How to retile tile your bathroom wall

Retiling your bathroom tiles can help breathe vibrancy and vitality into your old bathroom. Tiles can help create a unique environment and are much more water resistant than traditional bathroom walls. Today, we will walk you through how to retile your bathroom so you can easily undertake this project for yourself. So why would you need to retile your bathroom walls?

Clean towels with soap dispenser on shelf and wooden table in bathroom, white brick wall background, copy space.

Here are 3 common reasons why you would consider this project: 

1. Minor Updates to your current bathroom design

Changing the aesthetics of your bathroom can greatly impact it’s look and feel. Retiling your bathroom wall can add a different material and alter your bathroom’s look to match new fixtures or vanities. It can also be a great opportunity to install a higher quality material to avoid future headaches. 

2. Fixing or replacing cracked old tiles

Tiles will eventually crack and degrade over time with use, so it’s important to fix or replace your tiles to prevent damages and other dangers. Similarly, you can also replace the grout or just reseal your bathroom to prevent water damages.

3. Full remodel of bathroom

The last reason is just a full remodel of your bathroom. A full remodel allows you to change any aspect of your bathroom and start from scratch. Installing newer, high quality tile can also save you from future headaches as your install is the same and can be quite time consuming.  

To begin retiling your bathroom wall, you will need the following items: 

  • Hammer
  • Thick gloves
  • Eye protection/goggles
  • Hole saw 
  • Tile Spacers 
  • Masking Tape
  • Grout mix 
  • Sheeting 
  • Drywall
  • Trowel 
  • Drill
  • Leveler 
  • Water Resistant Silicone caulk  
  • Tiles
  • Tile surface guard 

How to retile your bathroom wall. 

Now, with all your equipment gathered, you can begin to remove the tile from your bathroom wall and retile it. 

1. Prep the area

The first stage of installing new tile is to prep the area you need to install. This step involves cleaning the area and removing any existing tile or pre-existing wall panels that may exist. To remove your existing tile, you will need to remove the existing grout on your wall. This can be accomplished with either a chisel and hammer or a rotary saw. Ensure that you have proper protection if you decide to use an electrical saw to remove the tile. You will need to remove all existing tile and ensure that your wall surface is smooth and clean to allow for proper adhesion between your new tile. 

2. Prep your new tile design

Before you begin laying out your tiles, you need to prep your new design. This requires you to lay out and plan how you want to set up your tile so you can avoid any overlaps and uneven surfaces. Having a proper layout also allows you to avoid narrow rows of cut tiles which is aesthetically much nicer. Using your measuring tape, mark out the designated area of your installation and place appropriate spacers to prep the area you are installing over. 

3. Mark and Measure the tile with chalk

Similar to the step previous, you will need to mark and measure your tile with chalk. Be sure to measure your tile exactly to ensure that you have even spacing on your wall. If it does not fit, you will need to cut your tile to an appropriate size to ensure an even distribution. Even tile distribution also ensures that there are no gaps for moisture to get trapped and creates a smooth surface for installation. 

4. Make your thinset

After you have planned out your tile layout, it is now time to prepare your thinset. Not to be confused with grout, thinset is required to bond and stick to the backboard of your wall. Composed of an adhesive of cement, fine sand, water and some latex and polymer additives, thinset can support a large range of tile installation.  However, before you choose a thinset for your bathroom, you need to determine what kind of material your tile is and what kind of material you are installation over.

If you are unsure of which type of thinset to use, consult a professional to ensure that your thinset has maximum bonding strength to the tile of your choice. Afterwards, you will need to mix your thinset according to manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to mix your thinset in stages within a large bucket. Never mix a whole bag and keep mixing until you reach the proper consistency. 

5. Add your thinset to the wall with your trowel

With your thinset picked out, you can now begin applying your thinset to the wall. Using your trowel, apply a generous amount over the wall surface, making sure to smooth out the thinset as much as possible. Remember never to use more thinset than you can work with as thinset dries very quickly as it’s trowled out. Tile requires a minimum of 80% and 95% coverage in exteriors and wet environments so it is crucial that your tile is properly covered. Start by keying the thinset into the substrate with the flat side of the trowel, then hold the flat side of your trowel at a 45 degree angle to the substrate and pull away from your body, making sure to change direction with each pull. Do your best to comb the mortar in straight lines.  

6. Add your first tile to the wall with spacer

Using your spacers, you can place the tile over the thinset that you applied. Place spacers at each corner of the tile which you can then push the tiles together until the next tile hits the spacer. This will ensure that you have an even gap between where all the tiles meet. 

7. Measure, space and place your next tiles

After your first tile is installed, you can use your existing spacers to fill in the next tiles. Your spacers will ensure even space between all tiles for later grout additions, so you simply need to measure out the space for your remaining tiles. Simply repeat this process until all your tiles are filled.  

8. Add the grout

After your tiles have been placed, you can now add grout. Grout ensures that your wall will have a crisp finished appearance while keeping out dirt and debris that might get in between your tiles. The spacers have created an equal amount of space on the wall, allowing you to easily apply grout in the gaps created. This will also create a more rigid and stronger install for your tiles as they are both bonded to the wall and are adhered to each other as well. Using a trowel and another bucket of water, you will apply grout across all your tile, then use water to gently wipe away grout from the surface of your tile, making sure not to take any of the joint tile grout with it. 

9. Set the waterproof tile protecting agent for 24hrs

Lastly, we are applying a waterproof tile agent to the tile. This will come in either a spray or a paste. The type of waterproof agent you will buy will depend on the material of the tile you have chosen. Ensure that you have covered all the primary joints of your tile and allow the agent to set for at least 24 hours. 

10. Clean up

With most of your installation complete, you simply need to wait for everything to dry. Ensure that you allow your wall to dry for at least 24-48 hours before using.   

Should you hire a professional for retile?

A professional can bring a great deal of experience and understanding to any project. They are, however, very expensive and you must conform to their schedule. Also, although retiling your wall is a straightforward project, it is fairly time and labor intensive. You will need to do your research to ensure that you understand what kind of material you are installing onto what backboard or substrate. In short: 


  • Understands the work
  • Can handle the labor portion
  • Understands the material you are working with
  • Will save you a great deal of time


  • Can be expensive
  • Cannot complete project on your own time table
  • Quality can vary

Retiling your wall can easily breathe new life into your home. However, remember that it is a fairly labor and time intensive project. So do the proper research and understand the material you want and the material of your home before attempting this for yourself.

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