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Tiles must be applied to a clean, flat surface, whether by a painter and decorator, or a more specialised tiling contractor. This may mean removing existing tiles and preparing walls and floors which have never been tiled before. As with plastering and painting, perfection only comes from proper preparation. Tiles are stuck to walls and floors using specific adhesives, most are ready mixed but always follow the instructions as some do require mixing with water. Grout is the substance used to fill the gaps between tiles. Using flexible adhesive and grout is a good idea to avoid cracks when there is movement in buildings or to allow for expansion and contraction when underfloor heating is present. Take time to select the colour and grain, off whites may give better finishes than basic whites and wider grout lines generally suit a courser grout texture.

How to fix ceramic wall tiles with adhesive

Your tiler will either use a serrated spreader which comes with the adhesive or her own metal notched trowel. Working on about 1 metre square area at a time your tiler will put adhesive on the surface and then drag the notched spreader across to make horizontal ridges.The first tile is pressed into the corner of the 'setting-out battens' or whatever guide lines are used. Successive tiles are are then pressed aongisde with tile spacers between tiles to give neat straight grout lines. Once 3 or 4 rows have been placed then any tile adhesive that found its way on the surface during work can be wiped off before it sets. Another area can then have adhesive ridges applied and continue tiling but keeping an eye (spirit level) that lines are straight. Once finished tiling any surplus adhesive on tile edges is removed and then it takes about 24hrs for adhesive to set hard so tiles are securely fixed.

How to grout ceramic wall tiles

Grout colours used to be white and grey but nowadays grouts come in a vast range of colours and tones to perfectly match and contrast your tile selection.

Before grouting begines the tiler removes the plastic grout line spacers. The selected colour grout powder is mixed with water to make the doughy putty texture and then using a suitable grouting tool such as a rubber bladed spreader the grout is pressed into the open spaces, speading in all directions to compact grout completely into all the tile joints. Tilers the use a moist sponge to wipe grout off the tile surfave and further compact the grout lines to give a good waterproof seal.Once the grout has dried the tiles are polished using a dry cloth. It is important not to splash water on the grout for about 7 days so sinks, showers and bath areas cannot be used for a week.

Just about any tiling project requires cutting or drilling of tiles to wrap round corners, provide access for pipes or wires, border window frames or bath panels so they are essential skills for every tiler.

How to cut cermaic tiles using a Jig

Ceramic tiles can be cut in straight lines using a jig, ideally a heavy lever action type with angled jaws and a cutting wheel. The tiler marks glazed tiles with a felt pen at each side of the tile (a pencil can be used on unglazed tiles) then the tile is lined up in the jig using the edge markings and then the cutting wheel scores a line across the tile surface between the two points. The scored tile can then be placed in the jig's jaws to be snapped along the scored line.

How to cut cermaic tiles using a powered wet saw

To cut thick ceramic tiles the tiler ideally should use a powered wet saw with a diamond coated bladecooled by a water bath. This way tiles can be mitred (cut at an angle) to fit tiles neatly into corners.

How to drill holes in ceramic tiles

To drill through the hard surface of tile a tiler uses either Carbide tipped masonry drill can be used without causing tile cracking or the best option is a Diamond-tipped drill bit which are more expensive but less likely to damage as masonry bits.
The challenging part of drilling through ceramic tiles is getting through the surface glaze without cracking the tile. Tilers often put masking tape over the point where they plan to drill to stop the bit initially slipping on the hard glazing before biting into the tile surface.
Once the bit is through the glaze and starts to bore the main body of the tile then the tile doesn’t usually crack and the job becomes perseverance of applying steady firm pressure. The drill bit tip needs to be cooled with water so it doesn’t become damaged.

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