Wall and Floor Tilers Edinburgh Tiling Contractors

Tiles should not only look fantastic but also serve as a hard wearing durable surface for many many years to come whether installed in a bathroom or kitchen.

Due to vast improvements in the quality of the tiling materials in the last few years the days of mouldy grout lines and silicone seal are gone.

We have all seen what is referred to as the builder's bathroom, cheap tiles slapped straight onto plasterboard using the cheapest adhesive and grout. The result, very poor.

Installed properly tile installations should last a very long time. All too often tile installations look good but what is below the surface is a problem waiting to happen. Below is information on how to prepare walls and floors for tiling.


Wall Tiling Preparation

Before any tile can be installed on the floor or a wall the following correct preparation procedures must be followed to achieve a high quality long lasting installation. Walls must be capable of supporting the weight of the tiles. Not normally a problem in the case of solid brick walls which are in good condition. It was common in the UK prior to dry lining or plasterboard walls to render internal brick walls with sand cement render and then a decorative layer of either lime or gypsum plaster. If these are present on a wall they must be free of cracks and not blown (detached from the brick work) which is easily tested for by knocking on the wall in different locations and listening for a sound that indicates the back ground is hollow. If this is the case the render has to be stripped off the wall and then either replaced or tile backing boards used.

Timber walls often need reinforced. Most stud walls in UK new builds are built with the vertical pieces of timber at 600mm centres from one another This is fine for plasterboard not for tiles. For tiling they should be 300-400mm depending upon the tile backer board selected for the job and that manufacturer's recommendation. Additional horizontal braces between the verticals commonly referred to as noggins or dwangs are required so that the wall is absolutely rigid.

The correct tile backing material must be selected, which can make or break the final result. An incorrect installation may not fail immediately but it will fail, resulting in more costs to repair what should have been done right the first time. Two questions which are asked again and again and answered wrongly by other so called other experts, Do I need to plaster before tiling and do I need to use PVA? The only answer – NO. Recent amendments to UK building regulation BS 5385 now do not recommend the use of plywood or any other timber based product as a background for tiling even though some tile material manufacturers design certain adhesives specifically for tiling onto timber. The 3 most common materials used as backer boards for the tiles to fix to are plasterboard, cement board or tile insulation board. Our advice page has some articles regarding the importance of waterproofing and building a bathroom right that go into further detail on these materials. Needless to say the most common mistake seen when tiling jobs have gone wrong is the use of plasterboard when it is not appropriate. It is not waterproof and can only support a maximum weight including tile, adhesive and grout of 32kg per m2. Tiles are getting bigger and bigger and it is now common to see 300 * 600mm 10mm thick Porcelain tiles on walls. This is right at the limit of plasterboard and taking a risk when there is no need if cement boards were used instead. Use certain types of natural stone which are heavier and it is just a matter of time before failure.

Fixing these boards to the wall is not a simple case of screwing them on to timber or bonding them with tile adhesive to solid wall. When installed these boards need to be flat so that when a straight edge is placed along the length of them there are no gaps between the edge and the wall. This means that when installing the tile the same size trowel and hence thickness of adhesive is applied ensuring that there is enough adhesive in contact with the wall and back of tile. If you have high and low spots in a wall because it is not flat you will end up with lippage between the tiles that are barely hanging to the wall because there is not enough adhesive holding it on. To get boards flat on a timber wall wet shimming is often required. With wet shimming tile adhesive is put on the timber studs and the boards installed but the fixing screws only driven in ½ to 2/3rds their length. This allows you to squeeze the adhesive between the board and timber in enough to line up the boards flat. Once the adhesive has fully set the screws can be fully driven in. The process is similar with solid walls though a lot more tile adhesive is used applied with a large tiling trowel to ensure that there is sufficient coverage of adhesive in contact with the wall to hold the boards on properly. Once the adhesive is set solid wall fixings can then be driven in as additional securing.

In addition to making the boards flat it is a big aid if the corners whether internal or external between two boards are plumb (perfectly vertical) with one another. Tile layout planning often results in a cut tile at the corner. Take your hands together facing you sides of palms together with fingers extended fully out and bring slightly together to create an internal corner and imagine these are the backer boards. Tilt one of your hands backwards. You'll now notice that the horizontal distance from palm to palm is less than finger tip to finger tip. If this happens when the boards are installed it means that each cut tile in the corner is a different size making the job slow and tedious. Get both boards plumb and all the cuts are the same size which with a tile cutter that can do repetitive cuts means rapid installation. Don't be surprised if you're getting the job done right that the preparation seems to go on and on with what appears to be little visual progress, and the actual tiling takes no time at all because the proper preparation work was put in.


Bathroom & Kitchen Wall and Floor Tiling Services

We provide all the services associated with preparing for tiling such as floor levelling, tanking (waterproofing) and more. The proper surface preparation is paramount to a well-executed tile installation that will last many years to come. Larger or complex installations require much more planning and preparation to get it right.

Done right you will have a tile installation that will last and without any mould. One of the UK's leading tiling material manufacturers BAL now give a 25 year guarantee with their products installed following their recommended practice. Schluter another top leading manufacturer of bathroom and shower construction materials give a lifetime guarantee on many of their products.

Floor Tiling Preparation

Floors are either made of concrete or timber, concrete mostly on the ground floor and timber for 1st 2nd etc floors in houses or flats. Occasionally we come across concrete floors in flats on the 1st 2nd floors mainly in UK new builds and suspended ground floor timber floors in older houses. Concrete floors are definitely easier than timber floors to prepare for tiling. There are three issues, moisture content, screed type and cracks. Screeds take a long time to dry out if there is too much moisture still in the screed it can cause the tile installation to fail. It is normally recommended to give a screed at least 4 weeks to dry out but this depends upon time of year, temperature, moisture content when the screed was mixed. The best way to be sure is to do a moisture test.

The second issue is whether the screed is what is referred to as anhydrite screed. These are problematic because the adhesive won't bond to it properly. Two methods of solving, abrade the surface away to expose the sand cement, or overlay it with specific type of a decoupling membrane detailed below.

Small hairline cracks are okay because they can be overlaid with a decoupling membrane. Wider cracks have to be repaired often with epoxy resin material and then overlaid with a decoupling membrane and that is only if the reason why they occurred in the first instance is determined and corrected. There is no point repairing a crack and decoupling over it as these measures only go so far if a building is experiencing big settlement etc.

Once the moisture content, screed material and any cracks are resolved the floor will often require levelling to make it flat before installing the decoupling membrane if required. Achieving a good result with self levelling takes practise and is certainly not recommended for a DIYer because the work time with the product is so short. Most of these products set in 3 hours but only really have a maximum 20min work time despite what the manufacturers claim before they begin to cure and set. Play around with the product after this to try and level the floor because it didn't go quite right on the first attempt and you'll only make things worse.

Tile Decoupling Membrane

Ever looked at the floor tiles in a large shopping centre or supermarket and noticed a grout line replaced by a thicker black line spaced roughly 8-10m apart? These are called movement joints, their purpose is exactly as the name suggests to allow for lateral / horizontal movement in a tiled floor. Without them in larger tiled floors you can be almost certain that sooner or later tiles will crack under the stress caused by movement, because most if not all floors move. It maybe only a few mm as the building heats and cools with the seasons but enough to cause tile failure.

Movement joints in larger floor areas will help accommodate any movement, but in addition to help reduce the potential for tile failure is the installation of a decoupling membrane. All a decoupling membrane does is to uncouple the substrate floor from the tiles installed above. This allows the floor below to move horizontally in any direction independently of the tiles. Decoupling membranes do nothing to assist with problems caused by vertical deflection of a floor, predominantly timber floors. If you have vertical deflection then additional work needs to be done to reinforce or correct the floor.


Uncoupling is certainly recommended for concrete floors especially in new builds and an absolute must for timber floors. As previously mentioned changes to the building regulations mean timber is no longer considered a suitable background to tile onto so it has to 1st be overlaid with another material, either cement boards or a decoupling membrane. Cement boards on a floor provide no structural reinforcing of the floor in the case of any vertical deflection present and no decoupling therefore in most projects it would be the sensible option to use a decoupling membrane. The added benefit of most but not all decoupling membranes is that they are waterproof, only the joints between sheets need sealed during installation.

Which particular manufacturer decoupling product is used depends upon the job. Some are not suitable for use with underfloor heating, others are not suitable for continuous wet environments such as wet rooms but can be used for bathroom floors. Most are installed by fixing them to the floor using tile adhesive however recent innovations such as the decoupling membrane BAL flexbone2easy do not require adhesive and are simply rolled out ready to start tiling thus saving in labour and materials for installation cost, however this product cannot be used with mosaics instead BALs' decoupling Rapid Mat has to be used.


Tiling Timber Floors

The most problematic of all tiling surfaces to prepare. Briefly covering what was written above if vertical deflection of the joists is present then a decoupling membrane will not assist. The floor boards may have to be lifted and the joists braced with noggins or dwangs or the entire floor overlaid with plywood that is a minimum of 15mm thick although 18mm is better. Which option is used depends how bad any deflection is and what the original floor boards were made of. If it is chipboard this creates further work. Even if the UK regulations did allow tiling onto chipboard it really is not recommended. Most tile adhesive and levelling compound does not stick to chipboard properly because of the glues and protective waxes used in chipboard especially in the moisture resistant chipboard. The two options are remove the chipboard which if deflection is present may be required anyway or if deflection is not present overlay it with 6mm cement board glued to the chipboard using tile adhesive and also screwed. It is the screws that hold the boards in place and the adhesive is used fill in any dips and low spots in the floor. The floor will then need levelled. Timber floors are never flat because the wood warps. Then the decoupling membrane needs installed. As you can see a lot of preparation work goes into timber floors and yes it is expensive compared to other forms of floor finishes I.e Laminate, vinyl etc.

Book a tiler today

If you'd like to go ahead and book our tiling services, or if you have a few questions first, we'd love to speak with you.

To get in touch, please give us a call on either 0131 618 9901 or 07956 236300

You're also more than welcome to use our website's contact form to send us a message.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.

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