Home Improvements

Everything You Need to Know About the Tiling Process

Whether you are remodelling completely or simply looking to update an area in your home, tiling can give any space a whole new look. Tiling serves functional and aesthetic purposes, providing durable, easy-to-clean surfaces while adding a decorative element to spaces. But many avoid it because the tiling process can seem intimidating.

There are so many types of tiles available, each with unique characteristics and suitable applications. Some examples include:

  • Ceramic Tiles 
  • Porcelain Tile
  • Natural Stone 
  • Glass Tiles
  • Mosaic Tiles
  • Cement tiles
  • Metal Tiles
  • Terracotta Tiles

Keep reading to find out more about the tiling process, and whether or not you should DIY or hire a professional.

Close up of tiles creating a mandala effect, with blues, yellows, and white.

How to Choose the Right Tiles

Choosing suitable tiles for your project involves considering several factors.

Determine where you intend to use the tiles (e.g., bathroom, kitchen, living room) and the specific purpose (flooring, wall covering, backsplash). Different areas may have different requirements in terms of durability, water resistance, and aesthetics. You can’t start shopping for tiles before you know exactly what you want to do with them.

There are a few tile materials available, such as ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, glass, and metal. Each material has its unique characteristics and suitability for different uses. For areas prone to moisture or water exposure, like bathrooms or outdoor spaces, choose tiles with slip-resistant properties to enhance safety.

Think about the overall design and style you want. Tiles come in a wide range of colours, patterns, and textures. Choose a design that complements your existing decor and suits your personal style.

Yellow kitchen counter with a backsplash of alternating white and yellow tiles. The tiling process elevated the look of the space without much extra effort.

Consider the size and shape of the tiles that will best fit your space. Larger tiles create a more seamless look with fewer grout lines, while smaller tiles may be more suitable for intricate patterns or curved surfaces. You should also consider if you’ll need to cut tiles to fit the space, as this can be quite tricky.

You also need to consider maintenance and cleaning. Some tiles are easier to clean than others, so if you want something that’s quick and easy, stay away from textured tiles because they require more elbow grease.

It’s also important to set a budget for your tiling project. Tiles can vary in price, and it’s essential to find options that align with your budget without compromising quality and style. This research can take some time, but it’s worth it.

Close up of square tiles in varying sizes, in browns and white

Sample First

Whenever possible, get sample tiles of your top choices. Place them in the intended location to visualise how they look under the lighting conditions of the space.

If you’re unsure about the right tiles for your project, consult with professionals. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your needs and preferences.

If environmental impact is important to you, explore eco-friendly tile options made from recycled materials or those with sustainable manufacturing practices.

The tiling process involves sampling. Image of rows of tiles in the same cut, size, and texture, but in alternating shades of blue and purple

Tools Needed for Tiling

To successfully undertake a tiling project, you’ll need the right tools and materials. Here’s a list of essential tools needed for tiling:

  • Tiles (the correct amount)
  • Tile Adhesive
  • Tile Spacers
  • Tile Cutter or Wet Saw
  • Grout
  • Grout Float
  • Trowel
  • Level
  • Sponge and Bucket
  • Tile Nippers
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Tile Edging or Trim
  • Measuring Tape and Pencil
  • Caulking Gun and Silicone Caulk
  • Safety Gear

If you’re planning to do the tiling yourself, but you don’t have the necessary tools, you can look into hiring them. It’s probably not cost effective to buy all the tools for a single project. 

If you don’t want to worry about getting the right tools, then you can hire a tiling pro to take care of the job for you.

The tiling process involves several tools. Image of tile adhesive applicator.

Tiling Process

Understanding the technique of tiling can help you achieve your desired outcome. The tiling process typically involves several steps, from preparation to the final installation. 

1. Surface Preparation

The first step is to prepare the surface where the tiles will be installed. This involves cleaning the area to remove dust, debris, and any existing coverings.

If there are already tiles in the area, you’ll first need to remove them.  The surface should be flat, smooth, and free from any imperfections before you can start tiling.

2. Measuring and Layout

Accurate measurements are essential to determine the number of tiles needed and to plan the layout. This step helps avoid cutting small, narrow tiles at the edges and ensures a balanced design.

When in doubt, measure again. 

Close up of small square tiles in alternating primary colours.

3. Tile Selection

Choose the type, size, shape, and colour of tiles based on the project’s requirements and your design vision. 

Ensure that the tiles are suitable for the intended area in terms of material properties, water resistance, and durability.

4. Adhesive Application and Tile Setting

Apply a tile adhesive or thin-set mortar to the surface using a trowel. The adhesive creates a strong bond between the tiles and the surface.

Carefully place the tiles on the adhesive, following the layout plan. Use spacers between tiles to maintain consistent gaps for grout lines.

Tile cutters and tile dividers are important parts of the tiling process. Image of a stack of tiles, a handheld tile cutter, and a pile of tile dividers.

6. Tile Cutting

Some tiles may require cutting to fit specific spaces or create custom designs. This happens when the tiles don’t perfectly fit into the designated space: it means there’s a section of the surface that’s still exposed. 

For a clean finish and completeness of design, remaining tiles are cut to the right size. Use wet saws or tile cutters to do this.

7. Grouting

Grout is applied after the adhesive has set and the tiles are dried. Grout is the part that fills the gaps between tiles. It not only enhances the appearance, but also stabilises the tiles and prevents moisture penetration.

Remember to wipe off excess grout from the tile surface with a damp sponge before it dries completely. This achieves clean grout lines and prevents grout haze from forming on the tiles.

9. Sealing

In the case of certain tile materials like natural stone and porous ceramics, sealing is important to protect against stains and moisture.

The tiles and grout need time to cure fully before subjecting them to heavy use or cleaning.

Close up of square tiles in a slight upward design. Colours feature yellow, red, green, and dark blue.

The Tiling Process

Understanding the tiling process before you start can save you time and money along the way. You can’t just buy the first tiles you like, you have to make sure the material and size works for your project.

If you’re still unsure about tackling this on your own, contact one of our trusted contractors to help you out.

You’re in good company