Wall Tile – A Practical Solution For Kitchens And Bathrooms
Ceramic wall tile is an attractive and practical solution for kitchens and bathrooms because it is durable, easy to clean, and waterproof. Glazed tile has a hard surface that is resistant to staining. This is the standard tile used around bathtubs and sinks. Unglazed tile can pick up stains, but resists the scratching to which glazed tile is vulnerable and is the common choice for floors rather than walls.
The tile is what can be seen. The backerboard is what holds the tile up. Also known as “mason’s drywall”, backerboard can be made of plywood, plastic, gypsum, cement, or fiber cement. The type of material to be used depends on where the tile is to be installed and what type of adhesive will be used.
Because walls in kitchens and bathrooms routinely get wet, a cement based backer board is preferred. It comes in ½ - inch and 5/8 - inch thickness. Fasteners need to be placed 8 inches apart. You need to use fasteners designed for cement panels. Mortar and grout are similar. Mortar attaches the tile to the backerboard. Grout fills in the places in between the tiles. Grout is watertight due to a latex admix and is very resistant to staining.
To tile a wall you need to possess at least a modicum of carpentry skill. When cutting the backer board for installation, you score it with a utility knife and snap it along that line, just like cutting drywall. You can nail up backer board with galvanized roofing nails. For more stability, you can screw it in with galvanized screws. Finish the seams with fiberglass mesh tape and a coat of mortar.
Laying out wall tile is always a compromise according to the reference line you choose. When tiling a bathroom wall, draw your reference line level with the top of the tub. When deciding how to tile the kitchen, you might choose to draw your line halfway between the floor and the ceiling. A second line should be drawn to lay out border tiles. It is also important to mark the location of areas like recessed soap dishes.
Apply a coat of mortar to a part of the wall using a notched trowel, being careful not to cover up the layout lines. Press the tile on to the wall. Insert spacers to even the spaces between tiles and leave room for grout. Use tile nippers to cut tiles for irregularly shaped spaces as needed. Remove the spacers and allow the adhesive to dry.
You have some choices regarding grout colors. Lighter grout will highlight the grout grid. Darker grout will highlight the tile. Be sure to use a shade that is close to the color of the tile. Use a rubber float, sponge - faced float, or squeegee for spreading the grout. Work in three foot square sections while spreading grout with the float at a 45 degree angle to the tile. Allow the grout to set according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Wipe the joints with a lightly moistened grout sponge, rinsing frequently in clean water. After two hours, wipe away all of the excess grout. Squeeze silicon into any joints that might get wet. Let the caulk dry and a haze form on the tiles, then polish the tile with a clean dry cloth.
Working with wall tile is relatively easy, but can take some time. For a beginner, expect to take 14 hours to finish the job in a 10 ft. x 5 ft. bathroom. Tile and grout do require periodic cleaning. After some time, you will need to repair or replace deteriorating grout or broken tiles.