Preparation work can often seem tedious but it is essential that these steps are completed thoroughly and not rushed; you will always regret doing a rush job on the preparation and a poor job can make even the most beautiful designer tiles look unprofessionally installed.
Once the walls in your bathroom are properly prepared; clean, dry and free of any loose material such as old grout, adhesive or wallpaper you are almost ready to start fixing your new porcelain tiles. The last part of the pre-preparation is to accurately mark out horizontal and vertical guidelines to ensure a professional finish.
Once you are confident that the preparation is complete and has been done as well as you can then you can make a start on the actual tiling. Whatever type of tiles you are using: porcelain, natural stone or ceramic tiles the procedure for fixing them in place is pretty much the same. But what is different are the sorts of tools you might require (for example, some very hard natural stone or porcelain tiles will require a diamond-tipped electric cutter) and the type of adhesive (some can cause staining on delicate natural stone).
Certain natural stone tiles may require sealing before they are fixed so you should always take the advice of your supplier on this matter.
Start tiling the bottom section of the wall first by spreading adhesive over a small area just below the central, horizontal layout line you have previously marked on the wall and pressing the tile firmly into place. It is a balancing act between being able to fix as many tiles as possible on the glued area before the glue dries and this will take some practise before you get it right. It will, of course, also depend on the size of your tiles. Larger tiles will have to be held into place until they are secure to prevent them slipping down the wall under their own weight, but good quality adhesives should grip even large, heavy tiles quite quickly.
If you find a problem with slipping tiles then check the adhesive you are using is suitable for the types of tiles as it may simply be a case of using the wrong adhesive and this will make your job much harder. But do bear in mind that the type of substrate will also affect how quickly the adhesive grips the tile – very absorbent surfaces may require more than the recommended amount of adhesive and smooth, non-absorbent surfaces (such as paint or old tiles) can also cause problems.
Once the first tile is in place, position the others downwards until you have fixed the last full tile before the floor level. Now continue sideways until you reach a corner of the wall or any other obstacle such as the bath. Use tile spacers between each tile to make sure every gap is even so that the grouting lines will be consistent. And also check the level of the tiles regularly. Taking particular care of these issues will ensure your tiled finish looks professional.
Work your way around the room completing the tiling of the lower half of all the walls with whole tiles (don’t start to tackle cutting tiles just yet). Then you can start to tile above your horizontal marker line in the same way: vertical lines of tiles upwards and then outwards, using tile spacers between every tile and checking levels as you go.
When all the whole tiles have been fixed into place it is then time to finish the job by filling the gaps with cut tiles. Assuming you had a well planned tile layout there will be no very narrow sections of tiles anywhere so the job should not be too difficult but a good, clean cut is necessary for a perfect finish so make sure you have the right tools for the type of tiles you will be cutting.
Carefully measure the size of the gaps taking into account the width of the grout joints. If you have ceramic tiles then these are the easiest to cut and can simply be scored and then cracked along the score line. But natural stone or porcelain tiles will require an electric tile cutter. Finish off the job by fixing the tile sections in the same way as the whole tiles.