Tiles look good in practically any situation in the home, partly because you can get them in such a variety of materials and textures and partly because you have a wide variety of laying patterns open to you now that tiles are produced in such a mix of shapes. From providing easy to clean surfaces in kitchen and bathrooms to ultra-smart finishes in living rooms and hallways, tiles afford a decorative feature that you should exploit at every opportunity. One of the great advan-tages of tiles is that should any get spoiled or damaged they can be replaced individually; you don’t have the whole surface to do.
Most surfaces are suitable for tiling as long as they are flat and sound (for uneven walls, see Preparing walls for tiling). Plain plaster and plasterboard walls are suitable, old ceramic tiled walls are too. And you can tile over blockboard, plywood, chipboard, and laminated surfaces. You’ll have to strip walls which have been papered or painted with emulsion, and gloss paint will need to be checked to make sure that the surface is sound.
It’s not a good idea to tile a hardboard panelled wall with heavy ceramic or mirror tiles — it almost certainly won’t be strong enough to stop buckling — but cork and some imitation brick tiles should be suitable.
Visit plenty of suppliers when choosing tiles. Some tiles are mass produced while others are only made to order. There is a variety of different types of tile, depending on how they are made.
Ceramic: The most up to date universal tiles have chamfered edges of which at least two are glazed. The chamfer produces the grout- ing line when they are laid butted up against each other and the glazed edges do away with the necessity of having to buy round edged tiles for finishing off external corners.
Some traditional tiles have built in spacer lugs but with most you have to insert spacer slips to provide a grouting gap. You will need matching round edged tiles for corners.
You don’t, of course, have to stick to ceramic or wall tiles.
Quarry tiles are thicker and much denser and really made for heavy duty flooring and industrial use. But they can look very good on walls. Sizes vary from 100mm square to 250mm X 125mm.
Mosaic tiles come on sheets of stiff re-inforced paper with the faces of the tiles stuck to the paper ready spaced. You glue the sheet of tiles to the wall and when the adhesive is set peel off the paper before grout-ing. There’s also a type which has a backing of rough hessian. With these, you just stick the backing to the wall. The size of mosaic tiles varies from less than 25mm square right
Universal tiles can be butted together to give a narrow grouting line or the gaps can be emphasized by inserting spacers up to conventional 108mm square size. They can be practically any material from ceramic to steel to mirror. The only disadvantage with mosaic tiles is that they tend to be very expensive.
Cork, vinyl and carpet tiles can be used on walls to great effect.
You can buy ordinary floor tiles — or in the case of cork, slightly thinner versions of the flooring grade. Sizes available range either side of 300mm square.
Mirror tiles are now readily available and in a range of sizes from 108mm square up to three and four times that size. They are normally stuck to the wall with self adhesive pads.
Metallic tiles are available in the same range of sizes as ceramic tiles. They are essen-tially thin pieces of stainless steel or aluminium or other metals with a self adhesive backing. They can normally be bent around corners although they look better if they are cut in the conventional fashion.
Brick and stone tiles can either be thin pieces of real brick and stone, or may be based on concrete or even polystyrene, coloured to look like the real thing. They are most widely used for fireplaces but there is no reason why you should not face an entire wall with them — they particularly complement stripped pine furniture.
There is, unfortunately, no universal adhesive for the whole range of tiles. Some tiles are self-adhesive. Some require special adhesives which come with the tile packs and some use widely available adhesives. To find out which adhesive to use, read carefully what the manufacturer recommends and follow the advice.
Additional materials for tiling
- When budgeting to tile a wall, don’t forget the extras you will need. The notes given here apply to conventional ceramic tiling.
- If you are using another type of tile, check the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully for any other materials you might need before you start work.
- Adhesive: Use special ceramic tile adhesive which you should be able to get at the same time as the tiles and grout. Allow roughly one litre of the ready mixed kind for one to one and a half square metres of tiles.
- If you are tiling an area which gets wet —and remember that in Europe tiled walls tend to get wet from condensation even when there isn’t water about — make sure that you buy waterproof adhesive (and grout) not water resistant. There’s not much difference in price but it could make a big difference to the state of your tiling in a few years.
Grout: Get it at the same time as the adhesive led follow the same rule about using a water-proof type. You may care to use coloured grout to match another colour in the room ,ind you can buy powder colourings or in ,,aine cases ready mixed coloured grout in I Iihs. If you are tiling in a kitchen buy a grout with an added fungicide for hygiene’s sake. Spacers: Use small squares of stiff card or inatchsticks unless you have bought universal tiles or tiles with spacer lugs. You can often hay packets of spacer slips or cards ready cut. They are worth buying because they are of a standard thickness.
You may need to buy some special quadrant tiles which you use to make a neat finish to edges in exactly the same way as quadrant moulding in carpentry. Try to avoid them as they look old fashioned but they can be useful for sealing around baths.
Estimating for tiles
Don’t just take a rough guess. Many tiles are costly so you could soon end up out of pocket. It’s better to estimate accurately how many tiles you need.
- Measure the area to be tiled and divide by the area of one tile.
- Allow for any cut tiles, counting each cut tile as a full one. Add at least five per cent to the results to allow for breakages — more if this is your first attempt.
A more accurate method, however, is to divide the height and the length of the wall to be tiled separately by the length and width of one tile, then round up the next whole number. Multiply these numbers together and, once more, add five per cent to account for breakages.