How To Wall Tile!

Our comprehensive guide to wall tiling

Applebys tiles and our team don't just do simply guides based on research no! Our team of sales assistants and our customer service departments are all previous tilers! that means no matter who you speak to they can guide you on how to install tiles and together we have put together this guide to explain how to tile!

Importantly you need tools and accessories a list of which we keep below! At the time of publishing were not massive on tools and accessories but, were working on it! so stay tuned

  • Crayon - for marking tiles and where to cut them
  • Permanent Marker - For drawing your centre line
  • Tape Measure - Ensure it is longer then the length of height of your wall
  • Spirit Level - To ensure you are tiling level and your staring point is level
  • 3 Buckets - 1 for Adhesive, 1 for water and 1 for grout
  • 2 Sponges - 1 for cleaning grout and 1 for keep working area clean
  • Manual tile cutter - Used for straight cutting tiles
  • Wet Tile Saw - Used for cutting around pipes and sockets
  • Safety Wear - Gloves, Glasses, Dust Mask
  • Adhesive - To fix the tiles to the walls (20kg for every 4m2)
  • Grout - For Grouting the Tiles (5kg for ever 3-10m2)
  • Grout Float - For applying grout
  • 6mm Tile Trowel - For spreading adhesive 


1. Picking your tiles

Picking the tiles is the easy part! When deciding you wall tiles there is not much to over-think about, the most important thing to consider is your own taste! what you want and how you want it. If it is your first time installing wall tiles we would advise the use of mosaics or natural stone as these take a lot of work!


2. Preparing the walls

An important factor in wall tiling is preparation. It is very important you walls are properly prepped before starting such as, making sure wallpaper has been removed as when you tile, the adhesive must grab to the wall and not wallpaper if tiles are stuck to a wall with wall paper on then the tiles are many stuck to paper which is risky!

If the walls have had previous tiles on them ensure, that all adhesive and grout residue is removed as, this can lead to un-level tiles and make your tiling job a lot more difficult!


Consider what your wall is made from! If you have a brick wall then skip straight to step 3 however, if you have plasterboard or wooden walls or fish plaster we would advise using an acrylic based wall primer to ensure that the tiles properly fix to the wall covering, this primer causes the surface to become tacky. Do not use PVA

Once the walls are completely clear and smooth (it is always best to tile over fresh plaster) then you are ready to set out your wall tiles.


3. Laying out your tiles

You have your tiles, your adhesive, grout and tools so now the most important part comes in! Now is when you decide your layout which is dependant on the pattern you wish to achieve. There are 3 main options when it comes to choosing patterns for your new tiles.

The first option is to "stack lay them" this means installing the tiles on top of one another either vertically or horizontally, this is one of the easiest patterns for beginners.

The second option is to lay them in a "brick bond" fashion, this is an intermediate tiling pattern whilst still easy to do the layout is a little more complicated.

The third option is to lay the tiles in a herringbone pattern - this is more for the expert DIY'er it involves pre cutting tiles at a 45 degree angle.

The most important thing to consider with the layout is to ensure that you get as much of the full tile as possible, whilst avoiding any small and tricky little cuts, which can look unsightly and become hard to work with. In an ideal situation the previous statement would always be applicable however as tilers, we understand no wall and no room doesn't have abnormalities such as boxing in for boiler pipes or pre-installed steel splash backs etc. so Inevitably in some rooms, you will have to have a small cut – but working out the layout for your tiles will at the very least ensure you have equal cuts as after all tiling should be as symmetrical as possible. 

Now you have your pattern thought out its time to get drawing! firstly find the centre of the wall, this is done by measuring from one side to the other side (measure at the longest point) once you have this divide the measurement by 2 (for example you wall measures 200cm your centre will be 100cm once this is found make a mark on the wall. We would suggest using a permanent marker so you don't lose it!

Then using a spirit level vertically align it to your mark on the wall ensuring it is perfectly level and draw a line from top to bottom of where you intend to tile.

Now if you intend on doing a brick bond pattern with your tiles, measure half of your tile length (for example if using a 20cm x 10cm metro tile half of the length would be 10cm) make a mark half a tiles length from the centre line - it doesn't matter if thats to the right or left. 

4. Fixing a tile support

This step is only necessary if, you're not tiling from a level surface such as worktop, skirting board or level floor. Whatever the surface you are tiling from ensure it is perfectly level before starting out.

If however your starting from a wall in the kitchen and you don't have your worktops in yet, measure exactly where the top of your worktop ends and fix a 2" x 2" timber pattern to the length of the wall so, your tiles have something to rest on, make sure it is sturdy and level.


5. Applying the tile adhesive

The adhesive! now you have your surface prepared, pattern sorted and centre found its time to get tiling. We would advise as a DIY'er to use a slow setting adhesive, this will allow you to fix your tiles and adjust them for a few hours incase of any mistakes made. Once you have mixed your adhesive (with a dust mask on) as per the guidelines on the back of the packet. Ensure you are wearing gloves to apply adhesive as it has skin irritants within the ingredients, safety glasses would also be in your best interest to prevent any adhesive getting in your eyes.

Once you are ready to go apply a small amount directly on to your notched tile trowel and then apply to the wall starting at the bottom and use just a small amount at a time to ensure the adhesive does not dry before you are able to apply tiles. Start from the bottom centre and go left and right about 1 or 2 tiles high.

One of the most important rules to remember when applying your adhesive is to ensure you have consistent notches within your adhesive see below


The way to achieve this is by holding your trowel at a 45 degree angle so the notches of the trowel make contact with the wall, push it gentled to the wall and then push up or down or left or right (don't do both) so that you have straight lines all going in one direction. Now that you have straight notes on your wall remove the excess adhesive from your trowel back in to the bucket and clean it, you don't want adhesive to harden on your tools.



6). Applying the tiles to the wall

Put the tools down, have your tiles and spacers ready! place your first tile either side of the centre line your previously drew, if you can't see it then wipe away with a finger where the centre line should be then place your first tile in to the adhesive, don't use too much force but ensure it is bedded then move it about 5mm and then back again this ensures that the tile has made good contact with the adhesive. Once the first tile is installed then place your second tile right up against the first tile then move it 5mm to the left or right to create a gap and achieve contact, insert your spacer and then push it up against the spacer so it holds it in. 

Repeat this process until all the adhesive you applied on the wall is covered. Once this has been done repeat the previous two steps, add adhesive than add tiles with spacers and keep going.



7. Tiling around a socket, window or other fixing.

When it comes to tiling a room, be it kitchen or bathroom there will always be something that you need to tile around in kitchens this is usually sockets and windows in the bathroom it will usually be the bath or window. When it comes to tiling around a window it is very important to ensure you have equal and neat cuts. As we previously mentioned, nice square, level and flat walls don't exist and this is the same for the window reveal.

Like before you will start by finding the centre of the window. measure the widest point of the window as its likely it will be wider at the top then the bottom, take this as your measurement then place where your cuts will land on the window surround and cut to size ensuring you cut to the largest measurement to ensure a square and symmetric finish.

When it comes to tiling around sockets ensure the electrics are off at the means first, then gently un-do the socket screws so that you can cut the tiles around the socket. Line up your tile with the socket and cut the tiles so that they just go past the face of the socket so that once fitted to the wall it looks like the tile goes behind the socket. install it as per the above instructions (do not screw the socket back in until the adhesive has dried for 24 hours)


8. Adding tile trims to windows or edges

When you cut tiles around windows or, edges its important to remember you will have rough, sharp and unsightly edges which is where tile trims come in! The best way to cover this up is the use of tile trim, there are many variations of tile trim out there, curved and straight edge, loads of colours and sizes. Consider your tile thickness and then purchase tile trim slightly thicker for example a 6mm tile will require 8mm trim and 10mm tile will require 12mm trim.

For this example we will use a windowsill as an example, measure the full length of the windowsill corner to corner, then cut your tile trim to that size if, you want the cuts mitred, after cutting to size then place the tiles in a mitre box and cut the ends at a 45 degree angle so that once the trim is applied the point of the mitre cut is facing the corners of the window til and then repeat until all exposed edges are covered.


9. Grouting The Tiles

Once you have finished tiling, applied your trims etc the first step before grouting is to clean up. Ensure your tiles are completely dry before you start cleaning them if you have used rapid set adhesive wait 3 hours if you have used a slow-setting adhesive wait 24 hours. 

Then remove all of the tile spacers you have put in between the tiles, these should come out quite easily if not, use a Stanley knife or a pair of pliers to pull them out. Once you have completed this step you now want to look along all of the grout lines and ensure no grout is pointing through, if there is adhesive protruding from the lines scrape this out gently (ensuring you do not damage the tiles) with a Stanley knife.

After this you will then need to refit the face plates of the sockets, they may require longer screws now you have added tiles, these can be picked up at a DIY store.

The next step is to wash the tiles, using warm water wash all of the tiles ensuring and dirt, residue and glue is completely removed from the surface. Once dry if you are satisfied the tiles are perfectly clean you can then clean the floor or worktop to ensure no contamination when grouting.

Using a clean and preferably new bucket mix the grout as per the guidelines, grout usually drys pretty quick so we would advise mixing up enough grout for 1m2 at a time to ensure none is wasted and it doesn't dry to quickly. ensure you have throughly read the grout instructions such as, drying times, how quickly to wash them etc.


10. Applying the grout

Use the freshly mixed grout you have just prepared use a perfectly clean grout float and bucket trowel put a fair amount of grout on to the float with the trowel. Press the float against the surface of the tiles and then push the float left to right to ensure the grout lines are completely covered in grout by holding the float at a 30 - 45 degree angle.

how to grout tiles

Any large build up of grout on the surface of the tile simply clean up using the float and then carry on applying. When you have used up that amount, give the tiles a gentle wash with cold water to remove the excess grout from the surface of the tiles. after 15 minutes use a warm water and clean that area again ensuring you clean in the lines to remove any access and the face of the tiles, any longer then 15 minutes and it can make it difficult to remove the excess grout. Repeat this process until all grout lines have been grouted and cleaned.

After this you will then (using fresh warm water) clean the tiles again - do this twice both times with fresh clean water) allow to dry for two hours then using a rough non-abrasive material such as kitchen towel, bath towels, carpet off cut polish the stiles simply just clean them, get in all the grout lines etc after this, you would have completed your first wall tiling job! Well done.

If you get stuck in the middle of a job head over to our live chat or pick up the phone, we will guide you through as best we can.