lets-do-diy.com logo lets-do-diy.com stripes
Account login  |  Register
Bookmark This Page

    Ceramic wall tiles

    Ceramic tiles remain a popular wall covering for both bathrooms and kitchens as they are easy to clean and available in a wide range of decorative designs. A huge variety of tiles are available, varying in size, colour/pattern and quality. Remember that there is a slight difference in colour between tiles and it is always a good idea to buy boxes of tiles with the same batch number. Before you start tiling, open up all the boxes and mix up the tiles, this will disguise any small difference in colour that may exist.    

    Ceramic tiles are usually square or rectangular in shape - although there are exceptions - and available in sizes ranging from 100mm x 100mm (4in x 4in) to 330mm x 445mm (13in x 17 ½ in). As well as choosing the colour and pattern of the tile you want, it is also important to choose a tile size that will best fit the wall space. Planning the correct tile size for the space you want to cover will save cutting time and material wastage.

    Calculating the number of tiles required

    To calculate the number of tiles you will need you have to calculate the surface area of the wall or walls that you are tiling.

    • Measure the height and width of the wall you want to tile.
    • Multiply these two measurements together.
    • Repeat this calculation for all the walls you plan to tile and then add the surface areas together.
    • Subtract any areas such as doors and windows, but don't forget to include the windowsill and window reveals if they are to be tiled.
    • Divide the total area by the area of a single tile, ensuring that you are working in the same units e.g. square metres or square centimetres.
    • Always add on at least 10% for wastage and cutting.
    • This will give you the number of tiles you will need.

    Coloured tiles

    Tiles are now available in almost any colour and shade: from plain white through to the vivid primary colours of yellow, red or blue and their many tints and tones. This offers the opportunity to create highly individual designs using contrasting and harmonising colours.

    Patterned tiles

    This type of tile has a pattern or motif painted or printed on its glazed surface. Patterned tiles can make particularly attractive designs when inserted into a plain tiled wall. Alternatively, patterned tiles can be used on their own.

    Imported tiles

    Tiles from other countries are usually thicker and tougher than ceramic tiles originating from this country. It is advisable to test each different type of tile to see whether you can cut and shape them before you buy in large quantities.

    Insert tiles

    These tiles are designed for things like towel rails, soap dishes and toilet-roll holders. Insert tiles are generally heavier than ordinary tiles but are still fixed to the wall using standard tile adhesive. If planning to include an insert tile or tiles in your design, remember to check that there is an insert tile of the same colour/style to the standard wall tiles you are using.

    Mosaic tiles

    Mosaic tiles are small ceramic or glass tiles. They are usually 20mm to 25mm square (approximately 1in sq) and come attached to a nylon mesh backing. They are sold in sheets 300mm x 300mm (12in x 12in) or 300mm x 610mm (12in x 24in). The mesh backing can be cut so the mosaic tiles can fit around obstacles.

    Ceramic borders and trims

    Border tiles and ceramic trim can be used as a decorative finish along an edge of a tiled wall. They are often used as a trim on half-tiled walls to give the top edge an attractive finish. The border tiles can be matching or contrasting in colour and design. Border and trim tiles are manufactured to the same width as the wall tiles, so that the vertical joints between the border tiles will align with the vertical joints between the wall tiles.

    Other materials can be used as trim with ceramic tiles. These can be metal, plastic or even wood.

    Plastic and metal trim

    Profile trims are dome shaped rods with a thin right-angled strip. This strip is the part that is fixed to the end tile and set in position with ordinary tile adhesive. Strips of edging trim provide a neat finish around a tiled area. The trims come in various colours and finishes, and they range from plain plastic to shiny chrome.

    Worktop trim

    A tiled worktop can also be edged with a timber moulding. The moulding needs to be painted, varnished or stained and when screwed in place it can assist in positioning the tiles more accurately. When the tiles have been fixed to the wall, fill the joints with epoxy grout to create an extremely hardwearing finish.

    Tile adhesive

    Tile adhesive comes in large tubs and is pre-mixed. If fixing a large number of tiles it is applied to the wall with the spreader that is usually supplied. If only fixing a few tiles, for example when replacing broken tiles, apply the adhesive to the back of the tile. Tile adhesives can be dual purpose or fix-and-grout adhesives, which means it can also be used as a grout.


    The thin mortar used to fill in the gaps between tiles. Generally superseded by the fix-and-grout adhesives we have mentioned above.

    Epoxy grout

    This is a durable, water-resistant grout used in kitchens, bathrooms, showers and especially in tiled swimming pools.

    Return to top of page