Laying Ceramic Floor Tiles

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Tiles

There has been a huge leap in the popularity of ceramic floor tiles, possibly due to the beauty of some of the bathrooms that we have all encountered when on holiday in places like Spain. As a consequence tiling bathroom and kitchen floors has increased and it is ideal for a DIY person to do his job and see excellent results. The obvious advantages to a tiled ceramic floor, apart from the decorative appearance, is that they provide a clean hygienic surface and any spills can be quickly and easily cleaned up, they are hard wearing, but remember that ceramic floor tiles can be regarded as just about permanent. A good tip when tiling a kitchen or a bathroom is to keep sufficient extra tiles in case the kitchen units, or say the bath, are replaced and are slightly different in size or shape.

The first thing that you must do is to measure the room to see how many ceramic tiles you will need, remember some extra tiles to keep and also allow between ten to fifteen percent extra for cutting and wastage. Floor tiles come in two distinct shapes oblong or square, with square being far more popular and incidentally easier to lay; you can also choose from textured finishes to elaborate designs, this will give your floor a very special look. You will require adhesive and the coverage will normally be shown on the bucket, otherwise ask the DIY supplier.

Laying the tiles onto a concrete floor is ideal, but because there have been big advances in the modern adhesives, this has meant that it is now possible to lay ceramic tiles onto a wooden or suspended floor. Just one point to remember though, once laid you will not be able to access things like water pipes or cables which may run under a suspended floor.

Picture: Alwyn Ladell

Preparing a wall for tiling

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Bathrooms, DIY Tips, Tiles

It does not matter what sort of DIY job you are undertaking, there is one rule which if avoided or skimped will result in a poor or unsatisfactory end result and that rule is preparation. Ask any time served tradesman and they will tell you that the finish of a job is only as good as the preparation and the amount of time spent on it, this applies to tiling a wall just as much as painting or wallpapering it.

If the wall surface is papered, it is not suitable until you have stripped the wallpaper and prepared the walls.

For Brick and Concrete you must scrub the surface to remove any loose material, fill any holes to give an even surface. Painted surfaces are alright providing the paint is sound if so then wash down with sugar soap, if the paint is flaky rub down and size the walls, using a PVA adhesive mixed one part PVA to five parts water and allow to dry before tiling and then we would score the painted surface of the wall with the edge of a scraper to help the adhesive stick.

Plastered walls are ideal, but first ensure that these dry out for at least a month before tiling. Size all bare plaster using a PVA adhesive mixed one part PVA to five parts water and allow this to dry before tiling; plasterboard should be treated in the same way.

Old tiles make an ideal surface as they are usually smooth and true and you will get a good finish, however remove any loose tiles and use filler to level the surface. Wash down with sugar soap. Wood panelling again is a good surface but, it must be at least 12mm thick and you should paint all bare wood with oil based primer and allow this to dry.

Picture: litlnemo

DIY tools for tiling

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Home Improvements, Tiles

Having a good set of tiling tools in your DIY arsenal is essential when planning to re-tile any surface, and having the right tools makes the job even easier and produces a professional look. Here are the basic tiling tools and what they do:

Spirit Level

This is an essential tool not just for tiling, but for levelling anything you wish to hang or fix to the wall. A spirit level is used to line up tiles both horizontally and vertically and provides a professional and eye pleasing finish.

Serrated Tile Trowel

Having an even spread of tile adhesive on a wall of floor is essential for a good tiling job and for seating the tile flat against the surface. The serrated tile trowel has a tooth like edge that is perfect for the job.

Tile Cutter

As the name suggests, a tile cutter is used to cut tiles in straight lines for finishing the edges of a room. Most tile cutters use a lever action to first score the tile then snap the tile along the score line; there are also electric tile cutters available, much  like a table top circular saw but these are expensive and usually out of the budget for a DIYer.


Cutting narrow strips off a ceramic tile is near on impossible unless you have an expensive electric tile cutter, but this is where nibblers come in. Score the tile as you would and use the nibblers to break off the unwanted piece of tile. Nibblers look similar to pincers but have sharper jaws made from tungsten carbide.

Profile Gauge

A profile gauge is an essential tool for copying the contour of pipework, door mouldings and more complex shapes. The shape can then be transferred to the tile and cut out with a tile saw. It can also be used when fitting laminate or vinyl flooring.

Tile Saw

A tile saw looks very much like a hacksaw but with one crucial difference. Instead of a blade it has a tungsten carbide rod suspended under tension. This rod is hard enough to cut through ceramic tile and because it is round it can cut it any direction making it a great tool for curved lines.

Grout Spreader

A grout spreader has a rubber blade fitted into a plastic or wooden handle and is used to spread grout into the gaps between the tiles. This tool is a great time saver if you are tiling a large area.

Non-Square Ceramic Tiles

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Tiles

After deciding on the tiling project you wish to start, it is useful to determine the type of tile that you will use before planning the design. The shape of the tiles can make a difference and while square are the easiest to work with for larger projects a range of other shapes can be used. Frequently, non-square tiles are used as decorative accents and in small spaces. While there are various styles that fall into the non-square category, the primary types are Mosaic, Hexagonal and Provencal.

One aspect of non-square tiles is that due to their shape they are not normally cut, but used as a whole tile. This reduces preparation time considerably, but also requires a more exacting approach to the design and tile size.

Mosaic tile are small random pieces of tile placed together to create a design or simply a pleasing pattern. When sold as a specific design they are normally supplied attached to a mesh backing, making them easy to apply. These pieces are normally around 30cm across and application to the desired surface is quick and simple. Generally, they are applied to a surface by abutting one against the other. After they are applied to the wall they only require grouting and the project is complete.

Hexagonal and Provencal tiles fit together without the need for spacers. Their design gives a universally even grout line, making installation simple. They need to be used in conjunction with border tiles, which are designed to fit the shape to create a straight edge at the border. While there are generally no rounded edges, there are half-tiles that are used for the edges. As an alternative to the manufactured half-tiles you could also cut a whole tile in half. These tiles are rarely available with a decorative frieze, due to their shape. Because of the universal grout line grouting can be carried out quickly and the project completed in relatively short time.

Grouting wall tiles

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Bathrooms, DIY Tips, Tiles

This is a fairly easy job that just needs a degree of care and attention to detail. Firstly, don’t try grouting until the tiles are properly stuck on the wall. It is often a good idea to leave the adhesive to dry for a couple of days, just to be sure. Then you need to make sure you choose the right type of grout for the job. If the area being tiled is in a bathroom and likely to get wet, then you will definitely need waterproof grout (and will already have used waterproof adhesive to stick the tiles on).

There may be a choice of colours too. You don’t have to use white grout, and a contrasting colour such as grey or black can look stunning with the right tiles. Some grout comes ready-mixed, whilst other types have to be mixed with water for the right consistency.

Before applying any grout, make sure that you have cleaned off any excess adhesive that has got onto the tiles or has been squeezed out of the gaps between them. Using a spreading tool with a flexible edge (often supplied with the grout), apply the grout smoothly over an area of about one metre square. This allows you to work on one area at a time, getting it right before it starts drying, and before you move on to the next area.

Work the grout into the joints, keeping the tool edge at about 45 degrees from the tiles. Then go over the same area at a more upright angle to achieve an even surface. Then let the grout harden slightly before going over it again with a damp sponge or cloth to get that smooth professional finish. Lastly, once it is completely dry, wash the tiles with a damp sponge and then polish with a dry cloth.

DIY Tips – Grouting Tiles

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Tiles

There are a number of different steps involved in renovating a bathroom, one of which can be replacing the tiles.  Undertaking the work without needing the services of a professional can offer a great sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that the result will be exactly as desired.

Grout Type

Select the correct type of grout in accordance with the tiles being laid.  For example, a heavy-duty sanded grout will be more beneficial for floor tiles than for porcelain tiles.  Similarly, the colour of the grout can add to the style of the finished product. 

Mix Grout

Mix only as much grout is required at any one time because there is a limited time in which it can be used before it dries out and becomes useless.  Follow the instructions for this process and commence using the grout immediately afterwards, making sure the pot is covered if it needs to be left.


Once the grout has been mixed, a grout float can be used to apply it to the tiled surface.  The position of the tiles can be retained with the use of cross-shaped brackets between them, which can be hidden by the grout.  Spread the grout over the joints between the tiles, repeating the process where necessary to ensure that no gaps remain.  Follow this by drawing a scraper firmly over the tiled surface to remove the excess.  Keep a damp sponge to hand to remove any last traces of grout before leaving the compound to dry for at least 24 hours undisturbed.

Removing Ceramic or Stone Tiles

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Tiles

The presence of tiles can deter people from beginning their desired kitchen or bathroom renovations. Tiles are a little more troublesome to remove in comparison to paint or wallpaper but with a little care and the right tools and techniques, tiles can be removed with ease.

DIY enthusiasts should start by using all the necessary safety equipment; goggles and good gloves should always be worn. All nearby surfaces should be covered with dustsheets. 

Individuals should start at the edge of the area of tiles due for removal by placing a bolster almost flat to the tile. A small lump hammer should be used to hit the top of the bolster. A good hit should take the whole tile but if this fails to happen, it is necessary to keep working flat to the wall to avoid digging into the plaster.

Once the tiles are off, a paint scraper can be used to remove tile adhesive. If cement mortar was used, the bolster chisel and lump hammer will be required once again. 

Homeowners should then sand down the wall and fill in any imperfections before applying the desired finish.

Laying Mosaic Tiles

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Home Improvements, Tiles

Mosaic tiles come in large sheets with a mesh backing holding the small tile pieces together in ready-made patterns.  Mosaic tiles are used widely on walls and splashbacks, and are quite easy to fit around obstacles such as switches and electrical outlets.

To lay mosaic tiles, you will first need to apply adhesive to the wall.  Never apply more adhesive than is necessary for two to four sheets of tile at any time.  It is important to use a good quality adhesive and a notched adhesive spreader to achieve the best results.  After the adhesive is applied to the wall, hold the spreader at a 45 degree angle and drag it through the adhesive to get even ridges.  Make sure the design of the first sheet of mosaic tiles is the right way up and press it into the adhesive with your hands, and then use a short, flat piece of wood to tamp the tile flat, paying particular attention to the edges. 

If there is an obstacle such as a socket that needs to be tiled around, prior to applying the adhesive measure from the edge of the last full sheet of tile to the edge of the obstacle.  Then measure the length and width of the obstacle itself.  Use those measurements on the tile sheet and cut away tiles inside the measurements with a trimming knife.  Place the sheet against the wall to see if it fits and then coat around the obstacle with adhesive and apply the tile.  If there are gaps around the obstruction, cut a few tiles from a spare sheet to fill them in.

After 24 hours you can apply grout.  Kitchens and bathrooms will need waterproof grout.  Use a rubber-edged grout spreader, and clean away excess grout from the sheets as you work.  When the grout is set, neaten the lines with a grout shaper or a thin piece of dowel.

Replacing a Damaged Floor Tile

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Flooring, Tiles

Dropped something onto your tiled floor and caused one to crack? Do not worry, this can be fixed.

Assuming you have a replacement tile available, the task of removing and fitting a new one is simple.

First, pierce approximately four holes across the tile from corner to corner using a masonry drill. Wear protective goggles and gloves, tap along the line of holes with a lump hammer to crack the tile.

A dull wood chisel can be used to crack up and scrape away old tile. Ensure all grout is removed from around the edges. Work from both directions to remove tile.

Remove any glue left using the chisel; any ridges in the surface will be adhesive residue. Clean the area sweeping away old tile, dust and dirt, leaving a smooth surface for the new tile.

Apply tile adhesive using a ridged scraper. Slip the tile in place, ensuring it does not sit proud of other tiles. Using the smooth side of your scraper, add adhesive around the new tile where it meets existing tiles. Wipe any excess away with a cloth.

Remove old tiles without destroying the wall

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Home Improvements, Tiles

Anyone who is giving an old kitchen or bathroom a revamp is likely to need to remove old tiles from the walls. When removing old tiles is the only option, the first piece of advice is to proceed with caution and not go at it with a sledgehammer – even though this can be very tempting. If you do this, the cost of repairing great holes in the walls will add enormously to your budget. Do not imagine that the damage doesn’t matter because it will be hidden behind new tiles – the surface has to be even for the new tiles to be straight and level.

One of the most important factors in how you approach this job is the type of adhesive used on the old tiling. Tiles stuck on with modern adhesives tend to come away cleanly, and need only a few taps with a small hammer and chisel around the edges of each tile. The chisel should be almost flat with the wall, gently weakening the join between the tile and wall with each tap. 

The hardest tiles to dislodge, however, are those stuck on with old-fashioned cement. A hammer drill, or plain mid-sized hammers with a range of chisels are the best tools for this job. It is very difficult to avoid all damage to the wall, so the key is to keep it as minimal as possible. This is achieved by tackling one tile at a time. Chisel directly into the grout around each tile, at a right angle, to separate it. Then chisel carefully around it, almost flat to the wall, until the tile comes away. Sweep up debris as you go along. If you take care and don’t rush it, your walls should only need minor repairs before re-tiling.