Tiling: Buying Tiles and Adhesives
Tiles are usually sold in packs or boxes, but the number in a pack can vary enormously and buying in multiples of 50 could be wasteful if you are only tiling a small area. Most retailers will split packs for you, but first you need to know how many tiles you want.
If you have not planned your tile design using a scale drawing, you will need to calculate the area to be covered. For an unbroken expanse, simply multiply the height (A) by the width (B). To allow for doors, windows, radiators and so on, multiply the height (A) and width (B) of each feature, add the totals and subtract from the total wall area. This will give you the area to be tiled. To work out the number of tiles, divide the area to be tiled by the area of each tile. Always add a few extras to allow for wastage with cutting and any breakages.
Unless you are using ‘universal’ tiles , border tiles are the conventional way of finishing off half-tiling. Borders can be chosen to coordinate with the main tiling or to contrast with it and there are some highly decorative deep-profile tiles available. Check that the border tiles are compatible in width with the main tiles and that the colours and glazes work together.
Adhesives, grouts and sealants
Use specially formulated tile, and choose a waterproof type for wet areas. Grout, for filling the joints between tiles, is sold either as a powder or ready-mixed (which is more expensive). It comes in white and a limited range of colours, or you can colour it yourself to match your scheme. Waterproof grout is preferable, and should always be used on tiled worktops and tabletops, to provide a hygienic and impervious finish. Where tiling abuts baths, basins or shower trays you will need silicone sealant to waterproof the joint.
Tiles must be fixed to a dry, flat surface. Re-plaster any badly damaged areas and fill small holes and cracks with proprietary. To tile an uneven area it may be better to hang the tiles on or rather than directly on the wall. You can either fix the board to the wall with battens and then tile it, or tile the board while it is horizontal and then fix it up with impact .
Tiles can be fixed on top of previous tiling, as long as the original tiles are firmly stuck. Use a moulded tile with quite a deep profile, or a wooden trim, to hide any visible joins between the two sets of tiles.
Wear heavy-duty gloves and goggles to cut or drill tiles — the glaze can be as sharp as a shard of glass.
The best size of tile to use depends on the area to be covered. Larger tiles obviously work better for large expanses of wall, whereas smaller tiles work well in small rooms — such as bathrooms — where the tiles have to coordinate with fittings. Small tiles make for easier cutting and shaping around awkward areas such as built-in fixtures, recesses and window rebates.
Another consideration is the effect that different sizes of tile will create in the room. Smaller tiles create a busier look, rectangular tiles are good for creating interesting herringbone and other traditional brickwork patterns, and there are other shapes that interlock for special decorative effects.