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Tiling: How to achieve a professional finish

Tiling: How to achieve a professional finish

A professional finish on bathroom and kitchen tiling is not as difficult as you think. With the right tools and a bit of know-how, here's how to do your own tiling

Doing your own tiling can be daunting, but it's easier than you think! Here are some tiling tips so that you can avoid hiring a professional tiler and save some money.

Sliding into trouble 

How to do your own tiling

It's possible to do your own tiling if you don't want to hire a professional

Place tiles straight down in their final position. If you slide them into place, you will create a ridge of adhesive on the edge of the tile, which will be forced up between the tile joints. Wipe adhesive off the face of tiles before it can harden. Make sure to use plastic spacers to get everything lined up right. 

Better to butter 

The general rule is to put the adhesive on the surface you are covering, not the tile. But when it comes to fixing narrow cuts and edge tiles, it’s better to butter the back of the tile with adhesive, then press it into place. 

Roll over mosaics 

A paint roller is the ideal tool for bedding sheets of mosaic tiles into the adhesive. It ensures even pressure and the avoidance of high and low spots across the wall or work surface. A rolling pin makes a good alternative if you don’t have a paint roller handy. 

Look for daylight 

Lay a straightedge, such as a spirit level, across the surface of tiles before the adhesive dries to test for hollows and high spots. Prise off the affected tiles and add or remove adhesive. 

Waterproof worktops

Use special angled tiles to make the edge of a homemade chipboard worktop waterproof. Stick cut tiles along the edge of the worktop first, then position the angled tiles so that they overlap the face tile. Finish off by tiling the worktop from front to back, with cut tiles fitted against the wall. 

Stop drill bits from skating 

Make fixings in tiled walls by drilling into the grout lines wherever possible. If you have to drill through the face of the tile, use a sharp spear-point or masonry drill bit so the glaze doesn’t chip.

Stop the bit from skating on the glaze by sticking masking tape on the tile where you want to drill; this will give the bit an initial "bite". Make sure the drill isn’t set on hammer action and start slowly if it has variable speed control. 

Sealed against moisture 

Apply waterproof silicone sealant to the tips of screws when mounting fixtures on tiled walls that get wet. As the screw tightens in the wall plug, the sealant is forced up the threads, helping to stop water getting down the fixing and behind the tiles. 

Sink the plug 

How to tile your own bathroom

It's possible to tile your own bathroom

If you’re inserting a wall plug into a tiled wall, drill the hole at least 3mm deeper than the length of the plug so it can be pushed into the wall past the tile. Otherwise, when a screw is driven into the plug, the sideways pressure it exerts can crack the tile. 

Neat holes for pipes 

A hole-boring attachment can be fitted to a platform tile cutter to cut holes for plumbing and central-heating pipes. Bore from the back of the tile, but stop before you go right through and tap out the hole from the glazed side. 

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