How to Tile a Wall
Tiles are practical and easy to clean in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. But they're also stylish, transforming a room with an updated look.
Tiling is a skilled job, but one that can be done yourself to save some money in the long run. In the vast majority of cases, this will require cutting some of the tiles to size using a tile cutter.
Before you begin, you need to think about which tiles you want to use, how many you would need, and how to prepare the area.
What you need to tile a wall
Tiling a wall is easy, but you need to have everything you need before you begin.
- Wall filler
- Tile adhesive
- Damp sponge
- Tile spacers
Tile cutters and all of the other power tools you need to carry out DIY tasks are available to hire from Speedy Hire, so there's no need to buy expensive equipment upfront.
You also need to wear the correct PPE when tiling a wall. This includes clothing you need to protect your skin when using tile adhesives, such as work gloves and long sleeves, as well as everything needed when cutting and removing tiles.
Eye protection and a dust mask are essential. You should also clear up the fragments of old tiles as you go and work slowly.
You need to buy the most suitable adhesive for your tiles. Ceramic tiles require a ready-mixed tile adhesive or powder adhesive, and porcelain tiles need powder tile adhesive. Bear in mind that if your tiles are larger than 20 x 20, you’ll also need to apply adhesive to the back of the tiles so will need to buy a bit more.
Most wall tiles also require a 2mm spacer, but some may be best with 3mm.
How to tile a wall
To start tiling, you need a flat, smooth, and clean surface.
Prepare your room. Ensure all sensitive surfaces are covered, such as the bathtub, shower, and sink, to avoid the tiles causing damage. You may also want to cover your floors and remove any décor, to reduce the mess made.
Step 1: Remove existing tiles
Using your hammer and chisel, remove any existing tiles. Chip away at the tiles, starting from one edge. Wear your eye protection, work gloves and a dust mask during this, as it can be messy, and the shards of tile can be sharp.
Step 2: Prepare your walls
Use the chisel and hammer to also remove any old adhesive that remains. Sand back any which is difficult to remove, before filling in any holes or cracks in the wall. Again, sand the filler once dried to give you a flat, smooth surface.
You may want to brush the walls with a dry soft-bristled brush before you begin applying adhesive, to get rid of excess dust.
Step 3: Apply the adhesive
Your starting point should be the bottom centre of the wall, working outwards. This means any edge tiles will be cut pretty evenly sized, resulting in a better visible finish.
Scoop up some adhesive using the trowel, then smooth out using the notched spreader. Work from the edge and smooth horizontally, holding the spreader at a 45° angle. The ridges ensure there’s the correct, equal amount of adhesive behind every tile.
- SPEEDY TOP TIP: Only apply around one square metre of adhesive at a time, so it doesn’t dry out before you have a chance to fix the tiles
If your tiles are larger than 20x20, it is a good idea to also apply some adhesive onto the back of the tile, for extra support.
Step 4: Place the tiles
Place your first tile onto the wall. Press the edges and then the whole tile firmly against the wall. Place one tile above and one to the side, pushing them to the adhesive using a slight twisting method.
Your spirit level comes in handy here. When you’ve laid a tile, check it with the spirit level to ensure it is flat. If not, remove it and scrape away some excess adhesive underneath before relaying. Do this after every tile to ensure they’re all evenly flat.
Use the damp sponge to wipe away any excess adhesive as you go. If this were to dry, it would be more difficult to remove.
Step 5: Use your tile spacers
Once these first few tiles are laid, you need to introduce tile spacers. Put these into the corners between the tiles and lightly move the tiles if needed, before the adhesive sets. You need to position them firmly into the gap, so you can grout over them when the time comes.
Carry on with this process until the whole wall is finished, using as many whole tiles as possible. You should always place these before starting to cut smaller tiles, so you can accurately measure how small these need to be.
Step 6: Cut your tiles
Now you can see how large your tiles for cutting will be. Measure the gaps, allowing for the tile spacers. You may want to use a pencil or felt tip to mark the lines to cut, for accuracy and to reduce waste.
- SPEEDY TOP TIP: Measure every separate gap which requires a cut tile. Don’t take for granted that they will all be the same size, as walls aren’t always built straight!
Place the tile into position before applying adhesive and spacers. If it is hard to apply the adhesive to the wall, apply it to the back of the tile instead. Remove the excess adhesive with your damp sponge, and if any dries on the tiles, a window scraper should carefully get that off.
Once the tiles are laid, you’re going to want to leave it all to dry and stabilise before moving on to grouting the tiles. Also take care to finish off the edges of your tiles with some sealant, so no water can get behind the tiles.
And there you have it. You have just finished tiling a wall, so know what to do if you want to tackle any other rooms in your home. Now you're an expert, why not give your floors a refresh with tiles, too?
Ready for more DIY tips?
Thank you for reading our Speedy Hire guide on how to tile a wall, using a tile cutter to cut your tiles to size. We hope you found it useful.
If you are thinking of revamping your bathroom, check out our blog for some ideas to help refresh your space.
Please visit our Skills and Projects page if you’re ready for some inspiration for your next DIY venture.
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- Find ideas on Instagram: speedyhirediy
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