How to Tile a Wall in Your House

setting the tiles when tiling a wall

Although tiling a wall usually isn't too challenging, it's important that you know the steps before getting started. For example, you will first need a clean surface, adhesive, tools, and tiles. Conveniently enough, wall tiles can be applied nearly anywhere in your home. Usually, they're preferred in bathrooms and kitchens. 

How to Tile a Wall In Your Home

Listed below is our guide for correctly tiling a wall. Follow these 9 simple steps to get started.

1. Measure Your Wall

The first step you should take if you want to know how to put tile on a wall is to measure your wall. This will determine exactly how many tiles you will need.

To do this, you'll need to find the area of your wall, by multiplying the length by the width. You'll then need to divide that by the size of your tiles to figure out how many you need to buy.

A rule of thumb is to buy tiles that are a little larger than you anticipated, since they can be cut if need be.

​Note: If you haven't prepared the are​a yet, learn how to remove tile from your old wall first.

guide on how to tile a wall

2. Prepare the Surface of the Wall

Before you can learn how to tile a bathroom wall, you need to first prepare the surface of your wall.

Fortunately, wall tiles can be applied to a variety of different surfaces, such as cement backer boards, drywall, and plaster. However, it's important that your wall is clean and level before installing any tiles on it. 

Also, if the surface of your wall is wet, it's important that it can hold the weight of the tiles. Additionally, if you're applying tiles to an area that's been painted over, we recommend sanding beforehand.

3. Install a Support Board

This is a very important step when figuring out how to put tile on a wall. When you tile a wall, gravity isn't going to work with you.

You're going to need to install a support board for temporary support. This will prevent the tiles from sliding down the wall. 

A support board is only a small piece of wood that fits horizontally against your wall. Once you finish a row of tiles, you can remove the board or shift it to complete another strip of tiles.

You can install it using quickly using a brad nailer, so that its easy to remove later.

4. Choose a Tiling Pattern and Layout

Besides choosing what color tile you want on your wall, you can choose the pattern as well. Beforehand, you should test the tiling pattern on the floor to make sure it's the one you want.

This way, you don't make any mistakes when you are determining how to tile a wall.

​Once you're ready to pick your tile layout, start by laying out your tiles by locating the center of your wall. Use a level to create intersecting lines going horizontal and vertical.

You can adjust these lines later on, once you know what kind of layout you want. Just keep in mind, you have to adjust your lines to add grout between your tiles.

​5. Set the Adhesive

Before setting tiles to a bathroom wall, you'll first have to set the adhesive evenly with a notched trowel. However, avoid covering the layout lines you drew before, or else you'll have to start the process all over again. 

However, when setting adhesive on your wall, you can use a pre-mixed mortar solution for this job. Just make sure the adhesive you're using can be used on the surface you're installing tile on. Some adhesives can't work in high-moisture surfaces.

​6. Set the Wall Tiles

When setting tiles on your wall, make sure you have a support board and functional level in hand, in case any tiles start slipping.

When installing tiles, you should press them firmly into the adhesive, not sliding them into the correct position. Once you do each row, you can slowly move your support board and level down to complete the next row. 

Remember, you have to leave at least a 1/8 inch of space in-between your tile for caulk. As you're setting the tile, you should also avoid having the adhesive oozing from the sides. 

If this happens, it means you put down too much adhesive and you should remove some. Throughout this process, you should make sure each row of tile is straight and level.

what to do when tiling a wall

​7. Cut the Tiles

While installing, you may find you need to trim some tiles so they will fit in their spots correctly. After placing the neighboring tiles, measure where you will need to make your cuts. 

To make a straight cut, use a tile cutter or ​a good tile saw. ​The saw will be more accurate, but not everyone has ​a good tile saw at their disposal. 

Typically, plumbing fixtures will have escutcheons that will cover up and hide ​any imperfect edges you end up with. Otherwise, you can use 80 grit sandpaper to smooth the rough edges. Use this method when all edges are exposed.

​8. Grout the Wall

After the tiles have all been installed and the adhesive has set, the next step is to grout the tile wall. First, decide whether you should use sanded or unsanded grout. If the joints are bigger than 1/8 of an inch, you should use sanded grout. Otherwise, choose the unsanded style.

Spend a few minutes ensuring you pick a good tile grout. Not only does this help hold the tile in over time, but the coloring you select will have a large impact on the overall look and feel of the wall.

Take out all of the spacers and grout every tile. Using a rubber float, apply the grout at a 45-degree angle pressing hard to get it into every joint space.

Don't rush this portion of the job. You're close to being done with the wall, so the tendency can be to rush through this. However, you don't want to have to go back and replace the tile grout in the future. When finished, wipe off the extra grout with water and a sponge. 

If there is any grout haze leftover, buff it off with a microfiber cloth to get your tile looking shiny. When filling gaps or joints that connect tile to another surface, use caulk.

​9. Apply a Sealer

Though this step is not usually necessary, it is a good idea if you put the tiles in a room that has a lot of moisture. This includes your bathroom or kitchen. Putting on a sealer will protect your tiles from water damage. This is a crucial step when tiling a bathroom wall. 

If you're planning on painting your tile, though, you can skip this step.

Look at the directions on the sealer you purchased and follow them exactly. Wait until the sealer dries completely before using the room as you normally would.

Conclusion

Even for beginners, learning how to put tile on a wall can be a simple process. First, you will need to plan out your wall, take some measurements, and decide on your chosen pattern. Then, you can prep the surface and install a support board. After doing so, you are free to begin laying your tile.

Perhaps the most challenging step is cutting your own tile. However, with proper measurements and a little bit of confidence, it is easy. Then all you must do is apply grout and a sealer. 

That's it! By following the steps above, you can be sure that your new tile wall looks clean and professionally-made.

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