How To Fit Wall Tiles


Fitting wall tiles needn't be left to the professionals - even a complete novice can do the job successfully.

Spirit level
Tape measure
Felt tip pen
Tile saw
Waterproof adhesive
Squeegee (grout spreader)
Tile cutting jig
Timber battens (50x25mm approx)
Masonry nails
Plumb line
Tile spacers
Dry cloth


From £4 per sq metre for plain white tiles, plus around £5 for a one litre tub of adhesive.


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Plot Out The Tiling

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.

Fix The Batten To The Wall

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.

Put The Adhesive On The Wall

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.

Start Tiling

Step Four: Start Tiling

Start to tile, pressing the tiles gently onto the wall until you see adhesive squeeze out around the sides.

Use Spacers For A Neat Job

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.

Cut The Tiles To Fit The Space

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.

Cut Tiles Around Awkward Shapes

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.

  • Plan the position of the tiles so that the tops of the last row of tiles under any window will be exactly flush with the ledge. You may find you will have to cut the bottom row of tiles.
  • To prepare the walls, repair any large holes with plaster filler and brush on a coat of plaster stabilising solution if the surface is powdery.
  • Old tiles can be tiled over if they are sound - just arrange the new joint lines so they don't line up with the old tiles.
  • When taking off thin strips from the edge of a tile, score the 'waste' surface and use pincers or tile nibblers to trim. Always wear safety glasses or goggles.
  • If you need to cut a curve, to fit around the side of a basin for example, make a card template the same size as the tile. Make cuts at around 10mm spacing along the curve edge and press the template into position.
  • Trim the 10mm strips to fit exactly around the curve and transfer this shape to the tile. Remember to leave at least 2mm for grouting.

Illustrations: Ed Roberts


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