How to Hang Tiles

Hanging tiles is not too difficult, but you need to work to a master plan — work out exactly how to position the tiles before you start, otherwise you could end up with a tile cut in an awkward position — or a mismatched pattern. 

Before you start

Make sure you have all the necessary tools to cut and fix your tiles, and ensure walls are smooth, clean and dry. 

Hanging Tiles

1. Tiles are hung from the bottom of the wall working upwards, so first establish a perfectly horizontal base. Measure one tile depth up from the floor, skirting (baseboard) or worktop. Attach a temporary batten to the wall with long nails, using a spirit level to check it is horizontal and aligned to your measured point. Fix a vertical batten in a similar way, so its inner edge marks the edge of the last whole tile. If your design has a mid-point, mark the centre and measure out from this.

2. Apply tile adhesive to the wall with a serrated spreader. Cover only about a metre or yard at a time, and keep the container covered, as the adhesive can go off fairly quickly.

3. Press the first row of tiles firmly into place, inserting spacers between each tile. Work up the wall, and when you reach an obstacle such as a window, carry on fixing the whole tiles, leaving tile cutting until later. Keep checking that the tiles line up in both directions and that any pattern matches.

4. Once all the whole tiles are fixed, remove the It battens. You are now ready to hang the cut tiles round the edges. You may have to put adhesive on the backs of these part-tiles, rather than on the wall.

5. Once the tiling is done and the adhesive is dry (allow at least 12 hours), remove the spacers. Mix the grout to a creamy paste with water and press it into the joints with a sponge or small spreader. Remove the excess with a clean, damp sponge and, for a professional finish, draw a small round-ended stick — an ice-lolly stick is ideal — to compress and finish the joints. Polish the tiles with a clean, dry cloth. 

Cutting tiles

Cutting straight edges

Measure where the tile is to be cut and mark on the glazed side with a felt-tip pen. Score the glazed surface firmly. Place a matchstick beneath the scored line. Press the tile down firmly either side and it should snap cleanly.


tiling - cutting curvesCutting curves

To cut a curved or angular shape, score the shape in the same way, then nibble away the excess with pincers or tile nibblers. You can also use a tile saw. Smooth rough edges with coarse sandpaper or carborundum stone.


Tools for cutting tiles

• felt-tip pen (use only on the glazed face)

• tile scorer

• pincers or nibblers

• tile saw

• coarse sandpaper or carborundum stone


Tools for fixing tiles

• battens

• tape measure

• spirit level

• pencil

• hammer and long masonry nails

• adhesive and notched spreader

• sponge and clean cloth

• tile spacers or matchsticks

• grout and spreader tiling tricky areas


Tiling Tricky Areas

tiling external cornersExternal corners

Ideally, use tiles with glazed edges, so that there is no raw edge facing out. Alternatively use a trim strip (see diagram) and ensure the tiles align on either side.


tiling internal corners


Internal corners

Overlap one tile over the other in the least noticeable way and ensure any pattern matches.



tiling window recessesWindow recesses

Tile the underside of the recess last and tape the tiles in position until the adhesive has fully dried.



Tips of the trade

• Try to avoid having to cut pieces of tile less than a quarter of the tile width.

• If planning your tile layout on a squared grid, use a tracing-paper overlay to see where tiled edges will fall best — more convenient than having to keep marking and erasing alternatives.

Another option is to take a photograph of the area to be tiled (beware of distorted parallels in a large area) and then use an acetate or tracing-paper overlay to help judge the best layout.

• Especially when using plain or marbled tiles, open the boxes and ‘shuffle the pack’ to mix the tiles before hanging. This way any colour variations in the glaze will not be immediately obvious.

• You can use floor tiles on walls, although they are likely to be heavier and more expensive, but don’t use wall tiles on floors because they are not strong enough.

• For tiled worktops use a blockboard, chipboard or plywood base. Kitchen worktops will need edging first — a wood trim is a good choice. In the bathroom, where tiles will generally run to the edge of the counter, finish with a plastic tile-edging trim.

• To drill through a tile already in position on the wall, criss-cross masking tape across the surface before you start. This will stop the drill slipping and, when you peel away the tape afterwards, the small pieces of drilled tile should come away with it.

13. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Decorating, Interior Design, Tiling | Tags: , , | Comments Off on How to Hang Tiles


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