DIY tips

While there are alternatives, tiled floors and walls/splashbacks in bathrooms and kitchens are a smart and practical choice.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 2nd December 2012, 4:00 pm

With so many different tiles on the market, it’s easy to find a look you like and can afford, whether you’re laying the tiles yourself or getting a pro to do it.

Tiles come in various shapes and sizes and it’s important to get ones that are in proportion to the size of the room.

There are also, of course, lots of different materials to choose from, depending on your taste and budget, as well as the style of the room.

Ceramic tiles are a popular and often inexpensive choice. They’re easy to lay and look after, as are glass tiles, which tend to be more expensive but look stunning. The problem with glass tiles is that they’re difficult to cut because they chip easily.

Real stone tiles, such as slate, marble and travertine, can be tricky to lay and may have to be sealed (with tile-sealing liquid) before being laid, which can cause problems in itself. They need more aftercare than ceramic and glass tiles and can vary a lot in thickness, colour and texture, so they’re not for everyone.

Mosaic tiles are available in all of the above materials, plus metal, and are perfect for creating a feature wall. They come in sheets on a mesh (or paper) and the mesh is supposed to keep the individual tiles evenly spaced, but it doesn’t, in my experience, work very well.

To get straight, even grout lines, it’s best to put tile spacers between each tile, which is time-consuming and tedious. Mosaics can also be hard to keep looking good, depending on where they are and the colour of the grout, because there are so many grout lines. If you’re buying tiles online that you haven’t seen in person, make sure you get a sample first. Of course, the safest option is to buy tiles in store, where you can see what you’re getting.

B&Q has really upped its game this season, both in terms of the tiles on offer and the presentation of them, so check out your local store.

Another advantage of buying in store is that you can ensure all the tiles come from the same batch (the batch number should be on the box), which minimises differences in colour and finish.

To work out the number of tiles required, multiply the length by the height of each wall or part wall to be tiled and add them together to get the total area, plus at least 10% more for breakages, cutting and wastage.

A lot of tiles are sold per square metre and even if they’re not, it should say what the price is per square metre - this is the easiest way to work out the cost. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of the tile adhesive and grout, spacers and tools.

The adhesive and grout must be suitable for where you’re tiling and the sort of tiles you’re using. Most professional tilers like to use powdered products that are mixed with water, but it can be hard to get the right consistency and to judge how much to mix up, which can lead to wastage.

Ready-mixed combined adhesives and grouts produce less waste, but only use them if they’re suitable for the job and you want the grout and adhesive to be the same colour.