Fitting wall tiles needn't be left to the professionals - even a complete novice can do the job successfully.
Felt tip pen
Squeegee (grout spreader)
Tile cutting jig
Timber battens (50x25mm approx)
From £4 per sq metre for plain white tiles, plus around £5 for a one litre tub of adhesive.
Half a day for a splashback
Step One: Plot Out The Tiling
To help you work out where to place your tiles, make a tiling gauge from a piece of straight wooden batten. Use this to estimate how many tiles you'll need - starting at the top of the skirting board, move the batten up the wall one tile width at a time. If a narrow strip is left at the top, move the bottom row up by half a tile width to give an even finish. Mark out the horizontal rows with pencil - be sure to use a spirit level to ensure they're horizontal.
Step Two: Fix The Batten To The Wall
Tack the batten along first pencil line so that the tiles can be positioned against it. Do the same to identify where to place the vertical lines - start at a corner and use a plumb line to fix the position accurately.
Step Three: Put The Adhesive On The Wall
Spread the adhesive over about half a square metre of the wall, starting in the corner made by the batten and plumb line. Use the notched side of the spreader to form even ribbons of adhesive.
Step Four: Start Tiling
Start to tile, pressing the tiles gently onto the wall until you see adhesive squeeze out around the sides.
Step Five: Use Spacers For A Neat Job
Press spacers into each corner and hold a spirit level across the tiles to see if they form a flat surface. Continue to tile, working on about a square metre at a time until you have fixed all the whole tiles. Leave to dry fully before removing the timber battens and beginning to grout.
Step Six: Cut The Tiles To Fit The Space
Cut the tiles to fit into any gaps. For hard ceramic tiles, the glazed surface must be scored and the tile broken along this line. Tile cutting jigs cost less than £10 and are much easier to use than freehand tile cutters.
Step Seven: Cut Tiles Around Awkward Shapes
Use a saw tile to cut a tile to fit around an awkward shape such as a pipe or architrave.
Illustrations: Ed Roberts
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