A fully tiled wall can look beautiful but that beauty can be spoilt unless a lot of thought has gone into the project you are about to undertake and you have considered wall preparation for tile installation. Correct preparation of the actual surface you are going to be tiling is the key to a beautiful tiled wall, without it you will end up with an uneven surface and tiles that do not lay flat on the wall and look out of place giving a warped effect.
Ensuring the wall is a flat as it possibly can be before tiling is without a doubt very tricky but it can be done, and there are various ways of doing it. Depending on what was is on the wall you intend tiling will depend on how much work you have to put into the job, if the wall is painted or wallpapered then it will be much easier than if it has been tiled previously.
Making a Start
Gathering together a few tools before starting will help greatly, the least you will need is a tiling trowel, a paint scraper, a grouter and a small hammer and chisel for chipping or an electric chipping hammer. Unless you have the luxury of starting off with a wall that has been papered then your first task is removing the existing tiles, this is done with the chipping hammer. A chipping hammer has a flat edge which is inserted into the grouting joint and when switched on will allow you to chip away at the tiles; alternatively a thin chisel and hammer can be used.
It goes without saying that when removing old tiling there are going to bits of tiles, slivers of glazing and adhesive flying around so along with wearing protective clothing using goggles is a must. Of course the tiles are not going to be taken off the wall all in one piece along with the adhesive and you will leave tiling adhesive behind on wall which will leave the surface very uneven, here you have two options.
The first option you can take when removing the adhesive is to sand it off or depending on how much has been left behind you have the option of skimming over with plaster. While sanding can be the quickest option especially when an electric sander is used, it is a very messy option and protection and good ventilation are needed against the dust. You can start off with course sandpaper then finish off with fine for a smooth finish, all that’s left to do then is to wash down the wall and allow it to dry thoroughly.
A less messy option for getting a nice smooth finish on the wall is to skim it over with plaster. All hardware stores sell this in variable sized packets and all that is needed is to follow the instructions on the box and mix it with water to the right consistency. While there is a knack to getting a smooth finish on the plaster you will soon pick it up and with some luck you should finish with a smooth surface suitable for tiling.
While every attempt should be made at getting the plaster as smooth as possible when first applying, you can go over the wall once the plaster has started to set with the edge of the plastering trowel to smooth out any uneven bits.
It is imperative that you allow the plaster to dry thoroughly before tiling and plaster will lighten as it dries out, a good tip for getting the tile adhesive to stick to the fresh plaster is to go over it when dry with a coat or two of PVA glue.