Planning & preparation
- Before you start, ensure the surface you’re tiling is sanded, cleaned and sealed. If you’re tiling new or bare plaster, timber, ply or any other absorbent surface, use a PVA primer to prevent the moisture in the tile adhesive being absorbed too quickly by the wall
- Natural stone, and some porcelain tiles, may need to be sealed. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations and apply the appropriate sealing solution before and after grouting. This will prevent moisture ingress and staining but will not prevent scratches or damage from acids
- We recommend you buy tiles from the same batch in order to achieve colour matching; the batch number will be on the packaging
- When planning and measuring the dimensions of a design, allow for grout gaps. For wall tiling, these gaps are usually 2-3mm
- Give some thought to how best to arrange your tiles. Aim to have a similar sized tile at each side of the wall in the corners, as the closer the cut is to a full tile, the better the end appearance
- Do not fix the tiles until a pleasing blend can be obtained; this can be achieved by mixing tiles from several boxes to ensure a satisfactory blend of colour, texture and pattern. Be sure to thoroughly examine tiles prior to installation, as claims relating to variation that was apparent prior to installation will not be accepted after the tiles have been fixed
- If possible, avoid small gaps as they are fiddly and can look untidy. Follow the instructions below to create a tile gauge which will help you achieve a symmetrical design
- To lay your tiles in a pattern, such as diagonally for a diamond design, lay your tiles with the method shown below, but adjust your starting position accordingly
- If you are going to be tiling around a window, factor this into your plans so the tiles and grout lines can be symmetrically aligned for the most pleasing effect
- If you are using materials left over from another job, make sure they are from the same batch if possible and that they are mixed in with others. This will ensure a satisfactory blend of colour, texture and pattern prior to fixing
Do it right
- When using adhesive, it’s best to work in small areas, so that tiles are fixed in position before the adhesive begins to dry
- If you are going to be grouting a large area, then invest in a grout float, as this will help you to get the job done much quicker
- Before securing the battens, check for pipes and wires using a pipe detector. If you do come across some, then you’ll have to use pencil lines as a guide instead of the batten
- When cutting tiles, use protective gloves, safety glasses and a dust mask in case of splintering
- If you are using a powder adhesive, wear a dust mask and safety glasses whilst mixing
- Extend the life and appearance of your grout by spraying it with grout protector
- Natural tiles will need regular maintenance, so be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions
- When cleaning tiles, do not use products which are designed to prevent limescale or those that contain acidic chemicals. The use of these products will cause permanent damage to the surface of the tiles
- Steam cleaners should not be used on tiles to which a sealer has been applied
- Be sure to always use cleaners, sealers, adhesives and grouts that are suitable for the material of the tile. Using the wrong products may have detrimental effects on the longevity and appearance of the tile
What you'll need
- How to work out the number of packs of tiles you’ll need:
LENGTH OF AREA x WIDTH OF AREA = NUMBER OF METRES SQUARED
METRES SQUARED ÷ PACK COVERAGE = NUMBER OF PACKS REQUIRED
- Bear in mind that it’s worth adding 10% extra for edges, breakages and cutting waste. It will be harder to go back and buy more of the same batch later.
- Using the information below, check the maximum weight that can be supported by the wall surface you are working with. Don’t forget to include the weight of the adhesive in your calculations, which you can find on the adhesive packaging.
Maximum Weight of Tiling per m2
How to Tile a Wall
Cut a wooden batten so it’s just longer than half the wall you’re tiling. Place tiles and spacers along its length and mark onto the batten.
Mark the horizontal midpoint of the wall with a pencil. Line your tile gauge up with this point so one of its marks is on the centre point.
Move it to the left, mark by mark, until the end of the gauge is close to the corner.
If the gap at the corner is less than half a tile, move your central tile gauge exactly half a tile’s width to the right of the midpoint. This will ensure you end up with a larger cut tile in the corner and the end result will look much better.
Use a pencil to mark the position of where the first full tile will start.
Using a spirit level, continue this vertical line from top to bottom of the wall.
To repeat the process vertically, start by marking the midpoint and offering up your tile gauge.
Adjust the position as before if the gap is less than half tile, and mark the position of the first whole tile above floor level.
Mark a horizontal line across the wall using a spirit level.
Check both the vertical and horizontal lines with a pipe detector.
If your lines are free from pipes and wires, then screw the wooden battens into place so you know exactly where to start your tiling from.
If you are using a powder adhesive then follow manufacturer’s instructions and prepare it now.
Using a trowel, apply enough adhesive to cover up to one square metre. Use the notched spreader to comb the adhesive across the tile to get an even coverage. Do not use the dot and dab method to apply adhesive as this can cause tiles to crack and moisture to get into the tiles.
Making sure it’s flush, place your first tile on the batten and give it a slight twist to really bed it into the adhesive.
Repeat this process, using the batten as a guide. Always remember to use spacers to ensure you have consistent gaps.
Using a spirit level, regularly check that the tiles are flat and level. If you need to, you can adjust the level by removing or adding adhesive to even out the surface.
Gently clean the tile surface and remove excess adhesive from grout lines with a damp sponge. Any dried adhesive can be loosened with warm soapy water.
Allow the adhesive to dry, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, remove the battens.
Carefully measure the gap between the tile edge and the corner, not forgetting to allow for grout spacers. It’s best to measure every gap as the wall may not be straight.
There are several different ways to cut tiles, but using a tile cutter is a reliable method. Using a pencil, or felt pen, and a metal ruler, mark the measurements on a tile.
Securely hold the metal ruler against the mark and score the front of the tile with the tile cutter, making sure the tile is scored along its full length to ensure a clean edge.
Place your pencil or pen directly underneath the score line and apply some downward pressure to snap the tile.
Start at the bottom of the main design. Apply the adhesive to the wall, or, if that’s tricky, directly to the back of the cut tile, and press into position.
Continue tiling up the wall and then along the bottom of the main design. Remember to always use spacers to maintain gaps.
Gently wipe away any excess adhesive on the tile with a damp sponge. Any excess hardened adhesive can be carefully removed using a window scraper.
Allow the adhesive to fully set, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
To grout, take a small amount and apply to the tile with a grout spreader. Move it around and into the joints.
Use upward and diagonal strokes to work the grout into the joints between tiles with a grout spreader. You’ll need to work reasonably quickly, as the grout will soon harden.
Remove excess grout with a damp sponge as you go.
If you accidentally remove too much grouting, you can re-apply using your finger or the grout spreader.
To give your work a really neat finish, pull a shaping tool over the joints in a swift, continuous movement. This should be done promptly after grouting.
If you touch the tiles, you will see that the grout has dried into a powdery film. Polish this off with a soft cloth.
Finally, apply some grout protector to extend the life of your grouting.