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Tiling Decorating Tips ~ Do It Yourself

Tiling Materials

Ceramic tiles provide the most durable of all finishes in the home, whether for walls, floors or worktops and there has never been a bigger choice of colours, designs, shapes and sizes. Vinyl, lino and cork floor tiles offer an alternatives floor finish to ceramics, and offer the advantages of ease of laying combined with a surface finish that is warmer to the touch and also less noisy underfoot than ceramic tiles. For a hard-wearing and attractive floor, there are also quarry tiles, ideal for areas that receive a lot of foot traffic.

Most tiling jobs will need tools for measuring, spacing and cutting the tiles, and adhesive and grout for attaching the tiles.

Type of Tiling

Floor tiles
In general, floor tiles are thicker and harder-fired than wall tiles. They are sold in a wide range of plain colours, simple textures and more elaborate designs is available. Common size are 150 x 200mm squares and 200 x 100mm rectangles.

Quarry tiles are unglazed ceramic floor tiles with a brown, buff or reddish colour and a popular choice for hallways, conservatories and country style kitchen. Common sizes are 100 x 150mm square. Special shaped tiles are also available for forming upstands at floor edges.

Terracota tiles similar with quarry tiles, but are larger and are fired at lower temperatures so they are more porous. They are sealed in the same way as quarry tiles. Squares, ranging in size between 200 and 400mm, and rectangles and octagonal are the most popular shapes.

Cork tiles particularly useful in bathroom, kitchens, halls and children bedroom. Normally these are coming in a small range of colours and textures. Their surface feels warms and relatively soft underfoot and also give some worthwhile heat and spund insulation.

Vinyl tiles come in a very wide range of pattern and plain types, and generally resist wear so they can be used on floors subject to fairly heavy wear.

Modern lino tiles. They are made from natural materials rather than the plastic resins used in vinyl tiles, offer far better performance than traditional linoleum. They come in a range of bright and subtle colours and interesting patterns, often with pre-cut borders. Generally has the size in 300mm squares although there are some larger squares and rectangels as well.

Wall Tiles
These tiles are generally fairly thin, measuring from 4 to 6mm tgick although some imported tiles may be rather thicker. The common type is the square, measuring 108mm or 150mm across. Nowadays rectanguar tiles (measuring 200 x 100mm and 200 x 150mm) are becoming popular.

These are just tiny tiles, usually plain in colour or sometimes with a pattern. Square mosaics are the most common, nut roundels, hexagons and other interlocking shapes are also popular. Sheets are usually square and 300mm across, and are often sold in packs of five or ten.

Preparing for Tiling

The most important thing to do is to plan precisely where the whole tles will fall. On flat, uninterrupted wall this is quite easy, simply find the centreline of the wall and plan the tiling to start from there. However, there will be some obstacles i.e, windows reveals, door openings and built-in furniture in the room, all competing to be the centre of attention and it will be necessary to work out the best "centre point" while all the time trying to avoid having very thin-cut tile borders and edges.

It is best to use a tiling gauge, a batten (furring strip) marked out in tile widths - to work this out. The gauge is easy to make from a straight piece of timber about 1.2m (4ft) long, marked off with pencil lines to match the size of the tile. Use this to ensure that the tiles will be centred accurately on major features i.e, window reveals, with a border of cut tiles of equal width at the end of each row or column of tiles.

The next step is the actual setting out. With large areas of tiling, two things are vitally important. First, the tile rows must be horizontal. Second, the tiles need some support while the adhesive sets; without it, it may slump down the wall.

Estimating quantities is important step in planning. When working out how many tiles are needed, first select the tile size. Then set out the area to be tiled on the wall and use the setting out marks to count how many tiles are needed n each horizontal row and each vertical coloumn. Cut cut tiles as whole tiles, then multiply the two figures to obtain the total required. Always add 5 percent to the total to allow for breakages and miscalculations.

Preparing a surface for tiling

The surface for tiling should be clean and dry. It is possible to tile over painted plaster or plasterboard (gypsum board), but old wallcoverings should be removed and brick walls must be rendered. Modern tile adhesives allow tiling over existing tiles, so there is no need to remove these if they are securely bonded to the wall surface. There is also need to fill minor cracks or holes; the tile adhesive will bridge these as it is applied to the wall surface. Printed wallpaper can easily be removed because it will absorb water splashed on it immediately; other types will not. With paper-backed fabric wallcoverings, it is often possible to peel the fabric away from its paper backing.

If you apply it to the walls, you must wash the surface down with sugar soap (all purpose cleaner) or detergent, working from the bottom-up, the rinse them with clean water, working from the top down. Wash ceilings with a floor mop after disconnecting and removing the light fittings. Again, rinse off with clean water. Then removing wallpaper as the nex step. To strip printed wallpaper, wet the surface with a sponge or a garden spray gun. Wait for the water to penetrate and repeat if necessary. Start to scraping the old paper from the wall at a seam using a stiff wallpaper scrapper not a filling knife (putty knife). Wet it again while working if necessary. Turn off the power before stripping around switches and other fittings, then loosen the faceplate screws to strip the wallpaper behind them. After removing the bulk of the old wallpaper, go back over the wall surface and remove any remaining nibs of paper with sponge and scraper. To strip a washable wallpaper, start by scoring the plastic coating with serrated scraper or toothed roller, then soak and scrape as before. For quicker result, use a steam stripper to remove washable papers. Press the steaming plate to teh next area while stripping the area just steamed.

Tiling Technique

Fitting tile supports and fixing tiles are the important steps in tiling technique.
Use masonry pins (tacks) to fix the support to the wall, aligned with the guideline. Drive the pins in only part of the way so that they can be pulled out to remove the batten later. When tiling large areas or whole walls, pin a vertical guide batten to the wall as well to help keep the tile coloumn truly vertical.

Once all the necessary setting out work has been done, the actual technique of fixing tiles is quite simple : spread the adhesive and press the tiles into place. However, there must be an adhesive bed of even thickness to ensure that neighbouring tiles sit flush with one another. To obtain this, use a toothed spreader (usually slip with the tile adhesive and draw it across the wall with the teeth pressed hard against the plaster to leave ridges of a standard height of the wall. Apply enough adhesive to fix about ten or twelve at a time.

Bed the tiles into the adhesive with a pressing and twisting motion, aligning the first tile with the vertical guideline or batten. If using tile spacers, press one into the adhesive next to the top corner of the first tile, and place the second tile in the row.

We occasionally need to cut the tiles. To tackle any cut tiles that are needed at the ends of the rows, and along the base of the tiled area beneath the horizontal tile support. Remove this, and the tile spacers, only when the adhesive has set; allow 24 hours. When cutting border tiles, measure each cut tile individually at top and bottom or each side as necessary. The walls, floors and ceilings of houses are rarely true and you are likely to find that the gaps to befilled will vary from one tile to the next. Straight cuts can be made with a small cutter or cutting jig, while shapes will need to be nibbled out with nippers or cut with a tile saw.

Other technique : adding cut tiles & edging technique

Adding cut tiles

Adding cut tiles is important when tiling a whole wall where cut tiles are likely to be needed at the corners at each end of the wall and at the skirting board and ceiling. If the tiling is to extend on to an adjacent wall, the horizontal rows must align, so extra care is needed when setting out.

At an internal corner, tile up to the angle completely on one wall so that its tiles overlap the edges of the tiles on the first walls. You can do the same thing at an external corner, using glazed-edge tiles on one wall to conceal the edges of the tiles on the other, provided the angle is truly vertical. If it is not, bed corner strip in the adhesive, set it vertical, then tile up to it.

Measure, mark and cut the sections of the tile needed to complete each row of tiling. Spread a little adhesive over their backs and press them into place. Then when tiling adjacent walls, place all the cut pieces on the first wall. Repeat on the second, overlapping the original cut pieces. If cut tiles are only needed on one wall, make sure they are overlapped by the whole tiles on the adjacent wall. When tiling external corners, set out the tiles so that, if possible, whole tiles meet on the corner. Overlap the tiles or to fit plastic corner trim.


When all the tiles are in place, including any cut tiles that are required, it is time to tackle the final stage of the job -- filling in the joint lines between the tiles with grout. You should leave adhesive to dry for at least 24 hours before grouting. Ready-mixed grout is a little more expensive than powdered, but more convenient to use. You need a flexible spreader (usually supplied with the grout), to force the grout into the gaps, a damp sponge or cloth to remove excess grout from the faces of the tiles, and a short length of wooden dowel or a proprietary grout shaper to smooth the grout lines. A clean, dry cloth will be needed to polish the tiles afterwards.

Apply the grout to the tile joints by drawing the loaded spreader across them at right angles to the joint lines. Scrape off excess grout and reuse it. Then use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe the surface of the tiles before the grout dries out. Rinse it, clean water from time to time. Then use a short length of wooden dowel or a similar tool to smooth the grout lines to a gentle concave crosssection. Allow the grout to harden completely, then polish the tiles with a dry cloth to remove any remaining bloom.

Alternative Edging Techniques

The edging techniques basically to finish tiling which make it possible to finish off an area of tiling or an external corner with a glazed edge exposed, it can be edged with wooden mouldings or plastic trim strips.

Wooden mouldings cab be bedded into the tile adhesive on walls, to edge worktops they can be pinned (tacked) or screwed to the worktop edge.

Plastic edge and corner mouldings have a perforated flange that is bedded in the tile adhesive before the tiles are placed. These mouldings come in a range of pastel and bright primary colours to complement or contrast with the tiling. Take care when fitting them to make sure they are vertical, checking with spirit level, otherwise they will cause problems when you come to add the tiles. Remember to allow a grouting gap between the mouldings and the tiles.

Other method is to use proprietary border tiles. These are special narrow tiles that come in a variety of widths, normally coinciding with standard tile widths, and usually have a glazed edge that can be exposed. Border tiles offer a wide range of patterns to choose from, and some even have moulded relief patterns for added interest. They can be used horizontally or vertically.

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Do It Yourself???

Do it yourself, often referred to by the acronym "DIY," is a term used by various communities that focus on people creating things for themselves without the aid of paid professionals. Many DIY subcultures explicitly critique consumer culture, which emphasizes that the solution to our needs is to purchase things, and instead encourage people to take technologies into their own hands.
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