The No-Nonsense DIY Guide: How To Tile A Kitchen

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Giving your kitchen an update is likely to be one of the more expensive home improvements you carry out, but it can also be one of the most rewarding.

For one, cooking up a storm in a swanky new kitchen is a huge win in itself! But secondly, kitchens are still tipped as delivering one of the best returns on your investment for home renovations. If done well, that is!

For homeowners looking to save themselves some cash, there is the option to carry out work like tiling your kitchen yourself. However, we’d like to stress here that this should only be done if you have a keen eye for DIY – otherwise, you may end up with a shoddy finish or other issues that end up costing you more.

Of course, the question of how to tile a kitchen can be a tricky one for the uninitiated but, luckily for you, we’ve put together a no-nonsense DIY guide all about kitchen tiling and how to do it right.

Covering how to tile kitchen walls and floors, as well as all the practical details like what kitchen tiling tools you need and rough costs, by the end of this post, you should have the right know-how to get started.

tiled kitchen splashback wall

How much does tiling a kitchen cost?

When it comes to home improvement ideas, it’s essential you start the whole process with a budget in mind. Without an estimate of what you have or want to spend, you could easily find yourself overspending or running out of capital and being left with a half-finished project. 

So, when calculating how much it will cost to tile a kitchen and whether doing it yourself is a valuable saving, it can be useful to have a rough idea of potential outlays before you start. These include:

  • Cost of tiles (based on the square metres of the entire area, plus 10% extra for cuts and breakages)
  • Cost of tiling tools, adhesive and grout
  • Cost of transportation (if you’re ordering large volumes)
  • Cost of labour 

Accordingly to Checkatrade, the average kitchen tiling job is around £35 per square metre, which equates to approximately £650 for tiling a kitchen floor. 

However, prices will vary depending on the size of the tiled area, your location and the type of tile you’re installing. In addition, if you’re hiring a professional tiler to install your kitchen tiles, they may charge you more for tiling floors, or prefer to quote you a day price rather than the cost for the whole job. 

With this in mind, before taking on kitchen tiling yourself, carry out some research on tile and materials costs. Get a few quotes from reputable tilers to give you a better estimate. 

Don’t forget to factor in time here, as if you’re new to tiling it may take you far longer than you anticipated. A professional tiler can likely complete a small job like kitchen splashbacks in half a day and a bigger job such as floors in a day, whereas if you’re doing the work yourself as a novice, this could take you double that – longer if you encounter any issues along the way.

What tiling equipment you’ll need

Whether you’re tiling your kitchen walls or floors (or both), you’ll need to make sure you have the right tiling tools for the job, so here’s a handy checklist:

  • Tiles (an obvious one to start)
  • Tile adhesive
  • Tile grout
  • Tile spacers (little plastic crosses you put between each tile to ensure they’re laid evenly spaced)
  • Tiling trowel with grooves (for applying adhesive)
  • Mixing bucket
  • Electric drill and mixing nozzle (for mixing up tile adhesive and grout if you use powdered options)
  • Grout float (for applying the grout between tile joints)
  • Sponges (for cleaning away excess adhesive and grout)
  • Manual or electric tile cutter
  • Electric grinder with circular diamond drill bits to cut out holes for pipework
  • Wooden batons
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level

How to tile a kitchen wall or floor

grey kitchen splashback tiles

With kitchen tiling costs and equipment out of the way, let’s move on to the finer details of how to tile a kitchen floor or wall. Much of the steps are the same for both areas, with the exception of some of the preparation. Like most DIY projects, best-practice kitchen tiling hinges on thorough prep, so skip this process at your own peril.

  1. Measure the area: to ensure you order enough tiles, you need to accurately measure the area with a tape measure. If you’re not working with a uniform space, take the longest measurements and use that to calculate the overall square metre volume (length x width).
  2. Check for broken tiles: before you start, make sure you check all your tile boxes for broken or chipped tiles. Even if you’ve ordered the 10-15% extra to allow for cuts and breakages, a few damaged tiles can soon leave you short to finish the job.
  3. Prepare your walls: to tile your kitchen walls they need to be clean, dry and even. The best place to start is filling in any large cracks and holes and sanding them down to get a more even surface. To check how uneven a surface is use a spirit level. If your walls are very uneven, you may want to attach tile backing boards. Once the surface is flat, sweep and clean.
  4. Prepare your floors: floors also need to be as flat as possible for installing tiles. This can be achieved with tile backer boards or a self-levelling screed. However, you also need to factor in other aspects such as movement in the substrate (floor). You can tile directly onto concrete floors which tend to have limited movement, but if you’re tiling onto wooden floorboards, use flexible tile backer boards that will compensate for potential movement.
  5. Apply primer (optional): in order for the adhesive to have the best hold to the surface, we’d suggest using a priming solution that can be quickly and roughly applied with a large paintbrush. Allow it to dry before you attach your tiles.
  6. Find your centre (walls): when tiling a kitchen wall, wonky tiles are a no-no – so you need to find the true centre and level where they cross over on the horizontal and vertical axis of the wall. You can then tack in a wooden baton along the straight line and use this as the guide to lay tiles in straight rows.
  7. Find your centre (floors): when tiling a kitchen floor, you need to find your centre point, which will be where you lay your first tile. As with walls, use a measuring tape and spirit level to find the true centre of the floor and mark where the horizontal and vertical lines cross. You will then lay your tile in the centre of this crossover, working your way out towards the walls and then each corner (remember to tile towards the door, leaving your exit point as the last place you tile).
  8. Do a dry-run design: before permanently fixing tiles to the wall or floor, it’s helpful to lay out your design, particularly if you’re using patterned tiles or have a more complicated layout than a standard grid formation.
  9. Mix your adhesive: when tiling a small area of a kitchen wall, you can use a ready-mixed adhesive suitable for small format tiles. If you’re installing tiles larger than 30cm x 30cm, or you’re tiling a kitchen floor, you should use powdered tile adhesive that delivers a stronger bond. This can be mixed by hand or using an eclectic drill and nozzle in a bucket, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  10. Attach your tiles: adhesive can go off quickly, so now it’s time to start fixing your tiles to the walls or floor. To avoid your adhesive drying out, apply a small amount onto the surface using the tiling trowel and apply a few tiles at a time. Before firmly pressing the tile in place, use the combed edge to create grooves in the adhesive that provide suction to the tile edge. Repeat this process for each row, using tile spacers between each tile joint to keep them evenly spaced and continually checking your tiles are laid evenly with the spirit level.
  11. Remove excess adhesive: as you go, use a damp (not soaking) sponge to wipe away any rogue adhesive off the tiles and any that oozes out of the tile joints as it can be tricky to remove once it’s dry.
  12. Allow to dry: with your tile fixed in place, allow the adhesive to fully dry. Depending on the adhesive you used and temperature, this can be as quick as 3-4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  13. Finish with tile grout: the final stage of tiling your kitchen is to seal them with grout. Start by pulling out the tile spacers (you may need some pliers to do this), then begin applying your grout between the joints using a rubber grout float. The trick here is to push the grout all the way into the joint, running the grout float across the joint diagonally can help this.
  14. Wipe off excess grout: before the grout fully sets, use a damp sponge with clean water to wipe the tile surface clean and remove any excess from the tile joints. Be careful not to wipe too fast and hard over the joints as this could pull the grout loose.
  15. Leave to dry then clean: with your joints filled, simply leave the area to dry then using a clean damp sponge, wipe off the cloudy grout residue – this may need to be done several times to fully remove.

Tiling a kitchen wall or floor can be an incredibly rewarding process. But if you’re new to this type of DIY job, it could be best to start off small, taking on something like a sink splashback rather than an expansive floor.

Also, it’s worth noting that DIY projects often don’t go quite as planned, even with the best preparation. If you face something unforeseen, it can be a daunting and expensive prospect, which is a good indication that hiring a pro is the way to go with your kitchen tiling plans.

At the end of the day, if you’re ever in doubt about your abilities or the scale of a project, always ask for help – this should ensure you avoid a DIY kitchen tiling nightmare!
So, are you ready to get cracking on your kitchen tiling project? Head over to our huge range of kitchen tiles to find just the right tiles for the job and if you need some creative inspiration we have blogs with kitchen interior design ideas, the best kitchen colours and more.

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