DIY Calendar: June - How to Lay Tiles

By June, the weather is getting a lot warmer, and this gives you more scope for the sorts of jobs you would want to work on, however, there is more than just weather to consider when planning DIY jobs.  If you have school-aged children, then June is the last month during which you'll have entire days to work uninterrupted for quite a while.  The summer holidays feel like they're getting longer every year, so if you have any major jobs to get done, and don't want children underfoot while you're doing them, then now is the time to start them!

Bathroom related jobs are one good example of DIY tasks that are best done when the house is nice and quiet.  Children and plumbing don't mix, so tackling the bathroom before the summer holidays is a good idea.

Tiling and Grout

Tiles are not particularly challenging things to lay, but they do require patience and planning.  If you rush the job, they're likely to look messy and un-even.  If you work slowly and carefully you can achieve great results.

To lay tiles, you will need:

  • Some grout
  • A bucket
  • Water for mixing (some mixtures require latex)
  • A sponge (for the grout)
  • A rubber grout float
  • An old toothbrush (for use as a grout tool)

You should also have some rubber gloves to protect your hands, and you may want to wear safety goggles too - check the instructions on your grout package, and follow whatever it recommends.

Prepare the wall by brushing it down to make sure that it is clean and free of dust.  Measure the wall so that you know the number of tiles you will need to cover the area you're planning to tile.  Lay the tiles carefully and let them set overnight, then use a rubber float to scoop up the grout.  Hold the float at a 45 degree angle to the tile joints and let the grout fill the joints.  After the grout has set, use a sponge to clean the front of the tiles.  Smooth the grout using the handle (not the bristles) of the toothbrush.  Give the grout some time to set, then polish the surface of the tiles again.

Tiles and Grout Tiles. Photo: Cole Henley

Top Tips For Fixing or Repairing Bathroom Fittings

If your bathroom, sink, or toilet is looking a bit tattered, why not replace them?  You can get new plastic baths quite inexpensively these days, and even the basic models look nice.

Before you invest in new bathroom fixtures and fittings, take care to measure all of the pipes, including the waste pipe and the one feeding the taps.  You should also measure the bath itself, to make sure that the new one will fit.  If everything fits easily, then you can do the job of installing the new bath, toilet, or sink yourself.  If the pipe measurements don't quite work, then it may be a more complicated job.

When fitting a bath, measure everything up carefully and mark the positions of the pipes on the wall. You should also draw a line near where the top of the bath should be, so that you can make sure that the bath is level.

Fit the taps and the waste overflow before you put the bath in place - this may seem counter-intuitive, but trying to do it when the bath is already in place is extremely difficult.

Chrome taps Bathroom Taps. Photo: Boris Mitendorfer Photography

When you're working with bathroom fixtures and fittings, it's essential that you make sure everything is watertight.  A leaky bath could cause you some serious problems in the long term. Make sure that all of the pipes are securely attached and that they are tightly sealed.  Where most people go wrong is by not properly sealing the area where the bath meets the wall. Make sure that all surfaces that you're sealing are clean and dust free. Wipe down the area around the bath, and then apply a watertight sealant to the bath and the wall tiles. You can shape the sealant to make it look neat and tidy by using your finger, or the handle of a teaspoon.  Once you've applied the seal, leave it to dry for 24 hours before you use the bath.

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