Summary: Learn how to prepare the surface to lay a tile, fix a ceramic wall tile, cut a tile, fit cut tiles, grout a tile, tile an internal corner, tile an external corner, tile a window recess, cut tiles in a curved line and drill a hole through a tile.
Ceramic tiles are widely used in bathrooms and kitchens. There is an extensive range of tiles available differing in size, colour and decorative design. Ceramic tiles are usually sold in boxes of a specified number but can also be purchased singly or by the square metre.
It's important to remember that the preparation of the wall surface is a major factor in how good the finished job will appear, as the glaze on the tiles will highlight any unevenness in the surface.
Ceramic tiles can be applied to many different surfaces but each may require a different preparation. Bare plaster is the ideal surface on which to apply ceramic tiles, but ensure the plaster is sound.
To determine the number of tiles you will need, calculate the surface area of the wall by multiplying the length of the wall by its height (or by the height you wish to tile up to). This should be done for each surface you are planning to tile; then the figures for each surface should be added together.
Always add at least 10% to your final figure to allow for wastage and cutting, and then divide the total surface area by the area of one tile. Some boxes of tiles give the surface area of their contents, so by dividing the total surface area by this figure you can work out the number of boxes that will be required.
Tiles should always be centred on the wall surface so any cut tiles appear at the edges. A small area, such as above a washbasin, can be tiled using only whole tiles. But plan the position of the tiles using the centre of a tile or its edge as the central starting point.
When tiling large wall surfaces it is advisable to use a homemade tile gauge.
Taking a 2m length of batten position several tiles along its edge inserting plastic spacers between them and mark the position of the tiles.
Tiling adhesive is available as a dry powder that you mix with water or in ready-mix tubs, which can be used as both adhesive and grouting. Remember that some surfaces may require a particular adhesive e.g. shower cubicles, so ask at your local DIY store if you are not sure.
The adhesive is applied to the wall using a serrated trowel or spreader and should not be more than 4mm thick.
Use a serrated trowel to apply the adhesive no more than 4mm thick.
If using a flat-bed tile cutter, position the tile with the glazed surface facing upwards on the tile cutter with the scoring mechanism in line with the marks on the edges of the tile. Push the lever forward to score the tile and then push the lever down to break the tile evenly along the scored line.
With a flat-bed tile cutter, position the tile with the glazed surface facing upwards and the scoring mechanism in line with the marks on the edges of the tile.
Once all the cut tiles have been applied to the wall, leave for at least 12 hours to allow the tile adhesive to go hard. Before grouting ensure there are no raised bits of adhesive along the joints and that none of the plastic spacers are protruding above the surface of the tile. If they are they, remove them with a blade or narrow bladed screwdriver.
Fixing tiles to walls that meet at an internal corner will generally involve cutting the tiles.
Always try to start fitting tiles to an external corner using whole tiles as opposed to cut tiles, although this will probably not be possible with a window recess. There are two ways of joining tiles at a corner of this type. The first is achieved by simply using an overlapping butt joint.
The other method involves using plastic corner trim where the tiles from two walls meet. Plastic corner trim offers protection to the external corners and provides a neat, rounded edge.
An overlapping butt joint.
Using plastic corner trim.
Use a tile saw to cut the tile along the longest line to the point where the guidelines meet.
Fix tiles to the bottom of the recess starting with a whole tile at the outer edge and work towards the window frame.
Until the adhesive dries, wedge lengths of wooden batten vertically in the window recess.
To cut tiles in a curved line, you firstly need to make a template of the curved obstruction.
You may find it necessary at some point to fix something onto a tiled wall. For example, you might want a soap dish in your bathroom, a mirror, or some kitchen accessories fitted.
It is a good idea to make fixings in tiled walls by drilling into the grout lines wherever possible. However, this may not always be practical.
When drilling into walls, always ensure there is no wiring behind the plaster. Use a cable and pipe detector to do this.
When drilling through tiles, a lot of dust is created which can stain the grouting therefore it is necessary to clear up the dust before it can settle. Making a simple cardboard tray and taping it to the wall under the hole you are drilling is an effective way of catching the dust.
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