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Wall Tiling

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The idea of wall tile preparation is to create a surface that is dry, clean, sound and free from grease, dirt, dust and anything else that is a barrier to good adhesion.  Spending time at this stage will help to avoid any risk of a costly tiling failure. Here below you will find some valuable hints about how to tile for the most commonly tiled surfaces. It is very important that all the surfaces that are to be tiled are true and straight, whatever tiling material you may be using, including travertine and travertine tiles. This will help ensure that you avoid any unnecessary, uneven tile surfaces or lipping.


Plaster is the most common surface that is found in British housing, which includes plasterboard that is plaster-skimmed. You need to check the surface of both new and old plaster for any hollow sounding areas, and repair and remove as required. If the wall you are tiling has been papered you need to ensure that any traces of the paper adhesive that remain are removed. Plaster requires a minimum of four weeks for drying and shrinking and this is longer if the conditions are cold and damp.

The wall surface needs to be wire brushed in order to get rid of any barrier materials and any particles of fine plaster. It then needs priming with an acrylic primer that has been watered down as shown. A plaster finish that is properly applied and prepared will support 20 kilos of adhesive and tiles for every square metre. Plaster is not water resistant and if it is used in wet rooms and showers the plaster needs to be waterproofed.


Un-plastered clean boards are fantastic for tiling and as long as the boards are well fixed little preparation of the boards is needed. However, if you are using the boards in wet rooms and shower areas the boards need to waterproofed. Plasterboard is able to support 32 kilos of adhesive and tiles per square metre. You need to pay particular notice to how straight and true they are.


Cement and sand render is widely considered as the best surface to tile on to. However, it is rarely used domestically. Apart from being clean, sound and over two weeks old there is minimal preparation needed. This type of surface will cope with more than 40 kilos of adhesive and tiles per square metre. You need to pay careful attention to how straight and true the surface is.

Timber Based Boards

Timber based boards are not to be used in wet areas. When used in dry areas these boards should be acclimatised to their surroundings for 48 hours. You should paint the backs and edges with a polyurethane paint and screw it frequently with screws that are non-rusting. Timber is not a very good surface to tile as it is liable to move and you should avoid using it. We do not recommend that you tile to any ply or to MDF, except of WBP quality.

Tile Backer Boards

As long as your tile backer boards are fixed soundly there is no need for any preparation. When fixed correctly, Marmox tile backer boards will accept 62 kilos of adhesive and tiles for every square metre.  These are probably the most adaptable and best surface that you can tile to.

Brick and Block work

Although it is possible to fix tiles to brick and block work surfaces they are very rarely true and straight. You need to ensure that the surface is free from dust, dirt and grease, and that the surface is aged.


Paint is not designed to take the weight of tiling and you should either remove it or fix a tile backer board mechanically over the top of it.


You need to make sure that the surface is free from dust, grease and dirt and that the weight of your new tiles, any old tiles and any adhesive, does not go above the permitted weight for the underlying surface. You need to read the Tile Adhesive Advice section for the correct type of adhesive.

Being prepared and knowing as much as you can about tiling and tiling products will help ensure that you do the best tiling job possible, whether you are using travertine, travertine tiles, ceramic tiles or another type of tile.