Deciding to tile your own wall may be daunting, but don’t worry, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about how to tile a wall. With the right preparation, tools and knowledge, you can tile a wall to a professional looking finish.
Our expert guide will explain how to lay the tiles, assuming we are using square tiles in a standard horizontal linear design.
What you will need
- Filler - prepare your wall space by filling and sanding any pre-existing holes to ensure you have a smooth blank canvas
- Wall tiles
- Tile adhesive
- Tile trim - for finishing corners
- Safety equipment - Goggles, Dust mask, Safety Gloves
- Measuring tape
- Spirit level
- Tile cutter and nipper
- Bucket Trowel
- Notched trowel
- Grout float
How many tiles will you need?
Before you start any tiing, it’s important to plan out what you will need for your project. Once you have found the tile you would like to use, we have a handy tile calculator to help work out how many tiles you will need for the space you have available. Don’t forget to also get an idea of how much adhesive and grout you will need too.
Working out the tile layout
Once you have worked out the materials you need, you will need to work out the layout of the tiles. This is done to ensure that as many full tiles are laid as possible, with minimum cutting and waste of tiles. To do this, start by marking the centre of the wall using your measuring tape and pencil. Using a vertical spirit level against this mark, make a line down the centre of your wall. This is where you will start your tiling from.
From this line, you can work out the best way to lay your tiles and how many you will need in a row. Hold a tile over the centre line that you have just drawn. Hold a second tile next to this tile with a small space for grout. Continue this until you reach the end of your wall and count the number of tiles as you go. When you get to the edge of the wall, the cut tile you end up with will be the same that’s needed at the other end of the wall.
Priming your walls
Certain substrates require priming before tiling for various reasons. Priming helps to reduce the porosity of the surface and can strengthen the bond between the tile and the adhesive for powdery surfaces. Make sure you use a primer that is suitable for both the surface you’ll be tiling on and the adhesive that you’ll be using, following the instructions on the label carefully.
Fix a timber tiling baton
Using timber batons provides a guide for tiling if you are not starting from a skirting board. Check it is straight using your spirit level, then ensure it is secure on the wall by using nails.
TIP: To make the batons easier to remove, leave the nail heads slightly sticking out.
How to tile a whole wall
Apply tile adhesive to the wall
Mix your chosen adhesive following the manufacturers instructions. You should use an adhesive suitable for your chosen tiles and area which you are tiling. Mark your starting line onto your baton, as the lines on the wall are about to get covered up.
Pick up some adhesive with the bucket trowel and apply it to your notched tiling trowel. Press onto the wall and spread across the wall horizontally to create a tile bed. You should hold the notched trowel at a 45 degree angle so that each tile has an equal amount of adhesive underneath it.
Adhesive dries quickly, so we would recommend working in areas of 1 square metre at a time. If you have large format tiles, it is also a good idea to apply adhesive to the back of the tiles before placing on the wall for extra support.
Don’t worry if you get a build up of adhesive on your baton; just use your trowel to remove it and then scrape it into the bucket. It’s important to keep your trowel as clean as possible so that your adhesive doesn’t dry and build up. Having a bucket of clean water and a sponge to handis great for keeping on top of this.
Place the first tile
Set aside your clean trowels, as it’s time to lay the tiles. Pick up your first tile, line it up with your baton and push firmly into the adhesive. To ensure a good, tight grip, you can use a slight side-to-side jigging motion when you are pressing the tile onto the wall.
Place your next tile on the wall next to your first tile, at this point it doesn’t matter if there is no gap. You can wriggle the second tile to create a gap big enough to place a spacer. Take a spacer and place it in between the tiles you have just placed.
Continue with this process of adding tiles and placing spacers in between to keep the gaps whilst the adhesive dries. When you have covered the first square meter of adhesive, keep repeating until your whole wall is covered with tiles. You will need to remove the timber battens when you have completed the first area; just lineup the next tile you are laying next to the ones you have already laid to continue.
A good tip is to wipe away any excess adhesive that gets onto tiles with a clean sponge whilst it is still wet. It is much harder to remove dried adhesive from tiles and you risk damaging them when scrapping it off the surface.
When you reach a corner or wall edge, put one leg of the spacer into the gap and keep the rest sticking out from the wall. This makes for easier removal of the spacer.
Leave to dry
Let the adhesive dry for the length of time stated on the instructions.
Grout and Finish Your Wall Tiles
Once your adhesive is dry, you can now remove the spacers and move on to grouting your tiles. You’ll first need to make sure that the tiles and grouting spaces are clean and free from any hard adhesive.
Mix and prepare your grout following the manufacturers instructions. You will need to use a grout that is suitable for the tile material and room that you have chosen to tile. You can get help with this by speaking to one of our team members in store or on our live chat online.
When your grout is sufficiently mixed, take a clean trowel and apply grout to your rubber grout float.
Holding the float at a 45 degree angle, apply grout to the tile surface in diagonal motions. Ensure that you are really pushing in the grout mixture into the gaps and work as fast as you can, as it tends to harden quickly.
Grout in sections so that you can manage the drying time well. You can pick up grout from the tile surface with your float and reuse to apply to remaining gaps. This will also reduce the amount of grout you need to clean at the end of each section.
Before moving onto the next section of grouting, clean tiles with a clean damp sponge before the grout dries on the tile surface. Be careful not to remove any grout from the gaps as you clean. If you do, then you can take a small amount of grout and reapply to fill the gap.
You can see a video of how to mix and apply your grout in our previous blog post on the Ultracolour Plus Mapei grout.
Cleaning up & finishing off
As your grout dries you may notice a powdery finish across your tiles. Once you are happy that the grout has completely dried, we can wipe down the tiles to reveal the end result.
Simply take a clean damp sponge at a 45 degree angle, and using big swiping motions, wipe away the residue. Keep cleaning your sponge in between removing the residue for the best results.
You can then use a clean cloth to really complete the project and polish them up to a sparkling finish.
Need further help? Contact our customer service team on 0345 307 5000 or email@example.com