A tiled wall when executed correctly will last a lifetime and requires little maintenance. Whether a DIY enthusiast or a complete novice it pays to know a little about the correct procedure behind tiling a wall. It is always recommended however, to use a professional when carrying out any construction related activity. Especially so in the case of wall tiling which in addition to being decorative also provides a protective finish. So where to start when tiling a wall, this article looks at the basics, including the relevant British Standards that govern recommended practice for wall tiles.
Choice of wall tile
A good place to start is with the choice of tile, probably one of the most crucial steps in tiling a wall. The choice of tile depends not only on aesthetic considerations but on where it is to be used, i.e. whether resistance to humidity or dampness is required.
Popular types of wall tile include glazed and unglazed, porcelain and mosaic which all have different properties regarding damp conditions.
How to measure for tiles and calculating quantities
The wall surface should be measured, and a simple calculation will provide the overall square area. Remember to subtract door and windows openings or any other surface not being tiled. Tiles are sold by the square metre (or square yard) quantities and it’s important to make sure they are from the same batch. This avoids any discrepancies in coloration. Always remember to allow for between 10% & 15% extra in case of damage and wastage during tiling and for future replacement tiles.
The right tools and materials
To tile a wall the following materials and tools will be required:
- Tile adhesive
- Trowel for adhesive with a notched edge
- Spirit level and measuring tape
- Tile spacers
- Timber batten for tiles spacing
- Drill for making holes in walls with ceramic and masonry drill bit
- Tile cutter and nippers
- Grout float & sponge
- Mixing bucket
- Tile marker or pencil
- Rubber mallet and hammer
- Masonry nails
- Masking tape
- Safety eyewear
- Dust mask
- Latex grip safety gloves
Preparing the wall for tiling
In damp or humid situations, the backing for the tiled surface must be waterproof, this is achieved by using tile backer board or by tanking the plasterboard. New plaster must be allowed to dry out completely which usually takes 4 weeks. Minimum thickness of approx 12.5 mm is required for plasterboard and the weight of tiles should not exceed 32 kg/sq.m. For tiling over painted surfaces, the important consideration is that the surface is level, smooth, clean and free from dirt and grease. The painted surface will need sanding and then Primed.
Fixing wall tiles
Preparation is the key to successful wall tiling (and all other things DIY related), this means making sure the design of the wall tiles layout avoids awkward cutting of tiles. A 100 x 50 mm batten can be used to help establish the optimum tile layout. Measure one complete tile up from the lowest point on the wall to be tiled. Fix the batten to the wall making sure it is level, the first line of tiles sits on this datum. Then draw a vertical line on the wall to make sure tiles are being laid in line vertically.
Applying the tile adhesive
Working in small areas spread the adhesive on the wall using the notched trowel. Making sure the tiles are being located in the correct direction place against the wall from the bottom to the top. Establish one row at a time ensuring that the adhesive is still wet and that vertical and horizontal lines are true. Use spacers to help with an even layout. Follow recommended instructions in the case of tiles to be cut. For corners and other awkward locations use adhesive on the tiles rather than the wall.
Do not start grouting till 24 hours have elapse after tiling. Grouting is as important as the choice of tile so make sure you choose the correct one. After removing the tile spacers. Push the grout between the tiles into the joint using a rubber trowel. Remove any excess by using the grout float and then wipe off with clean water and sponge.
The relevant British Standards for tiling are the following:
BS 5385-3:2007 – Wall and floor tiling – Part 3: Design and installation of internal and external ceramic and mosaic floor tiling in normal conditions – Code of practice
BS 5385-1:2009 – Wall and floor tiling – Part 1: Design and installation of ceramic, natural stone and mosaic wall tiling in normal internal conditions – Code of practice
Grouting is covered by British Standard BS EN 13888.
By removing the grout around the tile using a grout rake or an isolating machine it’s easier to remove a tile. Once the first tile is removed the others should come away easily. Use a hammer and a chisel and protect surfaces before commencing.
The kitchen is a humid environment so make sure the backing surface is waterproofed.
Centre the wall tiles on the sink then calculate one row up from the worktop and avoid cutting tiles if possible. If inevitable make sure to ensure at least a half-tile width.
The bathroom is the wettest environment of the home so make sure the correct gypsum board or tanking is in place before starting. And ensuring a dry and clean surface is equally important.
As with the bathroom the shower enclosure must have the appropriate backing material. The correct grouting material is also crucial; consult manufacturers’ instructions before commencing.
The walls should be tiled before starting with the ceiling. A special adhesive and clips will be required for fixing the tiles to the ceiling. Seek professional advice before tiling a ceiling.
Metro tiles are heavier than other ceramic tiles so make sure the background material can support them. Plastered walls should not have tiles weighing more than 20 kg /sq.m. applied.
As long as the surface is sturdy and there are no loose or broken tiles yes. However, a special adhesive or epoxy bond will also be required. Always check the weight loads as when you tile on top of another tile it will double the weight load, be careful.