How to tile a wall
To tile a wall requires skill, hard work and a little patience. To tile a wall isn't as easy as tiling a floor or a countertop, you need to think, plan and prep the surface before you even consider starting any of the actual tiling.
There are several factors to consider to tile a wall in the best possible way:
The surface of the substrate
The surface of the substrate is by far the most important factor. You need to ensure that there are no damp spots or water leaks beneath your tiles and that the surface has been specially prepared for tiling.
The room temperature also has an impact on how well you get on. You have to be mindful of the fact that hot weather can cause your tiles to dry faster. This is why you need a good mastic, so it doesn't contain any moisture, because if there's even a hint of moisture left on the tiles once they're laid then they'll stick together and not to the wall itself.
If your substrate is constantly damp, like in the case of having a wall that constantly leaks or if you're applying tiles to the inside of a shower then it's highly advisable to waterproof your wall first. You can hire an expensive machine designed specifically for waterproofing walls (a vapour barrier) but this may not be necessary. If your substrate constantly has condensation on it, as most bathroom walls do, then you can just waterproof the wall manually by using a product like this.
Materials to tile a wall
The materials needed to tile a wall include:
How to tile a wall
Mixing and applying adhesive is actually not that hard of a process, however, some details will make life easier for you. First off, mix the adhesive in a large collection cup first and then pour it into your smaller bucket to use with your trowel. This way the strength of the adhesive is only compromised once (from mixing the two parts) instead of twice (from mixing into your trowel).
Next, don't try to mix the adhesive by hand. Use a drill with a paddle mixer instead. This will yield better results in much less time than mixing it up by hand. Apply a good amount of adhesive to your wall and spread it all over the area you want to tile. Don't take shortcuts here. It will cost you more time and effort in the end if you do.
Once this is done, start laying your tiles at one side or corner of your wall and make sure it's straight. Once you've found a line that's straight enough for your tastes (use your level to check it), snap a chalk line at that height to use as a guide for the rest.
The next step is the most important one: Don't try to set all your tiles in one go, because if you do, they will almost certainly not be level. Instead, lay half of them and then check their level by using your level or by measuring diagonally between opposite corners. If they're not level, you can just lift the wayward tiles and shim under them with a thin piece of wood or even your fingernail if you want to be hardcore about it.
Once your tiles are level, keep laying more full rows. If you need to cut any tile, lay it in place and then score along your chalk line with your utility knife. Then, after you pop the tile into two halves (which may require a bit of force), align one side of your cut with where the chalk line is running.
This will make the tiles fit snugly together without gaps.
More than anything else, patience is the key to tiling. Don't rush it. If you start to panic, take off your rubber gloves and take a break.
Once all of your tiles are laid in a solid row, dip your rubber squeegee into the wet grout and use it to smooth out the tiles. This helps remove excess mortar so it doesn't dry with an unsightly bulge in your tile work.
Once you've got the row laid, start at one end and use your trowel's edge to scrape away excess mortar between each of the tiles. Clean the grouting tool between each swipe, and don't forget to wipe off your blade with a wet rag or sponge before moving on to the next tile.
After your tiles have been laid and grouted, leave the excess mortar off for at least 24 hours. This will give the tile some time to set before you begin trying to scrape off any of the mortar that sticks up above the surface. If it's really bad, use a chisel or flat-head screwdriver (with a rag wrapped around it) to chip away at the mortar, which can be quite tough.
Wet your sponge and wring it out thoroughly, then use a circular motion to remove the remaining mortar. When you're done, go back over with a clean, dry sponge to make sure you haven't missed anything. If there are any stubborn spots after all this work, try using an abrasive cleanser made for grout or lime removal. Just wet the surface, apply the cleanser, wait 10 minutes (and if necessary, scrub with a toothbrush), then rinse clean.
How to tile a kitchen wall
The steps listed above are great for tiling a wall in your bathroom, but you can also tile the walls of your kitchen. The main difference is that you need to use a cleaner that's free of chlorine or acid-based cleansers because they could react with the grout and cause damage.
In addition, you also need to use a grout designed for walls, since kitchen grouts are usually made with more additives that help resist stains.
How to tile a bathroom wall
In addition to the steps listed above to tile a wall, you have to factor in placing tiles around the bathtub, wash hand basins, toilets and bidets. To do this, you need to take the following steps:
Measure and cut tiles around any obstacles (e.g., making sure tiles fit over and around the drain of a bath or shower).
Cover these surfaces with contact paper before you begin laying the tile on them – it will make for easier cleaning later on.
If you are tiling over a bath, wash hand basin or toilet base you need to remove the feet that hold it off the ground and place thin plywood sheets underneath them before beginning.