Your step-by-step guide to DIY bathroom and kitchen wall tiling

by decwells


Don’t be intimidated (imageCredit: Alamy Stock Photo/Getty Images/EyeEm / Metro.co.uk)

Planning to give your bathroom a new look, or finally start using those kitchen tiles?

Responsible for gluing those tiles that will (hopefully) stick together forever can seem like a pretty daunting task.

Don’t make a mess of your DIY decor. Stick to these top expert tips on how to tile like a pro.

this project: wall tiles

expert: Leigh Price, Co-Director of Real Stone, Tile & Bathroom

reason: Tiling may seem like a daunting task, but done right, it’s not as difficult as it seems

what do you need: Tile, tape measure, marker, adhesive, spirit level, grout float, bucket

Your step-by-step guide to wall tiles

step 1: Evaluation situation

Step 1 FTYPP0 Young woman in her 20s uses a hammer and chisel to remove wall tiles in the kitchen, doing DIY in her bungalow. Picture taken on 03/2016. Exact date unknown.

Don’t worry (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

If your walls are intact and free of any damage, and the existing tile is strong enough to be tiled on, you can start by applying a primer that covers the existing tile and provides a grippy surface to stick the new one on. ceramic tile.

If you are working with a loosely plastered wall – so if there are any weak or crumbling areas – you will need to smash the plaster to get to bare brick or the first hard surface you can reach.

If your existing tiles are not suitable for tiling on top, or if your walls are half-tiled and you want to tile to full height, you will need to remove any old tiles.

Step 2: Preparation

Step 1 D4YA26 Caucasian Man Chiseled Ceramic Bathroom Wall Tiles, UK Model and Property Release

You’ll tank us later (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

After this, you will need to re-board. You must use flashing in wet areas like the shower area or over the tub, but you can use regular drywall for the rest of the room.

Where you use flashing in the shower area, you’ll also want to tape all seams with professional tape so your surfaces are absolutely free of moisture.

You will also need to apply the ointment to the shower and tub area.

Most important tip: You can’t skimp on preparation, especially in the tank phase.

Step 3: Choose Your Tiles

Step 4 - Use a tape measure at home to photograph people's hands for DIY projects.

Make sure it fits (Image: Getty Images)

Even if the room is small, don’t be afraid to use larger tiles. My advice is to make the tile size as large as possible so there are fewer grout lines, which helps you get a smooth, seamless look.

The only maintenance element of a tiled wall is grout, so opting for larger tiles can also help reduce that.

Step 4: Lay It Out

FX24JT lays tiles. Bricklayer glues tile to the wall.

The bigger the tile, the better (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

The next step is the layout phase, where you can consider the visual impact of opening the door to the room.

Ideally, you want a full tile when you walk in, and work outward from there when laying the tile to keep any tile cuts as close to the corners of the room as possible.

This means don’t start a corner with a full tile. You’re looking to balance your tile pattern so that you have manageable cuts in your corners, and that’s where tile size selection comes in – so you don’t cut too much.

Plan to lay a full tile in the middle of the wall and work out from there. I recommend taking a tape measure and marker and marking on the wall where your tiles will be placed.

Most important tip: When you cut the tile into the corner, measure twice and cut once.

Step 5: Adhesive

Step 6 - 2AR8J50 Trowel Mortar Close up with new cement trowel tile.

Get the slow-setting adhesive (Image: Alamy Stock Photo / Valentin Semenov)

Apply your adhesive, choosing a slow-setting powdered adhesive if you can.

Slow-drying glue will give you about three to four hours of use before setting, while quick-drying glue is only suitable for experienced tilers as the work time is about 40 minutes.

Slow-setting adhesive gives you more wiggle room, as it allows you to remove the tile from the wall and replace it when adjustments are needed.

Step 6: Spread It

STEP 6 - Vertical Mortar Trowel Tile Substrate Still Life Building Materials Tool Equipment Concrete Subfloor Floor Liner Tile Ceramic Porcelain Construction New Home Improvement Improvement Renovation Renovation Renovation Carpentry Installation Installation VStock

There’s not much room for trowels and mistakes (Image: Getty Images/Uppercut RF)

How to use the adhesive depends on your tile size. Apply the adhesive like butter to the wall with a notched trowel – for medium to larger size tiles use an 8mm notched trowel – make sure not to “spot” the adhesive as this will be behind the tile Leave a gap.

The goal is to have 90% of the tiles covered with adhesive. For larger, heavier tiles, you’ll also need to apply adhesive to the back of the tile; this is called back-buttering.

Step 7: Apply Tiles

Step 7 - A3JP32 Tile bathroom with PILKINGTON tiles and tile spacers. Picture taken in 2005. The exact date is unknown.

Space out those tiles (Image: Adrian Sherratt / alami pictures)

Apply and grout your tiles. Make sure your tile is straight along the bottom where it meets the floor, as your floor may not be level, but this can be adjusted later. At this stage, the spirit level is your friend.

You’ll also have to use tile spacers to help ensure your tiles are level; they’re between the tiles, so when you put one tile on top of the other, you can put a spacer in the middle along with the little wedges at the bottom, And keep the tiles from the floor to your desired height.

Most important tip: Choose your grout color carefully as it has a big impact on the overall look. At Real Stone, Tile & Bathroom, we have about 75 colors to choose from.

Step 8: Grout

Step 8 - DEGWA7 Grout Float

Grout pontoons are an essential kit at this stage (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

With slow-setting adhesives, you often have to wait 24 hours before grouting the tile. Fast curing is usually up to eight hours, but carefully check the instructions for the adhesive you are using.

The grout comes in powder form, so you’ll need to mix it with water in a small bucket. Next, use the grout float to spread the grout into all the joints like a trowel.

Apply diagonally to the tile, starting at the top of the wall and working your way to the bottom, making sure you don’t leave any gaps or air bubbles.

Step 9: Remove Excess

Step 4 - Modernist New Building in Southern Spain, designed by Matteo Thun

you have it! (Image: Getty Images)

About an hour after application, when the grout starts to harden, wipe off the excess from the tile with a damp sponge, wipe, clean sponge, wipe, etc.

Most important tip: If you are using textured tile, remove excess grout as soon as possible.

If you have nice smooth tile, the excess can be easily wiped off, but if you’ve opted for a rough textured tile (like the brick effect), remove the excess grout as soon as possible to avoid grout getting into the texture.


mistakes to avoid

  • Wrong adhesive color selected. Usually, the adhesive is gray or white. If you have light tile and light grout, use white adhesive. Do not use gray as it will bleed from light colored grout.
  • To place an order: A lot of people underorder when they buy tiles. Check stock levels with your supplier before ordering, I also recommend checking their return policy, as it’s hard to estimate how much tile you’ll need, especially if you have to cut the tile. Overorder and return if allowed, or order as many tiles as you think you need, but make sure your supplier has more in stock in case you need to come back for more tiles.
  • To use PVA as a tile primer: A common misconception is that PVA primes tiles.This is incorrect – you need
    A specific tile primer will do the job just right.
  • Sweep the wall before tiling: You can’t stick tiles on freshly degreased plaster! If you’re reusing brick, flashing must be used in wet areas, and regular drywall can be used for the rest of the room. Freshly degreased plaster is too thin to tile.
  • Not giving grout enough time to dry: Shower and tub areas should take at least three days to dry. The grout must be allowed to fully harden before using the bathroom, otherwise the grout can easily discolor and you run the risk of water penetrating the grout.

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