Wall Tiles: How to Install Wall Tiles

Wall tile: A simple step-by-step tutorial

Shower Head And With Steam In Bathroom
Gen Sadakane / EyeEm/Getty Images

How to Install Wall Tiles

Installing wall tile is not that difficult if you know the essentials about it. Before starting, you will need to have a clean surface, tiles, adhesive and tools to make the installation process faster. Wall tiles can be installed almost everywhere, but normally customers prefer to install them in kitchens and bathrooms. So, let’s go step by step to illustrate how to learn how to install wall tile.

Installing Wall Tiles: Preparing the Surface

Wall tiles can be installed over drywall, plaster or cement backer boards. Make sure that the surface is clean, does not have debris and it is a smooth leveled surface before starting. If you are working on an area that has been in contact with water, you will want to make sure that the drywall, if that’s the casa, can withstand the tile weight. If an area needs to be repaired, our suggestion is to install cement backer board. If you are going to install wall tile over a painted surface, it is recommended to sand the surface prior to installation.

Installing Wall Tile: Layout

Start by finding the center of the wall and use a level to create intersecting vertical and horizontal lines. Adjust the lines depending on how both ends of the wall will look like once you have your tiles installed. Remember to add grout lines width when you are creating the layout.

Installing Wall Tile: Setting Adhesive

Spread adhesive with the notched trowel and spread it evenly using the straight edge of the trowel. Do not cover layout lines as you might need them later to install your wall tiles. You can use pre-mixed adhesive for your wall tile. Be sure to check that the adhesive can be used at desired location where you are doing the installation.

Some adhesives will not work on high-moisture areas. Hold the trowel at about 45 degrees so the adhesive has a uniform height.

Installing Wall Tile

Don’t start installing wall tiles by resting it against the tub or shower if you are doing a bathroom wall tile installation. Put a level board against the surface and start installing tile on the board. The tiles shall be press firmly into the adhesive twisting them to embed them into the adhesive. Do not slide the tiles into position. Once you have your first row installed, remove the level board. Leave 1/8 in space between the tub and the tile to allow installation of caulk. When installing wall tile, be sure to check that the adhesive is not squeezing out the sides. If the adhesive is squeezing out, then you have applied too much adhesive. Periodically you would like to check that the installation is straight and leveled.

Installing Wall Tile: Cut Tiles

During the wall installation process, you will need to cut some tiles so they can fit properly. Once you have all neighboring tiles, mark how much you need to cut. You can cut straight lines with a tile cutter or use tile nippers. If you are planning to use tile nippers to cut wall tiles, expect to have rough edges.

Normally plumbing fixtures come with escutcheons to cover those irregular surfaces. Smooth the edge with 80 grit sandpaper, when the wall tile will be used as a row end and will be freely exposed.

Installing Wall Tiles: Grouting

You might be able to grout the wall tiles once all tiles have been installed and the adhesive has set up. Choose whether you are using sanded or unsanded grout. When the joints are larger than 1/8” use sanded grout. Remove all spacers, and grout all tiles. Use a rubber float and apply the grout at a 45-degree angle. Press firmly to get all grout into the joint spaces. Wipe off any excess grout with a wet sponge and clear water. Buff away any grout haze using a soft cloth. Use caulk when required to fill in any gap or joint space that is located against other surfaces.