Installing Ceramic Wall Tile – The Right Way!

Installing ceramic wall tile is a step-by-step process that you can do.

This article describes the tools and materials you need and the steps to installing wall tile the right way!

The Base.

Ceramic tile can be installed over many different materials, including sheetrock. One of the best base materials, especially around water, is cement board. Especially for tub surrounds and showers, cement board is the best choice.

Cement board is installed with special screws. The joints are taped with a special adhesive tape. The taped joints are covered with thin-set, like you would tape and mud sheetrock.

Materials and Tools.

Measure the wall surfaces to determine the square area to be covered. Gather the materials before you start the job. You will need the following:

  • Tile pieces including trim
  • Thin-set or adhesive mix
  • Grout mix

And these tools:

  • Plastic 5 gallon buckets (2)
  • Tile saw
  • Nippers
  • Cutter board
  • Tile sponge
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Notched tile trowel
  • Margin trowel
  • Chalk line
  • Pencil
  • Tri square
  • Tape measure
  • Level

Lay Out Wall.

Find the center of the room. Measure the width and height of the wall and strike lines to determine the center. Use these lines as the guides to lay the tile. Strike chalk lines every few rows and columns to guide yourself.

Before actually laying tile on the wall, lay out some tiles on a floor to see how the tiles will work with your wall dimensions. Dry setting of tiles lets you visualize how the finished floor will look before you get adhesive spread all over!

Sometimes centering the job may not be best. Depending on the layout of the wall or the room, it may be best to start at one side and work across the room. Also from top to bottom, it may be best to start with a full tile. Or it may be best to start with a partial piece on the bottom and use a partial piece on top too. There’s art to laying tile.

Choose And Use The Adhesive.

For walls, you might choose a latex adhesive or glue. There are many types of ceramic tile adhesive. Some people use a masonry thin-set, just like what’s usually used on floors. Your dealer can help you pick the best product.

Installing Wall Tile.

Once you like your layout, you’re ready to start applying the adhesive. The adhesive you’ll use is spread with a trowel. The tile trowel will have a smooth edge on one side and notches on the other. The notches help you get just the right amount of thin-set. For larger tiles, use a trowel with 1/4 inch notches. Smaller tile will require a trowel with smaller notches.

Continually check alignment with your level. Make horizontal lines at every row or two to make sure you’re staying straight. The original vertical lines will be there all the way up the wall.

A cap piece is usually used on top to trim out the wall top.


After the tiles have set for 24 – 48 hours, apply the grout. Grout is used to fill the spaces between the tiles and is applied with a rubber trowel.

Grout comes as sanded or unsanded. Sanded grout contains sand to give it more strength and is used in joints wider than 1/8 inch.

Cleaning Ceramic Wall Tile.

Clean the grout off the tile when it starts to haze. You can clean it about an hour later for a second time. Clean with water and sponge.

Use the same process for shower walls, tub surrounds, tile on bathroom walls, backsplashes or most any wall.

Installing ceramic wall tile is a great project! Add beauty and practical value to your home.