Learn how to tile with our simple step-by-step guide.
We teamed up with B&Q’s own handyman ‘Project Pete’ who showed our Home Editor Emily how easy it is to learn how to tile.
You will need
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- Wooden batten (for gauge rod)
- 2mm tile spacers
- Dust sheet
- Screwdriver and screws
- Ready-mixed tile adhesive
- Adhesive spreader
- Tile cutter
- Two buckets
- Flexible white powdered grout
- Stick (for stirring)
- Grout spreader
- Grout finisher
- Tile polishing sponge
- Cloth (for cleaning your tools)
All products available from B&Q
Working out how many tiles you’ll need
Most modern ceramic tiles come in packs that cover one square metre. To find how many packs you need, just measure the height and width of the area you want to tile, then multiply the figures to get the area in square metres.
It’s a good idea to allow extra for cutting and breakages. If your wall has doors, windows or fixed cupboards, work out their area and subtract this from the total area you’ll be tiling. It might help to draw a rough sketch of the wall and mark all the dimensions on it.
Preparing the surface before learning how to tile
Make sure the surface you’re tiling is clean, dry and flat. Strip any wallpaper back to the plaster, removing and replacing any crumbling plaster and fill any holes. Remember to let your new plaster dry out completely, which can take a couple of months. Prime any porous surfaces
with a PVA-based adhesive.
Setting out your tiles
1. It’s important to find the best starting point for your first row. It’s no good starting in one corner and working your way across the wall – the edge might not be completely vertical and you could end up with tiny slivers of tile to cut at the opposite corner.
So measure the area you want to tile and find the central point, make a mark with a pencil. That way, you’ll end up with cut tiles of equal size at the ends of your rows and your tiling will be symmetrical.
2. Using a spirit level and angling the pencil, draw horizontal and vertical lines from your middle starting point.
How to tile with a gauge rod
3. This is essential as it helps you work out the positioning of your tiles and the size of any tiles you might need to cut to fit the ends of each row.
Place your wooden batten on the floor, lay a tile on top and draw down the edge with a pencil. Then place a tile spacer on the batten where the tile ended and mark either side, then a tile, then a spacer and so on, all the way to the end of the batten.
Hold the gauge up to the wall to determine whether you want to start the first tile up against your starting mark on the wall, or have it centralised. To decide, look on the gauge to where the last tile will be positioned. We started centrally so the last tile will be cut in half.
Put a dust sheet over the surface beneath the area of wall you intend to tile, then drill a few holes along the gauge. Use a screwdriver to attach it to the wall with screws, making sure the edge lines up with the horizontal straight line.
4. Open the tub of adhesive and pick some up on the spreader, then, using the long, straight edge, smooth it over a section you intend to tile. Start with a small section first so you get the hang of it, and you want to work while the adhesive is still wet.
Don’t worry about it being thick and uneven in places, because you then use the grooved edge of the spreader, and working from the bottom up, pull it through the adhesive to simultaneously form grooves and take off the excess.
Pick up your first tile and, lining it up with the gauge, press it firmly into the adhesive
Take the second tile, lining it up with the gauge, press firmly then add two tile spacers between. Push the second tile towards the spacers to sandwich them in tight. Continue in this fashion to complete the whole row.
Top tip: Insert the tile spacers so they are sticking out – then you can remove them once the adhesive is dry. You don’t have to put them in flat at every corner – it’s a waste and you can often see them through the grout.
Start with the central tile again for the second row, adding spacers and tiles as you go along.
Continue adding adhesive, tiles and spacers to the entire area you want to cover.
Going back to the first row, measure the area still left to tile. It’s important to measure from the bottom of the tile to the end of the wall, and from the top of the tile to the end of the wall, as not all walls are straight.
Measure and mark the tile where you want it to be cut.
Place the tile in the cutter and, following the manufacturer’s instructions, line the mark on the tile up with the cutting guide. Draw the blade along the tile – it will make a scratchy noise – you don’t have to press down too hard, it’s just to cut through the glaze.
Pull the handle back so the foot rests on the tile and push down – this will break your tile in two.
As before, apply adhesive to the rest of the wall, then place the first cut tile with the cut edge facing out. Push the cut tile into the adhesive, add four spacers, two to the side and two above, then add the tile above.
You should keep measuring at the end of each row as the tiles might need to be made a slightly different width, as most walls aren’t completely straight.
10. You will need to wait around 24 hours for the adhesive to dry (see pack instructions). Then you can remove all the tile spacers.
11. Put a little water in a bucket, then add some of the powdered grout. Using a stick to stir it, keep adding the grout and stirring until you have the texture of whipped-up ice cream.
12. Using the grout spreader, pick up some grout and push in firmly over the tiles so that it sinks into the spaces between the tiles. Then, with the spreader at a 30-degree angle, pull it diagonally over the tiles to wipe off the excess. Keep adding grout, spreading, then wiping over until all the gaps are filled.
13. Use a wet sponge to wipe over all the tiles to remove most of the grout.
Wait about 10 minutes, then wipe with a wet sponge again.
Use a grout finisher to run between the tile edges to give a neat, clean finish – avoid using your finger for this job as this could transfer bacteria and eventually encourage mould.
14. Finally, use a tile polishing sponge to wipe off the rest of the grout and make the tiles look all shiny. Ta-da! How to tile!