This article is about how to install wall tile. Installing tile on a wall is one of the most common diy projects, as you can use ceramic tiles in your kitchen, bathroom, hallway or even on a terrace or a deck. Nevertheless, this aspect doesn’t imply that the whole operation is simple or without any degree of difficulty, on the contrary, it is quite hard to install ceramic tiles in a professional manner, without using the right tools, materials or techniques. Consequently, we will strive to cover all aspects when it comes to installing ceramic tile on wall, either made of concrete or drywall, and reveal the secrets of a job done in a professional manner.
First of all, you have to make sure the surface on which you install ceramic tiles is level and clean. Make sure the wall doesn’t have dust, paint or other residues on its surface. From our experience we don’t recommend you to install tiles on curved or crooked walls, as you won’t be able to get the desired result. On the contrary, your work will be useless and you won’t be able to reuse the tiles.
Therefore, you should ensure that the walls are level and remove the paint or any other residues, using average grit sandpaper and a large scraper. Before purchasing ceramic tiles, you should calculate the total surface on which you have to install the wall tiles. Consequently, use a tape measurement to find out the exact measurements and calculate the area, by multiplying the total length withe the height. In addition, you have to add 5-10% to the figure, due to cutting wastes.
Made from this plan
In order to install wall ceramic tiles in kitchen, you need the following:
- Ceramic tiles
- Trim tile
- Tile spacers
- Adhesive for ceramic tiles
- Safety gloves, glasses, respiratory mask
- Measuring tape, pencil, framing square
- Ceramic tile cutter, Tile nippers
- Notched trowel, Margin trowel, Bucket
- Spread the adhesive on small surfaces, to avoid getting it dried
- Use a level to check the quality of your work
- Rent a wet saw to cut the tiles accurately
- 8 hours for 100 ft2 / 10 m2
Installing wall tile in kitchen
Choosing the right tiles is maybe more difficult even than the actual installation, as you have to use their shapes, colors and models to your advantage. Generally speaking, ceramic tiles come in a great variety of dimensions, starting from the popular 4 1/4” x 4 1/4”, up to larger ones as 12” x 12” or 18” x 18”. Nevertheless, nowadays you can also find rectangular wall tiles, such as 8” x 12”, making your decision more difficult than ever. In addition, you can create interesting effects by using trims or by installing the ceramic tiles diagonally, but eventually it all depends on your tastes and needs. Make sure you use plastic corner trims (for interior and exterior corners), if you want to get the job done quicker.
Cutting ceramic tiles is essential for your project, therefore you have to use the right tools and techniques. It is possible that a tile cutter won’t be enough for your needs and you will also have to buy a hole saw tile drill bit or even a grinder with diamond blade. If you can afford and if you install harder grades of tile, you could buy a wet tile saw, which is also good for complex cuts (around windows, pipes, drainage).
Preparing tile adhesive
First, we have to prepare tile adhesive in a clean bucket. Consequently, fill one third of the bucket with clean water and pour the thinset mortar (in this way we avoid creating dust).
Although you can also use mastic adhesives, we recommend you to go for thinset mortar in most of the cases, as it secures the tiles better and it is more resistant over time, either we speak of wet areas or those prone to heat. Read carefully the instructions, as the proportions vary according to the support surface and tile characteristics.
Let the adhesive powder sit over the water for at least 5 minutes, before you start mixing the compounds. In this way, the moisture will activate the components of the thinset mortar.
Spreading adhesive on wall
If you install wall tiles prior to floor tiles, you have to leave a gap between the concrete floor and the first row of tiles. Consequently, first measure the height of the wall (lets assume 100”/250 cm). If you are going to install tiles up to the ceiling, then on the last row you should use full tiles. Next, measure tiles with the spacers between rows ( 8”x12 rows + 1/16” (spacers)x11=96 11/16”).
Consequently, we will start installing wall tiles from 100”-96 11/16”=3 5/16”, as to make sure the last row of tiles will be made of full tiles.
Next, you have to install a straight line support (we used a metal stud, but you can also use straight timber) at the calculated distance from the floor. Make sure the support line is level, to install the tiles properly. Remember that if you don’t install tiles up to the ceiling, you should install tiles directly on the tile flooring.
In order to apply the adhesive on the wall, you have to use a notched trowel. Consequently, load mortar on the trowel and spread it on a small surface using the straight edge. After you have spread the thinset evenly, you have to use the notched edge, as you can see in the image.
By using the comb edge, you ensure that the tile adhesive bed is uniformly thick on the whole surface. Subsequently, you will be able to install the ceramic tiles in a professional manner.
Installing wall tiles
Start with one corner of the wall an lay the first tile into position. Push it firmly in the adhesive, twisting it lightly, to make sure it is locked into position. Nevertheless, you should ensure that the tile is placed properly, level and plumb.
Continue installing the wall tiles, using spacers, as to make sure you will be able to grout them after you finish the project. Use regularly the level, as to make sure you installed the tiles on the concrete wall in a proper manner.
Prepare more adhesive in the manner we have described, and install ceramic tiles using a step-by-step approach. Makes sure you don’t make a mess around the working area, as doing projects by yourself its about getting organized and overcoming your limits.
In our case, we have used a grinder with a diamond blade to cut out a small section of the tile. Consequently, mark the section of the tile you want to cut out, using a carpentry pencil. Next, lock firmly the tile into position, as you will use the grinder. Remember that the cuts have to be made on the back side of the ceramic tiles, as not to scratch the ceramic face.
Continue installing the ceramic tile until you reach the opposite wall. Use the grinder with the diamond blade, whenever you need to detour pipes, outlets or other obstacles. You might damage several tiles during the project, but remember that you have to install only the best ones, without scratches or cracks. From our experience, we can assure you things can only go wrong in time, if you install cracked tiles or cut poorly.
Installing trim tile
In order to add personality to your kitchen walls you can use a unique layout of the tiles or install trim tiles.
You might notice several holes in the tiles. Underneath the holes, there are power outlets. One way to solve this issue is to use a large hole saw drill bit. If you don’t have one, you can use the grinder with diamond blade to make several holes on the back of the tile, exactly over the contour of the outlet. After the adhesive will dry out, use a hammer to break the contour around the outlet.
Next, we have decided to install tiles with a different color, as to create a beautiful kitchen design. You can use these ideas for your kitchen, or you can create your own tile design, now that you have learned how to install wall tiles.
Usually, trim tiles have to be installed differently, as compared to the regular tiles, when speaking of spacers. Consequently, in order to enhance the effect of the trim tiles, in most of the cases, you don’t have to install spacers between them, but only between the trim and the previous and next courses of tiles.
There are cases in which you have to stop the tile project for a few hours or days: emergencies that cannot be postponed or you might be too tiered to continue installing ceramic wall tiles. Therefore, you have to remove the adhesive, using a trowel or a palette knife.
After you have finished installing ceramic tiles on the wall surface, you have clean the tiles using a clean sponge and water. Make sure you do not let the sponge too much in water, as you can damage the tiles, which aren’t fixed yet properly. It is better to clean the tiles as soon as possible, after you install them, as later it will be much harder.
Use a palette knife to clean the gaps between the tiles, as to be able to grout them later. If the mortar dries out, you won’t be able to grout them at all, or in the best case the grout will be applied superficially. Nevertheless, work with great attention, otherwise you could move the tiles from place.
After you install the tile floor, you can install the bottom row of wall tiles, as to finish the project. We hope that this guide was useful to you, and now you have a better grasp of what installing wall tiles really means.
In order to grout the wall tile, you have to use a scraper to remove the adhesive between the tiles. Work with great care as you could chip easily the wall tiles. Afterwards, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust and other residues.
Thank you for reading our article on how to install wall tile and we recommend you to check the rest of our tile projects. Don’t forget to share our projects with your friends, by using the social media buttons.