Tiling with adhesive

The placing of the first few tiles is critical; if they are out of true the entire job will be affected. So temporarily position a few tiles, starting against your vertical line and batten, and check for a perfect right-angle. Only when you are satisfied all is correct should you begin. Starting from this right angle spread the tile adhesive with a broad knife or small round-edged trowel over about one square metre (or sq yd) of wall area.

Don’t use your notched spreader to lift the adhesive from the can as it will come through the notches onto your hands. Comb this area horizontally to leave a series of ridges. Cover with tiles, pressing them into place with a twisting movement – never slide them across the adhesive as it will squeeze up between the tiles – completing each horizontal row before starting the one above. Make sure each tile is butted squarely against its neighbours with spacer lugs touching. With RE and REX tiles, neither of which has spacer lugs, use matchsticks or pieces of cardboard to ensure equal spacing and remove after 24 hours.

bathroom tiling

As you complete each square metre of tiling be sure to check the tiles are correctly positioned vertically and horizontally by using your spirit level. Complete as many whole tiles as possible before tackling any cutting. When the area above the horizontal batten is complete, allow at least 12 hours’ drying time before removing the batten and tiling the bottom course (row). Allow another 24 hours before starting to grout. There are special water-resistant adhesives for tiled areas likely to be subjected to excessive splashing or heat, such as shower cubicles. You will need a trowel to spread this type in a thin layer and should allow at least 14 days before grouting or allowing the tiles to come into contact with water. There is a ‘fix and grout’ product that enables you to stick down your tiles and then grout them in a matter of hours.

Tiling round fitments
Treat the top edges of sinks, baths and cupboard units as the floor level and nail or screw a horizontal batten above them. This will support the tiles above it while the rest of the wall is being completed. After the adhesive has set, remove the batten and apply the bottom course of tiles, trimming where necessary.

Tiling round windows
The window is very often the focal point of any room so it is important to try to arrange the tiles to achieve a good visual balance, with equal size tiles on either side of the window. On horizontal sill surfaces fix whole tiles at the front, with any cut ones at the back nearest the window where they are not so obvious.

Planning the tiling

Very few houses have true vertical and horizontal corners in the bathrooms or kitchens, so you must never begin tiling in a corner or at floor level. As you reach the end of each row cut to shape the tiles for these areas. The first step then is to decide the best starting point by making a measuring staff from a long batten (if your room has several alcoves, you will need a shorter one as well) marked with tile widths. This will enable you to see how many whole tiles can be accommodated over a particular area.
bathroom tiling tiler
Ideally you should aim for equal size cut tiles at both ends of each wall as this will give the job a balanced look. Having established the starting point, temporarily fix a horizontal batten to the wall with its top edge one tile width above the floor or skirting board. If the floor line slopes then lower the batten slightly to make the cutting easier later on. It is far easier to trim whole tiles to flt a space than to cut thin pieces to fil1 tiny gaps. Double-check the batten for correct horizontal before screwing it securely to the wall. You will now have to establish a vertical line at the starting point near the corner of the wall. To determine this, use a batten and spirit level (or plumb bob and line) and mark the vertical line in pencil on the wall. Follow this horizontal and vertical procedure for every wall.

Preparing the surface for tiling

tiling bathroom walls

Preparing the surface
As with nearly all decorative covering jobs it is the preparation that makes or breaks the finish. And this applies particularly with ceramic tiles as, like wallpaper or paint, they have to be fixed to a really smooth, flat surface, which must also be dry and firm. A good way of finding out just how smooth your walls are is by using a timber straight-edge, about 1m long. Place this at different points across the surface, checking vertically, horizontally and diagonally. If you are getting a noticeable seesaw action a certain amount of levelling will be necessary.

Where only minor areas are affected, use a proprietary plaster filler. Follow the manufacturer’s mixing instructions and then apply with a filling knife to the low areas of the surface. Two or three applications may be necessary to build up to the correct level. As you become more expert this will not be necessary since you will be able to level shallow depressions accurately when applying the wet mix, using a straight-edge or filling knife. Bad irregularities over large areas must be completely replastered, a job best left to the professional plasterer. New plaster must be allowed to dry out for at least a month before tiling and, as the surface is porous, sealed with a coat of plaster primer. This sealing is also necessary where a plaster filler has been used.

This must be completely stripped first and the plaster underneath raked out where loose and levelled as above.

Glasspaper down to remove any flaking areas and provide a key for the tile adhesive. Where the paint is direct onto plaster, uneven patches must be levelled as above.

Plane level and give the bare wood a coat of wood primer before tiling.

Ceramic tiles
Existing tiles are probably the best, thin ceramics being specifically designed to suit tile-on-tile fixing. But as with all other surfaces the base must be sound. So make sure the existing tiles are clean, flat and firmly fixed. Remove any loose ones and refix with tile adhesive so they are level with adjacent tiles.

Half-tiled wall
If you intend retiling here and taking the new tiles to ceiling height, you will need to build out the untiled part of the wall level with the existing area to avoid being left with a recess. This levelling up of the wall section can be done with plaster, plasterboard or other suitable building board.

Lining the wall
Where the surface of your wall is so uneven that refilling is impossible and replastering would be too costly, you can create a ‘new’ wall by lining with plywood, chipboard or plasterboard. First construct a timber framework on the wall from horizontal and vertical 50 x 25mm battens. Drill countersunk holes in the battens at about 400mm spacing. Drill corresponding holes in the wall to take masonry plugs and screw the battens loosely to these using 50mm long No 8 countersunk screws. Start with the top and bottom horizontal battens. Follow these by the vertical battens spaced at 400mm intervals, working from left to right. Finally fill in with short horizontal battens spaced at 610mm intervals. Using a straight-edge horizontally, vertically and diagonally, level up the battens using pieces of scrap hardboard, laminate etc. as packing between the battens and ‘low’ areas of wall before tightening up the screws. Take care with this stage of the job as the final accuracy of the lining could otherwise be affected. Apply a coat of primer or sealer to all board surfaces and edges, then screw to the battens with 32mm long No 8 countersunk screws through countersunk holes drilled in the boards.

Ceramic tiles

tiler tiling bathroom

Ceramic tiles provide not only a practical those problem areas in the bathroom or kitchen and ruin the ordinary wall decorations. Consider first what sort or combination of tiles – plain, patterned or textured. or a mixture of the two will best suit your colour scheme.

Plain tiles
Produced to match the standard colours of bathroom and kitchen ware, this type is the cheapest and plain colours allow greater flexibility when changing other patterns in your rooms.

Patterned tiles
Usually based on standard plain tile colours, these feature either a complete pattern or are used in groups of four to form a single motif. They are seen to their best advantage when used as a contrast to plain tiles and can also look attractive when concentrated on small areas.

Textured tiles
In similar colours to plain, these are most striking when highlighting one particular area or covering an end wall between two plain walls. There is a limited range of ‘feature’ tiles with either a special motif or a rural scene. And you can even make up a mural to be hung on the wall like a picture or set into a plain-tiled area.

Heat-resistant tiles
For fireplace surrounds and other areas likely to be subjected to extreme heat.

Renovating tiles

One of the quickest ways to give a face lift to sound old tiling is to replace the grout filling material round each tile. Rake out the old grout. Take care not to scratch surface of tiles while raking out. Remove broken tiles and old adhesive with small sharp cold chisel and club hammer.

Work from centre outwards and take care as You get near surrounding tiles; protect any fittings from being scratched by broken pieces of tile. Always wear Protective spectacles or goggles.

Spread new grout over tiles with dampened sponge. Remove any surplus material as you work, leaving just enough to fill gaps between tiles. When grout is almost dry, clean tiles with dampened sponge. Finish off with clean, dry soft cloth.

Blinds for kitchens and bathrooms

In the kitchen

Blinds come into their own in the kitchen, because they are much more practical to use at windows than curtains. Laminated blinds are excellent, because they are so easy to keep clean. Venetian blinds are good for stuffy kitchens or those where you want to obscure the view, but they are more of a chore to keep clean than plain roller blinds. Use blinds to pull down in front of a row of shelves, or to hide wall cupboards above a working surface. This is a particularly handy disguise in an open house or a combined kitchen/dining room.

If the blinds are made to pull down just to the level of the flat surface, they will hide any unsightly mess left there from other parts of the room. You could also use a long floor-to-ceiling blind to screen off a laundry area in the same way as for the washing arrangements to a bedsitter described above. You can keep washday gear on fitted shelves above the washing machine. If the back door is glazed, use a blind. A light roller blind can be attached to the top of the door itself, so it won’t get in the way if the door is opened when the blind is pulled down.

In the bathroom

Again, a blind is often the best answer for a window covering in a bathroom, particularly if you choose a laminated fabric, because it won’t go limp in the steamy atmosphere. If you want to divide up the room, try a tall narrow Venetian blind to make a screen between the bath and lavatory. You could even use pvc roller blinds instead of shower curtains beside the bath. When the shower is in use, the blind is pulled down inside the bath to keep the splashes in.

Kitchen remodeling

kitchen glass red worktop
The kitchen is equipped with a small sink, fridge and boiling ring, making an ideal place for serving drinks, brewing coffee or heating snacks. One remaining wall has glass windows, and the other is covered with mirrors. At night, kinetic lights reflect off the white ceiling. In contrast to the striking appearance of the garden room, is the open plan kitchen – dayroom. The large stainless steel bar, echoed by the roomy bottle rack above, divides the cooking area from the eating and sitting area. A number of useful items have been built into the stainless steel counter top -two bowls for washing up, a circular pastry slab of marble, and an electric cooking hob. The raised oven and fridge have been fitted into a storage wall fitted with cupboards and drawers, finished with a red laminated surface. This kitchen unit is a superb example of the benefits of a well-planned layout. Although it is contained in a small space, the kitchen is efficient, easy to work in, and visually appealing.

It is wise not to let a kitchen ‘evolve’ in a haphazard fashion-a great deal of thought should be given to the arrangement of storage units and appliances, ventilation, and plumbing. The step down to the main part of the room is effectively set off by the touch of red laminated skirting. The centre of the room is used for family meals and as a play area for the children. The pattern floor is a time-saver when it comes to house keeping.

The dining room is yet another splash of colour with walls painted in a gloss paint. Instead of curtains, there are floor-to-ceiling ‘shutters, also painted in gloss paint, giving the room an almost grotto-like effect. Although the room is not a particularly large one, the choice of furniture gives a sense of spaciousness. The glass-topped table is on a stainless steel base. The transparent perspex chairs are visually unusual and also very practical because of their washable surfaces. The red-fronted cupboards are useful for serving and have the added attraction of inset stainless steel hot plates for keeping food warm. If a house needs cheering up or you want to get a new look without spending a great deal of money, think carefully about changing the colour scheme.

Dark kitchens and bathrooms

As well as a cheerful colour scheme and wisely chosen lighting, you should look for accessories like tiles for worktops or floor, storage jars and pretty pots and pans which will add brightness to your kitchen. However, you must remember that while a plain flooring in a pale colour like white or yellow may reflect extra light, it will need a lot of cleaning if it is not to look tatty. Instead of a dark flooring, however, go for an attractively patterned sheet vinyl, which will look bright but not show every speck of dirt. One of the best ways of lighting a low kitchen is to fit downlighters into the ceiling. They don’t encroach on the headroom, but are particularly efficient if they are placed strategically above worktops, cooker and sink. Another way of letting in more light is to fit a larger than average serving hatch, thus borrowing light from the adjoining room. In a kitchen, gloss-painted walls combine extra reflected brightness with ease of cleaning.

Bathrooms and lavatories
Oddly enough, one of the best ways of dealing with a dark bathroom or lavatory is to decorate it in deep vibrant colours. These will help to make the room seem warmer, and when combined with plenty of strong lighting it will become much brighter. Since you are often scantily clad when you are in the bathroom, it is important that it is a cosy room, so try to avoid the traditional pastel shades of pink, blue and green if your bathroom tends to be cold. Here a deep chocolate brown with bright towels and blind will create a more inviting feeling. Lavatory windows usually have frosted glass in them, so the view out is not important. A permanently-closed blind which matches the wallpaper will give a warmer feel, and a bright, low light hanging from a dark painted ceiling will minimize the lofty feeling of a very tall room.
You can achieve an unusual effect very cheaply by papering the walls of a lavatory or bathroom with wallpapers. Paint one or two coats of clear wallpaper lacquer on top to give a washable surface, and you have a bright black and white room. Obscured glass sometimes keeps out more daylight than net curtains, so check whether you really need frosted glass in your bathroom and lavatory windows. If you are overlooked, you may find that only the lower part of the window needs to be obscured, and that the top can be fitted with clear glass. Don’t resign yourself to having dark, dreary rooms. Use the ideas given here to transform the dull parts of your house into bright, welcoming rooms.


Tiling walls and floors

tiling bathroom london

Setting out the work

If you are tiling the walls, remember that most floors are slightly out of level. So use a lath or batten as a base line because if you start from the floor or skirting board, you may find the tiles go out of true. First measure the height of a tile, including its spacer lugs, from the floor or skirting board. Fix the top of the lath or batten securely along this line to the length of the area being tiled. Check its accuracy with a spirit level. Take one tile, stand it on end, and run it along the floor beside the batten to make sure the batten is not too high-you do not want to fit tiny silvers of tile at the bottom if the floor is uneven. If the batten is too high, lower it, and then re-level it with the spirit level. Next, mark out tile widths on either side of the centre point of the wall. This will give an equal tile cut at the ends, and should avoid having to make very short awkward cuts. Mark a true vertical line at the end of the wall, corresponding with the outer edge of the last full tile space. Now repeat the procedure on any walls which meet the first one. But this time, if the wall length does not match an even number of tiles, try to space them to avoid finishing with two very narrow pieces in the same corner. And see if you can have complete tiles on either side of window reveals as it will save cutting. You start work at the intersection of the batten and left-hand vertical line, beginning with the bottom row and working upwards. ‘Obstructions’, such as sink units, window reveals, and half cuts for the corners and top of the wall, are left until last. If you are tiling the floor, the tile positions are set out with chalk lines, and you start tiling in the middle.

Fixing the tiles
tiling marble floor tiles
Apply the adhesive to the wall or floor, rather than to the tiles, as this is easier and cleaner, and will give a more even surface. Use the spreader or trowel to spread it on the surface to a depth of half inch, covering only about 1 square yard at a time. If you apply more than this, it will dry out before you have tiled it. With the serrated edge of the spreader, drive the adhesive over the surface to form ridges which will give good suction and adhesion to the tile backs. For awkward areas, and part tiles, the backs of the tiles may be ‘buttered’ by spreading the adhesive on to them to a depth 2mm. Press the tiles firmly into place, without sliding them this would merely remove the adhesive from the wall or floor. Any adhesive which squeezes on to the surface of the tiles can be removed later with a damp cloth. Between each application of adhesive, check the horizontal and vertical alignment of the tiles because they are liable to creep. When wall tiles have set, remove the battens and fit tiles into the remaining space, cutting them to fit if necessary.

Tiling around obstacles
Where possible, remove fixtures such as cupboards; if this is not possible, tile to the sides of the unit, leaving the tiling immediately above them until later. Then fix a batten along the top of the unit so that the top of the batten aligns exactly with the bottom of the tiles on either side. Continue to tile along either side, and above the batten, and when these tiles have set, remove the batten and cut tiles to fit below. A similar method is used for window reveals and doorways. Use round-edge tiles on the reveals of the openings, rather than on the face of the side wall. as this will help keep the vertical lines in true.
If the tiles have no spacer lugs, cut small pieces of card and insert them between the tiles. Remove them when the tiles have set. Any part tiles should be nearest the window, with the spacer lugs facing those tiles already in position.

Cutting and shaping tiles
tiling bathroom
Use a felt-tipped pen to mark the tile where it is to be cut. For a straight cut, score the glazed surface with the tile cutter, using a straight-edge as a guide. With the glazed side uppermost, place a matchstick or small piece of wood under and along the scored line, put your thumbs on both corners and apply even pressure downwards. The tile will snap cleanly along the scored line. For a shaped cut, cross scratch the area to be removed and use pincers to nibble away the part, taking small ‘bites’ at a time. Smooth off any unevenness with the carborundum block or file. Near the edge of the tile, a round hole can be made by marking the line round a coin, and scoring it, and the area inside it, with the tile cutter. Nibble away the waste area with pincers. Small holes can be made with a tungsten-tipped drill. Larger holes or patterns can be cut by drilling a series of holes in line to the shape required and removing the section. To make a hole in the centre of a tile, mark its position and then cut the tile in half. Use pincers to nibble away the semi-circle in each half. When the halves are placed together, the join will be barely discernible.

Grouting the tiles
When all the tiles are in position, wait at least 12 hours (several days if tiling over old tiles) and then grout the joints. Use a sponge to rub it into the joints with a semi-circular movement. Remove any grout from the surface of the tiles with a damp sponge. When the grout has almost set, draw a round-pointed stick across the joints. Finish by polishing the tiles with a soft dry cloth.