Before you start tiling a wall, you’ll need get it ready for the new tiles.
The first job to do is to remove any existing tiles from the wall, this can be done using a hammer and bolster chisel. I strongly urge you to wear safety goggles and gloves when removing tiles from a wall (or ceiling) as little bits of sharp tile can damage your eyes and cut your fingers.
Protect any surfaces in the work area to avoid damage caused by falling tiles and be aware of any sharp pieces of tile on the floor.
When all the tiles have been removed, the wall surface needs to be prepared for the new tiles and adhesive.
The wall should be as flat as possible as reflections from glazed tiles will show up and exaggerate any discrepancies in your tiling.
Any loose plaster should be removed, any high spots chiselled out and patched up and any holes filled.
(You might want to read the article on how to repair cracked or damaged plaster on internal walls.)
Allow time for the new plaster to dry thoroughly before tiling.
Don’t try to tile over old wallpaper. It must be removed, and any smooth or shiny surfaces should be scratched with a knife and/or course sand/wet and dry paper so the adhesive has something to ‘key’ to.
- Hammer/lump hammer
- Bolster chisel
- Safety goggles
- Protective cover(s)
- Plastering trowel
- Course sand/wet and dry paper
Safety tip: Wear safety googles and gloves to avoid any injury from sharp pieces of flying tile and sharp tile edges, keep children and pets away from the work area as again there may be sharp pieces of tile on the floor.
Tiling a wall is straightforward providing the wall has been prepared correctly, I always use a ready mixed waterproof adhesive and plastic tile spacers with a width of around 3 mm, which can be purchased from all tile and DIY stores. The spacers are in the shape of a cross and make tiling a wall a great deal easier, providing the first row of tiles stuck in position are perfectly level (See diagram below).
There are two ways to apply the adhesive, a professional tiler will more than likely use a large serrated edge trowel and spread it on the wall surface and then stick the tiles in place, this is a good method but you have to work quickly before the adhesive starts to set and I like most DIYers don’t tile every day, therefore I use the following method. Using your adhesive spreader (the Red one) with its serrated edge (see image below), spread an even layer of adhesive on the back of the tile, usually around 4 to 5 mm thick, try to use roughly the same amount of adhesive on each tile. As you place each tile in position fit the tile spacers on the corners of each tile and remove any excess adhesive that may come through the joints. You can if you wish, use the tile spacers ‘end on’ so they can be removed when the adhesive has set. When you have, as an example stuck six tiles in position, place a straight edge or your spirit level on the face of the tiles to check that they are level, and adjust any tiles that are not sitting flat. If any tiles are set back too far you will have to take the tile off the wall and add a little adhesive to bring it further out, level with the other tiles.
Continue tiling across and up the wall, placing tiles in position and making the appropriate cuts (see cutting tiles). Don’t forget cut tiles have sharp edges, so wear gloves when handling them. When all the tiles are on the wall, allow time for the adhesive to set and then you are ready for grouting (see grouting tiles).
Tiling bead comes in various colours and gives a smooth finished edge to tops of tile rows and corners, any small visible gaps can be filled with either a little grout or coloured sealant. When you are ready to tile a corner or top row of tiles, cut the tiling bead to length/angle using a small mitre block and a hacksaw with a fine blade, as shown below, lightly sand off any rough edges from the cut and as you put the tiles in position put the bead in place. Tile bead has a thin serrated back which the adhesive can ‘key’ to. The adhesive will set and hold it in place.
Tools required :-
- Grout spreader
- Tile spacers
- Spirit level
- Manual or power tile cutter
- Tape measure
- Small mitre box
- Tile file