Tiling a bathroom floor upgrades your bathroom instantly. Tile floors are ideal for bathrooms since they're resilient, stain-resistant and can withstand the moisture and temperature fluctuations that are common in a bathroom. One of the first decisions you'll face is whether the new tile should go under or around your vanity. Either option is acceptable, but there are several factors to consider when deciding which option is best for your project.
Deciding whether to tile under or around your bathroom vanity depends on a number of factors, including your future plans for the vanity and your tile-cutting and detailing skills.
Tiling Bathroom Floor: Vanity Future
Whether or not you plan to keep your bathroom vanity is one of the biggest deciding factors in how to install the tile. If you like your vanity and intend to keep it where it is long term, you don't need to remove it during tile installation. You can simply tile around it.
If the vanity is old, damaged, doesn't fit your design or is in the wrong place for your revamped bathroom, consider tiling under it. That way, you can replace your current vanity with any size or shape of new vanity once the tiling job is done without worrying about your floor tile.
Even if you don't plan on replacing your vanity immediately, you might want to tile under it if you plan to replace it in the near future. If you tile around your current vanity and then replace it later, you might have to do more tile work at that time to cover the floor, based on your new vanity size.
Amount of Materials Needed
Removing the vanity before tiling a bathroom floor gives you more room to work in the bathroom with the vanity out of the way. But it also means you'll need more material than you do if you tile around the vanity. If you have a small vanity, that extra material might not make much difference in your project budget. If you have a large vanity, it can require a lot more tile, mortar and grout to tile under it.
Tile Cutting and Detail Work
Whether or not you remove the vanity when tiling a bathroom floor affects how much cutting and detail work you need to do. Removing the vanity cuts down on the amount of tile and backerboard trimming you have to do as you work around the installation.
When you're not working around a vanity, you can simply install the tile wall-to-wall, which often involves fewer cuts since you don't have to go around the bathroom cabinetry. Since the vanity covers up the tile along the wall, it can cover up any blemishes or uneven cuts that might happen. When you cut tiles to go around the vanity, any cracks or uneven cuts will be visible, so you'll need to take extra care in cutting the tiles precisely.
Tiling around the vanity usually requires more sealing as well. Since the tile stops at the edge of the vanity, you need to ensure a good seal between the tile and the vanity. If you don't, water can seep down into the gap and cause damage to the flooring and vanity.
Tile Under Vanity
If you remove the vanity, tile the floor underneath it just as you do the rest of the floor. When the time comes to reinstall the vanity, simply install the new piece of hardware through the tiles and into the floor. This is easiest with linoleum or vinyl tiles. If you're using ceramic tiles, drilling to install the new vanity can cause serious cracks and splitting in the tiles, so consider tiling around the vanity or installing a new one before you begin tiling.
Tile Around Vanity
If you decide not to remove the vanity, you must cut the backerboard and tiles to fit around the base of the vanity. Make sure you follow your manufacturer's instructions when cutting to install around objects. Some tile makers require a gap to allow for expansion due to temperature and humidity changes. Once the installation is complete, seal the gap between the vanity and tiles with bathroom caulk to prevent water leaks and moisture damage on the base of the vanity or the backerboard.
Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.