How to plan a tiling project
Before you start a tiling project it’s worth spending some time thinking about the planning to ensure the project goes as smoothly as possible. If you’re not yet sure of the style and look you want to go for check out our ideas section.
Beyond personal taste there are a few things to bear in mind when choosing the colour and size of your tiles:
- Lighter coloured tiles in smaller rooms will help them feel more spacious and bright
- Using the same tiles on the floor and walls in a small bathroom can help the room feel larger
- Grout colour will have a big impact on the final look of your tiles
- Use borders or trims to break up a large run of tiles, or to give an accent of colour
- Mosaics can be cut into strips to use as either horizontal or vertical borders which can be a cost effective way to enhance your room
- If you have very uneven or bowed walls smaller tiles will fit the contours of the wall better than large tiles. The overall finish will be much neater
The layout of your tiles will affect the finished look enormously so it is worth some serious thought before buying your tiles. Also consider where the cuts in your tiles will be when planning where to position them. Particularly avoid ending up with very narrow cuts of tiles at the edges of rooms.
Due to the nature of the manufacturing process, in some cases there can be a very slight 'bow' along the length of larger tiles (60cm or larger). If you are considering laying your tiles in an off-set “running bond” pattern it is best to stagger the tile by only a third or less instead of by half. This will minimise the effect of the bowing on the finished look. If the tile is less than 60 cm you can do either of the below.
Off-set by a third or less, more suited to larger tiles
Materials & tools you'll need
Measuring your room
If you have a fairly regular shaped room then start by measuring the width of your room at the widest points, then do the same with the length. Then multiply the two numbers together and that will give you the area of the room in m2. Don’t forget to add 10% for wastage and round up to the nearest metre.
If you have an irregular shaped room such as L shape break the room up into rectangles and measure each one individually. Then add them all together to get the entire square meter area. Again don’t for get to add 10% for wastage and round up to the nearest metre.
Once you have your total area you will need to look at the pack size of your tiles to see how much area each pack covers. Then divide your total m2 by the pack size to give you the amount of packs to buy.
Follow the same principle for your walls but remember to measure doors and windows and minus them from your calculations.
Selecting the right materials
Use either a ready-mixed standard wall tile adhesive or a waterproof variety.
The standard type is suitable for use in dry areas, and can cope with splashes or a little condensation, making it suitable for a well-ventilated kitchen or bathroom, including around the bath or basin.
Where condensation is a problem or in shower areas, use a water-resistant wall tile adhesive. We recommend using a powdered adhesive for porcelain tiles.
For other surfaces
Appropriate adhesives must be used for floor tiling, exterior tiling, and tiling worktops.
Wickes’ Rapid Set Waterproof Tile Adhesive is suitable where an excellent bond and quick setting is needed. Ceramic Floor Tile Adhesive – supplied in powder form for mixing with water – is a cement-based adhesive that’s water resistant when dry and can even be used in swimming pools.
Choose between a ready-mixed water-resistant grout or powdered water-resistant grout. The benefit of ready mixed is that it’s already the perfect consistency, with powdered grout you add this to water so you’ll need to follow the manufacturers instructions.
A water-resistant grout formulated for flooring must be used. Wickes’ Floor Tile Grout is cement based and available in grey, white or brown.
Some tiles (such as Travertine) need sealing to help prevent damaging liquids being absorbed into the tile. Generally these are all natural stone tiles and polished surfaces. It is recommended that these tiles be cleaned and then sealed prior to grouting and in many cases further coats of sealer should be applied after grouting. When the tile stops absorbing the sealer you know it’s sealed correctly.
We have two sealers in our range:
Preparing your surface
Your surfaces need to be clean, sound, flat and dry before starting any tiling project. The amount of prep work you need to do before tiling depends upon the existing finish:
Render the wall to give a smooth finish, and allow to thoroughly dry out before tiling.
Remove all wallpaper, and wash down to remove any surface grease and dust. Allow to dry before tiling.
Gloss and semi-gloss - Remove flaking paint and rub down using wetted medium grade wet-and-dry abrasive paper to take off paint, and to provide a key for the tile adhesive.
Emulsion - Remove any flaking paint and wash down to remove any surface grease and dust.
Whitewash - Remove all whitewash from plaster. Alternatively, remove any flaking areas, and treat the surface with a stabilising primer.
Existing ceramic tiles
It is technically possible to tile over existing tiles but we wouldn’t recommend it.
If you need to remove the old tiles, use a hammer and bolster chisel (always wear safety goggles and gloves). A lot of the wall will tend to come away with the old tile, so it’ll need to be re-plastered.
Tiles are heavy so they should only be mounted on securely mounted plasterboard that is at least 12.5mm thick. The total weight of the tiling should be no more than 20kg/sqm. If you’re not sure of the thickness of your plaster board try and find a visible edge to measure or drill a small hole.
You need special waterproof plasterboard for tiling in wet areas like bathrooms. Or if you have standard plasterboard, plaster-skim it to seal it before tiling.
In 'non-wet areas', seal the paper covering of the plasterboard with a coat of emulsion paint.
Leave to dry for at least three weeks. All bare plaster work (including repaired areas) should be sealed using a plaster primer before fixing tiles.