How to Tile Walls

Developments in the improved manufacture of modern tiling materials make it possible, for the handyman with average ability to tackle the work of tiling walls of bathrooms, lavatories, kitchens, etc. Either full walls, half walls or sections of walls surrounding wash-basins, sinks, stoves and baths. The method of hanging tiles with a mixture of sand and cement has now been superseded by the use of a mastic tiling adhesive which may be used for hanging ceramic tiles. In addition to ceramic tiles, walls may be hung with plastic tiles or with sheets of tiling material which resemble linoleum.

The surface of the wall which is to be tiled should be thoroughly cleaned. Use a wire brush first to remove all scaly or loose and flaking paint and distemper, then wash the surface with a sugar soap to remove all traces of dirt and grease. Papered walls should be scraped down to the bare plaster. Any holes or cracks should be neatly filled with a patent powder-filler and the entire surface lightly rubbed down with grade middle-two glass-paper. Plastic tiles are secured to the surface with an adhesive, the composition of which may vary according to the different manufacturers of tiles, and the adhesive should always be applied according to the container instructions. With most types of plastic tiles the adhesive is smeared on the back of the tile, which is then placed in position on the wall surface and slid into the correct position. A final pat with the open hand ensures cohesion.

tiling walls - types of jointsPlastic tiles may be cut with a lino-knife or with a fine-toothed saw. The patterns of the tiles may be varied to suit the individual and they may be hung with flush joints as shown in right in Image (a), or with staggered joints, as shown in Image (b). The inexperienced handyman will find the second method best for neat tiling, and every alternate row should be commenced with a half tile.

The first row of tiles is hung at the bottom of the wall with the lower edge of each tile resting on the skirting-board. Before laying this first row the measurement between the floor-boards and the top of the skirting should be checked at each end of the wall to ensure that there is no great difference between the ends. If there is a difference in these dimensions the base of the first row of tiles should he trimmed accordingly. Special border tiles may be obtained for finishing top edges and an edge tile with rounded corners is used for the edges and tops of splash-backs and at corners of window-sills. Plastic tiles should be warmed before hanging them to increase their pliability.

The surfaces for ceramic tiles are prepared in the same way as for plastic tiles and a guide-line should be marked on the wall at an appropriate distance over the ail of the skirting-board to the top edge of the first row of tiles. The distance of each end from the floor to the measure mark should be checked to ensure that there are no irregularities in the skirting. The guide-line is marked with a ‘snapline’.

This ‘snapline’ simply consists of a length of thin, strong cord which is coated with chalk of a colour to contrast with the wall surface. Each end of the string is held against one of the measure marks; the centre of the line is plucked from the wall surface, and allowed to snap back, when it will mark a clean line.

Ceramic tiles may be cut with a glazier’s cutter in the same way as cutting glass, or with a hacksaw. The position of the cut should be marked on the face of the tile in pencil, and the pencil line scratched with a glazier’s cutter or hacksaw blade. The tile should then be rested on a firm table with the line of cut over the edge of the table, and the unsupported part of the tile sharply rapped with the clenched fist. Any small adjustments and special shapes such as for fitting round taps can be made by nibbling the edge of the tile with a pair of pliers.


The mastic adhesive for hanging ceramic tiles is obtainable from local builders’ merchants who supply the tiles. The adhesive is spread on the wall surface and not on the back of the tiles, with a trowel that has a toothed edge. A suitable spreader can be made from a thin piece of sheet metal or plastic by cutting the edges with a triangular file to produce a series of teeth. The serrated edge of the tool ensures that the tile adhesive is spread evenly on the wall surface. Only a small section of the wall should be coated at one time with the adhesive. The tiles are placed in position, and lightly but firmly patted with the hand to secure them to the wall. The top edges and projecting corners may be finished with border tiles.

07. July 2011 by admin
Categories: Internal Repairs, Tiling, Walls | Tags: , | Comments Off on How to Tile Walls


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