Fixing tiles

Begin tiling at the intersection of the horizontal batten and the vertical line , filling in the bottom row and working upwards.

Adhesive should be applied thinly to the wall over an area of not more than lm2 at a time. If applied to the backs of the tiles themselves, the finished surface could be uneven. If adhesive is applied over a greater area, some may dry before it has been tiled over. Drive the serrated edge of the spreader over the adhesive, forming ridges to provide good suction and adhesion.

Press the tiles firmly into place without sliding them, wiping away any adhesive which squeezes onto the surface of the tiles with a damp cloth. The alignment of the tiles should be checked with the spirit level on completion of every three or four rows.

When the tiles have set, the corner tiles may be fixed and the batten removed before filling in the bottom row – butter their backs with adhesive and fit them firmly home. Always fit cut tiles so that the spacer lugs – that is the uncut sides – faces those of the adjacent tile. For tiles without lugs, use matchsticks as markers between tiles to ensure even spacing.

Butt the spacer lugs of the tiles on the adjacent wall against the surface of the cut corner tile at right angles to it – thus allowing a grout line to run down the junction of the two walls. If the tile has no lugs, space it with matchsticks.

Cutting and shaping tiles

Straight cuts in ceramic tiles can be made either by scoring and snapping with a standard tile cutter or by scoring and breaking with an Oporto tile cutter.

Start off by offering the tile to be cut up to the space on the wall, positioning it so that it overlaps the adjacent, fixed tile. Mark off the overlap on the tile with felt-tip pen, on the reverse side first, then the glazed side, then the edges.

With the tile back on the bench, convert these marks to a continuous cutting line. Score this line, using a try square to guide you, then either cut the tile with the Oporto cutter or snap it on the bench, over a match -stick.

Notches and curved cuts must be ‘nibbled’ by hand with a pair of pincers. In the case of curved cuts, make a straight cut first as near to the curve as possible – the tile will snap if you attempt to pincer out larger areas.

The guidelines for curved cuts cam be drawn in either by eye, or – more satisfactorily – with a cardboard template. Trim the template to shape in situ then transfer it to the tile and draw around it in felt-tip pen.

Pipes present some of the trickiest tiling problems. The safest way to tile around them is to cut the relevant tile in two and to cut a semi-circle out of each half.

All cuts in ceramic tiles look neater and more professional if they are smoothed afterwards with a carborundum file or block.

Tiling around fitments

Where the fitment runs the length of a wall – a bath or kitchen unit for example – treat the top edge as you would a floor or skirting board. Fix a horizontal batten along this edge and leave it in place while you tile the wall above. When the tiles are dry, remove the batten and tile down to the edge with tiles cut to fit.

Where the fitment is in the middle of a wall – such as a basin or wc – tile around it as closely as you can with whole tiles, then fill in the spaces with cut tiles when the rest of the wall is completed.


When the tiling is finished, leave it to set for 12 to 24’ hours, then rub grout firmly into the tile joints with an old sponge, squeegee or cloth. Remove excess grout with a damp sponge: when it has almost set, run a blunt stick across the joints to leave a neat finish. Allow the grout to dry and then give the tiles a final polish with a soft, dry cloth.

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