How to achieve a professional finish when tiling a bathroom
Tiling is a cost-effective option to give a bathroom a striking appearance, which needs little in the way of maintenance and can last for many years. Here’s how you can do it yourself.
One option is to employ a professional tiler, particularly if you want the job completed quickly, but labour charges can be expensive and you may have to accept spending less on the tiles to afford the services of an expert. Alternatively, tiling your own bathroom is a definite option even if you have a moderate level of DIY skills, so long as you invest in the correct equipment and accept that the task will take longer for you than a professional.
Preparing the walls
A uniform, neat finish is most likely to be achieved if the walls that you are tiling are flat and in good condition. Any plaster that has come loose where old tiles have been removed should be filled and sanded beforehand so that the surface of the wall is level. If you are tiling onto new plaster, scoring it with the edge of a trowel can help to create a ‘key’ for the tile adhesive to stick to.
If you are tiling a shower area, placing a vapour barrier or moisture resistant drywall behind the tiles is recommended, as ceramic tiles are slightly porous and, over time, problems with damp could occur.
Starting with the longest wall, measure the centre and mark a vertical chalk line (use a plumb line to ensure the line is absolutely vertical rather than relying on the bath, floor or ceiling to be straight). You will need to start tiling outwards in either direction from the centre line, working upwards towards the ceiling.
Using a tile adhesive comb, smooth adhesive across the wall where the first row of tiles will be positioned. Carefully press each tile into place, applying pressure all over to achieve a firm set. Adhesive will dry fairly quickly, so it is important to apply the tiles at a comfortable speed.
To achieve the optimum space between tiles, insert plastic spacers into the adhesive as you tile. Tile spacers are available in a variety of widths.
Tiling tricky areas
When you reach corners, you will probably find that you don’t need to use a full tile. Measure the space on the wall in two places (top and bottom), as the adjacent wall may not be at right angles and you may need to cut the tile accordingly. Different tile cutters are available in DIY stores to make cutting quick and neat.
Around toilets and sinks, by far the easiest way to achieve a professional finish is to remove these fittings completely so that you can simply use whole tiles across the wall instead of having to cut tricky shapes. As this will invariably mean disconnecting from the water supply, you may wish to ask a plumber to do this for you.
Applying the finishing touches
Grouting between the tiles should be delayed for at least 24 hours after tiling so that the adhesive has time to set properly. Using a grouting tool will enable you to complete the job more quickly; any excess grout can be wiped clean of the tiles once dry.
Around sinks, showers and baths, it is vital to apply acrylic sealant where the tiles and the fittings meet, to prevent water from seeping into the gap and causing leaks. Sealant is available in white and clear shades; allow it to dry for 24 hours before letting it get wet.
By investing in time and patience, you will be able to achieve a professional finish in your tiled bathroom that will make the room eye-catching and easy to maintain for many years to come.