How to tile DIY guide

If you've read our entire How to Tile DIY Guide, you'll now be an expert in DIY tiling, but even if you haven't these 14 Golden Rules (and the top 10 reasons for tile fixing failures below) will come in handy for your tiling project:

14 Golden Rules

1. Tiles must be dry and the back of the tile clean.

2. The surface being tiled should be true and even and free from grease, wax, oil, curing compounds, and all forms of contamination.

3. Adhesive should be applied using the appropriate notched trowel. Do not use the spot fixing method, and always apply adhesive horizontally with a notched trowel, rather than in a swirling motion.

4. The whole back of each tile must be in good contact with the adhesive. Press tiles firmly into the adhesive bed and ensure that no voids occurs beneath tiles. See rule 5...

5. Every now and then, lift a tile from the adhesive to check that complete contact with the adhesive is being made.

6. No not fix tiles over skinned adhesive.

7. Allow the adhesive to set before grouting: usually no less than 24 hours. During this time the tiles must be protected from potentially harmful factors like weather and water penetration.

8. Adhesives must be used strictly in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

9. To achieve greater adhesion and a longer open time, porous concrete should be dampened with water prior to tiling with cement based adhesives.

10. Any loose powder on the backs of tiles should be removed.

11. Appropriate movement joints must be used and construction joints must not be tiled over. See DIY Fact Sheet Wall and Floor Surfaces for more details.

12. For thin bed fixing of tiles, the minimum finished thickness of the adhesive should not be less than 3mm.

13. Hairline cracks of up to 2mm in concrete should be bridged. Clean and prime the surface, allow to dry, and apply a liberal coat of ABA Barrierflex as a one-to-one mixture. Inbed a reinforcement mat and immediately apply a second coat of Barrierflex. Allow to cure before tiling.

14. Tiles must never be stored in direct sunlight prior to fixing.

The Top 10 Reasons for Tile Fixing Failures:

1. Incorrect or no expansion joints: failure to use the correct expansion joints and tiling over construction joints will make your tiles too rigid, and they will crack during movement or expansion and contraction of the building.

2. Incorrect choice of adhesive. This is one of the most common causes of tile fixing failure that we see. See our page on Adhesives and Grout for more information.

3. Adhesive skins before tile is bedded in. Do not allow your adhesive to dry before fixing the tiles.

4. Contaminated background. Ensure that the surface and area that you are tiling is properly cleaned before commencing tiling.

5. Poor or incorrect surface preparation.

6. Poor adhesive coverage. This can result from not using the correct notched trowel, using the spot fixing method, or allowing voids behind the tiles.

7. Unsatisfactory bed thickness. Ensure that you use the correct notched trowel when applying adhesive.

8. Excessive movement in the substrate.

9. Dust or loose backwash not removed from the backs of tiles. Ensure that you clean and dry the backs of tiles before laying.

10. Incorrect mixing ratio of adhesive powder and liquid. Always follow the manufacturer's directions, and always add the adhesive to the water to ensure a smooth mixture.