Tiling a wet room tray is not for the faint hearted and is a job that requires knowledge, specialist tools, skill and patience
This article is not an introduction for wetrooms in general.
It is an in depth cases study of an installation for those wanting to do DIY or gain a greater understanding of the level of work involved in carrying out this task.
Tools Required (for DIY)
- Marking equipment – pencil, tape measure etc
- Wet tile cutter – ideally a bridge saw rather than a standard table saw
- Dry tile cutter – ideally able to cut long diagonals of 70cm +!
- Set square
- Tile file
- Spirit levels
- Tiling floats / trowels / grout float / sponges / rags
How to tile a wet room tray – the process
This article starts from the point that the wet room tray former has been laid into position and connected to the waste pipework (and checked for leaks etc).
(This process can be seen in greater detail in the first half of this article.)
The walls have been tanked and the joints between the tray and the walls has also been waterproofed by tanking tape / membrane as required.
The tray has been fitted level (around its perimeter) to ensure that water drains correctly towards the drain.
In this installation, the floor ran out of level by at least an inch over the length of the tray meaning that the tray sat proud of the surrounding floorboards at the leading edge.
The level of the surrounding floor is built up prior to tiling.
This is done by overboarding the floorboards surrounding the wetroom tray with plywood in combination with self levelling compound.
This gives us a good starting point for tiling.
PS At around this time the tile layout is worked out by dry fitting tiles to check for awkward cuts etc.
In this example, the tile layout is a brick bond pattern with a grout line running along the right hand edge of the wet tray.
The floor is tiled as normal and the wet tray is left until last.
This allows us to produce 2 x level edges around the perimeter of the wet tray which will help us when we come to lay the tiles in the wet tray former.
Tiles are cut and laid (dry) onto the wet tray former following the existing brick bond pattern.
You can see how we’ve had to break 3 tiles along the short edge of the tray to follow the tile pattern.
You can also see how we’ve aligned wall and floor tile grout lines with a laser for a neat finish.
Tiles are then ready to be cut down to follow the contours of the wet tray to allow water to flow into the drain correctly.
The cuts are marked by drawing lines from the corners of the tray to the corners of the drain grate.
PS It is very important to accurately lay the tiles out (with spacers) at this stage to make sure that the cuts are marked as accurately as possible.
The ‘soon to be cut’ tile fragments are numbered for clarity.
Every tile is individually cut, and set into position (dry) to check for fit.
The numbers help when reassembling the jigsaw!
Spacers and wedges are used to jig tiles around for a perfect fit, and all cut edges are filed to produce a smooth edge (these will be walked on in bare feet so this is important from an aesthetic and functional point of view.)
Bad cuts are rejected and redone.
This process of marking and cutting the tiles may take a skilled tiler a whole day to do depending on their skill level and equipment available.
All correctly cut tiles are set aside to expose the wet tray (for tiling onto).
The tiles are then laid to follow the contours of the tray, using a flexible slow setting adhesive to give adequate working time – I would advise against using rapid set when doing this kind of work.
To ensure a constant fall with a flat (but not level) floor:
- A spirit level is placed between the tile edges around the tray and the drain grate.
- The tiles are then laid to follow the underside of the level with no gaps.
Then it is simply a matter of dropping in the surrounding tiles (by checking the numbers) and making sure that all the tile edges align with no lippage.
Consistent grout lines are maintained with wedges and spacers.
This may take a tiler up to another day to do.
Grouting is carried out and when everything is dry and buffed, and silicone sealant is applied to all necessary joints (wall / floor etc).
The finished wetroom with glass panel added.
Thanks for reading
The process for tiling a wet tray with large tiles is a relatively simple process, but is not easy.
That is why this approach is not recommended for DIYers, as consequences of making mistakes can be very costly.
Leaks are very hard to remedy in wetrooms and almost always require everything to be ripped out to start again.
If you have a similar project in mind, and want to get in the experts, please feel free to contact us.
We can carry out wetrooms and bathrooms from start to finish, from design all the way through to installation.
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