How to tile a wall

Tiling a wall can be a fiddly job. Whether you're decorating a kitchen or bathroom, let us show you how.

What you’ll need

  • 3 x 50 mm by 25 mm battens of softwood 

  • Hammer

  • A few nails

  • Pencil

  • Spirit level or plumb line

  • Serrated plastic spreader

  • Plastic tile spacers

  • Tile cutting jig

  • Goggles

  • A blunt stick

  • Enough tiles to complete the wall

  • Grout

  • Grout float

  • Sponge and cloth

Method

Make your tile gauge stick

  1. Place one of the battens on the floor.

  2. Lay a row of tiles alongside it and insert the plastic spacers.

  3. Mark the position of each tile on the batten.

Set your horizontal and vertical guides

To create a horizontal guide:

  1. Hold your gauge stick against the wall, running horizontally and vertically from the place where you want the tiles to begin.

  2. Make sure you leave room for 3 mm of sealant at the bottom.

  3. Mark the wall where the bottom full row of tiles will sit. This will be your horizontal guide.

  4. Temporarily nail a batten horizontally from this mark, using a spirit level to make sure it is completely level.

To create a vertical guide:

  1. Create a vertical guide using the method above.

  2. Nail a wooden batten vertically at the point where the first full tile will be from the edge.

Use a spirit level to make sure it's completely level.

Get tiling!

Use the spreader to spread an even layer of adhesive onto the wall.

  1. Use the serrated edge to create horizontal ridges along the adhesive.

  2. Press the first tile in place and give it a little wiggle to firmly set it in position.

  3. Place the second tile alongside, again with the little wiggle, and insert a plastic spacer between the two to form a grout line. If any adhesive squeezes out onto the tiles wipe it away with a sponge.

  4. Keep going, building up and out, making sure each tile is flush with its neighbours.

  5. Spread on more sections of adhesive and continue to add tiles until there is no further space for complete tiles. You will end up with a large perfectly tiled area with gaps around each edge.

  6. Wipe off any excess adhesive from the edges and leave the tiles to set. Only then should you take out the plastic spacers and remove the battens.

Margin Tiles

Unfortunately no wall is completely straight, so it will be necessary to cut the margin tiles.

  1. Mark where the tile will need to be cut, making allowances for the usual grout line.

  2. Put your safety goggles and ear protectors on before you cut your tile with the jig, as it's a noisy piece of machinery. Follow your manufacturer's instruction for your particular tile cutter.

  3. Apply a layer of adhesive on the back of the tile, and wiggle it into place on the wall.

  4. Keep measuring, cutting and fixing until your tiled area is complete.

  5. Allow 24 hours for the adhesive to harden.

Grouting

  1. Read the manufacturer's instruction for your particular grout and mix as directed.

  2. Spread the grout in all directions over the tiles with the grout float, making sure every joint is well filled.

  3. Wipe off any excess with a damp sponge before it dries.

  4. Give the grout a couple of hours to dry, then polish the tiles with a clean cloth to get rid of any smears.

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