How to Properly Tile a Wall in Your Home

Learning how to tile a wall properly may seem overwhelming, but with the correct information and the proper tools, the task isn’t as daunting as you might expect. When learning how to tile a wall, first understand wall tile and floor tile are very different. Floor tile is often thicker and harder. This is so it can withstand foot traffic, furniture, and daily wear. Meanwhile, wall tile tends to be thinner and a bit more delicate. It can also be slicker when wet. So, the first step to wall tiling is ensuring you have the right tile. (Don’t worry, we can help you pick it out!)

Here are other tips and tricks to properly tiling a wall.

Preparing to Tile a Wall

Proper preparation is the key to a job well done. Begin by collecting the tools and materials you will need. This includes:

  • Notched trowel
  • Level and tape measure
  • Tile spacers
  • Mixing bucket
  • Grout float and grout remover
  • Tile nippers
  • Tile marker or pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Hammer and rubber mallet
  • Masonry nails
  • Batten board
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask and safety goggles

In addition to these tools, the materials you will need to tile a wall are:

  • Grout
  • Tile adhesive
  • Wall tiles

To find out how many wall tiles you need, calculate the area of the wall you’ll be covering, making sure to account for any cupboards, shelves, doors, and windows. Most professionals will recommend that you have an extra 10% on hand.

Next Steps in Wall Tiling

Start with a mock-up and move to adhesive. First, do a dry-lay of your tiles to get an idea of how they will look and which tiles may need to be trimmed. Once you’re satisfied, apply a layer of tile adhesive to the wall, about ⅛” thick. Start with a bottom corner and spread enough adhesive to hang two or three tiles simultaneously. Next, add grooves to the adhesive with a toothed trowel, press your first tile into its spot, and wiggle it a bit to create suction.

Since you will be working on a vertical surface, gravity will work against you. To combat this, add tile spacers to keep tiles from slipping down. You can also use a batten board screwed directly into the wall horizontally. The board should be placed near the bottom of the wall, about ¾ of the height of your tiles, and you’ll remove it once the tiles above it are set.

While the adhesive is still slightly wet, remove your tile spacers (about 90 minutes after adding the spacers). Mix your grout and apply it to sections of your wall, filling the space between tiles. Use the grout float to spread it over one area of the wall. The grout will get all over the tiles, but working in sections will allow you to wipe it off tile surfaces using a wet cloth or sponge before it dries.

How to Tile a Wall Using a Pyramid Pattern

Start your tiling at the bottom of the wall. Once you have the bottom row in place, arrange tiles in a pyramid shape:

  • Install four tiles first, with three on the bottom and one tile on top
  • Every row will work up and over the pyramid, starting on either side
  • Bring the “pyramids” up, over, and down the other side.
  • Repeat the drapes in the opposite direction and continue alternating sides

This method is used instead of stacking tiles one column at a time vertically or in rows horizontally.

Remember that no matter what pattern you use, you will have to cut the edges of your tile. You can use tile nippers or a wet saw. Nippers will work for small tiles less than two inches in diameter. For larger tiles, if you don’t have a wet saw, you should be able to rent one from a local hardware store or rental business.

Finishing Up Your Wall Tile Project

An hour after you’ve applied the grout and wiped off the excess, go over the tiles with a dry sponge to remove any haze. You can remove stubborn residue with a tile cleaning solution. Finish your project by applying a sealer to block out moisture. Make sure to coat all tiles, including the corners and edges. Follow the instructions carefully, and let the sealer dry completely.

Are you thinking about tiling a wall in your home? Shop the Atlas Tile catalog and contact us with any questions. We can help you choose the right tile for any project.

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