Tiling and Cladding Your Interior Walls

A variety of hard materials can be used to cover walls and other built-in surfaces. Many of these improve insulation and most are easy to maintain as well as being highly decorative.


Ceramic Tiles

The most popular form of hard wallcovering, ceramic tiles are available today in a huge range of colours, patterns, finishes and sizes, from expensive handmade originals to mass-produced types. Cost varies accordingly.

tiling and cladding

Tiles are generally glazed, but unglazed and textured varieties are available, too. Most tiles have squared or bevelled edges, but you can buy them with one or two rounded sides for use as edging; also, special coping tiles are made for covering joints (for example, around a bathtub). Some tiles incorporate spacing lugs (pegs) to ensure the joint lines between all the tiles are uniform in thickness.

Tiles are ideal for bathrooms or kitchens, or wherever surfaces need to be wiped down regularly. All tiles are fixed with ceramic tile adhesive and are easy to hang. But, although they have tremendous practical advantages, there is no reason why tiles should look utilitarian, or be used purely for utilitarian purposes.

Manufacturers produce tiles as an element of an entire decorative range, so that you can coordinate their motifs with curtain fabrics and/or wallpaper, or simply achieve a precise colour match.

Plain tiled walls can be enlivened by a contrasting or patterned border, by cheerful coloured grouting, or by insetting occasional handmade or antique tiles. Simple patterns can be created by alternating colours or by laying tiles in a diagonal or herringbone design.



Mirror tiles and sheets of mirror are both effective ways of maximizing light and space in a small area such as a bathroom. Mirror tiles are cheaper and easier to install than sheets of mirror. Both require a flat surface; a large expanse of mirror may need to be mounted professionally. And both need to be kept clean to look their best.


Tiling Details

Tiling a Recess

To tile a window recess or a ledge around a bathtub, lay the tiles on the horizontal surface first before you tile the sides and top. Plan the tiling so that the cut tiles are at the rear and the whole tiles are at the front. Use tiles with glazed edges for a border.


Grouting Effects

You can make a feature of grouting by adding dye either to grout powder or to ready-mixed grout. To change the colour of existing grouting, make sure the lines are clean and dry and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Cutting a Hole in a Tile

To accommodate a pipe or similar obstacle, first measure the hole and make a pattern, or template, out of thick cardboard. Use this pattern to score the circle on the tile, and then score a straight line to bisect it. Snap the tile in half and cut out each semicircle with a tile saw or tile cutters.


Fixing Sheets of Mosaic

Tiny squares of mosaic or mirror tiles are available in sheet form, with a paper backing. These are easy to fix — each tile comes with its own pad of adhesive already applied and grouting is not required. You must ensure, however, that the wall surface is even and flat. If necessary, the wall should be lined with a 1cm/1/2in-thick sheet of plywood or chipboard (particleboard) screwed in the right position.



Wood Panelling

This is a traditional way of adding richness and warmth to a room. Today the most common type is tongue-and-groove panelling, mounted on battens (furring strips). As well as its textural qualities, wood is a good insulator and is long-lasting, but it is not a cheap way of covering a wall. However, panelling can be very effective in limited applications — for example, up to half-height as a dado (wainscot), or to cover the side of a bath. It can also be varnished, stained or painted.

A less expensive way of achieving a similar effect can be gained by using manufactured boards, such as plywood, blockboard or hardboard (masonite) faced with veneer. Cork, too, can be used as a wall covering, although it does not wear as well as wood. Available in rolls or tiles, it can be protected by coating with polyurethane varnish. Some cork tiles are supplied with a protective coating already applied to their surface for greater durability.

The most popular form of wood panelling is tongue-and-groove, which is usually fixed to battens (furring strips) nailed to the wall. Boards can be laid horizontally or vertically, depending on the look you want to create. Note that you can never panel over damp walls.

Store the boards for a few days in the room where they will be used to allow their moisture content to adjust. Boards not left to adjust properly could shrink and pull apart after fitting. Panelling should be stopped slightly short of the ceiling to allow airflow and expansion.


Fixing Methods

There are three basic ways of fixing boards to battens (furring strips). The simplest is face-nailing, where nails are driven through the face of the board. The nail head can be sunk with a nail punch and the hole filled, or it can be left flush with the surface.

Secret-nailing takes longer but the result is invisible. The nail is hammered diagonally through the tongue of the board and is covered when the groove of the next board slots into place.

wood pannelling

There are also special metal clips which can be used to fix boards. These fit onto the groove of a board and are nailed to the batten.

To fix the first board, you will need a starting clip. Nail this into the corner and then cut off the groove of the first board and slide the end onto the spikes of the clip.

1. Battens should run at right angles to the direction of the boards. They should be fixed directly to the wall using masonry nails or screws and wall plugs, spacing the battens by about 0.5m/20in. The new panelling can then be nailed on, with a new skirting board (baseboard) fitted at the bottom.

2. The method of fixing shown here is secret-nailing. Start by butting a groove end into the corner. Then nail at an angle through the tongue. Tap the groove of the next board over the tongue, protecting with an offcut if necessary.

3. For internal or external corners, the tongued edge of the last board is cut off to butt against or overlap the grooved end of the next board. For a professional look, the corner can be finished off with a decorative moulding to hide the nails.

4. Remove architraves or window frames and add battens around the opening, leaving a margin so that a strip of moulding can be applied to cover the battens and the edge of the end board to finish.

Light switches can be framed in the same way. Alternatively, employ an electrician to bring them out flush with the panelling by putting packing behind the plate covering. Do not attempt this yourself.

03. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Decorating, Tiling | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Tiling and Cladding Your Interior Walls


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: