Preparing the surfaces for tiling

First, remove any cupboards that you intend to tile behind. Remove any unwanted screws, hooks, brackets, old pipes or other ‘rubbish’ and, if you have unsightly wiring on the wall surface, cut it back into the wall. If the skirting boards are battered, you may also decide to restore or replace them. Against a bright new surface, any unsightly old items will ‘scream’. The area should be dry, clean, flat and firm. Fill out any cracks and irregularities with cellulose filler or plaster, and rub down to a flat surface when dry. Newly plastered surfaces should be completely dry and, if dusty, brushed down with a wire brush to remove any loose material, If the surface is porous, a sealant primer should be used to prevent absorption of the adhesive into the plaster. If the surface has been previously painted and the paint is sound, you can tile straight on to it (score gloss paint to help adhesion). Otherwise, strip the paint with a sanding block and medium glasspaper. It is possible to tile over old tiles if they are sound and the surface is firm and flat.

But well worth considering chipping off the old tiles and their backing mortar, making good the surface and starting afresh. A club hammer and a bolster will make short work of the old tiles, or an electric rotary hammer can be hired to remove a large area. Building boards, such as plywood, chipboard and plasterboard, provide good tiling surfaces, but nust be removed, stiffened and replaced to prevent them from sagging and warping. Appropriate battening of 75mm x 50mm timber at about 304mm centres, horizontally and vertically, will give the necessary rigidity. If the board has a rough side, use this as the surface for the tiles. Use a heavy duty adhesive, and seal the untiled side-an ordinary paint undercoat can be used-to prevent moisture from the adhesive from seeping through. For floor tiles, the surface must be dry and well brushed, and sealed with an anti-dusting agent. Newly laid concrete surfaces must be completely dry-allow a month for each inch of depth. If the floor is solid and uneven, clean it and relevel it. If necessary, remove the surface and re-screed the floor, or use a proprietary self-levelling compound. Timber floors also need to be levelled.

What you need for tiling

Adhesive for tiling

adhesive tiling
This is available in a powder form to which you add water, or ready prepared in cans.

Notched spreader

Small metal or plastic spreaders are usually supplied by the adhesive manufacture, but if you plan a lot of tiling, a notched trowel will make the work easier.

Tile cutter
tile cutter
This can be a simple wheel cutter; or a scriber with a tungsten-carbinet tip; or a tile-cutting kit, consisting of a cutting platform, a small try-square and wheel cutter and a cutting tool rather like a pair of pincers. The more elaborate tile cutting machines used by professionals, are also obtainable.


These are used to adjust the shape of the tiles and to nip out small sections.
tiling bathroom london
Plumb bob or builder’s spirit level. These are used to establish accurate working lines. A lath or batten, the same length as the longest dimension of the area to be tiled.

Tile spacers

Tiles spacers are measured in millimetres.
tile spacers for tiling


A 454g quantity, mixed to a fairly stiff paste, will cover an area of about 1.8 sq m of 108mm tiles and 4.1 sq m of 152mm tiles.

Sponge or tiler’s squeegee, for applying the grout

Other useful items are a radius cutter for making large holes, or a tungsten-tipped drill for small ones, and a carborundum block or rile for shaping and smoothing cut edges.

bathroom tiling



One of the traditional places in which tiles are used is in the kitchens and bathrooms because they are durable and easy to clean. They also help, because they reflect light, to make the kitchen a bright place in which to work.

Types of tiles

The choice of tiles is wide. Ceramic tiles,Mosaic tiles, terracotta tiles, marble tiles, limestone tiles, granite tiles, stone tiles, glass tiles, glazed tiles,etc

mosaic tiles shower
Mosaic tiles in a shower

Limestone tiles shower wetroom
Limestone tiles in a shower, walk in shower

granite floor tiles kitchen
Granite floor tiles in a kitchen

marble floor tiles
Marble floor tiles

stone tiles shower
Stone tiles in a shower

ceramic tiles wall
Ceramic wall tiles

exterior patio tiles
Exterior patio tiles

traditional terracotta and mosaic tiles
Traditional terracotta and mosaic tiles

Marble & granite tiles small bathroom
Marble & granite tiles in a small London bathroom

Tiles are available in many plain colours, many of which match equipment in a British standard colour (they have a BS identification number). Floor tiles can be obtained to match or complement them. ‘Effects’ tiles-patterned, textured and sculptured are also obtainable in a wide colour range, but may not always be available ‘off the shelf’ and have to be ordered. Tiles used near cookers should be treated by the manufacturer against heat, or be thick.

Calculating the number of tiles

There are three basic types of tile. The first is the ‘bulk’, or ‘field’, tile. These usually have spacer lugs on the outer edges so that they are separated by a gap from each other. These gaps are filled, after tiling, with a compressible material called grout, which gives a neat patterned effect.

To calculate the number of tiles needed, allow three 108mm tiles per row for every 330mm of wall to be tiled, or 72 tiles for every 840 sq mm. Or you could measure the wall and floors , calculate how many square meters needs to be tiled. When you buy tiles for a shop, it should say on the box how many square metres a box will cover.

Laminated worktops

The other popular material for vulnerable areas of kitchen walls is plastic laminate whorktop sheet. Laminates come in a wide choice of plain, or mottled and marbled colours, woven and geometric patterns, and wood grains.
kitchen laminated worktop
They are made from compressed layers of resin-bonded paper, topped with a layer carrying the printed decoration and a clear melamine coating. It is a very versatile and durable material and can be cut to most shapes. Impact adhesive can be used to fix it to any rigid smooth backing, such as blockboard or chipboard. The edges of the backing material are usually lipped with matching laminate, which is available in strips about 25mm wide in a variety of popular colours. The surface is very hard and tough and will withstand regular cleaning and normal domestic liquids. A cigarette resistant grade is also obtainable. Since laminates can be used for tabletops and worktops as well as for wall facings, it is possible to feature a consistent colour and pattern scheme which will help to give the room a unified appearance.

Ceramic tiles

The best surface for areas which must stand up to regular cleaning with detergents is ceramic tiles.Cheap and effective, they provide an excellent finishing material for bathroom, shower and kitchen walls.
london bathroom kitchen tilers

These are made of fired pressed clay which is then glazed and fired again to give a high-gloss or matt finish. They come in an enormous range of plain or mottled colours. There is also a choice of tiles decorated with screen-printed patterns. Some of these are self-contained designs and can be mixed into a wall of plain tiling to add a decorative effect. Others are designed to form a continuous pattern, while still others, based on Spanish or Portuguese hand painted tile designs, can be used either individually or as part of a regular repeat pattern.
kitchen floor tiles
The tiles can be square or rectangular, with various other sizes available to order. Tiles with one or more rounded edges to flt around wall perimeters are also manufactured. Relief tiles, which have a pattern moulded into the surface and are usually glazed with a plain colour, are also available in sizes similar to those above, but these are about 13mm thick. As with heavily embossed papers, they will be seen to best advantage if lit from one side or from above to produce a strong ‘modelled’ effect. Tiles are traditionally fixed by bedding in a cement and sand mortar mix on a hard, flush surface, but one of the proprietary mastic adhesives may be quicker and easier to use. The joints are pointed in plaster or portland cement, unless there is any danger of movement in the surface to which they are fixed. If this is the case, a mastic compound should be used.

Polyvinyl chloride tiles are made in sizes similar to ceramic tiles, and are also available in panels moulded to simulate a group of individual tiles. They are fixed with an impact adhesive and are good to use in bathrooms, since their warm surface reduces the likelihood of condensation. The surface is, however, more liable to damage by scratching and knocking than a clay tile, and will not withstand abrasive cleaners, such as detergents or scouring powders.

Another attractive and suitable wall finish for bathrooms is mosaic. The true vitreous mosaic composed of a small square of glass or vitrified clay is very expensive, but ceramic mosaic with an eggshell finish and various other cheaper types are available. These are usually sold in panels about 300mm square, covered with a temporary paper facing which is washed off after the mosaic is fixed.
mosaic tiled bathroom
Like ceramic tiles, they can only be fitted to a hard flush surface, and are flitted with adhesive in the same way. The joints between the pieces are filled with white cement or other recommended grouting medium after the paper has been removed. Generally, the pattern of small pieces provides sufficient visual interest, and panels of uniformly coloured pieces are preferable to those with a mixture of colours. Some manufacturers produce panels composed of cushion shaped square pieces, rectangles or hexagons.
mosaic tiled bathroom london
Bathrooms usually need at least one mirror and the opportunity can be taken to form part or the whole of a wall surface as a mirror. Apart from its practical use, a large wall mirror can be effective in increasing the apparent size of a small bathroom, especially if it extends the full width of the wall at eye level.
modern bathroom cabinet mirror basin
A conventional, silvered plate glass mirror can be used, but this should not be fitted above a bath or other source of steam, or it will quickly mist over with condensation. This can be overcome by using a sheet of silvered plastic which is marketed at approximately the same price as the glass type. Glass mirror can also be obtained in the form of tiles which will fit in with the pattern of ceramic tiling.

Mirrors in bathrooms and toilets

The bathroom, or a tiny cloakroom without a window, are perfect arenas for more adventurous experiments with mirrors. Try lining all the walls of the bathroom with them (forget what was said earlier about window walls-the eye will be far too busy staggering about in infinity to worry about that) and mirror the ceiling as well.
london bathroom mirror wall
As long as there is something worth reflecting, you can transform a dull room into a fascinating kaleidoscope of images. Do not be put off by the bathroom fitments. There is nothing intrinsically ugly about a lavatory or bidet. The shapes, as shapes, are quite pleasing aesthetically, but familiarity has bred contempt. An attractive floor covering of either carpet or tiles, decorative jars or plants and pretty towels will add to the reflection. Or, if you feel that this is overdoing it, a sheet of mirror over the vanity unit will create light and space as well as look good. Fix it hard up against the walls and to the top of the unit, and then try another on the wall behind you.
mirror ensuite bathroom

Mirrors as reflectors of light

Mirrors can be invaluable in helping to lighten and brighten dark corners or even whole rooms. Two mirrors placed opposite each other, butting up to the window wall, for example, will give a room the illusion of greater width and will also make it lighter, by ‘bouncing’ the light further back into it.
ensuite bathroom mirror double basin lights
This is a very good way of brightening up a long, narrow bedroom, or any dark, confined areas such as a hall. If you panel the sides of a dormer window, in an attic, for instance, with mirror glass, the natural light will be greatly increased by reflection.
round bathroom mirror electric lights
Lining the whole deep reveal of a window with mirror glass will have a similar effect.
bathroom london
A little cubby-hole of a room, say a cloakroom, or any dark place with a hopelessly inadequate window, will be transformed if you cover the ceiling with mirror glass and let it reflect light from strip or spot lights.
bathroom mirror lights

Boxing in a bath

The days are gone when baths were tall cast iron structures with ornate exposed legs. Some period bathrooms can look good with cast iron baths too.

cast iron bath

The simple lines of a modern bathroom require the sides of a bath to be boxed in. Boxing-in a bath is a comparatively simple job and can be done with a wide range of tiles, plastic laminate, tongued and grooved timber boarding, or even gloss painted plywood.

None of these presents any serious technical problems. All these surfacing materials can be mounted on a simple but robust wooden frame fastened to the floor around the edge of the bath. The installation, however, has to meet various requirements. First, the frame must be strong enough not to warp-this is a serious problem in the steamy atmosphere of bathrooms.

boxing bath bathroom

The tendency of wood to warp in damp air can be reduced by painting all the parts with waterproof paint or varnish on all sides, so that the humidity of the wood remains constant. Second, it must be properly fastened to the surface it touches, so that it will resist kicking, blows from mops when cleaning the floor, and so on. The frame can be nailed to a wooden floor or it can be fastened to a concrete floor with wall plugs and screws, or with masonry pins. Nearly all baths have at least one side or end against a wall, and the ends of the frame can be plugged and screwed to this too. Third, the outer surface has to be reasonably watertight, so that water does not seep down behind it and under the bath where it cannot be mopped up.

This is simply solved by setting the panel about 3mm back from the outer lip of the bath, so that any drips from it run down the front of the panel instead of seeping through its back and rotting the frame. At the same time, the join between the bath and the wall should be sealed, either with a ‘bath trim kit’ consisting of narrow tiles with an L-shaped cross section or (more simply and cheaply) with the white or clear silicone sealing obtainable from any plumbing shop.

tiling bath bathroom

Fourth, the pipework under the bath must be accessible for maintenance. This includes not just the taps but also the trap in the waste pipe, which has to be cleaned out occasionally. The best solution here is to screw on the panels with ‘mirror’ screws, which have decorative covers on the heads so that you don’t have to disguise them. Don’t use too many screws; six or eight is ample for each panel if it has to be removed from time to time. (It is a good idea to inspect the floorboards under a bath for wet rot every few months.)

bathroom bath london

Designing Kitchens and Bathrooms

Defining a practical kitchen and bathroom

A practical kitchen can be defined as it marriage between the furniture and fittings and the structural reality of the room. Once you have a fairly clear idea of what is the best possible layout that will suit your kitchen, you can use a free design software online or the kitchen and bathroom supplier could offer you a free design. Our London Kitchen Fitters and Bathroom fitters will provide you with a kitchen or bathroom design. Then you can go on to selecting the furniture and fittings for the refurbishment.

kitchen extension plan

Choosing the furniture and fittings

As mentioned before it is not enough to concentrate purely on the good looks or otherwise of any particular items. When choosing furniture and equipment for your kitchen and bathroom, the first question you need to ask yourself is ‘will it work’? This is where ergonomics relates to the problems of design. To recap on this ergonomics can be defined as the relationship between man and machine.

Kitchens and kitchenettes in tiny spaces

In a tiny kitchen, every inch counts. Room for food preparation, cooking, washing up and storage is at a premium but too often such kitchens are badly designed, lacking storage space and with a thoughtless choice and siting of kitchen equipment. This can be infuriating for the housewife who spends much of her day there. With a little planning, however, a tiny kitchen can be made as pleasant to work in as any other kitchen.

small kitchen

Ideally, to make really efficient use of limited space you should start re-planning the room from scratch. Take a long look at what is already in the kitchen and the type of equipment you have there and you will probably find that much of the space is wasted. A hotchpotch of different-sized storage cupboards, for example, is a great space-waster. An old sink will have very little room below it for storage. A central table in a small kitchen will make traffic jams almost a certainty.

Planning the Kitchen layout

kitchen fitter London

With space at a premium in your kitchen, it is essential that you plan the room thoroughly. The best way to do this is to use a kitchen design software or make a scale drawing of the floor plan of your kitchen on a sheet of graph paper. Mark on it any architectural details plumbing, electrical points, windows, the door and the way it opens.

Next, cut out coloured pieces of card and mark them to represent the cooker, fridge, sink, cupboards and any other units. Lay these down on the plan and move them about to find the most efficient kitchen arrangement. Once you start doing this it will be easy to visualise how,everything can be fitted in, and how to save space.

Basic design

kitchens layout design

You will gain many ideas from working with your plan, but remember that there are basic design rules for kitchens, however large or small. There are three basic shapes for a kitchen plan-I, U and L shapes. Decide which one is right for your kitchen and fit in the units accordingly.

I shaped kitchen
An I-shaped arrangement is best for really cramped kitchens in passages and very narrow, rooms. In this type of kitchen, all the equipment and storage can be down one side of the room or right in front of you, making a neat and efficient line.
I shape kitchen design

L shape kitchen plinth lights and floor
An L-shaped arrangement is good for a rectangular room, or for part of a multipurpose room where the kitchen can be slotted into one corner. The L-shape can either be fitted neatly around the corner or, if space permits, one ‘arm’ can be left jutting into the room to act as a serving place or eating bar. But this arrangement is more suitable for reasonably big rooms.
L shaped kitchen

A U-shape can be used in square kitchens and is often best in a confined space because the equipment can be ‘wrapped’ around the cook, who stands in the centre and has everything well within reach.
U shaped kitchen

Work areas in the kitchen

Kitchen space must be divided into 4 work areas-preparation, cooking, serving and washing up even if there is a dishwasher. Within the framework of the I, U, or L shape, arrange these work areas in a natural progression, so that you don’t have to keep doubling back on your tracks when working in the kitchen. For example, you should place the fridge, food storage cupboards and mixer in the food preparation area. Keep pans over or under the sink as they usually need water in them before being put on the stove.

In a tiny kitchen, it is essential that there is a storage place for everything. Items that can’t be stored will simply be left cluttering valuable work surfaces. So plan your kitchen to the smallest detail to allow as much working space as possible to be left permanently free. When you have planned your kitchen to your satisfaction, you can start fitting in equipment and storage units to suit the work areas.

Units and Cabinets

You can save a great deal of space by using every inch of wall space from floor to ceiling for storage cupboards. The base units, the tops of which provide a work surface, should all have sliding doors. These take up a lot less room than I- hinged doors. Base units should stand on a recessed plinth. This will not only make unsightly scuff marks less conspicuous, but will also increase the kitchen floor area slightly, allowing you to work more comfortably as you can get your toe s under the working surface. One problem with base units is that manufacturers standard sizes will rarely fit snugly into a tiny kitchen.

You can build cupboards to your own sizes, or you can use open shelves, cheaper for someone on a small budget to bridge gaps between units. The top shelf should be level with the other work surfaces. Corner units are particularly important as there is often wasted storage space here in badly designed kitchens. Corner cupboards with plenty of shelves will gain valuable space.

Over the base unit, shallow midway units, about l00mm and l52mm deep will give ample space for jars or tins of food, but leave plenty of working room underneath. Over these units, hanging cupboards can run right up to the ceiling.

Kitchen Sink

kitchen sink double

A modern stainless steel sink is shallower and therefore less space-consuming than the old-fashioned ceramic sink. If the sink is set into a work-top you can save a lot of space. Draining racks can be set on either side of the recessed sink hung on the wall behind it or placed on a tiled window sill over it. Even in a tiny kitchen don’t stint on the size of the sink as this is one of the items in most constant demand in a kitchen. If you have a large family a double sink is well worth considering even in the smallest kitchen. It speeds up washing up, and has many other uses.

Waste disposal in the kitchen

A waste disposal unit will take up far less space than a waste bin, though a cheaper and equally space-saving alternative is a rubbish chute set into the wall near the sink. Rubbish can be ‘posted’ through a trapdoor on the kitchen side and falls straight down into a dustbin outside. There should be a hinged flap on the outside wall to prevent draughts and the walls of the chute should be tiled to permit easy cleaning.

Kitchen Cookers

A split-level cooker takes up more space than an ordinary cooker unless it is carefully placed. If you can find room for this arrangement however, the hob and the oven don’t need to be next door to each other. This is useful if, for example, yon can make use of an old fireplace.

cooker hob oven in fireplace

The fireplace can be removed and the hob set into the chimney on a fitted unit with cupboards beneath. The oven can be placed near the serving area or on the other side of the preparation area. The door opening should be taken into account when placing the oven. Also don’t put the cooker by the floor because this can be unsafe especially with small children around.