Remove switch plates, nails and any other items on the wall. Hand sand the area with 80-grit sandpaper until the wall surface is rough. Wipe debris and dust with a damp rag. Let the wall dry.
Use a tape measure to find the center of the area you want to tile. Measure the width of the wall. Divide that measurement in two; this is the center point. Mark the center point with a pencil.
Draw a vertical line down the center of the wall using the center point mark. Use a level or straight edge to keep the line plumb.
Dry fit the tile. Lay the tiles on the floor in the desired pattern for the wall to test the look, if using a pattern. Setting patterns is difficult and complex, and if you do not test run the look of the pattern by dry fitting tiles, the pattern will not look even when placed.
If not using a pattern, still dry fit the tiles on the floor, spacing 1/8 inch apart to measure the tile against the measurements you took of the wall. Using the measurements for the area, you will be able to ascertain the consistency of the tile on the wall, and how many tiles you require for each row.
Apply mastic or thin-set to the wall using the edge of the V-notched trowel. Use a 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch trowel for best results. The spacing between the tile is a matter of personal preference, based on grout lines. However, the experts at the Ask the Builder website recommend 1/8 inch spacers placed between smaller tiles. Sweep the trowel over the wall at an angle. Cover enough area to lay the first row of tiles, based on the measurements you took earlier and validated with the dry fitting. You can purchase mastic or thin-set pre-mixed out of a bucket for easy application.
Place starter tiles at the bottom of the wall. Begin at the centerline you drew earlier. Place the edge of the first tile centered on the line. Leave at least 1/4 inch at the bottom row of tile to fill with caulk later on. Press the tiles onto the wall moving outward from the centerline. Place 1/8 inch spacers--or larger depending on preference--between the tiles as you set in place to have equal distance between them. This will be an easy task since the measurements taken earlier already give you the baseline for how many tiles belong in each row. Continue this process until you have covered the area. Let the mastic or thin-set dry overnight.
Grout the tile with unsanded tile grout. Grout comes pre-mixed or ready to mix in a wide variety of colors. Use a rubber grout float to spread grout across the surface. Pack the grout deep into the joints.
Clean the surface with a wet sponge after grouting. Once 30 to 45 minutes pass, polish the haze from the tiles with a clean, dry cloth. Squeeze a thin bead of caulk at the very bottom of the tile on the wall and in the corners of the wall, covering any vacant space. Smooth the caulk with a wet finger.
Things You Will Need
- Orbital hand sander
- 80-grit sandpaper
- Tape measure
- Level or straightedge
- Tile mastic or thinset
- V-notched trowel
- Score and Snap tile cutter
- Rubber grout float
- Dry cloth
- You may need to cut tiles to fit around certain areas. Use a score-and-snap tile cutter with a cutting wheel to do this.
- If tiles require notching, and are being set around kitchen cabinets, you will need to use a motorized wet saw.
- Measure twice and cut once.
- You can rent tiling tools from a local home improvement or hardware store if you do not own them.
- When buying grout requiring mixing, mix the grout until the consistency resembles peanut butter.