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Laying Floor Tiles in a Small Bathroom

Small rooms make laying floor tiles more challenging, but you can get perfect tile layout with this easy tutorial.

One of the biggest struggles I have had when it comes to tiling the floor is laying out the tiles. Especially in a small bathroom with only 1 door.

You want the tiles to line up perfectly at the door, but you cannot start tiling there. You need to start far away from the door so you do not tile yourself into a corner! It’s a big struggle.

In our master bathroom I was left with a 1″ sliver of a tile to finish off a row. It was at the bathtub, which is right inside the door. Luckily it was not the closest to the door so it isn’t super visible.

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Bathroom floor with patterned tile installed on it. Floor tile layout so there were uncut tiles at the entrance to the small room.

But with the patterned tiles in our guest bathroom, I knew I needed the floor tiles to line up perfectly at the bathtub. Otherwise it would look awful, and awful was not on my bathroom mood board.

Instead of just starting the tiles on the back wall, I figured out how to layout the floor tiles easily to get the result I wanted. Then I was able to tile from the back to the front and end up with perfectly spaced tiles! 

And it wasn’t that hard to do. It just took a little bit of planning before starting to install the tiles. When it comes to tiling, getting the first tiles set perfectly is going to make the rest of the project a breeze.

Bathroom with ash wood vanity and black and white porcelain floor tiles.

So if you have ever struggled with how to layout floor tile in a small bathroom when you don’t want to tile yourself into a corner, check out my tips below.

Laying Floor Tiles


Setting Out Floor Tiles

Before even mixing your thinset, you need to take the extra time to lay everything out. So grab your supplies and step back for a good look at your space to answer these three questions:

  1. What is your desired tile layout? Think about shape, pattern, angles, etc.
  2. Where is the most visible part of the tiles?
  3. How do you want the tiles to lay out in this area? Do you want any cut tiles or all whole tiles?

For our bathroom, I wanted the tiles to be whole right at the entrance and along the tub. The tiles laid out in a simple square pattern, but the tiles were rotated so that the corners came together to form a complete pattern.

Blank floor of the bathroom before setting out floor tiles for the bathroom tile installation.

Fell free to pull out a bunch of tiles and lay them out on the floor. Play with your spacers to see how they look with different amounts of grout between them. 

Once you have your desired layout, take a picture. That way you can refer to it when you are laying tiles if you ever get confused. 

Planning the Bathroom Tile Installation 

Now you need to decide where you need to start tiling. Remember, we do not want to tile ourselves into a corner. The thinset needs to set for at least 24 hours before any walking on it or you can mess up all your hard work.

You typically want to start your bathroom tile installation in the back corner. But if you just start tiling from the back corner, your most visible areas will not line up as planned. 

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Instead, carefully layout the floor tiles with the tile spacers in between them. Make sure the tiles are tight against the tile spacers to give you an accurate measurement. Then take a measurement of the completed laid out tiles.

Row of tiles in a dry layout of patterned floor tiles before installing them.

I planned to start my tile installation with about 2 rows of tiles along the back wall of my bathroom. So I added tiles to my tile layout until I got to about that area. This let me know how far back to start my line so that when I got to the front, the tiles lined up perfectly with the most visible wall.

Then I transferred this measurement to my floor. Using the framing square, I drew a line so it was square with the bathtub, since I also wanted the tiles to come flush with it.

Measuring tape pulled to transfer tile layout measurement to the bathroom floor.

Use a level (or straight line) to continue this line across the entire bathroom floor. Do not fully rely on all your walls being square, that is why I prefer the framing square and level instead.

Framing square against the bathtub and level drawing layout line for floor tile.

Installing the Floor Tile

Now it is time to start the tile installation. If you are new to tiling, check out this post detailing what I learned about tiling during our first DIY tiling projects. 

I cut a few tiles and dry fit them around the bathtub and toilet opening to double check my layout before starting to tile. You can see how the front line of tiles carefully lines up with my layout line. 

Black and white patterned floor tile being installed around the toilet opening and bathtub.

As you install your bathroom tiles, you want to pay careful attention to your layout line. To make sure I didn’t obscure the line, I used the trowel to lay the thinset going from the line toward the back wall. 

I started with whole tiles at the tub so when I can back to that edge later, they would end up as whole tiles. You can see that the small pieces of cut tile are across the back of the bathroom wall, ensuring the tiles at the entry to the bathroom are not cut.

Black and white porcelain tiles installed along the back wall of the bathroom.

Continue installing tiles along the entire line and to the back of the room. Then you can proceed to tile from the back to the front. Make sure you tile yourself towards the door.

And there you have it, perfectly laid out bathroom floor tiles! I gave myself a huge pat on the back for making sure the tiles came out in the correct layout and correct pattern. 

Completed tiled bathroom floor with perfect layout to the one door.

Details on Our Patterned Tile Floor

For our floor we used these Paloma Encaustic 8 x 8″ Glazed Porcelain Tiles. I absolutely love how they turned out!

We tiled them with 1/4″ spacers and used Polyblend Sanded Grout in Charcoal to finish it off. The dark grout makes the tiles really pop and it should be much easier to keep clean. But I always use a grout sealer to seal the grout and protect it from stains. 

Floor tiled with black and white patterned tiles with black grout.

And now the bathroom remodel is really coming together. If you missed any of the other bathroom projects, make sure to check out the DIY bathroom vanity with bottom drawers and the easy way to paint a ceiling to add a pop of color to our small room.

-Kati with picture of blog author Kati


Wednesday 28th of December 2022

Help! My contractor left a 3/8" gap between the bathroom floor tile and the wall. When I questioned him and said he should have gone all the way to the wall he questioned me back, "why"? Why not??? Why leave a gap? He thought we were using a finishing base molding of 1/2" marble, but we decided not to, and now I am stuck. I can't even use a bullnose piece that would be perfect. What do I do? Make him re-do it? Use wood base molding and hope for the best? Thanks for any advisement you have!

Kati Farrer

Saturday 31st of December 2022

Tracy, I don't have a great answer for you. At this point you probably have to find a trim tile that will work. You can try and have them redo it, but they will most likely refuse or have you pay to have them do it. This is a major reason I have chosen to do things myself, if I mess up at least I didn't pay someone to not get what I wanted.


Friday 30th of April 2021

Good article, however would not use those tiles as the patterns don’t match up well.

Atlanta tile Experts

Saturday 28th of November 2020

Got real useful tips to consider. I think it will help me a lot. Will utilize them as a future reference, bless your heart!

Extreme Epoxy Coatings

Saturday 4th of May 2019

Thank you for your valuable resources keep share the information like this…


Tuesday 7th of May 2019


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