Give your kitchen and bathroom walls a modern makeover by putting up tiles yourself
You’ve just moved into your very first home and everything is perfect – except for one thing. The bathroom walls are still covered in old, brown tiles. Now you can either resign yourself to it and call in a professional, or simply get creative and re-tile the bathroom yourself. It sounds difficult at first – but it isn’t. All you need is the right tools, a few simple DIY tips and a little time, and you’re bound to succeed. Our simple step-by-step guide will show you how to put up your own tiles without breaking a sweat.
It should go without saying that your safety is paramount at every stage of the project. Make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. You can find everything you need to know about the protective clothing required for each type of task in our guide.
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- Tile trowel
- Notched trowel
- Tile spacer
- Tile wedge
Let's go - step by step
Marking out the area to be tiled
You need: Cross line laser
Before you start putting up your new tiles, make sure you cover the area in which you’re going to work with a drop cloth to ensure it stays clean. And don’t forget to cover all of the light switches and plug sockets in the room.
You should also give the wall a thorough clean. Dust, dirt and other remnants of old wallpaper must be removed completely, or else nothing will adhere to these spots. If there are holes in the wall from old screws, put filler in them before you start putting up the tiles.
Once the preparations are complete, you’re ready to go. Start by marking the area on the wall where you want to put up the new tiles. Use the size of your tiles as the basis for this. You don’t want to put your tiles up crooked later, so draw a long, horizontal line with the help of a cross line laser (image 1). Once the line is projected on the wall, you can easily draw your line using a wooden board (image 2).
Applying the primer
You need: paintbrush
Once the area you want to tile has been marked out, it’s time to prepare the base surface. Use a primer that is suitable for your base surface. Some surfaces are highly absorbent while others are not absorbent at all. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions when applying it. Some primers also need to be applied twice. Have you applied a nice, even coat of primer? Then it’s time to sit back and wait until it is completely dry.
Mounting a tile stop for large tiles
You need: Long wooden board
If you’re going to be using large tiles, we recommend mounting a horizontal stop on the wall. This will prevent the tiles from slipping later just after they’ve been put up. To create a stop, it’s best to take a long board and screw it to the wall with a cordless drill and three long screws below the lower tile mark.
Applying the mortar
You need: Tile trowel, bucket, Mortar
Next, you need to mix and spread the mortar for the tiles. Use an old bucket and preferably a tube stirrer or a spiral mixer – also known as a mixer rod – and your cordless drill. Make sure you set the speed to very slow. Otherwise you run the risk of spreading splash marks around the room.
Does the mortar have the right consistency? Then you can apply it to the wall with the tile trowel. Tiles are put up starting from the bottom and working upwards. So, start by applying the mortar to just the bottom row on the wall, making sure it is spread evenly.
You need: Notched trowel
You now need to work on the mortar you’ve applied to the wall using a notched trowel. Draw an even pattern in the mortar mixture and make sure that the mixture is evenly distributed everywhere. You should comb through the mixture at an angle of about 60 degrees. By the way, the size of the tiles and mixture of the mortar will dictate what spacing between the notches is best for you. You will find instructions on the packaging of the mortar.
Mounting the tiles
You need: scraper, Wall tiles, Tile spacer
You can now start mounting your tiles. Place the first tile in the bottom corner (image 1), line it up and lightly push it into the mortar. Use a scraper to create a little distance to the wall (image 2). Place the next tile flush to the first one and then push it away slightly (image 3). Then place the tile spacers between the freshly mounted tiles so that the spaces remain identical (image 4). Repeat this process to put up the entire bottom row.
If the standard size of your tile doesn’t fit at the end of the first row, you can cut a tile to size with a tile cutter. You can find out how to do that here.
Once the first row of tiles is in place, you can start the next row. To do this, you first need to remove the excess mortar protruding from the bottom row and spread a new, even layer of mortar. Proceed tile by tile and row by row until all the tiles are clean and evenly mounted.
The final touches
You need: Tile wedge
Remove the spacers again immediately after mounting the tiles and scrape out the excess mortar in the gaps with a tile wedge. After everything has dried, you can grout your tiles. You can find out how to do that here.