In this comprehensive guide, we show you how to prepare your walls for tiling, ensuring your tiles stay firmly in place.
Tiling your bathroom is one of the most popular ways to create a watertight seal and protect your walls from moisture. Wall tiles are most commonly used around splash zones, like the inside of a shower enclosure or around the bath or basin. In many cases, homeowners decide to fully tile their bathroom from wall to floor, giving it a beautiful appearance.
If you’ve decided that tiling is something you’d like to do yourself, we’ll show you how to prepare your walls to ensure your tiles stay firmly in place.
How to prepare your walls
When tiling onto stud walls, it’s a good idea to prime the surface first. There are several ways of doing this, but each will depend on the current surface of your wall. We’ll show you the 2 most common methods:
Click on a link to jump straight to the video and step-by-step instructions.
Priming fresh plasterboard walls
The first method is for priming fresh plasterboard walls. You can either use a store-bought primer or a diluted PVA glue mix.
Plasterboard is a porous material meaning it will absorb moisture applied to it. This means that once your tile adhesive has been applied to the surface, the board will absorb the moisture too quickly for the bonding reaction to occur properly. To combat this, you can apply a primer or, in this case, a diluted PVA solution.
Here’s how to prime plasterboard using PVA glue for tiling
Add 1 part PVA to 4 parts water and mix until the PVA has dissolved.
Apply this mixture straight to the plasterboard using a brush, allowing 15 minutes to dry.
Apply a second coat and allow to dry overnight.
The PVA will soak into the board and seal it, preventing moisture from the tile adhesive from being absorbed.
Your plasterboard is now ready for tiling.
Untreated plasterboard absorbs moisture too quickly, not allowing the bonding reaction to take place, meaning the tiles aren’t as secure and could, potentially, fall off.
Priming plasterboard for tiling step-by-step images
Mixing PVA glue with water.
Applying the mixture to plasterboard.
Applying the second coat.
Priming a painted wall
The next option is for tiling onto a painted wall.
Here’s how to prime a painted wall for tiling
If the wall already has a couple of thin coats of emulsion, this will act as a primer and may just need a light sanding with sandpaper before you tile straight on to it.
If it’s a fully painted or newly plastered wall, you will need to score the surface with a scraper to give the adhesive something to key into.
You will also need to ensure the wall is flat by running a level or batten across it. Small holes can be filled but larger areas may require the wall to be replastered.
Use a sugar soap solution to remove dust and debris.
Your painted wall is now ready for tiling.
Priming a painted wall for tiling step-by-step images
Giving the painted wall a light sanding.
Scoring a fully painted or freshly plastered wall with a scraper.
Ensuring the wall is flat.
Using sugar soap solution to remove dust and debris.
Still on the hunt for those perfect tiles for your bathroom or kitchen? Why not browse our comprehensive range of beautiful, stylish tiles today? Simply click on the image below.
More advice on how to tile and tile ideas
If you’re tiling a bathroom or kitchen yourself, check out our other expert guides, complete with videos and step-by-step instructions.
- How to tile
- How to apply adhesive
- How to grout
- How to drill through a tile
- How to replace a damaged tile
- How to clean tiles
- Ask the experts: Should I fit the toilet before or after tiling the floor?
- Ask the experts: Can I tile over old tiles?
- Tiles buying guide
Searching for tile ideas? You'll find loads of fresh inspiration in our bathroom ideas section, or by clicking on any of the links below.
- 5 things to consider when choosing your bathroom tiles
- 5 exciting and unusual ways to use tiles in your bathroom
- 6 more bathroom tile ideas that'll capture your imagination
- Tiles inspiration gallery
- Stylist’s Selection: 9 stylish wall and floor ideas for bathrooms
- Small Spaces: Small bathroom tile ideas