Aug 13

Learn How To Tile

How To Tile A Bathroom Wall (courtesy of

For variety and durability, tile is an excellent choice. In addition to giving your home a great look, it also helps protect the walls and floors from various kinds of damage. Tiling gives homeowners and easy, affordable way to add charm and beauty to their homes, with results that rival those of tiling professionals. The Home Depot is here to provide the products and guidance you need to achieve those professional looking results. In our first demonstration, we’ll install wainscot tile, with a cap, in a bathroom.

The first step is to measure the tile. Place 10 tiles, side by side, and measure the length of the row. Divide by 10, and use the resulting number as the tile dimensions for your layout.

Using a level, draw a top line all the way around the room. If you’re tiling only part way up the wall, this line should be where the tiles will stop. If you’re adding a row of cap tiles like we are, draw a horizontal line for those as well.

Now, measure from the floor to the top line, and mark a mid-height line halfway in between. Then, measure from the floor to the top line again, and divide by the size of the tile. If you end up with less than a full tile as your remainder, shift the mid-height line down by that amount, so, you’ll have a row of full tiles at the top and a row of partial tiles at the bottom.

Draw a new, mid-height line around the room, making sure it’s level. Measure the width of each wall, and mark the mid-point on the top line. Using a level, extend this line to the floor.

Now, measure from this line to one end of the wall, and divide by the size of the tile. If the last row of tiles will be less than a half a tile wide, shift the mid-point, so the last row of tile on both ends of the wall will be of equal width, and draw a new line.

Using a chalk line, snap additional vertical and horizontal lines to create a grid of 8 to 12 square foot rectangles on the wall. When this is done, get ready to start tiling!

Start by fastening a level 1×2 or 1×3 wooden batten, just below the mid-height line. Double-check to make sure it’s level. The batten will keep your first row of tiles straight, which will make the rest of the tiles on the wall straight, as well.

Mix your latex, modified, thin-set mortar, as instructed in the Techniques section of “Tiling 1-2-3”.

Using a square-notch trowel, apply mortar to one of the marked grids along the top of the batten, and comb it into straight, vertical ridges.

Press the first few, full tiles in place above the batten. Use a slight, twisting motion to be sure it makes good contact with the mortar. Do NOT slide the tiles!

After you’ve done 3 or 4 tiles, lift one off and check the back. The mortar should cover the entire surface. If it’s in rows, the trowel ridges on the wall aren’t thick enough. Scrape the mortar off the wall and reapply it, using a trowel with a larger notch. Work up and out, in a stair step pattern. Take your time, and work on the wall in manageable, 8-12 square foot sections. Save any tile that must be cut, last. If any mortar oozes up between the tiles, clean it up before it dries.

Continue until all but the top row of cap tiles are in place. Finish by placing the row of cap tiles along the top of the tiled area. When you’re done, let the mortar cure for at least 12 hours, and remove the batten.

Working from the middle, out and down, set the rest of the tiles. Support each tile with a piece of masking tape attached to the tile above it.

Let the mortar dry completely. Each type of mortar has a different curing time. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Grout is the material that fills the space between the tiles and supports them, almost like glue. Grouting is messy, so be sure you properly cover any areas that you don’t want to get dirty.

Before you start, remove any excess mortar with a razor blade or a putty knife. Using a margin trowel, mix the powdered grout with the liquid and apply it. Skim the excess grout off with the edge of the float. To avoid digging into the joints, move the float diagonally across the tiles.

The grout will set up in about 5 to 15 minutes, and have a putty-like consistency. When a thumbnail pressed against it doesn’t leave an impression, the grout is hard enough for the final cleaning.

With a damp sponge, wipe the tiles diagonally, to clean them. Rinse the sponge frequently in clean water. The sponging process will leave a haze on the tile. To remove it, wipe the surface with a damp rag, then with a clean, dry rag. Repeat this process, until the tile is as reflective as glass. Holding a lamp to the surface will help you check it.

Cure the grout, and let it set thoroughly before applying sealant. The curing process is very important – do not skip this step!

Once the grout is cured, apply sealer with a sponge. Sealing tile grout gives it greater water and mildew resistance, and helps keep it from getting dirty. Make sure to wipe off any drips before the sealer dries. And, if you’re using unglazed tile, seal it as well.



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