DIY Tiling Guide

DIY Wall Tiling

Tiling a kitchen or bathroom wall is not as easy as it looks, but with precision and patience you can make a good job ofdoing it yourself.

When you choose your tiles at Salisbury Tile Store we’ll give you some basic “how to” pointers about how to do your own tiling, but here’s some handy hints you should bear in mind before you start:

  • Preparation is absolutely crucial. You need a solid, flat surface for the tiles to stick to so if the wall is not smooth, don’t proceed until you’ve removed all the lumps and bumps. If you’re tiling a wall which already has tiles on it, you can tile over the existing tiles, though this is not recommended, especially if the old tiles are damaged, dirty or greasy, because the tile adhesive won’t grip adequately. Rather remove the old tiles first, if you are able, first scraping the grout out and then setting to work with a hammer and chisel (having taken appropriate safety precautions) and finally using a putty knife to shift any remaining adhesive.
  • Measure up well so you can estimate how many tiles you’ll need to cover the area you propose to tile, to avoid buying too few or too many. Work out the square area to be tiled by multiplying the height and width of the wall. If there’s a window or any other gap in the surface to be tiled, work out it’s square area and subtract it from the first figure. What’s left is the area you need to tile. When you come to Salisbury Tile Store with your measurements, we’ll work out how many of your chosen tiles you’ll need for the job, with a few to spare to allow for accidents.
  • Tile the wall in precisely placed horizontal rows of tiles, one above the other, moving upwards. Never start, though, at the base of the wall because it may not be straight. Leave the first row bare to be completed later, and draw a carefully placed datum line (with the aid of a spirit level) around the wall where the top of the first row of tiles should reach. Ideally you should nail a timber batten along that level, then start tiling upwards from there. You can come back to complete the base row later, making adjustments for any discrepancies in the level at the base of the wall.
  • Apart from the tiles themselves you’ll need plenty of plastic spacers to make a neat job of tiling. These little T-shaped objects are inserted between the tiles to ensure the gaps left are equidistant – for wall tiles the spacing is usually 3mm.
  • Apply the tile adhesive (which should have the consistency of toothpaste) evenly and thickly to the wall using a notched trowel to create a channelled surface, before pushing the tiles evenly onto the wall with the spacers between them, working a row at a time.
  • It is more than likely that you will need to cut some tiles to fit in the end of rows, or around window frames. For straight cuts a manual tile cutter should do the trick – measure the tile, draw a pencil line where you need to cut, score the tile across and then press down to snap the tile into two. Tile “nippers” are available to cut off small curved pieces.
  • As you complete each row of tiles, use a spirit level on the top to check that it is perfectly horizontal before you start the next row, and make any adjustments necessary.
  • Once the adhesive is dry and the tiles firmly stuck you can finish off with grouting in the gaps between the tiles. Remove the spacers from between the tiles before you start. With a generous load of grout mixture on your grout float, spread it diagonally across the tiles, making sure it fills in all the gaps. As it dries, sponge off the excess grout, and when it’s completely dry you can polish up the newly tiles wall with a soft cloth.

Like anything, practice makes perfect and the more tiling you do the more professional the result will be. As long as you keep things on the level, and don’t rush it, you’ll enjoy your tiling experience and be inspired to try more tiling.

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