Tiles can be installed on almost any structurally sound substrate just as long as they meet a few conditions. The surface must be clean, dry, smooth and free from wax, soap, scum, grease and any dirt or grime. If there are damaged, loose or uneven surface materials where the tiles are to be fixed, then these areas must be repaired, patched or levelled.
Wall Tile Layout
The wall layout of your tiles will depend on your design however there is a basic rule for laying wall tiles. Start by finding the centre point of the wall and use a level to draw a plumb line in the wall’s centre. Then plan the layout by laying out a row of tiles across the bottom of the wall from the centre line you have just marked. Be sure to take into account the uniform grout joints between each tile. The width of the grout joint must meet Australian Standards. Laying out your tiles will identify if there are any cuts that need to be made. If the layout leaves cuts smaller than half a tile, then adjust the centre line half a tile closer to the side wall. The next step is to identify and draw a guideline for the first row of tiles to be set above the floor substrate. This is critical if the floor is uneven or sloped (i.e. bathroom floor slope). To draw this guideline, find the lowest point of the floor using a leveller. Stack two tiles here and at the top draw a horizontal line on the wall above the second tile. With the level, continue the line around all sides of the walls to be tiled.
This process can also be used to identify any distinguishable pattern or colour variation in your tiles. Set aside or mix / blend tiles to suit your design preference.
Firstly you will need to select the right adhesive that is appropriate for the wall you are tiling. There are a few different types of adhesives so it is best to ask for advice if you unsure. Carefully read and follow all instructions and precautions on the adhesive package. When mixing adhesive you should only mix the amount that is expected to be used over the next 30 minutes to an hour to avoid the adhesive curing the bucket.
To apply the adhesive, first place the tile over the area it is to be installed then lift it up and spread the adhesive across that area using the trowel recommended on the adhesive package. Remove any excess adhesive and make sure you do not spread a larger area than can be set in 15 minutes.
All tiles that are to be cut must be measured carefully and marked with a pencil or felt tip pen. Straight cuts are easy, you can use a tile cutter for this. If you have any curved cuts then a tile nipper is the best solution. Nippers chip away small pieces at a time to achieve a very accurate result. However if you have very long curved cuts then a rod saw is best.
Before setting any tiles onto the adhesive you should lay them out to check for any variation. Variation in shade is an inherent characteristic of both porcelain and ceramic tiles and it is always best to achieve a blended effect to avoid any box to box shade variation. Begin installation by setting a tile in the centre of the space to be tiled and work in grids. Make sure you finish one grid before moving to the next. The method to set tiles should be a laying and twisting motion. Not a sliding motion. Once the tile is set, remove any excess adhesive from the top of the tile with a wet sponge and the ground joint with a paddle pop stick or putty knife and insert tile spacers for each tile to leave equal grout joints between every tile. There are many rules for different laying patterns. If you are laying rectangle tiles in a brick bond pattern then you must make sure that the tiles never overlap by more than 1/3.
Wait 24 hours before grouting unless otherwise specified on the adhesive package. Make sure you carefully read grouting instructions and precautions on the grout package. Be sure to only mix the amount of grout that you will use in approximately 30 minutes to avoid the grout curing the bucket.
To apply the grout, first remove any spacers from the joints and then spread the grout on the tile surface by forcing the grout mixture into the joints with a rubber float or sponge.
After applying the grout make sure ot remove any excess grout from the surface of the tiles immediately with the edge of your float. After approximately 15-20 minutes or when the grout visually begins to set slightly you should remove and clean the surface of tiles using a damp sponge. The sponge can also be used to smooth out the grout joints for a better finish.
Let dry until grout is hard and haze forms on tile surface, then polish with a soft cloth. Rinse again with sponge and clean water if necessary. Wait 72 hours for heavy use. Don't apply sealers or polishes for three weeks, and then only in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.
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