How To Install Ceramic Wall Tiles

Ceramic tiles aren’t only beautiful, they’re very long lasting and easy to take care of. They’re also very durable and it’s almost impossible to stain or mark them!

While tiles are traditionally used in bathrooms and kitchens they can be used to make any room more beautiful. Contrary to what most people think ceramic tiles are not hard to install.

Ceramic tiles come in several different sizes, you can find them as small as 1 inch and as large as 18 inches square. The 1 inch squares are normally sold attached to a backing and in 12 inch squares so they’re not so time consuming to install.

They also come in almost any color imaginable to match any decor. You can find solid color tiles, textured tiles and even find tiles with designs such as flowers or geometric lines.

What you may not know about tile is that all tiles aren’t water resistant! Ceramic tiles that are called non-vitreous actually absorb any water that they come in contact with!

Non-vitreous tiles should never be used anywhere that there’s lots of water or moisture. Tiles that will resist water are called semi-vitreous and impervious. While semi-vitreous will absorb some water, impervious won’t absorb any at all.

You can install ceramic tiles on almost any solid, flat surface. Cement backer board is actually the best wall covering to install  tiles on. It’s much like drywall, but it’s resistant to moisture.
It’s perfect for showers, bathrooms and as a back splash at sinks.

When installing ceramic tile you want to start in the center of the wall and work your way out to the sides. This way the tiles on both ends of the walls will be about the same size.

Measure carefully and find the center of your wall, you can mark it using a level to make sure that the line is straight. You need to mark both the center horizontal and center vertical lines.

It’s easier if you find the center vertically first, then measure how high the wall is and divide that in half. Measure down the line half way and make a vertical mark so that you end up with a big plus symbol.

Apply a coat of the tile adhesive to one side of the plus symbol at the direct center. You should only work on a 3 X 3 foot section at a time so that the adhesive don’t become to dry to hold the tiles securely in place.

You should also purchase tile spacers, these will be placed at the sides of each tile to make sure the spacing is the same. The spacing can make a lot of difference when applying the grout, it will be very noticeable if some tiles are closer or wider apart.

Install your first tile so that the mark comes out in the center of the tile. You will need to use a slight twisting motion with each tile to make sure the adhesive is covering the back. Then just press the tile firmly in place at the correct area.

You’ll need to cut the tiles to get them to fit correctly at the ends of each row. The easiest way to cut them is with a ceramic tile cutter. You probably don’t own one, but they can be rented at most tool rental stores.

Measure and mark the cutting guide onto the tile. Then you just use the tile cutter to score the marks and snap the tile at the scored line. You can smooth out any rough edges with sandpaper around 80 grit.

A ceramic tile cutter will only cut straight lines. If you need irregular tiles or cuts that go around wall fixtures you’ll need to use tile nippers.

Tile nippers “nip” out little pieces of tile at a time. If the cut is complicated it may take a little while to get the exact shape you need. Just take your time and the tile will fit into place much better.

Once you’ve gotten all of the tiles installed let them set overnight so the adhesive can dry throughly. Before you start applying the grout, you’ll need to remove all of the tile spacers.

There are several types of grouting that is used for tiles. The type you will need to purchase depends on the spacing of your tiles. If the space is 1/8″ or less you can use un-sanded grout, for any space over that size purchase sanded grout.

If the tiles were installed any where that there’s water or moisture, purchase a grout that is waterproof. Read the label to make sure, or ask a sales agent. If it’s not waterproof it won’t last long in bathrooms or around sinks.

The grout should be applied at a 45 degree angle and just like when you installed the tiles, work in a 3 X 3 foot area at a time. After you’ve completed the area, wipe off any excess with clear water and a sponge.

Give the grouting about 30 minutes to dry and go back over each section with a soft, dry cloth and buff out any haze on the grout. Let it dry for another day and then buff off any more haze that’s appeared.

If the tile was installed in a bathroom or kitchen area you’ll need to seal the bottom where it meets the tub or sink. Use a mildew resistant silicone caulk to prevent water from getting behind the tiles and ruining the wall.

You can use your finger to smooth the caulking along the bottom. Adding a small drop of dish detergent will keep the caulk from sticking to your fingers!

After the grout has cured for about a week, you should apply a grout sealer to it. The sealer will keep stains or dirt getting in the grout and making it look dark or dirty!