Tiling a Wall

How to tile a wall

All surfaces must be clean, sound and dry.

New plaster should be thoroughly dry before tiling. You should also ensure the background is totally dry. Prime with Acrylic Primer.

Remove any old wall covering, flaking paint, nails or screws and clean the surface. Sound the whole area for evidence of hollowness or lack of complete adhesion in the backing. Fill or repair as necessary and allow to dry thoroughly. Prime with Acrylic Primer.

Tiles can be applied directly onto Cement-Sand rendering without the need for plastering. Ensure that the walls have completely dried out before tiling. Prime with Acrylic Primer.

Plasterboard is suitable for most wall tiling provided it is minimum 12.5 mm thick and well supported. Prime with Acrylic Primer.

Hard gloss paint is usually a satisfactory base for tiling if well bonded, but any flaking paint should be removed and the surface cleaned. Score the surface, fill in old cracks and voids with filler and allow to dry thoroughly. Prime with Acrylic Primer. Emulsion paint can break down after tiling and should be mechanically removed prior to tiling. Then prime with Acrylic Primer.

Ensure the old tiles are thoroughly cleaned & well bonded and then score the surface. Tile in the usual manner but allow adhesive to dry for at least three days before grouting.

Along a length of timber mark the tile widths to help you identify where the tile will start and finish, remembering to leave gaps for the spacers. Set out horizontal position of the tiles so that the same size cuts are made either side of windows etc. Avoid small, difficult cuts. Plan each wall carefully, remembering that any patterns/designs will need to be matched in the corners of the room.

Off you go…

  1. Find the lowest point of the base you are working to (skirting, bath top, work surface etc.) with a spirit level. Place a tile against the lowest point and draw a horizontal line on the wall along the top. Measure from this line to the top and bottom of the wall and ensure that there are no narrow cuts. Consider the position of any border(s). Adjust the line if necessary.
  2. Nail the batten along the wall on this line. Use the spirit level to ensure it is horizontal. The first line of tiles will rest on this batten..
  3. 3. Similarly nail a batten vertically at one end - one tile width away from the edge of the wall or simply mark a vertical line with a level or plumb line..
  4. Spread the wall tile adhesive using a notched trowel. Work in areas of about 1 sq. metre at a time, so that tiles are fixed before the adhesive surface can form a skin. Press and twist the wall tiles into the adhesive, starting at the bottom and working upwards, one row of whole tiles at a time, using spacers (if required) to ensure a uniform joint. Check the horizontal and vertical lines with the spirit level every few rows.
  5. Remove surplus adhesive from tile surfaces and from joints. When the adhesive has set, remove the batten and complete the tiling.
  6. For straight cuts, a combination tile cutting/snapping machine produces the best results.
    - Place the tile, glazed side up in thecutter.
    - Hold the tile firmly and score once only, ensuring a good start and finish.
    - Align the score with the centre of the snapper.
    - Press the handle firmly and the tile should snap along the score.
  7. Use a tile file to remove any rough edges. Curves and odd shapes can be cut with a tile saw and/or nippers. Only nibble small bits of tile at a time.
  8. In awkward locations it is often easier to apply the wall adhesive on to the back of the tile instead of the wall. For complicated shapes use cardboard to make a template and transfer the design to the tile.
  9. On edges and external corners, a neat finish can be achieved by fitting tile trim at the time of tiling. To prevent the seepage of water around baths and basins, a plastic sealing strip and silicone sealant should be used.
  10. In bathrooms, we also recommend the use of silicone seal instead of grout in the corner wall join where the shower is located.

Force the grout into the joints using a grouting float or squeegee. Do not use steel or hard rigid spreaders as these can cause scratching to certain glazes. Remove surplus grout from the surface and ‘peg’ the joints with a rounded stick to achieve an even finish. Polish with a dry cloth. Grout looks dry quite quickly, but needs around 14 days to properly cure. Do not allow grout to become wet until fully cured.

Tiling a Floor

How to tile a floor

Good preparation makes for an easy job, so take your time and plan ahead. So you know where you will finish before you start.

Dry, bare concrete floors are ideal for ceramic tiling and require no priming. New concrete must be at least six weeks old and thoroughly dry. The surface must be smooth, flat and free from dirt and grease. The smoother the concrete the easier the tiling, so use a levelling compound over rough floors if required. Some painted concrete floors can react with tile adhesive and are not normally suitable for tiling.

Existing vinyl tiles must be free of grease, polish etc., and firmly adhered to the subfloor. Prime with Acrylic Primer before tiling.

Existing tiles must be clean, grease free and firmly adhered to the subfloor. When tiling onto glazed tiles, a flexible additive should be used with the adhesive and grout for improved adhesion.

Existing wooden floors must be rigid, stable and capable of supporting additional load without flexing and have sufficient ventilation beneath them. There are two basic methods to follow:-

Wooden floors normally require covering with ‘Dukkaboard’ or ‘No More Ply’ to reduce any risk of movement (ceramic tiles do not bend).
‘Dukkaboard’ 10mm thickness minimum should be fixed staggering joints with a cement-based tile adhesive or using fixing screws with washers.
‘No More Ply’ should be fixed staggering joints using ‘Mega Strength Adhesive’ and then screw down using 25mm ‘No More Ply screws’. 8 screws per sheet is usually sufficient. Then prime with Acrylic Primer and tile as normal, adding Flexible Additive into the adhesive and grout.

Alternatively, special Flexible Floor Adhesive can be used to tile directly onto unsealed floor boards. Grout with Flexible Floor Grout.

NOTE: If there is any doubt about the suitability of tiling onto your floor, you should consult a professional. ‘Floating’ chipboard floors should be examined by a professional to ensure they are suitable for tiling.

Working and drying times vary according to the weather, but the following should give you an idea of what to expect:

Rapid Set floor adhesive has a working time of approximately 30 minutes and can be walked on after about 6 hours.

Normal Set floor adhesive has a working time of approximately 2 hours and can be walked on after about 24 hours.

For other adhesives, refer to the manufacturers instructions.


  1. If possible, remove all fixtures as tiling will raise the floor level.
  2. Mark a chalk line on the floor down the centre of the room, parallel with the most suitable wall (normally this is achieved by viewing the room from the doorway). Before applying the adhesive, lay out a row of tiles in each direction to check the fit and avoid ending up with small cuts.

Floor tiles are generally harder to cut than wall tiles and we suggest you use a professional tile cutter, available for sale or hire from Brooke Ceramics.


  1. Using a notched trowel, spread tile cement to a depth of 4 - 12mm, depending on the tile. Comb the adhesive with a notched trowel ensuring that continuous parallel ribs of adhesive are formed. Do not mix & spread more adhesive than you can fix in 20 minutes.
  2. Fix dry tiles immediately by pressing them into position with a slight sliding or twisting action. When laying floor tiles it is important to ensure that no air spaces are left beneath the tiles.
  3. Use tile spacers to achieve a uniform joint size and help maintain ‘squareness’.
  4. Every 5 or 6 tiles, use a spirit level or straight edge to ensure that all tiles are laid flat. Lift any proud or sunken tiles and add or remove adhesive before the adhesive has started to set.

When the tile adhesive has dried, force grout between the tiles with a grouting float and remove any surface grout. Finally, polish with a clean dry cloth.

A quality ceramic floor should give many years trouble-free service with very little maintenance. Grit is the biggest enemy and a mat well adjacent to external doors is strongly recommended.


How to brickbond

When brick bonding with tiles, it is extremely difficult to achieve a satisfactory finish unless you follow some tips.

Firstly, your walls or floors must be perfectly flat. Brickbondiing will highlight any bumps or dips in your wall and cause tiles to protrude from their neighbours. Likewise, the tiles need to be perfectly flat. Some glazed tiles do actually have a slight bend, usually not noticeable when fixed in the usual, stacked method. To check for flatness, simply put two tiles back to back and see if they rock.

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Tiling on Anhydrite Screeds

Tile on anhydrite screeds

Anhydrite screeds have become more common as they offer benefits over sand and cement screeds. They are relatively easy to lay, low cost, fast-drying, pumpable, self-levelling and offer minimal shrinkage. They are suitable for use with under-floor heating as long as pipes and other elements are covered by 25mm. However tilers must be aware of a number of issues.

  1. When a cement-based adhesive is applied directly onto the floor, cement in the tile adhesive reacts with the gypsum in the screed resulting in a mineral called ettringite being formed at the interface. The associated structural change is sufficient to cause a complete debond of the cementitious adhesive away from the screed base.
  2. As anhydrite cures, a weak layer of laitance is formed on the surface. This layer is too weak to tile onto and also slows the drying time of the screed.
  3. Anhydrite screeds are made from inert fillers such as sand with a binder system based on calcium sulphate. Consequently they can look very similar to a sand and cement screeds. Anhydrite will tend to appear lighter, sometimes almost white, but in practice it is difficult to identify an existing anhydrite screed from a traditional one.

Click the link on the right to avoid common pitfalls.

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