Fixing Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are produced from a blend of clays. The raw material is pressed into shape, dried and then glazed before being kiln fired. Some production processes allows for the tiles to be fired twice, once to fix the base glaze and secondly for fixing decoration. Ceramic tiles are available in many forms from stone effects through to highly unusual three dimensional forms.


All areas to be tiled must be clean, dry, and free from dust and any residues that may cause poor adhesion. Inspect the tiles prior to fixing making sure that rustic effect tiles are shuffled to ensure that any colour and shade variations are well mixed. Some edges may have small chips or flaws, these tiles are best kept for cuts. Make sure that all surfaces to be tiled are smooth and that any holes and imperfections are adequately filled.


Ceramic tiles are relatively simple to install. A trowelled adhesive bed should be applied to wall areas and the tiles pressed onto it to fix. Depending on the depth of the tile, apply adhesive with a notched trowel between 3 – 6mm. The backs of all floor tiles should be lightly coated with a layer of adhesive before pressing into a trowelled adhesive bed, using spacers as required. This will ensure a proper coverage of adhesive to give the tile maximum support. Dot and dab fixing is unacceptable as it will not support the tile properly and will leave it vulnerable to breaking or lifting.

Cutting and Drilling:

Mark the tiles where they need to be cut. Score along the line with a tile cutter using firm even pressure. If the tile cutter does not have a lever to snap the tile, place the tile on a flat surface with a nail under one end of the score line. Press firmly down on either side of the tile to separate the pieces. If a more complex shape is required, use a tile saw to follow this desired shape.

Unfixed tiles should be placed onto cardboard upon a flat rigid surface. Drill bits should be Tungsten Carbide or Diamond Tipped. Mark the tile where the hole is required. Overlay with masking or electrical tape. Mark the tape to match your existing drilling point. Repeat 4 – 5 times until a sufficient guide point has been made to prevent the drill bit from slipping until it has bitten into the surface of the tile. Using a variable speed drill on a low speed rotary setting only (NOT hammer action), start to drill allowing the drill to do the work. Do not exert excessive pressure as this will only serve in burning out the drill bit.

If the required hole through the tile needs to have a neat edge or there is a complex hole to be cut, it may be necessary to use a water jet cutting service. This method of cutting uses a precise jet of water at extremely high pressure to erode an accurate line through the tile. It is recommended to use this method where any pipes or fittings through the tiled surface do not have blanking plates to mask the edges of any holes.


The vast majority of ceramic tiles have a glaze finish and as such do not require sealing. There are a few ranges that use unglazed ceramic pieces which must be sealed before any grouting takes place. Failure to seal will result in the grout residue becoming extremely difficult to remove. KF Stainstop should be used to protect the unglazed tiles without changing their appearance while providing a resistance to staining and an aid to grout residue removal.


Grout should be selected to best compliment the chosen tile. As a general guide a rustic effect with irregular edges will require a wider grout joint than a more machined tile with square edges. Most fine grouts will cover a joint width of up to 4mm. If a wider joint is to be used then a coarse grained grout will be required to span joints of 2 – 15mm. Before applying grout make sure the area is clean and free from building residues.