Before you get started
How many tiles you will need may be worked out by simply dividing the wall area that you want to tile by pack size (coverage).
HEIGHT OF AREA x WIDTH OF AREA = NUMBER OF SQUARE METRES
SQUARE METRES ÷ PACK COVERAGE = HOW MUCH YOU NEED
(Add 10% for cutting waste)
Due to the nature of the manufacturing process of all tiles, there may be slight colour and size variations between production batches. It is essential you check the codes on the packaging when you buy your tiles to ensure you have selected all from the same batch.
Natural stone tiles are all slightly different and it is perfectly normal to find a variance of colours, markings, thickness and textures. This is a natural feature of these types of material and means that every room is unique.
Your starting point is important to establish a balanced design and allows for manageable cuts. For example, if you are tiling a complete wall, allow for a similar size of cut tile in each corner as well as considering features such as windows – these should be centred in the design.
The layout of your tiles will affect the finished look enormously so it is worth some thought ahead of buying your tiles. You can stagger joins, or set tiles diagonally for a diamond-effect pattern, or use inlay designs for a strong pattern. Whichever you choose, tiles are laid in the same way; just adjust the start position accordingly.
Due to the nature of the manufacturing process, in some cases there can be a very slight ‘bow’ along the length of larger tiles (60cm or larger). If you are considering laying your tiles in an off-set “brick” pattern it is best to stagger the tile by only a third or less rather than by staggering by half a tile. This will minimise the effect of the bowing on the finished look.
Do not plan to leave small slivers at corners as they are difficult to cut. The closer a cut is to a half tile, the easier it is to make.
If you are starting at ground level, you cannot guarantee the floor is level. Attach a level batten and work from this to achieve a balanced design. When tiling off a bath or shower tray rim, check first that the edges are level, but these are normally suitable potential starting points for tile rows.
When you measure the dimensions of a design, remember to allow for grout gaps. For wall tiling, these are normally 2-3mm.
Plastered wall surfaces will support tile weights up to around 20Kg/ sq.m. Therefore, rendered or cement board wall surfaces, which support tile weights of around 40Kg/sq.m, are more suitable for large (heavy) format tiles. Adhesive weight must also be included in your square metre calculations.
How to fit wall tiles
Nail a batten along the wall at your chosen starting point. Use a detector to help find safe fixing points.
Use a notched adhesive trowel to apply adhesive to wall. Use the edge to create ribbed lines of equal depth.
Position the first tile using a slight twisting motion onto the wall surface. Make sure it sits flush on the batten.
Continue positioning tiles along the batten, using spacers to maintain equal gaps between the tiles for grout.
Once you have laid a block of 6-9 tiles, use a spirit level to check that the tile surface is as flat as possible.
If a tile has sunk below, or sits proud of, surrounding tiles, prise it off and add or remove adhesive accordingly.
At a corner, measure from tile edge to corner – allow for grout. Measure top and bottom as the gap may vary.
Mark measurements on a tile. Place in the tile cutter, score along the line and press down on handle to snap.
Smooth any roughened cut edges using a tile file. Take care not to scratch the tile surface.
With small cut sections of tile, apply the adhesive directly to the back of the tile, before pressing in position.
At internal corners, spacers will need to be used across the corner to maintain gaps. Remove once adhesive has dried.
For external corners, such as a window reveal, one option is to overlap tile edges along the corner.
You can also use a corner trim. Stick along the corner with adhesive – ideal if covering cut or unglazed tile edges.
Use a profile gauge to create a cutting edge template for awkward shapes such as the edge of a window sill.
Mark off the required profile cut on the tile and use a tile saw to carefully cut out the required shape.
If you need to make right-angled cuts, an electric tile saw is useful and quick. Using a tile saw is a slower option.
Once the main design is complete, allow the adhesive to dry overnight before removing the guide batten.
Infill below the main design using cut tiles. Again use spacers to maintain gaps until the adhesive dries.
Remove any excess hardened adhesive from tile surfaces using a window scraper. Don’t scratch any tile surfaces.
Mix grout (or take ready-mixed direct from tub) and apply across the tile surface, pressing firmly into the gaps.
After every square metre or so, use a damp sponge to wipe across the tiles to remove any excess.
As the grout just starts to harden, draw a grout finishing tool smoothly along the grout lines to create a neat finish.
Once you have finished all routing and it is quite dry, buff the surface with a dry cloth to remove residue.
At the joints created with shower trays and baths, for example, silicone sealant needs to be applied.
If applying sealant along the joint with a bath or shower tray, try to keep your work as neat as possible. Before applying sealant, use some masking tape to mark off either side of the joint. Clean surfaces before sticking down.
Unscrew the nozzle and cut off the top of the tube. Replace the nozzle and load the tube into the gun.
Cut off the tip of the sealant tube to slightly larger than the width of the gap between the masking tape lengths.
Gently squeeze the trigger to apply the sealant along the joint. Move gradually to dispense an even bead.
Smooth gently and evenly along the joint with a wetted finger to produce a consistent depth of sealant.
Remove the masking tape and smooth once more with a wetted finger to provide a neat, watertight finish. Make sure the sealant is left to dry completely before using the bath or shower.
What you’ll need
Cable, pipe and stud detector
Batten (50 x 25mm)
Felt tip pen
Corner trim (if needed)
Wall adhesive trowel
Grout finishing tool
Electric wet saw tile cutter (for thick tiles and right-angled cuts)