Tile style: how to tile a feature area of a wall

How to tile a wall

Tiles are no longer just functional – you can use them to add areas of texture and interest to almost any surface.

As well as using them in kitchens and bathrooms, you can also create detailing in hallways or accentuate features in dining rooms. If you’re tiling a small, straightforward area with no obstructions, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to make a great job of it yourself – it’s all about care and preparation. Here’s how…

Getting started

Assemble your tools before starting.

You’ll need the following tools for your project:

  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level
  • Claw hammer
  • Tile cutter (many tile shops hire these out)
  • Pack of tile spacers
  • Grout spreader
  • Tile file
  • Adhesive spreader
  • Gloves and safety goggles
  • Two wooden battens, screws and drill

Measure the area to be tiled carefully. Your tile retailer will normally calculate the number of tiles required for you, and add around 5% to the total to allow for breakages. Many retailers will take back unopened boxes of extra tiles, so it’s better to over rather than under estimate. Don’t forget you’ll also need sufficient tile adhesive and grout – again, your retailer can advise on quantities.

Simple glass tiles on a plain background are an easy and effective way of adding texture.

Start by preparing the area to be tiled. Strip off any wall paper, fill any holes and make sure the whole area is clean, dry and solid. Next, layout your pattern of tiles on the floor, and use one of the wooden battens to make a tile gauge. Lay the batten by one edge of the tiles, and mark the exact positions of the tiles as they’ll appear when on the wall.

Next, measure and mark out your tiled area in pencil on the wall. Use the tile gauge to see where the top and bottom of your design comes to, and adjust if necessary. Draw lines vertically and horizontally through the middle of the area so you can line up the tiles accurately. If your tiled area is to reach the edge of a wall or door, any pieces of cut tile should be of equal size at both ends of the row or it’ll all look a bit skew whiff.

Mark the bottom of your lowest row of tiles, and secure the batten horizontally to the wall at this level, using the spirit level to make sure it’s straight.


Bold, bright tiles create an eye-catching feature on a blank wall.

Scoop  up some adhesive and spread it with the spreader, working in horizontal lines and holding the blade at a 45 degree angle. Only work on a couple of rows at a time or the glue will start to harden before you’re ready. Try not to use too much adhesive – this takes a little practice – as the surplus will squidge out from under the tiles and you’ll have to remove it later with a scraper.

The first tile should be the bottom row, central one. Press it into position and check it’s straight with a spirit level. Add the remaining tiles on that row, spacing them out roughly equally by eye. Working quickly, insert the tile spacers into the gaps and adjust the positions of the tiles until they’re all equal. Then, start the next row until you’ve finished the area of adhesive before moving on to the next area.

Mix and match colours, textures and patterns to add interest.













Clear up any splashes of adhesive as you go along, as otherwise they’ll dry on and be almost impossible to shift.

Once you’ve finished, remove the battens by prising the nails out, and filling and touching up the wall as necessary.


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