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Tiling a Kitchen Splashback - Step by Step Guide

I recommend that you read about preparation before you follow this guide.


Steps to take

Start Tiling

At this point, do a tiling layout.  This involves getting some of the tiles that you would like for your project and carefully laying a row on the floor (use a "straight edge" such as a long and straight piece of wood or a metal strip to line up the tiles).  Mark all of the tile joints on the "straight edge" making  sure that you use the correct tile spacers in between the tiles, if applicable.  Now you can easily check the tile marking from the "straight edge" against the width and height of your tile project and try to avoid unsightly cuts .  Doing  this, will assure a better planning layout .  If the tiles are not equal size (rectangle instead of square) then you will need another "straight edge" as the vertical sizes will be different from the horizontal ones.

You should consider buying
 "Precision Tile."

Precision Tile 3
This is a extremely cheap, easy and fun to use  tile layout software for any wall and floor tiling, aimed at DIY's and professional tile setters alike.   Precision Tile is also useful for ceiling tiles amongst many other applications.

To start tiling a kitchen wall (between the worktop and the bottom of the wall units), your ideal starting point would be lining up in the middle of the hob as this is in most cases the focal point.

if you are tiling on to existing tiles and find that the pencil won't clearly mark the line, then use a tile marker. You can buy them in many colours. They are very handy to use when a tile needs to be cut with a water cooled electric tile cutter as the mark won't disappear as soon the water splashes on to it)

Measure the horizontal space in between the two wall units and find the middle point.

Plumb the line down to the worktop using a sharpened pencil or tile marker



Spread the adhesive

Now that you have a centre point check how many tiles will fit from the line to the side of the wall unit. if you have a small gap left between the last full tile to the unit that is too big for grouting  but too small to have a cut tile in it, then you have two choices. 1) You could try to increase or decrease the spaces between the tiles to make it fit or 2) you could offset the tiles so that the centre of the tile is in line with the marking on the wall (rather than having the edge of the tile to it).

Start spreading the tile adhesive on the wall using a trowel on an area not more than 0.5 m2, making sure that you don't cover up the centre line that you have drawn and start applying the tiles onto it.

Installing the tiles

Pick a few tiles from 3 different boxes and inspect for obvious damage or imperfections.  Look for cracks, bad glaze, deep pinholes, tile deformation, wax on edges, uneven edges, pattern fading, bleeding etc...

If some tiles are chipped or bad they could still be used for some cuts where the remainder with the damage is not needed. So put these aside until you are sure you need to take them back (it can save you the hassle of driving back to the shop

When applying the tiles, fix them in rows rather than columns it will be easier.

Push the tile firmly on to the adhesive and give it a slight twist before aligning it to its final pace.

Insert the appropriate tile spacers before adding another tile.

If crosses are used then make it sure that the spacers are deep in the joint to allow space for the grout, otherwise use tile pegs which can be removed when the tiles have set.

Clean excess adhesive off the joint.

Electrical points and tile cutting

Find the mains electrical supply and TURN IT OFF,

Unscrew and gently pull the electrical point away from the wall, just enough to have the new tiles fitted behind it; keeping an eye on the wiring to see if any cable has or is detaching from its housing.  consumer unitI find it best to use a small cordless screwdriver as sometimes there are more than ten electrical points to undo and many times the screws are very long.

If you think that any cable has detached then please call a qualified electrician to have it put right before you switch the power back on, unless you are competent enough to do it yourself.

If the electrical point will end up in the middle of the tile rather than the edges, then you will need to have the unit completely off the wall in order to have the tile under it.  Sometimes this can be avoided on the planning stages.

When cutting tiles make sure you use  safety gear such as ear defenders and dust masks.

Prolonged use of cutting tiles on a electric cutter, could cause hearing loss.  This can be even more, when cutting very hard tiles such as porcelain.

Beware of tile dust when either chiselling off old tiles or when cutting them as the dust will contain small particles of glass (from the glaze). 

Mark around the perimeter of all the electrical points sockets that need tiling using a pencil. Unscrew only the one socket you need to to cut the tiles around using a small flat edge screwdriver (do this only when you are ready to tile it).

Measure from the edge of the last full tile to the line by the electrical point and then allow an extra 3 to 4 mm so that the tile once fitted will go under the electrical point.  Make sure that you do not have the tile cut too big otherwise it will cover up the screw hole and it won't be possible to screw the unit back on

Score the marked tiles using a manual tile cutter or a tile scorer.

f the cut is an L shape, then cut one line by using the electric tile saw and then snap the other scored line under the manual cutter.

If the cut is a |_| (U shape) then score the marked lines and by using the electric tile saw, first cut along the 2 vertical lines up to the horizontal line, then you could try nipping the waste piece off by holding the main tile on the edge of a workbench allowing the horizontal line of the tile to stick out 3 mm away from the workbench and with a pair of tile nippers remove the waste piece off downwards, or if the tile is to strong cut several more lines along the vertical of the waste piece, then remove the now weak waste pieces off, on the workbench.
Dry out the tile before fixing.

As soon as the tiles have been cut and fitted, screw the electrical point back on.  You may find that you'll need longer socket screws.  When you screw the electrical point back make sure to not over tighten the screws, in fact it is better to have it slightly loose until the adhesive is fully cured otherwise the tile can either break or shift out of position.


If the surface to be grouted is solid (cement blocks, bricks covered with plaster ect..), and the tiles are standard ceramics you can use a water resistant cement based grout, this is easier to apply and clean off. grouting_squegee

If any of the surfaces are subjected to some limited  movement, then you will either add some flexible additive to the grout or use a flexible grout.

Work in smaller sections if you are going to use the flexible type as it takes longer to clean

Mix the grout as per instructions on the bag.

Apply the grout on a small area using a squeegee, pushing the grout into the joints.

with the edge of the squeegee and applying medium pressure remove excess grout in a diagonal direction to the joints.

Let is set for approx. 10 minutes.

Using a damp sponge, rub the tiles in a rotating action.

Turn the sponge on the other side and continue to rub the grout off.  The idea is that you start to remove an amount o grout off the tiles but more importantly, you need to shape the grouting joint so that it looks sharp and straight.  Do not apply force on doing this.

When you have finished with the step above, continue to a new section. allowing the previous section to haze off.

After you have carried out 3 - 4 sections, using new clean water go back to the first section and using a damp sponge wipe only once (from top to bottom. Use one side of the sponge for each wipe, overlapping the previous wipe.

Continue the above steps until you have finished.

Once dry (2 -3 hours) there will be very little if any dust left on the tiles, this will easily come off if wiped or rinsed.

Applying the silicone sealant

Do not apply the silicone soon after the tiles have been grouted as you will have problems with the grout coming off the joint.

Make sure that the surface to be siliconed is dry and dust free.  Get a small glass, put in it a few drops of "fairy liquid" and fill the rest with clean cold water; this will act as a lubricant later.  Also get a toilet paper roll and start separating the tissues; you will need possibly 15 squares for each section that needs to be siliconed.  First wipe the edges to be siliconed with a couple of tissues (you will be surprised how dirty/dusty it is).

Cut the nozzle of the silicone at about 45 degree angle making sure that the hole is not too big (4 mm should be fine).
Start on a small section first so that you get used to it and then continue from that point on until you have finished.


Generally you will need to shape and clean sections within 5 minutes otherwise the silicone might start setting (skimming).

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Clean the surface to be siliconed.

Start applying the silicone making sure that you achieve full coverage for that section. 

If you have a silicone shaping tool then smooth and shape the silicone with it and at the same time clean the excess on one tissue of paper (you will need plenty).  If you do not have the tool then use the tip of either your index or middle finger to smooth it out and the nail side to cut and clean the overspilled silicone (in the pulling direction). 

At this point, If you need to add more silicone add some now and smooth / clean as before.

Now that you have shaped it and nearly cleaned it, dunk either the finger or tool in the glass of water with the "fairy liquid" solution and smooth and trim some more making sure that you stop short from the end by around 5 cm (do not allow water to reach to the end of the applied silicone as you need to add the next section to it.  Silicone does not bond to wet areas).  Wipe the excess silicone on the paper tissue every time.



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