Tiling a Wall

In this guide, we will discuss the procedures surrounding the applying of tiles onto a wall. Hopefully, you’ve already taken a look at our handy surface preparation guide beforehand, ensuring that you’re starting on the front foot. Should you require a professional to handle the job for you, we have a list of tilers that are recommended by us, available at request.

Suitable safety precautions should be followed:

  • Take reasonable care of your own safety

  • Comply with all instructions on the packaging

  • Use hand tools carefully and according to instructions

  • Safety footwear should be worn

  • Overalls, dust mask or respirator should be worn to reduce risks

  • Protective eye equipment should also be used

Pink, purple and lilac tiles with white cabinets

Priming the Wall

Hopefully you’ve taken a look at our surface preparation guide in order to ensure that you’re working off of the best possible surface. It is crucial to follow through on these procedures before applying tiles, to avoid complications further down the line. An uneven surface can result in the tiles becoming unbalanced, and can drastically reduce their appeal.

Applying Adhesive

Once you’ve selected a suitable adhesive, for the material of the tile you are laying, as well as the wall it is being attached to, it can begin to be mixed. We recommend using a power drill and a bucket to mix the Adhesive, or a suitable mechanical mixer. Each adhesive should have its own instructions on the back of the mixture, which should direct you in this, to allow for the correct mix to be made.

Green tiles in a kitchen paired with white metro

Layout lines should be drawn on the wall to allow for a marking reference. This will allow the application to be evenly spaced, as well as keeping the tiles square to the wall. The working time of the adhesive used should be taken into consideration when applying it, as well as how familiar you are with laying tiles. If unfamiliar, or using a large tile, consider starting with smaller amounts. Accurate measurements are essential for ensuring that your tiles will fit, and it is worth double and even triple checking before starting to apply adhesive.

When using larger tiles, or thicker tiles, you may require the aid of a support tool. A simple timber baton can be adequate for this, as long as it is correctly placed on the wall, prior to the application of the tiles. Once application has begun, use a trowel to apply adhesive on to the wall. You can then use the trowel to spread the adhesive within your grid lines. Applying pressure on the trowel and the amount of Adhesive used, will allow you to adapt the thickness of the adhesive to your requirements.

Applying Tiles

Now that Adhesive has been applied, you can begin to set your tiles. It is worth considering back-buttering your tile (Applying adhesive to the tile) before placing, if the tile requires it. Some larger tiles may require this, to help prevent void areas on the back of the tiles, ensuring 100% coverage.

At this stage, you should also ensure that the tiles are correctly supported. If you are unsure, it is always wise to reinforce the support further, to ensure that the wall will hold the weight until the tiles are completely set.

  • When placing the tile, ensure that there are no air bubbles when placing it
  • Check that the placed tile is level by using a spirit level diagonally
  • Tiles can be pressed into place using a rubber hammer, if they are higher than other tiles
  • Should the tile be lower than the other tiles, it should be lifted and more adhesive should be applied to ensure a level surface
  • Claw hammers can be used to remove any wood that is being used to guide the tile
  • It is essential to allow the adhesive a lengthy time to set. This will vary depending on the adhesive used, how it was mixed, as well as the conditions of the room.
  • Once the first tile has been placed, the second tile should be placed right next to the adjacent tile.
  • Tile spacers should be used and placed between two tiles to create an even space.
  • Tiles may need to be cut in order to fit the dimensions of the wall. This can be measured by placing it against the wall and marking the back of the tile where the cut will be required.
  • It is important to use a proper tile cutter when preforming this, as shards of tiles can be razer sharp and can cause injury, if the incorrect tile is used.

Marble effect tiles, modern furniture and haphazardly placed Art work

Applying Grout

Following the placement of the tiles, grout must be applied. Before grout can be applied, it is essential to wait for the adhesive to set, up to 24 hours depending on the adhesive used. Using rapid set with good conditions, it is possible to apply grout after only 4 or 5 hours. If unsure, it is always best to wait the full 24 hours.

There are multiple grouts available, all in different colours, so you should ensure that you have the right grout for the right job.

    • You should choose a colour that matches your tile if you wish to have a continuous appearance. If you are a beginner at tiling, a similar grout colour can help reduce how noticeable imperfections are.
    • Alternatively, choosing a contrasting colour, if you want individual tiles to stand out. You can also take into consideration the location of the wall. White grout on a hallway may quickly become more difficult to keep, versus darker grouts.
    • Mix your grout in a bucket, until it is at the right consistency. Most grout will have a different open time, and it is important to only mix as much grout as you will be able to apply in this time. Mixing too much may result in the grout hardening before it can be applied.
    • It is best to begin the process in a corner that is furthest away from the door. This will provide an escape route once the process is completed.
    • A grout float can then be used, at a 45 degree angle, to press grout into joints. It is important not to use the grout tool parallel to the lines, as it can cause the grout to be gouged out. It may be worth starting with a small area, as it will allow you to see the colour of the grout.
    • If it’s your first time grouting, this can save you the hassle of grouting the entire wall, only to discover that the colour does not match your expectations. This can be achieved by using a sponge to wipe any excess grout and then using a hair dryer, to quickly dry the grout in the joint, to allow you to gauge the colour of the finished product. If this is the correct colour, you can then go ahead and complete the process by tiling the rest of the room.
    • A sealer can then be used, such as the Grout & Tile Sealer.This will then protect the grout. This can take up to an hour to properly dry. Grout can then be maintained over time by using a proper cleaning product. We recommend using the Surface First Grout Guard. This will protect your Grout, maintaining its look over time. If reapplying the Grout Guard, we recommend using Surface First Grout Cleaner, before reapplying the Grout Guard, to ensure the best results.