DIY Tiling: A Step By Step Guide

Tiling takes a lot more time and effort than many DIY jobs, but it's worth it.

Tell me that during your house-hunt, your other half has not snorted at the kitchen or the bathroom, and walked out muttering something about how a quick retile would sort it out just fine.

Sure, a quick tile might sort it out. Is there really any chance of that person, so willing to change everything, actually pulling on their worksuit and slapping the grout around? That kind of suggestion is usually met by a 'we should pay a professional'. It seems to me, though, that buying a new house has plenty of bills as it is, and retiling is not going to be cheap. There's no reason, though, that you can not give it a go yourself.

What do you need to do? Stick on your work clothes, check someone is willing to ply you with tea and snacks, then collect your tools.

What you need

* Tiles
* Tile cutter and tile cutting jig
* Tile nibblers
* Adhesive (waterproof!)
* Adhesive spreader
* Spacers
* Grout (make sure it's suitable for bathrooms, if you're tiling the bathroom – same with the adhesive)
* Grout spreader
* Length of 1×3
* Scaffold tower or Roommate (the Roommate is a compact version of the ever-useful scaffold tower. The Roommate fits nicely into small spaces, making your tiling project even easier, and, as such, faster.
* Spirit level
* Tape measure
* Someone good with numbers

Your wall should be as flat and sound as possible. You may need to do a spot of plastering first if it's not. Otherwise, make sure the wall is clean and dry before you start.

With your wall prepped, now you can start tiling. Lay out ten tiles – with spacers between each one – and measure the whole row. When you've divided the total by ten, scribble down the total … you'll need it later.

If you're tiling from floor to ceiling, measure from floor to ceiling and mark a midway line around the room using the spirit level. If you're tiling to a specific height, draw a line, again using the spirit level, on the walls you're going to tile.

Measure from the floor to the midline and mark a midline between the floor and the midline – sticking with the fractions, why not name it the quarter-line.

Measure once again from the floor to the midline and divide this number by the size of the tiles (that you noted down earlier). If there is a fraction of a tile space left, move the midline down by the extra amount, so that you have an even space to work in.

Draw the quarterline mark around the room, using the spirit level. Next, measure each wall and mark the midpoint of the wall clearly on the midline. Draw a line from the midpoint to the floor (and to the ceiling, if you're tiling up as well as down). Measure from the vertical line in the middle of the room to one end of the wall and divide this amount by the size of the tile (that you noted earlier). If you've found that with the tiles laid the room will be lopsided, move the vertical midpoint line in one way or another so that each end of the wall has even-cut tiles.

If you do not trust your gridlines, you could even go one step further and mark out where every tile is to go. Do what works for you.

Just under the quarterline, fix a 1×3 batten to the wall. Use the batten just for the beginning of your tiling project – it's to keep the tiles level.

You've probably got a scaffold tower hiding in the corner of your room, but you're not sure why. If your plans include to tile up to the ceiling, you'd do well to have a scaffold tower to hand. Erecting a scaffold tower takes only about an hour because of the handy colour-coded parts. Not only will it save you time, but also a fair amount of pain. By using a scaffold tower, you remove the need for stretching and overreaching. Whereas on a ladder you have to clamber up and down, this way your tiles are within easy reach. Essentially, it's like having a floor a metre off the ground. Perfect! So set up your scaffold tower before the next tiling set.

In a bucket, mix up the waterproof adhesive, then apply it from the batten in vertical lines up the wall – enough to lay a couple of tiles. Place the tiles on with confidence, do not try slipping them around to get them in place.

Lay the second tile next to the first and insert a spacer between the tiles – one at the top and another at the bottom.

Work up and out from the batten, leaving tiles that need to be cut until later, until you have covered the wall above the batten. Leave the tiles to cure for around 12 hours, remove the batten and start applying tiles down and out from the bottom of the tiles already on the wall.

A spot of advice: for these lower tiles – attach each one to the one above with a little bit of electrical tape, to hold it in place.

With all the tiles hung, go over the wall and clean up any leftover adhesive before it dries; now it's time for a break as the adhesive cures.

Walking into the tiled room the next day will make you feel enormously smug. You're nearly there. Today you need to grout. Throw a dustsheet over the units to prevent them being grouted accidentally.

Wipe the grout into the spaces between the tiles in a diagonal motion, rather than forcing the grout in. It takes only around 5 – 10 mins for the grout to dry – it's easy to check it's dry with your own, humble nail. Push your nail onto the grout and if there is no imprint then the grouting is finished.

Using a damp sponge or rag, wipe away the grout from the tiles. Wipe it again with a wet cloth and wipe it again with a dry cloth – keep going until you can see your face in the tiles. Use the sealant only when the wall is dry and you (and s / he who must be obeyed!) Are delighted by all your hard work.

When negotiating a bath or shower, lay the rubber seal before your start the tiling. Another little trick: to make your bath heavier, either fill it with water, or simply stand in it when it's time to tile around the bath. For tiles to stretch to fit the space created is more damaging then for them to deal with a little more pressure.

Job is, as they say, a guddun. The bathroom is newly tiled, your new house is feeling much better about itself, and, possibly most importantly, your better half is happy. When you've done the tiling once you'll realise how easy, and meditative, it is and be umming and ahhing about how you could possibly keep your scaffold tower for a little longer, so you can do another DIY project.