tilesHaving decided on your tiles after scrolling through hundreds of inspirational bathroom photographs and catalogues, you’re now ready to roll with the tiling.  Or are you?  Here are some questions to consider before tiling begins

What is tile trim?

Tile trim is used to finish the edges around your tiled area and where tiles go around corners, to make it look neater and tidier, and also to cover up any exposed edges. Providing the perfect finishing touch, a tile trim is often used to create a cleaner finish. It can also protect the edges of the tiles from damage and cracking.

Trims are available in a variety of materials and the type of finish chosen often comes down to personal preference. However, you should choose your trim to suit your tiles as well as the type of aesthetic you’re looking to achieve.

The cheapest option is plastic, although aluminium is not much more expensive and comes with a polished chrome or brushed finish. You can also get stainless steel and then there’s the very expensive chromed-brass trim.

Take a look at the different trims and try them out next to your tiles to see which effect you like best. Bear in mind that tiles generally only need a trim when the cut edges would otherwise be exposed, so where they butt up to a ceiling, for example, trim won’t be necessary.

Can I tile over tiles?

Tiling over the top of tiles is happening more often, partly due to the pressure to keep waste out of landfill, but also because it’s laborious to remove existing tiles from a floor or wall. However, tiling over wall tiles is not always as straightforward as it sounds; do you know what the existing tiles are fixed to and what they were fixed with? For example, lightweight tiles that were fixed to a painted surface with an inferior adhesive might seem sound, but once you add the additional weight of the new tiles, the bond may fail.

When tiling over the top of tiles, always consider the combined weight of the two layers of tiles and whether it will exceed what the background is rated at, as there is a weight limit when tiling onto plaster, which is 20kg per square metre, including the tiles, adhesive and grout.

Which adhesive should I use if I tile over tiles?

If you decide to tile over existing tiles, you should avoid using a ready-mixed adhesive. This is because the water content needs to evaporate for the adhesive to dry and with a tiled background, there’s nowhere for that water to go except through the grout lines. A cement-based powder adhesive is recommended, perhaps a polymer-modified adhesive, as they are more flexible and stick better to low-porosity backgrounds.

What do I need to know about tiling a bathroom floor?

The type of floor you’re tiling will affect the grout you choose. If you have a stable concrete floor, you don’t necessarily have to use a flexible grout. When tiling a timber floor, however, it’s paramount you use a flexible grout that takes into account the inherent movement of timber.

Likewise, when tiling onto a floor that has underfloor heating, it is of vital importance to use a flexible grout.

tiles bathroomWhat’s the importance of silicone?

Applied after tiling and grouting, silicone is important because it ensures the joints are sealed and made waterproof. From a design perspective, you might like to match the colour of the silicone to the tile in order for it not to stand out.

The type of silicone you choose is also key; most adhesive and grout manufacturers now make their own range of silicone to colour-match the grout. In a ceramic or porcelain bathroom, you should look for a high modulus acetoxy-based silicone that is anti-mould, anti-bacterial or anti-fungal. For natural stone, a neutral-cure formula is required to ensure the silicone doesn’t ‘bleed’ through into the stone or lose its adhesion.

Should I choose ceramic or porcelain tiles?

Nowadays, there’s very little difference between the look and feel of a ceramic tile and a porcelain tile. However, porcelain is a much denser, tougher tile, whereas ceramic is lighter and easier to cut. Porcelain is able to withstand more day-to-day wear and tear in a family bathroom than a ceramic tile.

What about natural stone?

If you are installing natural stone, be aware that it will have to be resealed from time to time. What’s more, some stones are vulnerable to mild acids, which can be found in a surprising number of everyday domestic consumables, such as perfumes and cleaning fluids.

If you live in a hard-water area, then lime scale can also be a problem, as many of the cleaners designed to remove it also eat many of the natural stones, but you can purchase porcelain tiles that look identical to real stone.  

Can I tile around sanitaryware?

While you can tile around sanitaryware, it is preferable, if possible to remove the sanitaryware first before tiling. Not only will this help to create a neater finish, it will also prevent your sanitaryware from getting damaged.

If you need to replace any of the items at a later date, they may be difficult to remove if they’re tiled in and you would have to replace them with something with the same footprint or larger to cover the hole in the tiling.

What if I’m starting my bathroom from scratch?

Baths and shower trays should be fitted and plumbed in first and then tiled afterwards, this allows the rounded edges of the bath or tray to be covered and hidden by the tiles and once siliconed, it will provide a watertight seal.

tiles adhesiveHow do I prepare my walls for tiling?

Before you start tiling, spend a bit of time getting the walls and floor perfect, always make sure there’s no dust on the surfaces, then wipe them with a damp sponge and let the surface dry thoroughly.

The next step is to prime your walls before spreading adhesive, using a notched trowel. The tiles are then moved slightly side to side or up and down to compress the ribs of adhesive to make a full and consistent bed of adhesive. Some tiles may require tapping down lightly with an appropriate rubber mallet.

Also, non-porous tiles such as porcelain, should be lightly skimmed with adhesive on the back of the tiles to ensure they grip properly.

Can I tile my bath panel?

A bath panel is designed to be removed to allow access to plumbing under the bath and so a custom-made bath panel can be produced that can be tiled while ensuring it is also removable by the use of clips or magnets for access.

Now you have some helpful tips, you will be able to tackle this often tricky DIY job.