If you want to create a feature in your kitchen or bathroom, a tiled splashback is a great way to add colour, pattern or a contrasting tile style. To start, decide where you want the tiled area to be and select your tiles and then follow these steps for a great result…

You’ll need:

  • Your chosen tiles
  • Grout
  • Adhesive
  • Protective floor covering
  • Small bucket
  • Large bucket
  • Clean sponge
  • Water
  • Sugar soap
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level
  • Protective gloves
  • Tile spacers
  • Grout float
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile cutters
  • Timber baton
  • Screws
  • Drill and mixer attachment (if using)
  • Silicone sealant and caulking gun

1. Prepare the area

As with all tiling projects, taking the time to prepare is vital, so make sure to clean your wall area with soap and water and cover your worktop with plastic sheeting. Wait for the surface to dry before going any further. You may need to prime your wall and, in wet areas, you may need a waterproof adhesive, but check with the tile manufacturer for what’s recommended.

2. Measure up

Using a tape measure, measure a central line where your splashback will be and work out and mark a pencil line where each tile will fall to give you a guide of where to lay each one. If the area you’re tiling has a plug socket or switch on it, you’ll need to measure where this sits on the tiles before you start laying and make the cuts as necessary using a tile cutter.

3. Mix the adhesive

Make sure to select an adhesive to suit your tile choice, such as BAL Max-flex Fibre in white, which works with mosaic tiles. You can use either ready-mixed or a cement-based type, which you’ll make up yourself according to the packaging instructions. Remember to use a waterproof adhesive for wet areas by sinks or in shower recesses.

4. Carefully apply the adhesive

Start at the bottom and apply the adhesive using a notched trowel. Apply a generous layer and creates grooves, or notches, in the same direction, which will help the tiles to stick. Make sure to do a small area at a time – no more than one metre squared – as the adhesive will set quite quickly.

5. Lay the tiles

Carefully push the tile into the adhesive and place a tile spacer along each edge. If you’re using mosaic sheets that are designed to fit together, you won’t need any spacers. Repeat the steps until you’ve covered the splashback area and wipe the surface to remove any glue residue, using a clean cloth or sponge, as you go.

6. Make the necessary cuts

Once you reach the edge, you may need to cut the tiles using a specialist cutter. A tile scribe can be used on thin tiles, but you may need an electric or manual cutter for thicker or more complex cuts, such as right angles or curves.

How to cut tiles with…

A manual cutter:

• A manual cutter is used for straight cuts.
• To measure where the tile needs to be cut, place a tile on top of the last full tile, and mark with a pencil where the overlap is, this is where you need to cut.
• Make sure you leave enough room for the grout joint and movement joint. Movement joints must not be grouted, the use of a sealant would be recommended.
• Place the tile in the tile cutter, square it up to the plate and get the cutter and pencil mark in line.
• Press down firmly on the handle of the cutter, and push forward across the tile to score a line.
• Press and apply pressure on each side of the tile and it will snap into two pieces. Some cutters will have an all in one breaker built in, just put the clamp part on the tile and push down on the handle to snap the tile.
• If the cut isn’t clean and the edges are slightly rough, use a file or rubbing stone to smooth the edges.
• For smaller or curved pieces, use tile nippers to cut small pieces off to achieve the correct size or shape required.

A tile scribe:

• This method can be used on thinner tiles.
• Measure where the tile needs to be cut using a pencil alongside a metal ruler, draw a straight line across.
• Hold the metal ruler on the cut line to ensure a straight cut. Holding at a 45° angle, use the tile scribe against the side of the ruler, apply pressure and cut across into the glaze.
• Use a long thin object underneath the scored tile, such as a pencil, and apply pressure either end of the tile and break into two.
• Be careful of the sharp edges after cutting. If the cut isn’t clean and the edges are slightly rough, use a file to smooth the edges.

An electric cutter:

• Electric cutters are used for right angles, curved edges and thicker tiles such as porcelain and natural stone.
• Make sure the electric cutter has water in the tray as the blade will overheat; it also reduces the amount of dust produced when cutting.
• For curved edges, mark with a pencil the area that needs to be cut, and mark several lines up to the curved mark. This is because a tile can’t be turned whilst being cut.
• Using the electric cutter, cut the number of lines up to the curved mark so it looks like a comb.
• Draw round the curved mark with a tile scribe to score and cut into the glaze.
• Using a tile nipper, break away small bits at a time up to the curve, and file down until smooth.

7. Wait for the adhesive to dry

Leave the tiles for a few hours – or even overnight – to set and then you’ll be ready to apply the grout.

8. Prepare the grout

Mix the correct type of grout for your tile type in a bucket. It’s best to do a little at a time, as the grout sets quickly. Leave the mixed grout for two to three minutes and then mix again before applying.

9. Apply grout

Once mixed to a good, thick consistency, scoop the grout onto a grout float and press it into the gaps by holding the float at a 45 degree angle and slowly, but firmly spreading it onto the surface. Wipe the tiles with a clean, damp sponge regularly to remove excess. Don’t over wet at this point as this will weaken the finished grout.

10. Clean the tiles and admire the results

After you’ve covered the whole area, leave it for about an hour and wipe it down again to ensure a clean finish. You can then apply sealant along the edges to make sure your new surface is watertight before admiring your beautiful new tiled feature.

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