Preparing a wall for tiling can seem like a very difficult process, and almost impossible for someone with little experience. At first glance, it may look like a meticulous and complicated job, however knowing the correct steps that a professional tiler performs will greatly improve your work and make it a much more achievable task when deciding on how to tile a wall.
In this article, we will give you the steps and tips on how to prepare a wall for tiling to make this job much easier. In addition, thanks for our comprehensive catalogue of professional tools, we will provide you will the necessary tools to achieve perfect results.
6 steps for preparing a wall for tiling
Before you start, it’s important to know that in order to successfully tile a wall, there are some specific steps you need to take in order to achieve the best result. Following our guide will ensure you will easily achieve a successful and professional finish.
Here are the steps you must follow for preparing a wall for tiling:
1. Prepare the surface for tiling
When tiling a wall, the preparation of the wall should be considered as one of, if not the most important part of preparation. Before you think about the next steps, you must first make sure that you have a completely level surface.
Tiling an uneven wall can result in complete disaster, so to do this, we recommend using a long spirit level to run along the wall. This is to check the wall is level and is an easy way to spot irregularities or bumps should any exist. It should be long enough to cover the entire wall that you want to tile to ensure any irregularities are clear to see.
You will never want to begin to tile a wall at ground level, as it is normal for it to have a little unevenness, therefore it’s always best to start tiling in the centre of the wall adjusting as necessary, to avoid needing very thin cuts at the edges. This will make it easier to keep your tile pattern symmetrical and leave any necessary cuts to the edges that won’t draw attention.
2. Preparing the adhesive
It’s worth noting how important it is to choose and apply the right adhesive for the type of material you are going to tile, as different materials will have varying absorption, hardness and size which will require different adhesives.
In addition to this, when it comes to mixing your adhesive, it’s very important to read the instructions on the adhesive bags. There are many different types and brands of adhesive, which all have varied instructions and measurements to achieve the perfect consistency for their adhesive, so it’s important to make sure you don’t add too much or too little water to your mix. To easily facilitate the preparation of the adhesive mix, use our RUBIMIX mixers and buckets.
3. Comb the wall
Once you have prepared the adhesive, you will want to spread approximately one square meter on the wall to be tiled. This will help you to confirm the consistency is right and that the adhesive is bonding well with the wall before it’s applied further. It is also important to check the brand and type of adhesive you’re using to confirm the pot life of your adhesive mix and therefore how much time you have for optimum performance as this may vary.
To spread the adhesive mix, you should carry this out using a notched trowel. The size of the notched trowel you choose, depends on the tile size, the surface being tiled and the profile on the back of the tile.
Remember that when choosing your trowel, the comfort of the trowel is very important. That is why we have our RUBIFLEX handles, with two textures which is a highly ergonomic handle with increased grip.
4. Laying the first tile
Once you have combed the area of the wall that you’re going to tile, place the tile on the adhesive. It’s important to note, where appropriate, particularly with large format tile, you should ‘back-butter’ your tiles. This means that you will also spread a thin layer of adhesive on the back of the tile for better adhesion.
5. Positioning your levelling system
At RUBI we have a number of different levelling systems, such as the Delta Level System, the Tile Level Quick or the new Cyclone Level System, to avoid lippage during tile installation. Once you’ve laid your first tile, you will place the levelling system on each side of the tile that another tile touches. This will ensure you will obtain a completely smooth surface.
As a quick tip, you can confirm this by running a wedge across your tiles, if your wedge doesn’t meet any friction, your tiles are level.
In addition to this, in each corner you will also place a cross-spacer to make sure you have a perfectly aligned joint. It’s important to include these to ensure you have an even grout line, that is both aesthetically nice and adheres to British standards.
6. Remove the air
Finally, once you’ve placed the first tile and added your levelling systems and spacers, you will have to make sure to remove the air between the wall and the tile. This will both ensure a stronger bond and help avoid breakages in the future.
For this part, we recommend using the RUBI tile beating block, which has a large surface area allowing you to remove more air efficiently. Alternatively, you could use our RUBI rubber mallet, however as this will be targeting more concentrated areas, you must be careful using it on certain materials such as porcelain which could crack the tile. In the event that you’re installing large-format tiles, we have our new RUBI Triller vibrator. This will ensure that no air remains between the wall and the tile, will very little effort.