I was really happy with our new kitchen. It was a great size giving us enough room to circulate in, and with its open style giving onto the living room we never had the ‘shut away alone in the kitchen’ feeling. The units were looking modern and clean, the island gave us a dining space while also marking our ‘frontier’ between the living room and the kitchen, the sink had finally found its forever home (more on that story here) and the wooden floors gave it a lovely, modern scandi vide.
But what let the whole space down was the rough, bare concrete wall from which we had removed the old tiles way back in our renovation ‘destruction’ phase.
We hadn’t had the time so far to choose the new wall tiles never mind install them, and with the rest of the space now polished and shining, this bare wall stuck out like a sore thumb.
It was time to do something about it!
The reason I opted for white cabinets in the end was down to their modern yet timeless appeal and I knew this same logic could be applied to tile colours and styles. After a bit of research, I discovered my soft spot for metro and subway tiles and again was drawn by their simplistic and timeless appeal. Decision made! With the tiles purchased, it was time now to install them.
Being all moved in, we no longer had the pressure of getting jobs done as quickly as possible, so we could take the time to roll up our sleeves and learn how to get on with the task at hand. So I thought I would outline a quick guide to wall tile installation in case any of you out there fancied doing the same:
Step 1: Make sure your surface to be tiled is clean and structurally sound. It can be tempting to just tile over cracks or damp patches with your new clean and shiny tiles, but these are the types of problems that should be dealt with upfront when you have the chance. Any short cuts here could lead to warped or cracked tilework…and nobody wants that.
Step 2: Think about what type of tile pattern you want for your wall and have a few practise runs at setting this out on a flat surface beforehand. We opted for a brickwork pattern which is a popular choice for this style of tile.
Step 3: Now we were advised never to begin tiling at the bottom or the top of your wall but rather to begin by the most visible section, which in most cases means the middle, and work your way out from there. So using a tape measure, we marked the point where our vertical and horizontal lines intersected, giving our middle starting off point.
Step 4: Using the horizontal line, we screwed a wooden support strip along the bottom of this reference point to act as a guide and support when laying the first row of tiles. Make sure you use a level to ensure this strip is perfectly straight. The overall impression of your wall depends on it!
Step 5: Starting from the centre, apply a coat of your tile adhesive with the notched end of your trowel beginning with approximately 60 x 60cm sections until you get the feel of things. Press the first few tiles in place with a slight twisting motion rather than a sliding one. As you work your way along the wall make sure you place tile spacers on all four sides of each tile. These will quickly become your best friend and ensure your grout lines remain consistent.
Step 6: Take your time and continue applying your adhesive and tiles in sections. At the end of each row or around kitchen fixtures you will certainly need to cut tiles to fit. A ceramic tile cutter is best for this, but be sure to wear eye protection. The edges of cut tiles can also be sharp so sand these down with 80 grit sandpaper if necessary.
Step 7: Once your wall is fully tiled and your adhesive set (which usually takes 24 hours) it is now time to grout the tiles which for some reason I found the most satisfying part of the whole process. Before grouting, remove all your tile spacers and make your grout mixture according to the directions. You should have a thick, toothpaste like consistence.
Step 8: Using a rubber float, apply the mixture at a 45° angle to the grout lines, making sure you push the grout fully into the gaps using firm diagonal sweeps. Using a damp sponge, remove any excess mixture from the face of the tiles. You can then shape the grout lines with a toothbrush or even your fingers (which proved my best tried and tested method).
Step 9: After about 30 minutes, the grout has had enough time to dry, and you can go back over the sections with a soft cloth and buff away any excess grout. Here you’ll start to see the final effects of your handiwork! Just make sure to keep your sponge clean by rinsing it often.
Step 10: After a few days and once the grout is fully dry, it’s a good idea to apply a silicone grout sealer to protect your walls from staining. Once this sealer is dry, you can also add a small amount of caulking where the base of the grout meets the counter in order to seal in the edges.
Et voilà !
Like my other guides,this version is simplified down so don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment if you have any more detailed questions.