DIY Tiling

Can you DIY tiling?

Ceramic and porcelain tile installations are typically displayed as easy on reality TV remodel shows and in remodelling guidebooks. However, this is one that falls into the category of home remodelling projects that look easier than they are. 

Adding tile to your home is a great way to update the look of a space. Whether you are tiling an entryway floor, adding a little colour to your kitchen with a backsplash, or tackling a total bathroom renovation, installing the tile yourself is nothing to be afraid of. With the right tools and a carefully laid-out plan, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Just follow these simple steps for a do-it-yourself tiling project you’re sure to love.

Tile is an excellent choice when you’re looking to upgrade your home – whether it’s replacing an old, dull-looking floor or brightening up your kitchen work area. Not only is tile eco-friendly, durable and water-resistant, it’s also available in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. Check out the guide below to decide whether it’s worth it to do your tile install yourself or go for the help of a pro.

Looking for the best tiling renovations? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.

Easier Tilework

Projects that tend to be easier and the themes that revolve around them:

  • Dry areas: Areas, where leakage may occur, are more difficult, entailing special backing material and grout-sealing. Showers, especially, can be maddening for the amateur tiler to make completely waterproof.
  • Floors vs. walls: Slippage is one thing you are always combating with tilework on walls.
  • Backsplashes that are more decorative than functional.
  • Tile in the 4″ to 12″ range: Smaller tiles, especially mosaics, shift around a lot—even if that mosaic is attached to mesh.
  • Using adhesive tile mats (though this has very limited uses).
  • Ceramic and porcelain tile vs. stone tile: Stone tile is heavy to deal with and difficult to cut.

One tip is to begin your amateur tiling career with the most out of the way place possible in order to sharpen up your skills. 

DIY Tiling

Tiling Challenges

  • Dry thin-set mortar is cheap, but it is also difficult to mix. The solution is to buy pre-mixed mortar. While significantly more expensive, pre-mixed thin-set saves you from the aggravation of getting water-to-thinset measurements correct. Plus, mixing up dry thin-set is physically difficult.
  • Your tile work is only as good as your substrate or subfloor. If you do not have a good subfloor, your tile will not lie flat. Lippage will occur—adjoining tile edges that are not the same height. Even worse, a base floor that is not solid enough will eventually cause the tile to crack.
  • Perimeter tiles will need to be cut. You can use either a wet tile saw or what is often colloquially called a snap tile cutter for this. More likely, you will want to use both types of tile-cutting tools. If you happen to have any bad cuts, you can position them so that the ragged cut falls under a baseboard or a cabinet toe kick overhang. 
  • Even tiles within the perimeter can be difficult. They do not automatically fall into straight lines: you need to impose this.
  • Laying tiles on a diagonal. Diagonal tile cutting can be a frustrating experience for the novice tiler.
  • Spacing tiles correctly is hard. Be sure to use plastic tile spacers to impose the correct distance. While spacers are a pain to remove, they ensure perfect spacing of tile seams.
  • Constantly being on your knees on a hard surface can affect the quality of your work. For this reason alone, it is worth purchasing an inexpensive pair of tiler’s knee pads.

Waterproofing Is Important

While tiling any area seems like a simple enough job, when it comes to bathroom floors, shower enclosures, and other wet areas like laundry rooms, tiling alone is not enough to protect the structure of your property from water damage. So, you need to waterproof and wet-seal walls, floors and seams where water is likely to gather.

In Queensland and New South Wales, waterproofing and wet sealing can only be done by licensed professionals; so if you live in one of those states, put your DIY tools aside and hire a professional.

It’s important to note that even in other states if you choose to do the waterproofing yourself, you will still need to ensure it is done to the Australian Standard AS3740-2010 – ‘Waterproofing of domestic wet areas’ to pass a building inspection. We would still recommend homeowners hire licensed professionals to complete the job, as this will ensure issues don’t arise down the line – be it with home insurance or water damage.

How Waterproofing Is Done

The process of waterproofing involves applying a primer to the surface to be waterproofed, and a liquid water-based polyurethane membrane is applied to relevant areas. This is painted across walls and floors using a paintbrush or paint roller, and usually, two to three coats are applied, one rolled horizontally and the second one vertically. Edges and corners need to be sealed with neutral cure silicone and covered with polyester fabric bandages so to create a bond breaker. Tile Wizards also makes the job easier by selling a fabric bandage with a polyurethane bond breaker already inserted in the bandage.

The Tiling Process

Once your room has been waterproofed and left to cure for 24 hours, the tiling process begins. While some people prefer to have professionals take care of tile installation, it is quite a DIY friendly process. It helps if you’ve done it before, however, even with no prior experience, if you are patient, careful, and follow the below instructions, you can still achieve great results.

Bathroom and toilet

  • Tile selection. Usually, different styles of tiles are used for floor and walls, depending on their slip resistance.
  • Measuring a room is very important and must be done accurately, length x width will give you M2 then add 10%, which will allow for wastage when cutting in tiles.
  • Pattern selection – deciding where you would like to put your feature wall/tile or feature strip. Choose a wall that can be seen from the entry to the room, which will give the area wow factor.
  • Set out is the most important part of creating a great looking bathroom as you want to make sure that you try to get over half a tile, as larger cuts are more aesthetically pleasing to a room’s overall appearance. Start by measuring each wall/floor horizontally and vertically and finding the centre of the wall/floor to make sure that the cuts are even on both sides of the wall/floor.
  • If you don’t have a lot of experience with tile installation, a ‘dry run’ is highly recommended. This means you lay your floor tiles before applying any adhesive to make sure you like the pattern, and that you have enough tiles to complete the job. – If this is your first time, make sure you buy more tiles than you need, to allow some room for mistakes. Wastage allowance is normally 10% so if you get 15% extra, then you will have a few tiles spare which always come in handy if you make changes in the future
  • Tiles are cut at the internal and external corners of a room.
  • Before applying waterproofing or tile adhesive, a suitable primer must be used.
  • A thin-set mortar (tile adhesive) tiles over 30×30 a 12mm notch trowel are recommended and then applied to the surface they’re going onto, and the tiles are pushed into the adhesive with a slight twist action – use spacers to leave gaps for the grout and silicon must be used in internal corners allowing for movement.
  • Tiles are left for 24hrs to ‘set’ – this is particularly important for floor tiles, which need to take a lot more weight.
  • Spacers between the tiles are removed, and grouting is applied to fill the gaps between the tiles properly.
  • The remaining grout is cleaned off by using a sponge and water, and the grout is left to set.
  • Once the grout has set, you will need to dust off the tiles with a clean, dry white rag to remove any grout residue that is left on the surface of the tile.
  • If you are using a light coloured grout or you want your grout joints to remain the same colour for years to come Tile Wizards suggest you use a grout sealer.

Check out our range of tiling renovations Melbourne at Hitch Property Constructions. 

Easy DIY Tiling Tips for Amateurs

First, you’ll need to know how much time you’ll need, so carefully measure your space and determine the square footage. Because tiles come in various sizes, the overall square footage is essential to purchasing the right amount. Order an extra ten per cent to account for any cuts or mistakes.

For best results, install backer-board (waterproof if it’s in a bathroom) to the surface that you will be tiling; it provides a smooth, even surface for better tile adhesion. Use a light coat of glue or tile adhesive (ask your tile supplier whether mastic or mortar will work best for you) and screws to affix it to the walls. If you are tiling a floor, roll out a waterproof underlay (available at home improvement stores) to cover the entire area that will be tiled.

Find the centre of the area to be tiled and, using a level, draw one line horizontally and one line vertically to create quadrants of the area you’re tiling.

Once you have your tile design determined (try to avoid too many cuts and be aware of keeping the design centred), start at the centre of the area you marked, and spread the tile adhesive onto the backer-board into one of the quadrants in ten-square-foot sections using a notched trowel. Continue to spread the adhesive until it is even and the notches are apparent as they help the tile adhere to the wall.

At the centre point of the quadrant, begin laying the tiles horizontally, applying gentle pressure to push the tiles into the adhesive. For best results, place tile spacers in between each tile for an even layout. Use a level or A-square to ensure that the tiles are straight. Continue adding adhesive and tiles, working toward the outer edge of the tile area.

For tile pieces that are too big, use a snap cutter or wet saw to make straight cuts. If a tile needs to be notched or have a centrepiece cut out to accommodate an outlet, use a wet saw, being careful not to cut beyond the required opening.

Let the tile sit overnight. Next, using a trowel, apply the grout to the tile, working from one corner to the opposite side of the space. Be sure to apply the grout liberally and evenly, making sure that it fills in the gaps between all of the tiles.

Allow the grout to dry for 30 minutes. Once dry, wash away the excess grout with a clean sponge.

For best results, apply a tile sealant to prevent the grout from being stained or becoming subject to moisture.

DIY Tiling: Is it Worth it?


Do you have any experience installing tiles? If the answer is no, start small with a project such as a simple backsplash or a decorative tabletop. (TIP: Use mesh-backed sheets rather than struggling to set individual tiles.) As a newbie, you’re better off leaving larger jobs like laying tile flooring or tiling your shower to a professional tile installer. The difference between well-installed tile and amateur work will be much more apparent at this scale.

Once you’ve gained tiling experience, though, you may be ready to take on big projects, depending on a number of other factors.

Proper Surface

The first thing to determine is whether the substrate (plywood sub-floor, concrete floor, wallboard, etc.) is acceptable for the tile job. It’s vitally important, especially for floors, that your base be level and sturdy. If this is not the case, or there is sagging, or any movement, the likelihood of cracked and broken tiles down the road is great. Prep work could require laying an entirely new floor or resetting the walls and installing a proper moisture barrier, particularly on a ground floor level. All this may be beyond your DIY skill set.

TIP: Often, removal of your existing floor is not essential, as long as it’s smooth and in reasonable shape. However, laying tile floors on top of cushioned sheet vinyl won’t work – because this type of flooring is too spongy and soft to support tiling, it must be removed. The situation is complicated further by the fact that cushioned sheet vinyl may contain asbestos. In such a case, it’s time to call a pro.


“Keep it simple, sweetie,” is the perfect motto when you decide whether to tackle a tile installation on your own. An odd-sized space; complex design details, such as an intricate mosaic pattern for your wall; or multiple plumbing fixtures to work around — bathtub, shower, toilet, vanity, and perhaps a bidet — all mean more work. Cutting and piecing tile demands patience, skill, and proper equipment (usually either a dry cutter or a wet saw).

Measure the space to be tiled carefully so you’ll know the exact square footage (multiply the length times the width/height) and the linear footage. The linear footage is particularly important for walls and backsplashes in order to estimate trim pieces and tile borders. Regardless of tile size and shape, it is nearly always sold by the square foot. If you are buying individual tiles, you will need to calculate their square-foot equivalent to estimating your job properly.

TIP: One of the last things you want is to run out of material when laying tile, so always round up your measurements upward. Then add another 10-20% for cutting, breakage, and mistakes when installing. If the tile is standard and easy to obtain, you can get away with estimating on the lower end, but if it’s on sale or handmade, then go for a 20% cushion.

We have a wide range of Melbourne tiling renovations to help you choose in creating a new design for your house.

Hiring a Professional

For advanced tiling projects, hiring a professional tile contractor will save you time and possibly even money. A quality tile installation is likely to add more curb appeal and wear better over time than a cheap, DIY one. Before you hire a pro, do be sure to get multiple estimates and references, and discuss your expectations with him.

Laying tile is easy but laying tile and doing it well is difficult. From that angle, it may make more sense to hire a professional tiler than to do it yourself. 

If you’re trying to save money, one way to approach it is to hire the pro for the most visible areas. Then you can do your tilework in rooms that are less frequented.

One problem for do-it-yourselfers is that it is difficult to reverse tilework, should you make an error. Thinset mortar allows for some repositioning. Unfortunately, this set will also reposition your tile for you, especially in the case of vertical wall tile.

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