Laying Instruction

Tiling Tips for laying tiles

Laying Guide


Adhesive spreader
Tape Measure
Notched Trowel
Spirit Level
Tile Cutter
Grout Rake
Plumb Bob
Tile Drill
Knee Pads
Rod Saw
Straight Edge
Tile File

Tiling Tips

Make sure you have enough tiles to finish the job before starting tiling as more tiles may not always be available
Plan your layout. Avoid small or narrow cuts wherever possible. Plan how one area may flow on from another. The first tile put down determines where every other tile will go.
Remember tiles and accessories are not always returnable. Tiles are normally only returnable if faulty or if a prior arrangement is made and noted on your receipt at the time of purchase. If in doubt ask about the return policy before you buy
Make sure you are tiling onto a rigid surface that is flat, dry and dust free. Timber floors may need over-sheeting with cement fibre board before tiling.
Always waterproof showers and wet areas before you tile them. Tile installations do not act as a 100% moisture barrier, they are designed to protect the waterproof surface below them and make cleaning easier. There is a good range of waterproofing materials available that are easy to apply.
When using sealers and cleaners always test a small area first to determine the results.
Check tiles before installation for size, colour and quality. No claims are recognised after fixing
Keep your receipt for future reference; it will have all the details if you ever need them.
Keep spares for any future repairs. If you have spares, tiles are very easy to repair.
Always work from multiple boxes of tiles to ensure a good blend of shadings. Colour variation is a natural feature of ceramic tiles and other fired products; enjoy it (mention this to your tiler, it’s important).
Read instructions on all adhesives, grouts sealers and other items before starting. Ask your retailer questions if you have any doubts.
Silicone corner joints and where tiles meet skirting and other materials to allow for any movement and temperature contractions and expansions
Clean any glue or grout off tiles BEFORE it dries. Change your cleaning water often so less residue is left.
Stay off tiles until glue/grout has properly dried
When using acids for cleaning surfaces and etching, keep pets well away until residue is thoroughly rinsed.
Tiles have small variations. Let the size of your grout joints reflect this. If the variation is 1mm, then you want approximately 5 times this variation for the size of your grout joints. Terracotta generally has bigger size variation so a larger grout joint is recommended. Less than .5mm = 3mm grout joint. 1mm variation = 5mm grout joint. 3mm variation = 15mm grout joint.



Allow new concrete floors to fully cure before tiling (minimum of 28 days per 75mm of concrete). If tiling over old concrete remove contaminants by etching with diluted hydrochloric acid. 1:2 with water. For really smooth concrete etch with diluted hydrochloric acid 1:2 with water, allowing the surface to be etched for at least 15 minutes or until the reaction has stopped. Test a small area first. Wash the area thoroughly with lots of water and scrub with a hard brush to be sure all traces of acid and contaminants are removed. Let the surface dry out. Repair any cracks before tiling.


It is okay to tile direct on to structurally sound tongue and groove, sound particle board or plywood sheeting providing there is no excess movement. Normally the allowable movement needs to be less than 1/360th of the span between floor joists, or about 1 to 1.5mm maximum. Sand painted floors to remove paint and contaminates. Make sure all areas are well nailed and are clean and dust free. Prime timber floors with a primer or primer/grout additive to ensure a good key to the flooring material.


t is important that wet areas are waterproofed prior to tiling. Timber floors can swell up and lift the tiles and may rot over a period of time if not waterproofed first.


Remember you can make pencil marks on the wall and floor because they are going to be tiled over. With floor tiles, lay out a few rows in each direction and see how they look and how different areas to be tiled flow into each other. With wall tiles it is important to make sure you start from a level base. BRANZ, the Building Research Association of New Zealand put out an excellent book called “Good Tiling Practice” which is well worth while if you are doing a reasonably large job or multiple areas.


The setting out the tiles is one of the most important parts of the job. Set out from the centre and work out towards the edges of the room. This will compensate for walls that may not be square and make the job look more balanced. Find the centre of the room and then lay a row out in each direction to help determine where to place the tiles from the centre point that will give you the most even border and the largest pieces when you reach the walls. Try to avoid small or narrow pieces whenever possible.

If you are laying a border tile first, find the centre of each edge and then either centre a border tile or a grout joint on the centre line to see which will give you the best layout when you reach the corner of the room

Laying a 1/4 to 1/2 plain tile around the perimeter and then the patterned border before filling in the central area with plain tiles on the diagonal means your border and your tiles do not have to be the same size. Tiles laid diagonally will generally use 5% more tiles than tiles laid square to the room.

Don’t forget to allow for the space of the grout joints and a perimeter expansion joint. Normally you would allow 3-5mm for inside tiles, 5-10mm for outside tiles or even more for very large or irregular tiles. For handmade terracotta, slate or irregular tiles, allowing at least 3-5 times the variation in the size of the tiles is a good idea. You don’t want to have a 3mm joint in one place and nothing in another.

As a buying guide work out the net area and then add 10% extra tiles for square laying and 15% extra for diagonal laying. This should give you enough tiles for cutting and some spares. The waste percentage may vary if your room has lots of odd angles or is an unusual shape


Set out lines at right angles to doorway and centre of room. Tiles should start at the centre of the floor, working out to the walls.

Place a row of loose tiles along each line. Reposition guide lines to avoid small cuts at ends.

Starting at the centre of the room spread a square metre of adhesive using a notched trowel and work to walls.

Set out lines at right angles to doorway and centre of room. Tiles should start at the centre of the floor, working out to the walls.

Use tile spacers to create uni- form spacing. Remove before grouting.

Lift a tile from time to time to check for adequate coverage. No voids should occur under- neath the tiles.

Tile out from centre line to edges, keeping mark straight and spacing even

Put the tile to be cut upside down in gap near the wall. Mark where to be cut. Allow for spacing.

Score line with a tile cutter on face of tiles.

Use a tile cutter which are generally available from your tile merchant.

Butter the back of the tile with adhesive, place cut edge against wall and press firmly into place. Allow adhesive to dry before grouting.

Use selected grout. Work grout diagonally into the joints using rubber spreader.

Clean off grout with a damp sponge and when grout lines are dry polish off with a soft cloth.

After the grout has cured, approx 48 hours, use grout sealer over the grout joints

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