Color and design are not enough to select the tiles you want to install.
  • Tiles have different water absorption. So, non-vitreous tiles absorb most water and should not be used in showers. However, semi-vitreous tiles have low absorption and are ideal for water splash areas. High-density glazed porcelain does not absorb water, which is perfect on bathroom floors and walls. Ask your dealer about tiles for the shower.
  • Layout your wall before installing tiles. Knowing symmetrical, level, and square installation is necessary to avoid mistakes. You wouldn't want to waste tiles and start all over again.
  • Use a pre-mix thinset mortar for high moisture areas.
  • There are parts where you need to cut and install the cut tiles. Place them towards the far wall and hidden from visible areas. 
  • Use a water-resistant grout because it allows water to pass through without breaking down.
  • In a grouting application, work the grout float in a diagonal motion.

Tiling in the bathroom. Laying Ceramic Tiles. Tiler placing ceramic wall tile in position over adhesive.

What Is The Best Adhesive For Large Tiles?

There are different types of grout, and you need to choose the right one for your bathroom. Ask your dealer for the grout made for bathroom tiles. We've listed types of grouts to give you an idea.

  • Epoxy grout - less porous and ideal for areas exposed to grease and acid like the kitchen.
  • Cement grout - good for residential and commercial tiles installation. This grout comes in colors that you can match to the tile color.
  • Sanded grout - commonly used for stone, ceramic tiles, and any tile with a grout joint.
  • Unsanded grout - used with ceramic tiles and marble tiles with small grout joints.
  • Acrylic grout - perfect for outdoors like in a garage and deck areas.
  • Furan resin grout - best in areas with high exposure to harsh chemicals such as laboratories and breweries.
  • Polyester grout - fast setting and used underwater such as on seawalls and jetties.
  • Non-shrink grout - a hydraulic cement grout that does not shrink, and it's used mostly in concrete repair applications.

man mixing thinset mortar on flat object using trowel

Which Mortar Is Best For Large Tiles?

Find a mortar made for large tiles. You can ask your supplier for high-quality products to ensure good results.

Thinset Mortar

Thinset works well for indoor and outdoor applications. It is easy to work with, has a tight binding, is resistant to moisture, and helps prevent mold. The downsides are that it may crack, and it needs additives to achieve full strength.

Check out this modified thinset mortar on Amazon.

close up image of paddle mixer dipped into epoxy mortar mixture

Epoxy Mortar

This mortar works on a damp surface and has high compressive strength and a strong bond. The cons of using epoxy mortar include needing a high temperature for installation, and it's more expensive because it sets quickly. It's also not ideal for beginners who are usually slow with applying mortar and installing tiles on the wall.

Check out this epoxy adhesive paste on Amazon.

Can You Use Large Tiles In A Small Bathroom?

Our brain notices large tiles, more than a few grout lines. Because of this, the aesthetic provides the illusion of spaciousness in a small space. So, you can use large tiles in a small bathroom. 

A worker is applying adhesive to the wall to attach the gypsum tile.

How Far Up Should You Tile A Bathroom Wall?

For a classic design, tile from 34 inches to 54 inches. Some bathroom walls have unconventional designs, almost covering 3/4 of the wall or even up to the ceiling. Make a decision based on how much you want to cover your bathroom walls, your preferences, and your budget.

orange leveling spacers used on newly installed wall tile pieces

What Is The Spacing For Large Format Tiles?

According to the American National Standards Institute or ANSI, ceramic and stone large format tiles with 15 inches and above need a minimum 1/16 inch grout joint. Also, under no circumstances should joints be less than the specified requirement. It gives the tile room to breathe for building movement and thermal expansion.

Setting tiles in wall, using rubber mallet. How To Tile A Bathroom Wall With Large Tiles

In Closing

Installing large tiles is usually a lot of work, and there are many things to consider. Researching and planning will make your job easier. Consulting a professional architect is also necessary to help choose materials and get advice on installing your bathroom tiles while complying with the ANSI's standards.

Can You Use Floor Tile On Shower Walls?

How To Change Bathroom Tiles without Removing Them?

How Much Gap Should There Be Between Floor And Wall Tile?