Ceramic tiles are a versatile and durable cladding material. Tiles can be used for floors or walls and are suitable for any space, but are especially useful in the bathroom and kitchen. The tiled wall is moisture resistant and abrasion resistant compared to drywall and other materials. Therefore, tiles are ideal for wet bathrooms and kitchens, where they will be exposed to splashes of cooking food. Learning to lay out the walls with tiles is quite an achievable task for any average owner. The process requires few tools and materials.
Step 1. Prepare the wall for tiling
Begin to prepare the wall by removing all outlet and switch housings. Roughen the surface by sanding it with coarse-grained sandpaper; this will help improve adhesion when laying tiles. Use a damp cloth to wipe off any dust left after stripping.
Step 2. Examine the pattern on the tiles
Look at the wall and imagine what the tiles will look like on it. The whole tiles should be laid in the most visible places. The cut tiles will be less noticeable if you hide them behind a door, refrigerator, dressing table, or behind a curtain.
Step 3 Using a level, draw a line around the perimeter of the room
Measure from this line to the ceiling and floor, and from the line to a bathtub, dresser, or other obstruction to see if the top or bottom tiles are so thin that they cannot be cut off properly. Raise or lower the line as needed. Never rely on a bathtub or dressing table (or ceiling) to be perfectly level. The last thing you need is a whole tile on the left edge and a gap to be filled with a piece of tile on the right. Create a 1 x 2 laying template (use a ruler). Place the tiles on the floor and mark the laying template with a pencil at the joints between the tiles. Use the template to see how the tiles will be placed on the wall.
Step 4 Using the chalked cord, draw a vertical line in the center of the wall
Again, if the tiles on either edge are too thin to fit, adjust the position of this line. Remember that the angle between the walls is not perfectly vertical, so measure, measure, and measure again. You can erase the line and start over. Use the template to see how the tiles are placed vertically on the wall. Look at the placement of the tiles and determine if you need to make any adjustments. Now is the best time to adjust the placement of the tiles: tearing the tiles off a partially laid wall is a painstaking and unproductive job.
Step 5. Apply mastic or tile adhesive to the wall
Ceramic tiles can be glued to the wall using 2 tools: tile mastic or adhesive mortar. The styling process is the same for both products. Using a V-notched trowel (sometimes called a "tile trowel"), spread a little mortar over the wall, covering an area large enough to lay about 8 tiles.
- Hold the notched trowel at a low angle to the wall so that the teeth on one of its long sides will groove in the mortar. Apply the solution in a sweeping motion.
- It is best to start applying the mortar along the edge of the wall (for example, in the area where the backsplash of the tile will be in contact with the kitchen counter). Tiling along this straight line will create an even pattern.
Step 6. Install ceramic tiles
To install the first tile, align its edges with the edge of the wall. After making sure it sits flat, press it into the solution. Installing subsequent tiles will be easier if you use tile spacers - small plastic crosses that fit into the corners of the tiles and provide even gaps at all seams.
- Continue laying the tiles, aligning them in a line and pressing firmly into the mortar. Once you reach the edges of the area where you applied the grout, repeat the process of applying the same area of grout and glue 8 more tiles. This will prevent the mortar from setting too quickly.
- Lay each tile in this way until you reach the other edge of the wall. You will most likely need to cut the last tile to fit the other edge.
Step 7. Cut the tiles to be cut to match the pattern
The last row of tiles in both directions will most likely need to be cut off. Start by attaching a full-size tile to the area you want to lay it on and mark with a pencil the line you want to cut it off. The most economical way to cut tiles in a straight line is with a breakaway tile cutter. Run the cutter wheel vigorously along the pencil line and break off the tile along the scratch.
- Many home improvement stores have a tool rental program that allows you to borrow a tile cutter for the day. For larger projects, consider using a tile circular saw. If you are planning a large number of tiling projects, then it will be more profitable for you to buy your own saw.
- If you need to cut any other shape other than a straight line, you will need to use a circular saw that can make partial cuts in the tile. This is useful for rectangular cutouts required when installing tiles on an electrical outlet.
Step 8. Rub the joints between the tiles
Once the grout has hardened after 24 hours of curing, you can fill the joints with grout. For joints narrower than 3 mm, use a low-sand grout. Use a sand grout if the joints are larger. Prepare grout in a clean plastic bucket according to package directions.
Use a rubber scraper to scoop up a small amount of grout from the bucket. Work the scraper along the surface, pushing harder to force grout into all joints. Scraper diagonally to the seams provides the best results
Step 9. After grouting, clean the ceramic tiles
Once all the joints are filled with grout, you can scrape off excess grout from the tile surface. This is done by gently wiping with a wet sponge, which should be rinsed frequently. Working diagonally to the seams will prevent grout from lifting out of the space between the tiles. After about half an hour, the grout will harden and a cloudy film will form on the tiles. Wipe it off with a clean dry cloth.
- In humid conditions, it is better to apply silicone sealant along the tile border.
- If you notice a crust on top of the adhesive or mastic, do not install tiles on top of it. Scrape it off with a paint scraper and apply fresh solution.
- Ceramic tiles can be installed on almost all surfaces, including painted and unfinished drywall. However, for better adhesion, it is worthwhile to install a cement backing under the tiles.