Always wanted a herringbone tile floor but thought it might be too difficult to do yourself or too expensive to get someone else to do it? I have anxiously been awaiting this day!! The project I am showing you today was a little bit labor intensive and it took a bit of time. But in the end, this project was 100% completely worth it! Today I am thrilled to show off our bathroom's herringbone tile floor!
This might just be one of my favorite projects to date! And I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with The Tile Shop to help us complete this project. You see, when we installed laminate wood flooring throughout our home we did not install it in our bathrooms. I was worried that with two small children if we ever had an "overflow situation" in the bathroom, it could ruin our floors. It's happened to friends of ours, and I just didn't want to chance it. So for several months our bathroom floor remained linoleum and looked like this:
Now, I'm not complaining. It was decent linoleum. But next to our pretty wood floors, it didn't look that great! So we were thrilled to be able to do a little tile work and spruce up our downstairs half bath!
We had a blast shopping and looking for tile at The Tile Shop. Their store was filled with bathroom and kitchen displays that were a wonderful inspiration! There were many options that I really liked, but in the end, I decided that I wanted a custom design. I wanted a Herringbone Tile Floor!
We found the perfect rectangular travertine and were thrilled to get working!
Supplies you'll need to install a herringbone tile floor
- Tile: Bucak Lt Walnut H/F 5x20cm, 657571 (see how to find your quantity below)
- Grout: Desert Sand, Unsanded
- Flexible Grout Admixture
- Epoxy Film Grout Remover
- Proflex Thinset (aka mortar)
- Travertine Sealer
- Notched Trowel
- Grout Float Tool
- Mortar Mixing Paddle (for use with a power drill)
- Large Sponge
- Sealer Sponge
- Bristle Brush
- 1/16" Spacers
- Eye Protection
- Ear Protection
3+ Buckets (one for mortar, grout and water)
Touch-Up Paint and Foam Brush
Items to re-install toilet and sink if necessary
If you are laying on a wood subfloor, you will need to purchase and install concrete backer board prior to installation
How to install a herringbone tile floor - demo, prep and installation instructions.
1. How to calculate how many tiles you'll need to install a herringbone tile floor?
To figure out the correct tile amount, you will take the square footage of your room (length by width) and add 10%. Then round up to the next full box size and order that many boxes.
You need to account for a bit of breakage as well as cuts, and mistakes and this formula does just that.
2. Demo and Prepping to install a tile floor
First, you will need to un-install any fixtures you have in the room. We removed our pedestal sink and our toilet from the bathroom.
Next, you will need to demo your existing flooring. We had linoleum so it pulled right up. Make sure your concrete is in good condition prior to continuing. You may need to do repairs if it is really damaged.
Then use a multi-tool to trim your door frames. We set a piece of tile on the ground and added a piece of thin cardboard underneath it. This gave us an approximate height of the tile plus the thinset. We placed the multi-tool on top of it, and trimmed our door frames to the right height.
You can remove your molding, or leave your molding and plan to attach quarter-round after.
We also marked the middle of the room so that we would know about where to begin tiling.
3. How to cut tile to install a herringbone tile floor
Me in my Duluth Jacket, the tile saw, my eye protection and ear protection spent a lot of time in the garage during the bitterly cold weather cutting tile. (And my husband helped too because he is amazing like that!)
But my point is, don't let the worry of using a tile saw scare you away from tiling. It is really easy to use! Just use precautions and follow all safety guidelines!
Generally, you will want to measure and cut each piece individually. So take your time, measure twice and cut once.
4. How to install thin set when installing a tile floor
You will mix your thinset (mortar) mixture with water until it is a toothpaste-like consistency. We used a mortar mixing paddle that attaches to a drill and it mixed it right up!
5. How to lay and install a herringbone tile floor
6. Using Spacers when installing a herringbone tile floor
As you lay your tile, you will want to use spacers in between every edge of your tile. We chose to use 1/16" spacers for this project.
You can also use spacers to scrape out any extra thin set that may ooze out in between your tiles as you are laying them. (I don't think this is an "official" use, but it works really well!)
7. How to cut and finish the edges when laying tile.
After the majority of the herringbone patterned tiles were in place, we made a million tiny 45-degree cuts to fill in all of the edges. With two of us working it went fairly fast. One of us measured and marked the tile, and installed the tile while the other one cut the tile. We had our system down to an art by the end!
8. How to grout a tile floor.
You need to let your tile set completely before grouting. (Always read the thinset and grout instructions for time frames.)
You will mix your grout and grout admixture together until it is a toothpaste consistency.
Use a grout float at a 45-degree angle to spread and work the grout into your grout lines. Be sure that every grout line is filled well with grout. Work one small area at a time. And about every 15 minutes, take a break to wipe your surface clean using a large wet sponge. Then continue until the entire floor is grouted.
9. How to de-haze and seal a herringbone patterned floor
After your grout has dried, use a film remover (aka de-hazer) and a bristle brush to clean your tile. Then wipe it up with paper towels.
Wait 48 to 72 hours and then you can seal your floors! You will use a sealer sponge and a sealer for natural stone and/or travertine. Follow the instructions on the back of the bottle. But basically you will wipe on a coat of sealer with your sealer sponge, let it soak into the stone for about 10 minutes. And then wipe off any excess with a clean, dry cloth. Wait about 30 minutes and repeat for a second coat if needed.
You will know if you have enough sealer on your floor by doing a drip test. Drip a few drops of water onto your stone and if the water beads up, you do not need another coat of sealer. If the water absorbs into the stone, you will want to apply another coat of sealer to your stone.
Be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions and let your sealer dry completely prior to use.
The Tile Shop holds tiling classes every Saturday morning at 9:30 am! This can be a great way to get a little hands-on experience prior to attempting to tile yourself! Plus, the staff is so knowledgeable and helpful too!
And now it's time to be inundated with way too many "after" photos!
After your floor is fully installed, you will want to re-attach your baseboard (we used our super cool Ryobi AirStrike).
Then re-install your toilet and sink! Be sure to caulk around the toilet and sink for a finished look.
This tiling project has inspired another bathroom project that I will be showing off soon 🙂 Eek! I can't wait!
A few tips to remember when you are installing a herringbone tile floor:
- Be sure to have all the right tools prior to beginning a project like this
- Be careful to lay your tile evenly so that tiles aren't higher than the next one. Some like to use a level to help with this, others run a plastic cup (upside down) around the tile to be sure nothing catches, and some like to just use "feel" to get the tile level and smooth. Either way, you don't want any stubbed toes, so just be sure your tile edges are level with the tile next to it.
- Measure twice and cut once.
- When in doubt, ask a professional! The Tile Shop has many professionals that love to help answer your DIY questions.