Although not related to either food or gardening, it’s always good to spend some time on house upkeep, especially if you have no landlord to perform repairs for you.
For a few months now I had been observing the bathroom tiles as they slowly migrated further away from the wall they were supposed to be attached to. When we just moved into our house it was obvious that the wall behind and next to the shower was a bit dodgy, the tiles were lathered with grout and still you could see the gaps between them opening up, also they could not be cleaned because they were wobbling around if you put even a bit of pressure on them. So after nearly 2 years of procrastinating, finally they started bulging out dangerously. I’ll spare you the pictures.
Pick and buy your tiles. No point starting anything until you’re absolutely sure the shops are selling exactly what you want and enough of it! Also buy: Waterproof tile adhesive, waterproof grout, Tile saw and spare blade in case you break it (you may not need this if you are not going to need to cut out awkward holes or notches from your tiles), tile cutter (great for doing straight cuts), adhesive trowel/comb thing and tile spacers (or use spaghetti like we did). Also figure out if any shower fittings you have are easy enough to remove and reattach. We had to contend with an electric shower right in the middle of the tiled area, which was interesting to say the least.
Remove all old tiles. Most of them simply came off upon touching them. This wasn’t surprising considering that the bright soul who put them on had apparently simply tiled over the wallpaper and been very stingy with adhesive. Most tiles were attached by two globs of tile adhesive, leaving most of the space behind the tile free. Of course this didn’t make for a very stable surface, and the moisture that inevitably made its way behind the tiles made the wallpaper soggy and come off the wall.
Remove the bloody wallpaper!
The horrors that lie behind old tiles...
Scrape the wall clean, making sure your have a flattish, even surface. Fill any gaping holes you’ve created if your wall is like ours – plasterboard. Reattach bits of wallpaper you want to keep around the area to be tiled with some glue.
Figure out the tile layout. You don’t want to be in a situation where the last tile you need to put in any direction is only 1-2 cm wide or long. This is a huge pain to cut out and also not aesthetically pleasing. Also figure out if the lower edge you’re tiling is reasonably level.
Start by attaching the first row of whole tiles. A lot of instructional videos show a batten being attached to the wall at a level right above the first row of tiles. This is advisable if your tiles are very heavy, or your lower edge is very wonky. As mentioned before, our wall is plasterboard, so attaching a batten securely would have been a whole new nightmare which we wanted to avoid. Lather the adhesive on with the trowel, making sure you’ve got an even coverage. The idea is that you end up with a grooved pattern with lines of adhesive standing up and grooves in between where the wall is nearly bare. So we started with the row right on top of the bathtub (the level of which is slightly off, but it didn’t look that bad in the end). Make sure to stick your spacers or spaghetti pieces in between the tiles to leave an even gap and wiggle the tile a bit to make it stick to the wall properly. At the end of the row, measure and cut your last tile. Make sure you account for the gap between your cut piece and the last whole tile. As you go along, wipe off any adhesive off the tile straightaway, it’s a pain to get off if it dries up.
For our project, multiple cutting options were tried. I bought a tile cutter which although effective, couldn’t do everything because I had failed to notice that the tile cutter only took tiles up to 30cm in length, and our tiles were 40cm. Bigger ones cost way more and I didn’t feel like buying the same thing again.
handheld tile scorer: it scores quite well but considering it didn’t have any way of breaking the tile apart after scoring, was really only useful for small pieces. Anything bigger required too much force to break apart
handheld tile cutter: It has a cutting wheel at the bottom and a plier type thing which breaks the tile after scoring it. This was amazingly useful. Just make sure you have something solid to act as a guide so you score in a straight line.
After allowing the finished tiled wall to dry according to the instructions for your adhesive and then grout the gaps. Make sure to take your spaghetti bits out first though! Use a squeegee to wipe the grout in a diagonal pattern over the grooves between the tiles, then wipe off the excess with a sponge. Keep going until you’re done. Check after it has dried that none of the grooves have any gaps left.Clean your tiles properly afterwards, and if they’re glossy ones, rub with a cloth to make them shine.
Done! We used blue grout to match the walls...
Put flexible sealant around the tile and bathtub edge and let it dry.