Tiling Technique

Applying adhesive

Adhesive should be applied to the surface to be covered rather than to the individual tiles, as this provides even adhesion. Spread adhesive to a thickness of about 3mm and cover only lm2 at a time.

The serrated edge of the spreader forms ridges which give good suction and adhesion. Press down firmly, so that the teeth of the spreader are in contact with the wall surface.


Start tiling at the left-hand intersection of the batten and vertical line. Begin with the bottom row and work upwards.

Tiles should be pressed firmly into place. Never slide a tile into position as this weakens adhesion. Any adhesive left on the tile surface can be wiped off before it dries. Tiles tend to ‘creep’, so verticals should be checked frequently.

Constantly check that horizontal lines are also accurate and that tiles are firmly bedded and not proud of the adjacent tile surfaces. Omit, at this stage, tiling where obstructions, such as sinks and window reveals, require the cutting in of individual tiles.

Where difficult areas have to be tiled or part tiles are used, the backs of these can be individually ‘buttered’ with adhesive, spread to a depth of about 3mm, using a small trowel.

Allow several hours for the tiles to set, then remove the batten and fill the remaining spaces with tiles cut to fit, individually ‘buttering’ the backs.

Fixed objects and reveals

When tiling round a bath or hand basin, there may be less than a full tile above these items. First tile alongside the bath or basin and omit the tiling above the units. Fix a batten above the unit to correspond with the line of the tiles on either side and tile on to the batten, which should be horizontally accurate. Once the tiles have set, remove this batten and fill in below with cut tiles.

A similar technique is used in tiling round door or window angles. RE tiles should be used on the reveal side of window and door openings-not on the face side of the wall. Tiles on the inside top of reveals should be kept in place by a long section of batten, propped up by vertical pieces of timber.

Bathroom accessories, such as soap dishes, are fixed in the same way as tiles. During general tiling, fix an ordinary tile loosely in the place of the soap dish.

When tiling is completed, remove the loose tile, apply a 3mm-thick layer of adhesive to the back of the accessory and press it firmly into place. While the adhesive is setting, support the accessory with adhesive tape.

Cutting tiles

A felt-tipped pen is useful for marking the line of a cut on a tile. To make a straight cut, draw a tile cutter tip firmly across the glazed face of the tile surface. There is no need to do more than just score the glaze.

Place a small piece of wood, such as a matchstick, under the tile, and with the glazed side upwards, exert downward thumb pressure on both corners. The tile should snap evenly along the scored line. Very narrow cuts may have to be ‘nibbled’ away with pincers.

On a shaped cut, mark the area to be cut away and use the pincers to nibble away small sections of tile at a time. Even with care, this may lead to some false starts. For very difficult cuts, it is a good idea to cross-hatch, or score, the glazed surface of the portion to be cut away. A carborundum block or file can be used to trim up and smooth rough edges, once cut.

A round hole can be made at the edge of a tile. Place a coin on the tile and score round its outside. Next, cross-hatch a series of score marks inside the circle then carefully nibble away with pincers.

Using a slow speed, holes can be drilled in tiles with a masonry bit. The back of the tile should be firmly supported, or it may break.

An alternative to drilling a large hole with a radius hole cutter is, after marking the position of the hole, to cut the tile in half, and use pincers carefully to trim out two semi-circles. When assembled again, the join between the two pieces will scarcely show.


Grouting should be left until the tiles are firmly set-for at least 12 hours. Using a sponge or squeegee, rub the grout firmly into the tile joints. Remove any surplus grout with a damp sponge. Once the grout has dried, rub off any powder on the tile surface with a duster and run a pointed, slightly rounded stick between the joints to give a neat joint line. Finally, polish the tile surface with a clean, dry cloth.


Mosaic tile sheets – roughly covering the area of five 108mm – tiles are applied in a similar way to single tiles. Tile sheets can be regarded as a single large tile.

Check, as usual, accurate horizontal and vertical alignment and work as close as possible with each panel to the edge of the tiling surface. The backing scrim, to which the tiles are fixed, can be easily cut through with a handyman’s knife; individual tiles can be detached and cut to fit.

In setting out the panels, try to avoid awkward cuts. The small size of the individual tiles will help to achieve this. The panels are simply placed on to the adhesive -and not slid into position-in the same way as a standard tile, and pressed down firmly.

The tiles are grouted similarly to standard tiles, once the adhesive has dried thoroughly. A white, plastic edge strip can be used for finishing.

An interesting application for mosaic tiles is the making of pictures or designs, by removing tiles of various colours from their backing. Unless the motif is very simple, it is best to draw the picture or design on to graph paper first, to provide an accurate design to work to.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tiling Technique


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