Tiling a Wall

For any large area of tiling — a whole wall or perhaps even a complete room such as a utility area or bathroom — the preliminary setting-out is by far the most important part of the whole project; any errors will spoil the overall effect of the riling.

You must first plan precisely where the whole riles will ball. It is best to use a device called a tiling gauge to work this. Use the gauge to ensure that the tiles will be centred accurately on major features such as window reveals, with a border of cut tiles of equal width at the end of each row or column of tiles.

With a large area of tiling, main factors are vital. First, the rile rows must be exactly horizontal; if they are not, errors will accumulate as the riles extend across the wall, throwing the verticals out of alignment. Second, the tiles need some means of support while the adhesive sets; without it, they may slump down the wall.

The solution is to fix a line of battens across the wall just above the level of the skirtings (baseboards), securing them with partly driven masonry nails so that you can remove them later. The precise level will he dictated by setting out with the tiling gauge, but will usually be about three-quarters of a tile width above the skirtings. Do not rely on this being level; it may not be. Draw out the line in pencil first, using a spirit level, and then pin the battens up and check the level again. Use vertical battens as necessary — next to a door architrave (trim) that is not truly straight, for example – to ensure vertical alignment.

Once all the necessary setting-outwork has been done, the actual technique of fixing tiles to walls is quite simple: spread the adhesive evenly and press the tiles into place. Apply enough adhesive to fix 10 or 12 tiles at a rinse. When all the whole riles are in place

Fixing Whole Tiles

When tiling a large area, pin vertical and horizontal guide battens (furring strips) to the wall to help keep the tile columns truly square and aligned.

1. Use a pencil-type cutter and a straightedge to make a straight cut. Measure and mark the tile width needed and score a line across the glaze.

2. Use a notched spreader to scoop some adhesive from the tub and spread it on the wall. Press the teeth against the wall to leave ridges of even height.

3. Place the first rile on the tile support, with its side edge against the pencilled guideline or vertical guide batten (furring strip) as appropriate.

4. Add a tile spacer against the tile corner and paste ion the second tile. Add more tiles to complete the row, and then build up succeeding rows in the same way.

Place a nail or matchstick (wooden match) tinder the scored line at each side of the rile, and break it with downward hand pressure on each half or the tile.

You will need to tackle any cur riles::attired at the ends of rows, and along the base of the tiled area beneath the horizontal tile support. Remove this and the tile spacers, only when the adhesive has set; allow 24 hours. The final stage is to fill in the joint lines with grout. This can be bought in powder form or ready-mixed. Use a flexible spreader (usually supplied with the grout) to apply it.

Most ceramic wall tiles have 2 glazed edges, making it possible to finish off an area of tiling or an external corner withal glazed edge exposed. Alternatively,

Finish off tiling by edging it with wooden mouldings or plastic trims bedded into the adhesive.


1 Measure, mark and cut the sections of tile needed to complete each row. Spread adhesive on them and press into place. When tiling adjacent walls, place all the cut pieces on the first wall. Repeat in the second wall, overlapping the cut pieces.

2 When tiling external corners, always set out the riles so that whole tiles meet on the corner. Overlap the tiles as shown.


1. Apply the grout to the joins by drawing the loaded spreader across them at right-angles to the join lines. Scrape off any excess grout and re-use it. Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe the surface of the tiles before the grout dries out.

2. Use a short length of wooden dowel or a similar implement to smooth the grout lines to a gently concave cross-section. Allow the grout to harden completely, and then polish the tiles with a dry cloth to remove any slight remaining bloom and to leave them clean and shiny.

3. Use a cutting guide or a tile-cutting jig if you prefer, especially for cutting narrow strips. This type holds the tile securely and also guides the rile cutter accurately.

4. The traditional way of making a cut-out in a tile is to score its outline and then gradually to nibble away the waste material with pincers.

5. An alternative is to use a special abrasive-coated tile saw. This is indispensable for making internal cut-outs — to fir around pipes.