Installing Ceramic Tiles on Bathroom Walls

By Robert Ferguson

Ceramic tile is a durable material used to cover bathroom walls and floors. Available in many sizes and colors, the material also enhances the appearance of the bathroom. Before installing ceramic tile on bathroom walls, careful planning and preparation helps ensure that the job will go smoothly. Although tile installation is not complicated, it requires a fine attention to detail to achieve a professional result.


Installing ceramic tile requires a set of tools specific to the project. Before starting the project you will need to gather a tile cutter, square or V-notch trowel, margin trowel and a rotary tool equipped with a diamond wheel or tile-cutting bit for making cuts around plumbing.


A common mistake made by novice tile installers is beginning the project without putting much thought into the layout. For example, before installing tile around a bathtub, a centerline drawn on the back wall provides a reference point to help determine the most efficient way to start the first row of tile.


Installing ceramic tile requires attaching tile to the substrate with a suitable adhesive. The type of adhesive is determined by the size of the tile and grout joint. Tiles measuring up to 5 inches square are attached using a type of adhesive referred to as mastic. Larger tiles are attached using thin-set, a cement-based mortar that provides more body to support the larger tiles.


After the installing the tile and allowing it to set, usually 24 hours, the tile is grouted. Grout is a material used to fill the joints between the ceramic tiles. Applied with a grout float, the material seals the joints, preventing moisture from reaching the substrate. The two most common types of grout are sanded and non-sanded. Non-sanded grout is suitable for grout joints 1/8 inch wide or less while sanded grout is suitable for joints 1/8 inch and larger.


Applying sealer to the grout joints helps maintain their natural appearance. The solution applies easily using a paint roller or brush.


It is important to wear protective eye gear when cutting ceramic tile. Broken or cut ceramic tile is very sharp, so use caution when handling. Apply sealers only in well-ventilated areas and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

© Demand Media 2011