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How to tile a feature wall
Create an eye-catching feature wall in your bathroom using tiles
Adding a feature tile into your design is a great way to add interest and texture to your walls. Here we'll show you how to create vertical stripes either side of your basin.
- Tape measure
- Power drill
- Dust sheets
- Tile spacers
- Knee pads
- Drill bits
- Timber batten
- Spirit level
- Safety glasses
- Pipe and cable detector
- Safety gloves
- Notched trowel
- Dry tile cutter
- Masking tape
- Rubber edged grout spreader
- Grout sponge
- Tile grout
- Protective gloves
- Silicone sealant
- Sealant gun
The first step is to plan the layout of your tiles.
Measure the width of the wall and mark the centre point. Measure the height of the area to be tiled.
For your main tiles you can multiply the width of the wall by the height to find the right number of packs. Most boxes of tiles cover 1 square metre. Give yourself 10% extra of each type of tile to allow for a few mistakes. Measure the height of one border tile. Then divide the height of the wall by the border tile height to find out how many border tiles you'll need.
Lay out the first row of tiles including the border tiles from the centre point, including spacers between each tile. For the best appearance, you want at least a half-tile at the edges of the wall.
Measure the height of your main tiles up from the floor, and minus 20mm to allow for the floor not being completely straight. Using the spirit level, extend this mark this out horizontally across the wall.
Pre-drill holes in your support battens. Fix the timber support batten flush with your pencil lines and screw in place.
Once you have timber support battens in place, you can start tiling.
Start by applying adhesive at the centre point, flush with the timber support batten. Apply enough for one or two tiles, combing the adhesive out with the notched edge of the trowel. The idea is to maintain a consistent depth of adhesive, so the tiles all sit at the same level on the wall.
Press the first tile firmly into position, making sure it sits flush on the support timber. You can check that the tiles are plumb level using a spirit level.
Use spacers around each tile to keep the gaps even on all sides. Wipe up any excess adhesive before it dries and becomes difficult to remove.
Once you've positioned all the whole tiles in the row, you can measure the remaining gaps on either side. Make sure you measure the top and bottom of the gap because walls aren't always straight.
You'll need eye protection and safety gloves for this task.
Mark your measurements on the tile, minus another 6mm, or twice the width of the spacer you're using.
Line up the scoring wheel with your cut marks, glazed side up and apply gentle pressure to score the tile. Press down on the handle to snap the tile on the cutting blade. Face cut sides of the tiles toward the corners or floor to keep the edges looking neat.
Once you’ve got a feel for it, apply the adhesive to larger areas. Keep to an area you feel comfortable tiling within around five minutes - or the adhesive will dry. It’s easier to remove excess adhesive with a damp cloth before it goes hard.
Tiles aren’t all completely identical, so check your levels every couple of rows and adjust the spacing slightly if you need to.
When all your tiles are in place, check the manufacturer's instructions on drying time and allow the adhesive to set fully. Once dry, you can take off the timber support battens.
Walls aren't always completely straight, so you'll need to measure the gap for each tile. Don't forget to take into account the spacers. Then measure and cut your tiles one at a time as you go along to keep everything accurate.
You can apply adhesive to the back of the tile if the area is too difficult for the trowel. Once your bottom row is complete, let it dry for the recommended time.
Run a line of masking tape along the ceiling, floor or skirting board before grouting the top and bottom edge of the tiles.
Work the grout into every gap between the tiles using the spreader in a diagonal motion. You can use the edge to scrape up the excess and rework it. Use a just-damp sponge to wipe excess grout away whilst working, so there’s less to scrub off later.
When you’ve filled all the gaps, leave the grout to set for a few minutes.
Next, go over the area with the sponge, using the same diagonal motion to avoid pulling out the grout. You should only be left with a powdery haze on the surface of the tiles which can be polished off after about an hour with a dry cloth.
Lastly you can seal the fixtures with silicone to keep out moisture and fill seams and other gaps.
If you're tiling a kitchen or bathroom, seal any joins between fixtures and the wall with silicone.
Smooth the silicone off with the finisher or a wet, gloved finger and wipe up any excess with a small piece of cardboard or a damp cloth. Allow to dry for 24 hours.