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How To Tile A Kitchen Wall Like A Total Pro!
Tiling a kitchen is an absolute mammoth task. In the Summer of 2016, we had to learn how to tile a kitchen wall pretty sharpish; we moved into our new house and decided to treat ourselves to a beautiful mint green Smeg fridge. I hear your gasps. Yes, it is lovely. Unfortunately, the space for the refrigerator was against a wall, and you couldn’t open the door more that a few inches *cries*.
Yes, I do like to draw on my cupboards with Chalk Markers!
We had to remove some end kitchen cabinets and re-tile a wall and part of the floor. My beautiful deck was covered in tile dust for months. But we did learn a few things, and we are happy to impart this knowledge to you. (special thanks to Papa D. and Mr.HeartHandmade)
Top Tip #1
When buying tiles, it’s a good idea to purchase more tiles than you need; a few are likely to break in transit.
It’s also good to have leftovers in case the company discontinue the style you chose.
“Don’t immediately discard broken tiles – sometimes they can be used as cuts.” says professional tiler James Fogarty. (source Home Show on UKTV)
Top Tip #2
When choosing tiles, try to figure out the colour, shape and pattern you want to go for and choose a tile grout that complements your tile of choice.
How do you want the kitchen to feel? Do you want calm pastel tones with a quirky pattern, like these beautiful hand painted tiles by Decorum Tiles? Or subway chic like these Eau de Nil Laura Ashley tiles?
Top Tip #3
Don’t be afraid to ask sales assistants for advice; they will be fully trained to answer all of your questions. They may also help you ask different issues that you may not have considered.
Top Tip #4
When you measure the dimensions of the design, remember to allow for grout gaps. For wall tiling, these are typically 2-3mm, use spacers to help with that.
To tile a kitchen wall or splashback you will need the following
- Tiles of your choice
- A sharpened pencil or marker (a chalk marker or wax crayon is a good idea for marking tiles)
- Sugar soap
- A dust mask or two
- A tape measure
- A calculator
- A spirit level
- A Plumb Line
- Stud detector
- One trowel – to figure out size, check out this post
- One tile cutter
- 1 x tile nippers
- 2mm tile spacers (500 spacers per bag)
- 1 x grout float
- Microfibre cloth
- One tile sponge
- WD40 (for cleaning tiles)
- clean buckets (multiple and full of clean water so your work can be a little more streamline)
- Silicone Sealant
- Sealant Gun
- A foldable workbench
- 2 x screwdrivers – 1 philips – 1 x straight edge
- 1 x roll of brown wrapping paper and 1 x duct tape
- Ready Mixed Wall Tile Adhesive
- Grout (powder) Glitter grout if you are me. (I almost fainted when I discovered the existence of glitter grout)
- Vinyl gloves/Work Man gloves (adhesive and grout are irritants to the skin and you do not know pain like a sliver of tile getting under your skin)
Related: How To Choose Tiles
How To Tile a Kitchen Wall
Depending on whether you are tiling the entire room or just a splashback, will depend on where the tiles will be aligned.
If you want to tile the walls, the tiles will need to be laid out around the entire room first and you will need to create a horizontal guide for working from the bottom upwards. Don’t worry, we’re going to cover that.
Remove any dust or grime to ensure a good grip on the tile adhesive. Use sugar soap and a cloth for this.
Figure Out Your Layout And Make A Gauge
A length of wood about 1.5m/2m can be accurately marked out to use as a tile gauge on your wall.
How To Make A Gauge:
Lay your tiles out on the ground in an arrangement of your choosing. Use spacers and space the tiles exactly how they will be spaced on the wall. Use a pencil and mark the line of each join on your wooden gauge. Now you have a gauge that you can reference for the position of your tiles.
Work on one wall at a time to make things a little easier. Make sure that all horizontal lines match up by creating a baseline batten on all of the walls, in a constant flow around the room; to ensure level tiling.
Don’t forget to take any awkward sections into account, like door frames, window frames, cabinets, etc.
Try to figure out where you will have a complete (non-cut) row of tiles at the bottom or top. If you are tiling a whole wall, you will want to keep a full row of tiles at the top. That means it will be rather aesthetically pleasing.
However, if you are tiling a splashback or just above a counter, you will want a full row of non cut tiles along the bottom where it meets the counter. Make sense?
Before you start to apply anything adhesive, make sure you lay down brown paper to protect your surfaces. It will be an absolute nightmare to remove if you don’t. Trust me! My dad (bless his heart) was a little laissez-faire and very generous with flicking grout and glue around. There is also some tile adhesive in the toilet that we can’t remove from the previous owners. Nice.
Applying Wall Tile Adhesive
Apply an even thickness of the tile adhesive with a toothed spreader and try to cover a manageable area. This could be around half a metre to one metre squared. You don’t want it to start drying out too quickly before you get a chance to attach your tiles.
Run the notched edge through the adhesive using the toothed spreader, hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle and work from left to the right. Doing this is will ensure nice even tram lines through the adhesive.
Don’t forget to work from the bottom up.
Attaching the tiles
Attach the first tile using adhesive. A piece of wood might help as an edge guide that will keep you working in straight lines.
Working in rows, attach each tile in turn using the tile spacers for consistent grout lines.
Top Tip #5
At this stage, pressing firmly on the tile may not be enough, and you might have to wiggle the tile just a little so it will adhere properly. Ensure that the tiles are flat and level relative to one another
Fix a second row above the first using spacers and ensure they stay aligned with the first row.
Fitting Mixed Shape/Cut Tiles
Cut some partial tiles to fit gaps.
If it is at all possible, try to prepare these in advance. The tile gauge you created earlier should help you figure out how many partial tiles that you are going to need.
You will want to prepare in advance so that you can work quite quickly and the delay between applying adhesive and fitting the tiles is kept to a minimum.
Tiling All The Walls Around The Room
When you have finished tiling the first area, you can continue tiling the rest of the kitchen using the baseline batten as a guide.
As soon as the tile adhesive has cured, you will be able to remove the baseline batten and attach the partially cut tiles you prepared earlier.
Fitting Tile Edging Strip To Finish off edges
The corner tiles will need to be mitred to create a pro finish. Do you have access to a mitre and know how to use one? This Youtube video could help.
Use tile adhesive to to attach the edging strip and the fit the last row of tiles a few mm above where the tiles will finish, then slide it down and make sure the tiles fit properly.
Unibond created a great youtube video that could help you if none of that last paragraph made sense!
Do not grout until the adhesive has dried!
Kitchen Wall Tile Grouting
Mix the grout according to the pack instructions. Check out this Youtube video to show you how to mix it.
Spread the grout into the gaps between tiles; you will want to go in every direction to make sure the gap is correctly filled, and you won’t leave any little holes. A small stick or chopstick/soft dowel or a silicone spatula can be used to level out the grout so it isn’t bumpy.
Excess grout should be wiped away with a clean cloth (those buckets of fresh water come in very useful at this stage) and then allow to set. You can then use a microfiber cloth to buff up ceramic tiles and WD40 for any stubborn stains, which will make them look all shiny and new.
You Want To Seal The Gaps
Sealing the gaps between wall tiles and kitchen counters is essential. I am ever so grateful to the pro who installed the kitchen for the previous owners of my home as they even sealed the cooker to the wall.
I am a total klutz when I cook, so it ensures that no food ends up flying down the walls. This keeps the kitchen hygienic and really helps with an easy clean up!
You can use a good quality silicone sealant that can last ten years or more. Before you do any sealing, make sure that the bottom edge of tiles and the edges of the worktops are totally clean.
Fit a the silicone into a piping gun and cut the nozzle so that it can comfortably fit the gap between the tile and worktop.
Apply the silicone in a single, smooth operation for the best result
The job itself is fairly straight forward, just a little laborious. The guy who tiled our kitchen did such a great job that I would feel guilty changing the tiles.
The bathroom, however, is another story. There are tiles coming away from the wall and the whole area needs to be retiled.
I’m dreaming of some dotty pastels in there, once I figure out how I want the bathroom to look and the colours I want; I’m definitely considering having the Decorum hand painted tiles.
The bathroom is now white, changed from turquoise. OR, wait until I’ve a little more saved (big bathroom) and tile two walls of the bathroom in mother of pearl tiles so it’s like a mermaid’s lair.
I got this idea after seeing these photos:
How stunning and sparkly do the mother of pearl tiles look? They’re amazing!
The mother of pearl tiles even look fabulous in a kitchen!
Now that you know how to tile a wall like a total pro, are you confident enough to undertake the task?
If you had unlimited funds, how would you tile your kitchen? Let me know in the comments below!
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