Project Overview

Tiles are a great way to bring colour and style to a bathroom renovation. If you can do the tiling yourself, the whole project will be a lot more affordable. We’ll teach you how to lay your tiles in neatly spaced rows. You will also learn how to trim around window gaps and keep your rows horizontal.

Continue to step-by-step instructions
This D.I.Y. Advice is part of a series How to lay wall tiles

Step by Step Instructions

1 Draw a datum line one row above the bathroom floor
2 Install a temporary timber shelf on the datum line
3 Check your tile glue is safe to use with waterproofing
4 Find out the width of the last tile in a row
5 Mix up the tile glue
6 Lay the first row of tiles
7 Level up the first row of tiles
8 Lay more rows of tiles on the bathroom wall
9 Trim and lay edge and corner tiles
  • Step 1. Draw a datum line one row above the bathroom floor

    Measure your tile height, and mark a point on the bathroom wall that is 20mm below that height. Then use your spirit level to draw a horizontal line, known as a “datum line”, at that height all the way around the room. The height is reduced by 20mm just in case there is a low point in the floor that needs covering.
  • Step 2. Install a temporary timber shelf on the datum line

    Get a long, straight piece of timber and mount it on the bathroom wall so its top edge lines up with your datum line. Then drive a screw through the middle of the timber into a wall stud. Now use a spirit level to check the timber is horizontal and screw the two ends into wall studs as well.
  • Step 3. Check your tile glue is safe to use with waterproofing

    Building regulations require the walls of your bathroom to have a waterproof lining installed. Once that lining is in place, you can start tiling. Check the information on the side of your packet of tile glue to make sure that it is safe to use with waterproofing. 
  • Step 4. Find out the width of the last tile in a row

    To work out the width of the last tile in a row, lay one tile in position on the timber shelf you have installed. Then move it down the shelf one tile-width at a time, plus the width of a spacer, until you reach the end of the row. If the final tile needs to be short, you can pre-trim one for each row before you start tiling.
  • Step 5. Mix up the tile glue

    Pour some tile glue powder into a bucket with some water in it, then use a power drill with a mixing paddle to blend the mixture together. Keep mixing until the glue has the consistency of toothpaste. If you find that it’s too runny or dry, then balance it out with a little more powder or water.
  • Step 6. Lay the first row of tiles

    Spread some glue on the back of the first tile using the notched edge of your trowel. This makes trenches in the glue so the tile sticks better. Then place the base of the tile on the timber shelf and flatten it onto the wall. Clean off any excess glue and push plastic wedges under the bottom corners of the tiles. Repeat for every tile across the row, putting spacers between each tile as you go.
  • Step 7. Level up the first row of tiles

    Once the first row of tiles has been laid, put a spirit level on top to check that they are horizontal. This is where the wedges are helpful. If any of the tiles need adjusting, simply shift the position of the wedges to lift or drop the tiles so they line up correctly.
  • Step 8. Lay more rows of tiles on the bathroom wall

    Put enough glue on the wall to cover a couple of rows of tiles. Once again, use the notched side of your trowel to put trenches in the glue as you spread it. When you have spread the glue, work quickly to put your tiles in place before the glue starts to cure. Lay them one row at a time, using plastic spacers to keep the gaps between each tile the same. If you need to trim a tile before you lay it, leave that area free of glue and do that tile as part of the next step.
  • Step 9. Trim and lay edge and corner tiles

    When you need to trim a tile before you lay it, put the tile in place on the wall, mark your cutting points and use a tile cutter or angle grinder to trim the tile to size. Then put your tile in place again to check the cut is right, put some glue on the back and lay it in position. For more information on cutting tiles, check out our How to cut tiles video.
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