diy tiling – tiling tips for beginners

Although doing a tiling project by yourself can be an exciting and rewarding experience, if you’re a first-time DIY tiler, you must be prepared for all the little steps that are needed to make such a project successful. If you plan on tackling your next tiling project yourself, read this article to learn the key considerations you must factor in before starting.

For those who have a brand-new tiling project in mind for their home, you are already likely to be looking forward to the finished result. And even if you’ve never tiled anything before, you may be considering doing the entire project yourself.

However, even though a do-it-yourself floor tiling project is an exciting task, it can also prove to be quite the challenge, especially for those who avoid taking the time to research the tiling process properly.

If you are set on carrying out a do-it-yourself floor tiling project on your own, then it will make the whole process easier by following our top tips for tiling a floor or wall listed below.


(image credit: charlesdeluvio)


1. Assess the project cost before starting

One of the main reasons why people choose to carry out tiling projects on their own instead of hiring a professional is to save money on labour costs. And given the variations in what tilers can charge, it’s an understandable consideration.

However, although it may be initially cheaper to buy the tiles and do the laying yourself, if you make a mistake or require the use of specialist tools to cut your tiles into shape, you might very quickly find that your budget-saving measures have actually ended up costing you more than hiring a professional would.

So, the first of our ‘do it yourself’ floor tiling tips is to actually consider the alternative! Unless you are confident in your ability to lay your new tiles perfectly the first time around, we'd encourage you to consider hiring a professional. This way, you can ensure that you don’t end up going over budget and experiencing delays due to avoidable mistakes.


2. Make sure you’re able to complete the job

The second of our tiling tips for beginners is to be sure you have the ability to fully complete the job yourself, not just from a physical perspective but from a skill perspective as well.

Bending down for a couple of days to fix kitchen floor tiles or stretching to fix the highest bathroom wall tile can be far more tiring than you may initially think, and can play havoc with bad knees or backs. And then there is the skill required to cut your tiles to fit awkward doorways or windows.

Whether it's a porcelain bathroom tile or limestone kitchen floor tile, cutting these sorts of materials requires both accuracy and the right tools, which must be rented at an expense. And getting cut tiles right requires more than a few practice attempts, meaning you might very well take longer to get the installation finished than you would like.

Of course, you might be thinking that, if you find the project is too much halfway through, then you could hire a tiler to finish the rest. Unfortunately, all this is likely to do is cost you more money in the long run.

In almost all scenarios, a professional tiler will want to start over, which means you’ll need to buy new tiles, potentially pay to have the subfloor repaired, and then wait longer than you wanted for your room to be ready.

Remember, if you do hire a professional, then you might very well be able to help them here and there when needed so that you can get involved and learn a few tricks for future projects!


3. Do you have the time for the project?

When it comes to tiling projects, the time it can take to complete them will vary greatly. However, on average, a professional tiler would expect to complete a 20m bathroom wall and floor project in roughly three days.

So, if you're planning to get all your tiling done over the weekend, be sure to consider your room size if you’re wanting to complete the project before Monday rolls around. In turn, this may mean the room in question is out of action for longer than you anticipated.

In other words, if you’re someone with a busy weekly schedule, then hiring a professional is almost certainly the better option for you to give you peace of mind.


4. Get hold of the right tools

Before installing tiles of any kind, whether they’re porcelain or stone tiles, you need to be sure that you have the right tools necessary to prepare the subfloor they’ll be sitting on, as well as the cutting implements you might need to trim your tiles to fit awkward gaps.

For example, cutting marble tiles successfully requires a diamond-tipped wet saw cutting machine. Trying to make a precise, neat cut with a ‘dry cutter’ or angle grinder will lead to irreversible damage to the tiles. So, the next of our DIY tiling tips is to be sure you do your research on the equipment you need to get the job done properly.

Make sure you use a cutter that’s the right size and thickness and can cut the type of tile you have, and double-check that it can handle the weight and size of your tiles. That way, you should be able to cut your tiles without damaging them.


5. Make sure you have the right tiles

It’s very important that you ensure your tiles are suitable for use on your chosen surface before you purchase them. For example, while some floor tiles can be used on a wall, we don’t advise that you use wall tiles on your floor, due to their more fragile nature.

You will also want to ensure that your tiles are of good quality, otherwise, you might find they crack not long after installation, ruining your room’s aesthetic.


6. Always carry out a dry run

A dry run, also called 'setting out’, is an absolutely essential part of any tiling process, and is a step that is always taken by professional tilers.

We’ve outlined many times in our advice blog about the purpose of a tile dry run, and to sum up, it helps you nail down the optimum layout to minimise material waste and time while also helping you to truly visualise your desired set-up, before fixing anything down.


7. Choose the right surfaces to work on

When it comes to tiling, the type of surface or subfloor you’re installing your tiles on will be a contributing factor to determining how easy it is to lay your tiles successfully. For example, the best bathroom wall surface to tile onto is a ‘tile backer board’, as it’s flat, smooth, and made for this exact purpose.

So, consider what surface you’ll be working on and where any fixtures and fittings will sit before you start tiling, and if needed, you can adjust your tile backing appropriately to ensure it is strong enough to support any wall hangings or furniture.


8. Purchase the appropriate fixing products

Last, but not least, the eighth of our DIY floor tiling tips is to make sure that you purchase the right tile adhesive and fixing products for your specific project materials. When it comes to tiling, you shouldn't expect your project to be a success without the appropriate adhesive and grout.

Fixing products vary depending on the tile material and substrate you’re working with, so always speak with whoever is supplying the fixing products and discuss the installation process with them. They will be able to advise on exactly what is required.


So, hopefully our top tips for approaching a DIY tiling project can help to make your project a success – along with our other tile installation advice guides on how to tile on uneven floors and how to prepare your floor for tiling.

And if you have any other questions related to tiles and tiling process, then be sure to get in touch with our experts today.