Tiling tips

When it comes to trying to save money when redesigning your bathroom, one of the jobs that you can save a significant amount of cash on by doing it yourself is tiling.

While it can sometimes be fiddly and time consuming, it's also generally a rather straightforward task that even those with a basic understanding of DIY can attempt without making a mess of it.

As well as the money-saving incentive to have a go at it instead of hiring a professional, another plus point is the feeling of pride and accomplishment you'll inevitably feel once the job is finally completed. 

In order to make sure your tiling is as painless as possible, here are a few tips to get you on your way.

Getting started

One of the first jobs you need to do actually has nothing to do with tiles. Instead, you need to inspect the quality of the walls you are planning on fitting them to. If the plaster is cracked or uneven, you may need to get the room or area replastered to ensure that when you do start laying tiles down, they will be level and won't end up pulling the plaster further away from the wall.

After this, you need to find out how many tiles you actually need. This can be easily done by measuring the dimensions of the area you are planning to work on and taking them to your local tile supplier, who will work it out for you.

Drawing a diagram for the store assistant could be helpful in explaining this, while you should also bear in mind that you may need extra tiles in case some break or are flawed, or you just end up needing more as a result of miscalculation.

Once you have your tiles, you'll need some adhesive, tile spacers, a trowel, a hammer and some nails to get yourself started.

Laying the first few tiles

While it may seem unnatural if you've never tiled a room before, it's important that you start from the centre of the room instead of going from left to right or top to bottom. This is to give you the best options when cutting your tiles when you reach the corners of the bathroom later on.

In order to ensure you are tiling in a straight line, you should initially use a wooden batten as a guide to help you keep your tiles level. Nail the wood to the wall once you are confident it isn't sloping (using a spirit level, of course) and you can then rest your first line of tiles on top of it.

When it comes to attaching the tiles to the wall, the adhesive should be spread evenly across the wall to form a series of ridges, ensuring your trowel or spreader is at a 45-degree angle when applying it. Once this has been done, stick your tiles to the wall using a twisting motion to help the adhesive bond with them.

Following this, you should place your first spacers accordingly and repeat the process to add your next tile. Even if you are slow at first, the repetitive nature of the job means you will soon be up to speed. 

Once you are confident the adhesive has set, you should remove the batten and continue to tile the rest of the wall. When tiling around a bath, it looks best when you have a full tile, instead of a cutting, at the point where the tiling meets the bath itself, so you should remember this when measuring and plan for it accordingly.

Using a tile cutter

When you reach the corners of your walls, chances are there won't be the space required to fit a full tile without needing to make up at least a little bit of space.

This is when you will have to use a tile cutter or saw to help cover the remaining area.

Firstly, mark the tile where it needs to be cut, before placing it in the cutter with the glazed side facing upwards. Align the tile so the cutting will be square and apply mild pressure to the scriber as you push it away from you to score the tile.

Once the tile has been scored, ensure the breaker bar is in the correct position and push down hard to snap the tile along the line you have just made. If you need to make more cuttings of similar size then repeat the process as needed, otherwise make your adjustments and start again.


Once you have finished applying your tiles to the walls, the next job is to remove any spacers sticking out of the wall and grouting. Grout is important as it not only makes your tiling work more structurally sound, it also seals it against water - an important quality in a bathroom!

You can buy grout premixed or in dry packets. Assuming you have purchased the cheaper latter option, the first thing you need to do is make your mixture. Blend it in a bucket with warm water, adding the liquid as you go until you have a consistency that is thick, but be careful not to go too thick as it will be more difficult to apply between your tiles.

After this, use a foam float to scoop the grout up and fill the gaps, holding the float at a 45-degree angle like you will have done with your tile adhesive.

Once you have done this, leave the walls for 15-20 minutes to allow the mixture to dry before cleaning it the tiles with a damp cloth, rinsing it out regularly to ensure it remains clean.

Finally, after a few days have passed, apply some grout sealer to protect the tiles from mildew and stains, and seal around the bath and/or shower to prevent any leaks. Take a step back and admire the fantastic job you've done!

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