Ceramic Wall Tile Fixing Guide

Ceramic Wall Tile Fixing Guide


This guide is not intended to be a definitive guide to fixing ceramic wall tiles. If you are uncertain about anything having read this guide, you should consult a professional tile installer who is experienced with the installation of glass tiles.

It is the responsibility of the purchaser/installer to adhere to the following guidelines and install them in accordance with the current British Standards Institute Standards of Installing Wall and Floor Tiles and Mosaics: BS 5385



Ceramic tiles are available in a wide range of types, sizes and finishes, with a design to suit every taste and every home. 

Using this guide will help you to: 

• Choose a suitable product for your project 

• Calculate how many tiles you require 

• Prepare and plan for the installation 

• Mark out the work area 

• Fix, grout and impregnate 

• Clean and maintain your finished installation 


Selecting your tiles 

This is obviously the most important and enjoyable task. With such a large range of tiles to choose from, you may like to order some samples to see how they fit in with the rest of your furnishings and decorations.

Tiles differ in size and thickness and choosing the right size is just as important as choosing which type. Small tiles are often better suited to covering small areas whereas larger areas look better with larger tiles.

Suitability of your chosen tiles is also an important factor.


Suitability of tiles for your installation

Our Ceramic wall tiles are not suitable for steam rooms, saunas, work surfaces, floors or external use. They are suitable for interior walls only. Most are suitable for walls in wet areas and this information can be found in the specification box on each product page.

Do not fix to wooden substrates. All wooden substrates should be over boarded with cementitious tile backer boards in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If in doubt consult a professional before proceeding.



Highly glazed ceramic tiles may craze and no guarantee can be given against this occurrence. When used in wet areas, crazed tiles should be sealed with an impregnator to stop moisture penetrating and causing discolouration. They should be sealed in both dry and wet conditions before grouting to facilitate grout removal from the crazing and then after grouting cleaning and drying. LTP Crackle Glaze Protector, LTP Mattstone, Lithofin KF Stainstop and FILA MP90 are suitable impregnators.


Outside Installations/Steam Rooms/Saunas/Floor 

Our wall tiles are NOT suitable for outside installations as they are not frost resistant. They are NOT suitable for steam rooms or saunas and are not suitable for floors.

When installing tiles in power showers epoxy grout must be used.


Tile weights

Always check the tile weight is suitable for your substrate adding 3.5kg/m² or 6.4lb/yd2 for adhesive and grout to the tile weight per m2 or yd2 . The weight of each tile is given in the specification box on the product page.


Shade Variation

Lay out and mix the tiles prior to fixing to evenly distribute small variations in shade. Do not fix the glass tiles if you are unhappy with the shade variation or any other quality aspect. No liability for shading issues can be accepted after installation. As most tiles are individually coloured, there may be distinctive yet subtle variations in shade. This is an inherent feature of our tiles. You may wish, therefore, to spend some time to achieve the most pleasing distribution of shades before fixing.

When planning designs it is important to dry lay the tiles prior to fixing. We strongly recommend that you buy all the tiles you need for your project at one time. Decorative tiles are made individually and therefore unique.


How many tiles will you need?

Once you have decided on a type and size of tile, calculate how many you will need by measuring the area to be tiled. 

How to calculate the square metre/square foot measurement of the area to be tiled:

Measure the height of your room or the height you will require the tiling to end and multiply by the width.

The result will be the square metre measurement of the area to be tiled.

How to calculate the number of tiles required:

If the shape of the area to be tiled is a simple square or rectangle you can simply calculate the area of each tile and divide it into the area of the floor or room. This assumes that the area being tiled is square at the edges, if not you will need to allow some extra for part tiles.

An alternative method is to make a scale drawing of the walls on a piece of graph paper, draw the outline of each tile and add them up. 

We recommend that you allow for part tiles, wastage and any imperfections by adding 10 per cent to your order. It can be a false economy to only order the exact quantity. You may break some tiles when cutting or you may end up with awkward shapes that take more tiles than anticipated. It can be frustrating to get near the end of the job only to find that you are short of one or two tiles, especially as shade can vary between different batches. Keeping spare tiles in case of issues in the future (such as breakages and damage) is good practice.

If you have any problems calculating the number of tiles required please do not hesitate to **contact us**


Successful tiling 

The key to success is to: 

• Gather together all the tools, tiles and materials you need before you start 

• Plan the installation 

• Thoroughly prepare the surfaces to be tiled; time spent on this will save time later 

• Keep the work area clear and clean as you go along 

• Work methodically and avoid mistakes by allowing sufficient time for each task. 

Please Note: It is the responsibility of the purchaser/installer to adhere to the following guidelines in accordance with the British Standards Institute Wall and Floor Tiling Codes of Practice: 

BS 5385-1 Code of Practice Wall and floor tiling. Design and installation of ceramic, natural stone and mosaic wall tiling in normal internal conditions. 

BS 5385-3 Code of Practice Wall and floor tiling. Design and installation of internal and external ceramic and mosaic floor tiling in normal conditions. 

To check the tiles by laying them out and viewing them prior to installation. Please be advised that installation constitutes acceptance of the quality, colour, texture, shade and size of the tiles. This applies even if the home owner is not present during the installation process. 

To store products in an adequate, clean, dry and secure space that is free from frost and moisture. 

To ensure that installation is carried out in adequate artificial lighting conditions. 

To ensure that work is adequately protected during and after fixing. 



Please store all tiles and any fixing materials such as grouts and adhesives in a cool and dry storage area. All tiles must be dry before installation. County Tile cannot guarantee that any products will be delivered completely dry. 

All surfaces must be allowed to dry out completely before tiling. Failure to do this can result in moisture being trapped behind the tiles which can react with some tiles causing them to deteriorate over a period of time. 



The secret to a perfectly laid wall or floor is to lay the tiles as flat and as evenly as possible. To do this successfully you need the firmest, flattest and driest possible surface to work on. Some surfaces are ideally suited for tiling, others require a certain amount of preparation first, and a few are totally unsuitable. 


Wall preparation

All surfaces must be allowed to dry out completely before tiling. Failure to do this can result in moisture being trapped behind the tiles which can react with some tiles causing them to deteriorate over a period of time.

Tiles are completely inflexible. With this in mind, it is important to ensure that the substrate will not move otherwise cracking will occur. If there is movement in the substrate, we strongly advise that you seek professional advice before proceeding any further.

ALL walls should be primed before tiling. Make sure the wall to which you are fixing tiles is able to take the weight of the adhesive and tiles.

Painted surfaces are unsuitable for tiles. You will need to scrape off all loose paint and rub the whole surface down with coarse sand paper until all the paint is removed.

Plasterboard walls may be suitable for tiles, depending on their weight and how well the plasterboard is fixed to the stud wall underneath. You may need to seek advice on this. Normally a plasterboard wall which has not been skimmed has a load bearing of 32kgs per m2. These walls should be primed first, left to dry and then the adhesive applied directly to the wall.

Plaster is a suitable surface as long as it is dry and in good condition. Normally a plaster wall has a load bearing of 20kgs per m2. Remove any loose or crumbling plaster and repair it with new plaster or filler before rubbing down to a level finish. Prime the walls and leave to dry before commencing to tile. It is important to check weight restrictions before fixing tiles. Always seek professional advice if you are tiling over plaster. Mapei Primer G and Ardex P51 are suitable for priming gypsum pink plaster.

Rendered walls can be tiled but new rendering must be allowed to dry out completely before tiling; normally a period of 21 days is recommended. Rendered vertical walls are a good base for tiles up to 15mm / 5/8” thick with a maximum height of 3.6 metres/ approximately 12 foot. For tiles thicker than this the render must be reinforced with metal mesh screwed to the wall. Professional advice regarding this is recommended.

Papered walls cannot be tiled. Strip the paper completely, check for loose plaster or other damage, repair as necessary and then allow the wall to dry out thoroughly before priming. Allow the primer to fully dry.

Old ceramic wall tiles. We do not recommend tiling over old tiles because of weight restrictions and stability. Old tiles should be removed and the exposed surface should be prepared as appropriate.


Wet rooms and showers

Ceramic tiles can be used in showers provided you take certain precautions in preparing the surfaces, and use the correct adhesive and grout.

It is vitally important to prepare all substrates in any area subject to frequent water (such as around a bath, basin or shower) carefully to protect them from water absorption. The best substrates are normally water resistant boards such as Wedi or Marmox.

The underlying surface must be waterproofed first, using a waterproofing kit known as a tanking system (see below), to prevent the ingress of water into the substrate. There must also be sufficient falls for water to drain away.


Tanking Systems

We recommend using a tanking system for power showers, shower cubicles, steam rooms and wet rooms in hotels, guest houses, leisure centres, fitness centres and in domestic homes. These normally consist of a primer, a liquid waterproofing membrane that you brush onto the wall and floor, and a tape for reinforcing all internal corners. Please refer to specific manufacturer instructions or, preferably, get a professional to do this job. Tanking a previously painted surface is not recommended. You can usually apply the tile adhesive 24 hours after the wall and floors are waterproofed. We recommend that all waterproofing processes are carried out by a professional.


Wooden Substrates

Do not fix to wooden substrates. All wooden substrates should be over boarded with cementitious tile backer boards in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If in doubt consult a professional before proceeding.


Expansion & Movement Joints

Where tiles meet another surface or change plane, the joint is filled with silicone sealant, not grout, to allow for minor expansion and contraction. Movement joints should be placed over existing joints, changes of substrate, as well as around areas no greater than 40m2 and no length should be greater than 8m without a movement joint. Movement joints eliminate stress transferring from the substrate. 

Internal: Please refer to BS5385-1

External: Please refer to BS5385-3



Make a tiling gauge. Use approximately 1m / 39” length of straight, planed, wooden batten approximately 30 x 20mm / 11/8” x ¾” in cross-section. Use a pencil to mark off the length of your tiles, plus the space between them. For instance, if you are fixing tiles that measure 300 x 300mm /1113/16” x 1113/16” and have grout gaps between each tile of 2mm / 1/16’’ you will mark every 302mm /117/8”.

Mark out the work area. You must always check to see whether the ceiling is level first. Aim to position the tiles so that they fit either at the top or at the bottom. This way you will be cutting one edge. This can only be achieved if the floor or ceiling is level.

The first row you fix is the most important. If this is sloping or uneven, then all the other rows will be uneven too. If the skirting board or floor looks even you may be tempted to start tiling directly up to it. This is not recommended. Very few properties, old or new, have walls and floors that are perfectly square so you will need to set the level for the first row. Here’s how:

Take a straight length of timber batten (dimensions as above). Using a spirit level, make sure the top of the wooden batten is perfectly level then lightly nail it horizontally along the area to be tiled. NB. Check for concealed plumbing or electrical wiring before nailing into any walls. Place your homemade gauge vertically against the wall, its end on the top edge of the fixed wooden batten.

Work up the wall making pencil marks as you go, making sure that you won’t have to cut lots of fiddly small tiles at the top. Now use a measure to find the horizontal mid-point of the wall. Put your gauge against this point and work horizontally to determine the location of the last whole tile, and mark the batten. Again, make sure you are not left with small slivers of tiles at each end and, if necessary, adjust the ‘mid-point’ slightly to avoid this.

Next hang the plumb line so that the line hangs directly over the batten mark. Alternatively, you can use a laser level, a long set-square or an upright spirit level to produce a vertical line. Once you have the precise starting point for your first tile you can begin tiling.

If you are placing a patterned border to run around a room, you need to choose one centre point on one wall, and align all the borders to that one point.

Grout gaps vary from 2mm to 6mm. The more variation in the size and shape of the tiles, the larger the grout gap we recommend.



Baths and shower trays must be perfectly level before you start tiling. To ensure a visually pleasing result, use the window as your centre point, and place larger cuts rather than smaller ones into the corners, floors and ceilings.



The requirements for adhesives, grouts and sealers differ according to the type of tile used, the background material, and the width of the joints and whether the shower is gravity fed or a power shower, accordingly it is important that you seek advice from your supplier.

Although most adhesives and grouts are a reduced water absorption type in normal situations, they can be further improved using a flexible additive. For power showers we recommend epoxy adhesives and grouts. Applying the Adhesive Acrylic-prime the surface to be tiled and leave to dry.

Then spread adhesive over as much of the wall as you can work on, within about 15 minutes; approximately one square metre / one square yard is usually about right. Spread an even layer about 6mm (1/4’’) thick using a notched trowel to form parallel lines. Work to the lines you have drawn on the walls for centre points and level lines and then begin to apply the tiles. Place the first whole tile on the adhesive, press it down firmly. Check the first tile is straight and level. Now lay the adjacent tiles in the same way, using spacers to create an even joint between them.

When you get to the edges of the room, cut the tiles to fit the gap if necessary and clean away any excess adhesive from the corners. The corners will receive silicone for expansion purposes following grouting.

Be careful to keep adhesive off the face of the tiles. Wipe away any surplus with a clean damp sponge as you go. You may find it necessary to cut individual tiles to fit in small areas. Extreme care should be taken especially when cutting small pieces.

Spacers that have been used during the fixing process must be removed from the joints before the adhesive setting time is reached. Where the wall tiles meet the floor, a neater finish will be achieved if the wall tiles sit over the floor tiles. Fill the corner gap with acetoxy cure silicon.

Where there is any chance of movement from the substrate it is important to use a flexible adhesive. This will allow for tiny movements and will stop tiles and grout from cracking. However, some changes of plane will require expansion joints. Always seek professional advice.

Adhesive is available as standard set or rapid set. Standard set can take up to 24 hours to go off, whereas rapid set can take up to two hours depending on the thickness and temperature and humidity conditions.



Grouting gives a neat appearance to the tiled surface; it stops dirt or grease building up between the tiles. Grouting should always be finished flush with the tiled surface.

Allow the adhesive to dry out for a minimum of 24 hours before grouting. Thick layers of adhesive, cool temperatures and other factors can prolong drying.


How to grout tiles

Always try a small inconspicuous area before grouting your entire tiled area to check you are happy with the look of the grouted tiles before grouting the complete area. Clean the surfaces where you are going to grout and allow to fully dry before proceeding. Crackle and crazed tiles must be sealed prior to grouting unless you want the grout colour to remain in the crackle lines for effect, in which case seal them after grouting. Regardless of the grout colour chosen it is advised that you test a tile prior to grouting to ensure the grout pigment will not contaminate the surface of the tile.

Useful Tip: Always aim to complete whole sections of grouting in one session to ensure an even finish with no colour variation. Wash down with clean water and a sponge every square metre to avoid any excess grout drying on the surface. Never grout corners of rooms; these must be grout-free and filled with a suitable silicone to allow for wall/ floor expansion.

It is very important to mix the grout following the manufacturers’ instructions. Once mixed, let the grout stand for two minutes, then apply to the wall using a squeegee working in a diagonal motion across the tiles. We recommend you cover about one metre at a time and then leave for five minutes before removing any excess grout with a squeegee. Wait another five minutes before wiping the tiled surface with a clean sponge. Always check that there are no lines left in the grout. Repeat until the whole wall is complete.

Once the whole work is completed, leave for two hours, wash down all the tiles with clean water and sponges and correct any faults.


Sealing grout 

We recommend sealing grout seven days after installation with a grout protective sealer, which can be purchased through any reputable tile outlet. Coloured grouts can be used on our tiles and they can enhance your installation. As they may alter the overall appearance of the tile colour, we strongly recommend that a small area is tested before installation. Make sure that the grout is recommended for ceramic.



Not all cleaners are equally suitable for all types of tiles. Wash down tiled surfaces with either clean water or a pH neutral (i.e. not acidic or alkaline) detergent. Dry off and polish with a dry duster. Certain acid based cleaning products may cause some of the tiles to react and change in character.

Tiles with a delicate print or a precious metal should only be cleaned with water and a soft cloth.

Do not use abrasive cleaners or cloths.


Steam Cleaning

We do not recommend steam cleaners or steam mops to clean our tiles.



Owing to variations in studio lighting the tile colours shown on the County Tile website may differ slightly from those of the actual tiles. Before making your choice it is always advisable to order samples.


Limits of liability

County Tile accepts no liability for the faulty installation of its tiles. In the case of any claim relating to the tiles themselves, County Tile's liability, to the extent permitted by law, is limited to either the replacement of the product or a refund of the cost of the product, and does not extend to cover any consequential loss.

Claims must be reported within seven working days from receipt of the tiles.

Tiles must be inspected prior to installation and claims cannot be considered after the tiles have been installed.

Please be advised that installation constitutes acceptance of the quality, colour, texture, shade and size of tiles.

County Tile warrants that its tiles conform to their description and are fit for their purpose. County Tile makes no other express or implied warranty as to fitness or suitability of the products for particular installations.

We extend no guarantees, express or implied, as to wear resistance or maintenance procedures.

Please note, the use of certain acid based cleaning products may cause some tiles to react and change in character.

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