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Have you ever wondered what should you do for preparing walls for tiling? The steps taken will vary depending on the surface of the wall. BestLifeTips will share with you tips on preparing walls for tiling and how to tile a wall in this article.
Why is wall preparation so important?
The final goal of preparing walls for tiling is to create a flat, dry, solid, structurally sound surface firmly attached to the wall studs with no flexibility or movement that could damage installed tile and grout.
For wet areas, such as shower walls, you must take certain precautions.
Before you start, remember that using the correct trowel and mortar is critical to a successful tile project. Floor or wall, indoors or outdoors, tile type and size all are a factor.
Preparing walls for tiling
Here are some steps in preparing walls for tiling:
- Look out for signs of wall hangings, such as screws, nails or other types of fittings
- Get rid of loose plaster
- Tear down and remove old wallpapers
- Fill larger cracks via layering
- Sand the wall to level it down if needed
- Clean dust and heavy particles
- Vacuum clean and wipe the walls
- Prime the surface prior to the tiling
Preparing walls for tiling – old tile
If you want to tile over old tiles, there are two options. You can chisel off the entire wall which can be a laborious job or tile over the existing tiles. Although the first one is highly recommended, you can tile on tiles.
You need to treat your old tiles with a grinding disc and clean the wall once done to provide a better surface for the adhesive to be applied to.
Check for hollow tiles. The best way is to use your ears and knock each piece. If you spot a hollow one, then remove it and fill the cavity. Otherwise, your fresh tile installation will collapse over time.
You should avoid aligning your new pattern with old grouting lines.
Preparing walls for tiling – drywall
Fresh plaster requires up to a month to enable the material to set in and fasten. Once ready for tiling, there is no need to tape the joints.
Apply the last layer of skim coat and then use a medium sandpaper to achieve a rough texture for the adhesive to bond well.
Before tiling, make sure there is no dust or heavy particles on the surface. Vacuum, then use a damp cloth to wipe the surface. The surface must be dry before applying the adhesive.
Preparing walls for tiling – old plaster
Using old plaster depends on the age and condition of the walls. You should consult a professional to confirm whether the plaster is suitable to tile over, or it needs removing and fresh plasterboard applying.
Sometimes, gypsum might react when an adhesive is applied. So you should apply an acrylic primer. All you have to do is preparing the surface for the adhesive.
Take care of any existing cracks or holes. Once those are done, apply a thin layer of primer and let it dry off. Sand one more time to set the ground for the adhesive to bond.
Preparing walls for tiling – painted or textured drywall
Remove any signs of paint not firmly or tightly fixed in place. Then fill in any cracks and holes and use sandpaper to fix any uneven areas.
Use a vacuum to make sure there is no dust or heavy particles present on the wall. Next, use a dry cloth to make sure it is perfectly clean. Let the wall dry completely before beginning tiling.
Preparing walls for tiling – plywood
You can use plywood for tiling floors but when it comes to walls, it is unfit. Since it is sensitive to temperature, there is a continuous change in size which can lead to tiles and grout to crack and cause irreversible damage.
Although it is not recommended to use plywood for wall tiling, plywood can be used for tiling your floor.
Preparing walls for tiling – wallpaper
You need to remove wallpaper before tiling because of the shiny, smooth finish. Lining paper will have a raw, textured feel to it.
The easiest way to remove old wallpaper is using steam, but it will make the wall moisture. That’s why it’s always safer to strip and sand.
As always, make sure the surface is dust, dirt, grease, and moisture free prior to applying an adhesive.
How to tile a wall?
Tiling a wall is a surprisingly simple DIY project most homeowners can do it in just a weekend.
What you need?
- Wide putty knife
- 4-foot level
- Sanding block
- Small sledge and cold chisel
- Stud finder
- Tape measure
- Chalk line
- Utility knife
- Carbide scriber
- Margin and notched trowels
- Cordless drill
- Grout knife
- Snap cutter or wet saw
- Tile nippers
- Masonry stone
- Caulk gun and caulk
- Grout float
- Deglossing and release agents
- Thinset mortar
- Dimensional lumber for battens
- Tile base or bullnose
- Nylon wedges
- Finishing nails
Step 1: Remove old materials
Remove any wallcovering and degloss paint. If you remove wallpaper, strip and sand to clean off the residue of glue and paper. Make sure the surface dries completely before setting tile on it.
Step 2: Look for defects
Using a 4-foot level to check the wall in sections, marking high spots, depressions, and other defects that would interfere with the tile. Pay close attention to corners to check for plumb.
Being careful in your survey of the wall at this stage will save time later.
Step 3: Apply thinset and backer board
Skim coat a layer of thinset on any walls that are out of plumb and fill depressions. If you install backer board, mark stud centers on the ceiling. Cut and fasten backer board, centering its edges on the studs. Position the backer board pieces to minimize the cutting and waste.
Step 4: Pencil line
Set a 4-foot level vertically on the wall, about 2 feet from a corner, over a grout joint. If the wall meets at an outside corner, set the level where the inside edge of a bullnose will fall.
Pencil a line down the level, extend it to the floor and ceiling. Repeat the process on the horizontal plane.
Step 5: Mark tile placement
Measure up from the horizontal line a distance equal to the size of your tile and mark the wall at this point. Continue marking the wall in the same increments.
Using a 4-foot level, mark the wall across from these points and snap layout grids so you can keep each horizontal course straight.
Step 6: Apply the first batch of tile
Mix enough adhesive to cover the size of a section you can lay within its working time. Work from the bottom up, spreading the adhesive evenly and combing it with the notched edge of the trowel. Start at the bottom, and using a batten, press the tile into the mortar with a slight twist.
According to the professional tradesmen from Fantastic Tilers, less experienced DIY enthusiasts can use the ready-mix type of adhesive. If you a professional tiler, apply the powdered solution. It dries slower and thus allows you to better adjust and align the entire wall tiling.
Step 7: Keep laying tile
Continue laying the pattern of your choice, using spacers if your tile is not lugged. Notice the placement and position of the spacers.
Setting the spacers flush with the surface of the tile will make them difficult to remove. When the field tile is set, cut and install the edge tiles.
Step 8: Mix and apply grout
After the adhesive has cured to the manufacturer’s specifications, inspect the joints for excess adhesive. Use a utility knife or grout knife to remove any adhesive in the joints and clean the tile surface.
Mix enough grout to cover a section and force it into the joints with a grout float, keeping the float at a 45-degree angle. Fill the joints and work diagonally to remove excess grout.
Step 9: Wipe off excess
When the grout has cured enough that a damp sponge can’t pull it out of the joints, wipe off the excess with the float held almost perpendicular to the surface.
Clean the surface and smooth the joints with a damp sponge, then repeat the cleaning with clean water and a clean sponge.
When a haze forms, wipe it with a clean rag. You may have to wipe with some pressure to remove the haze.
Tiling walls is actually not difficult. The thing is that you must have a plan of wall-tile installation, know the steps in preparing walls for tiling, choose the right adhesive and just do it. Come back to BestLifeTips for more information.