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How to Prepare for Tiling

Large Cream Floor Tile with Couch

This Will Help You Kick Off on The Right Foot


Tiles can be fixed to most walls and floors. Before you commence, the surface must be properly prepared. It should be as level as possible, dry, dust free, grease free, and cleared of loose material. All surfaces must be completely stable and capable of carrying the extra load.

Tile Devil does not recommend tiling onto plywood, ever. Plywood contains oils which seep with temperature variations, and weaken the adhesive bond. It also expands and contracts, which can lead to grout joints moving and the tiles cracking. Furthermore, it can also buckle in damp environments. Tiles cannot shrink, expand or buckle, and thus will crack and shear away from the adhesive bed if the plywood substrate fails.


The best substrates for tiling onto are concrete, cement board or waterproof plasterboard. You can tile over old tiles if they are sound and securely fixed to the substrate.


You shouldn't plaster a surface before it's to be tiled. That's because, when tiling adhesive is then placed on top of it, the gypsum content in the plaster may have a bad reaction. However, if there's pre-existing plaster on a wall, then an acrylic primer make be used to prepare the surface, after which an adhesive can be used to affix the tiles.


When tiles are manufactured there are many industry standards they must meet to be considered acceptable. One of these standards concern the size tolerance of the product. In other words, within a batch of tiles, some may be ever so slightly larger than others. This is the case with tiles from every manufacturer – the figure is small, about 0.5 millimetre. For this reason, please ensure that the width of your grout joint is large enough to accommodate these tiny variations.


When laying tiles, it is NOT recommended that they are “brick bonded”, i.e. staggered at 50%. This is particularly true of large tiles, over 45cm. Most manufacturers will recommend a maximum distance of one third the length of a tile as a stagger distance.