Tiling – Before you start

Tiling – Before you start

Now you’ve got all the tiles, grout and adhesive you need, it’s time for the final checks to make sure you have all the tools you need and have made the necessary preparations to the area you’re tiling to ensure a smooth project from start to finish. Here’s our tiling preparation checklist to the perfect tiling job:


  • Spirit level
  • Measuring tape
  • 5cm (2”x1”) battens (for marking out tiles)
  • Tile cutter
  • Pincers (for nipping off the edges)
  • Tile adhesive trowel
  • Grouting squeegee
  • Sponge
  • Spacers
  • A mechanical tile cutter (may be required for porcelain, limestone, natural stone products, marble, granite, slate etc.)
  • Tile fixing trim (available in coloured PVC and metals)
  • Bath seal
  • Pre-formed movement and control joint profiles will make your job look more professional

Preparing the area

Preparation is just as important as the tiling itself, you need a perfectly flat surface for tiling – do not cut corners, this prep is vital to creating a professional end product.

  1. Tile backer board is suitable for fixing tiles in most domestic situations, just make sure you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions closely so that they are supported correctly.
  2. New plaster must be primed using acrylic primer before tiling as it can suck moisture out of adhesives, causing it to dry too quickly and often debond. Old plaster is suitable for tiling onto, as long as it’s in good condition. Check with the tile adhesive manufacturer to find out if the plasters requires prior priming.
  3. Plasterboard is suitable for walls as long as it’s well supported with the board being a minimum thickness of 12.5mm. Fix the tiles directly on the paper facing, do not skim with finish plaster.
  4. It’s important to check the state of painted surfaces before you begin tiling on them. Remove any old wall covering and flaking paint, fill in old cracks and ensure the surface is smooth, clean and free from dust, dirt or grease.

So you’re ready to go, here’s our top tips to help you become a tiling wizard!

Tools – There are so many tools available to make tiling a doddle so take advantage. Tile polish, sealant, tile cutters, grout removers and the good old fashioned yellow sponge all help to create that professional finish.

Spreading adhesive - Invest in a good quality trowel and only spread adhesive in an area that you can comfortably manage to tile in 20 minutes. You need to hold the trowel at 45 degree angle to create ribs and these should all be the same direction to make sure your adhesive dries properly.

Spacing – A common mistake to make is laying the tiles with a small gap and then adjusting. However, this can lead to a build up of adhesive that can cause problems later on. The trick is to lay each tile touching, then slide it away to create the correct gap which also makes sure the tile is fully bedded into the adhesive.

Grouting - First things first, make sure you leave your adhesive to dry for at least 24 hours. You’ll need to invest in a grout float to properly work the grout into the gaps between the tiles and have a cloth handy to wipe off any excess before it dries.

Tricky shapes - If you have an awkward shape to contend with, create a card template. Use the template to outline onto the tile and then use either a tile hand saw or jigsaw blades to cut your desired shape.

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