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How To Fix Bathroom Wall Tiles Properly

Updated on September 28, 2012

Choice of Bathroom Wall Tiles

If you have decided to give your bathroom a makeover, the thing that will make the biggest difference will be a new covering of wall tiles. Fixing bathroom wall tiles yourself is very easy if you take your time and are careful over your procedures. However, your choice of tile can greatly affect the ease with which they are fixed and the standard of finish that you will get.

Staggered brick pattern is difficult with large tiles

Style of Fixing To Suit Your House?

If you choose to lay large tiles in a "brick" style - i.e. laying them horizontally in a staggered fashion, you will find that it will be difficult to line them up squarely so that they are all nice and flush with the surface of each other. This is because with the slight curve in the walls that most houses have, even half an inch over a few yards, it is difficult to match the staggered pattern up with each other and you have to hope that the grout will at least minimise the visual impairment.

Smaller tiles will cover uneven surfaces much better, with tiny mosaic tiles able to take on the shape of complex curves in your house structure.

Fixing tiles in straight rows or columns is the easiest style to do, and will cover up a reasonable amount of surface fluctuation. The choice of plain or patterned bathroom wall tiles will be made to suit your families artistic preferences, but again will affect the ease with which you are able to put them up. Patterns on adjacent tiles will often need to be matched to avoid looking disjointed, and this can increase the amount of cutting and waste.

Mixing random colours from a theme of different colours can be very effective and is another easy pattern to do - the trick is to be as random as you can as the human eye is pretty good at seeing a repetition or tendency creeping in!

How to Fix the bathroom Wall Tiles

The first step is to ensure that the surface taking the tiles is properly prepared. There is nothing better than new completely flat plaster that has been thoroughly allowed to dry out. There is no need to prime the surface as the porous plaster will help to key to the backs of the tiles.

Other surfaces may need to be prepared. Rough plaster may need to be skimmed and if you have removed old tiles but a lot of the previous adhesive remains you may need to scrape this off.  This is a tiring process that can really only be done with a paint scraper and a few blisters! It is possible to use a flat bolster chisel attachment for your power drill but this is often a bit too much for the job and can create cracks and troughs in the underlying plaster that will need filling.

Ensure that all the dust, old wallpaper etc is cleaned off and the surface is a s flat, clean and dry as you can. Tile adhesive can be quite forgiving and it is possible to cover up a mess with a layer of tiles, but a good workman always prepares his job well and this will ensure a better finish in the end.

Now you are ready to lay - the first two jobs do not involve fixing tiles to the wall:

1. Ensure that you have all your tiles, adhesive, cutter, spirit level, and spacers ready.

2. Plan where every tile in the bathroom is going to go before you start. This is to ensure that you minimise your cutting and make sure that you do not have cut tiles where they have an adverse visual impact. This involves a bit of trial and error - both horizontally and vertically.

The first step in fixing is to lay a single horizontal layer - often you need to fit a carefully attached baton to the wall to lay the tile edge on. Once you have this layer, the subsequent layers quickly follow suit supported by the bottom layer.

Remember to space your tiles evenly - some like a big gap, some a small one - just make sure it is even using plastic tile spacers. the old way was to use matchsticks but these often varied in size and were not so good.

How to grout the gaps

Once you have fixed all the tiles to the walls where you want them to go, the whole job should be left for at least 24 hours to set properly. Then it is a good idea to check over the whole area and clean off the excess adhesive that may be streaked over the tiles - check that the gaps are clear to take the grout.

Using a flat plastic spatula (it should be pliable) force the grouting mix (ore use ready made grout from a tub) into the spaces between the tiles - ensuring that it is pushed in as far as it will go. Only grout a maximum of a square yard of tiles at a time, pausing to clean off as you go.

As the grout goes off quite quickly, keep coming back to a bit you did a few minutes ago and smooth out the grout lines. Then, once almost dry polish off the whole area of tiles using a wet cloth.


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