Decide to Tile or Paint

Will you tile or paint your kitchen walls? We decided to tile the walls up to the top of the cupboards. Yes, I believe we did a good job, and it looks a lot better. The problem we had is that tiles do not bend and our walls dipped in and out. Therefore, we had to build the glue out more than normal to keep the tiles flat and straight. If your wall has this problem then buy extra glue and make sure you buy the right glue to suit your type of wall.  

Renovating: Wash and prepare the walls firstCredit: © T Photos

Before you start tiling wash the walls with sugar and soap

If you live in a brick house then you should not have as many problems, although there is no guarantee that the builder made the walls perfect.

What You Need for Tiling

  • Tiles
  • Glue to suit brick or clad walls
  • Grout
  • Tile cutter – Husband used his grinder
  • Notched trowel
  • Dish and water to mix the glue in
  • Tarp to protect floor or cupboards
  • Level to make sure tiles go on straight
  • Tile spacers to keep tiles even

Renovating: First one laid with spacersCredit: © T Photos


Laying the Tiles

Before you start, make sure the wall is free from dust and dirt. We washed ours with sugar soap and rinsed it off, leaving it a day to dry before tiling.

Mixing the glue - follow the directions on the packaging. Apply glue to the wall with the trowel, then scrape over with a notched trowel. Press tile on to the wall, making sure it is straight, clean away any excess glue between the tiles. Add a spacer between them. Do the same with the next one and make sure it is level and straight. Continue until done. Remove the spacers before it is completely dry, while holding tile in place to reduce the risk of pulling them off.

Electrical Power Switches

Laying tiles around your electric power switches is not easy. When cutting around power switches, try to work out the easiest way without having to make too many cuts.  We made sure our switches fitted in between two tiles. That way we could grind a piece out of the edge of two tiles to make it fit around the switch., This reduced the problem of having to find an electrician to disconnect power to fit the tile. Warning: Never touch the power points yourself even if you think the power is off. Leave it to the experts.

If you cannot, then you will need a hole cutter to cut a hole in the middle of your tile. Which means you will need the electrician to disconnect the power switch so the wires can go through the hole in the tile. A hole cutter can cut the holes around the tap fittings.

Renovating: Tiling around SwitchesCredit: © T Photos

Decide if you need extra power points before you start tiling. The above image shows a wire that we ran through the walls ready for the electrician to run an electric cable and fit a new power point.  This will not only save you money and time that the electrician would charge you for.  Keep in mind we did not touch any electric connections, just pulled a wire through the walls.

Choosing and Fitting the Edgings

Windows need a special edge to hold tiles in place. These come in many shapes colors and sizes. Our tiles measured 8mm although when we took one to the store we found we had to use a 10mm edging.

Renovating: Tile edgingCredit: © T Photos

We wanted a firm edge so chose an aluminium one. This had the groove in both sides to hold both the top and lower tile.  Many of the edgings have a groove one side only. Spend that bit extra and buy the double edge one so you know the tiles fit correct. 

Grouting the Tiles

It is important to grout your tiles as this keeps out the dirt and seals the tiles.

What you need for grouting

  • Grout
  • Dish or bucket to mix the grout in
  • Water
  • Rubber grout float or similar
  • Tarp to protect floor

Mixing the grout: The amount of grout you mix will depend on the size of your job. Add grout to the bucket then add a small quantity of water. Mix to a smooth consistency, not runny. Spread a generous amount of grout on a small section of tiles with a rubber float. Force the grout between the tiles and wipe excess off.

Use a damp sponge or cloth and wipe over tiles in a circular motion so as not to remove the grout from between the tiles. When dry wipe over again and remove any extra grout and polish with soft dry cloth.

Now clean up any mess that you have created and stand back and admire your new kitchen.


Renovating: Tiled, Grouted and cleanedCredit: © T Photos


Would I renovate another kitchen? Definitely not at our age, although the tiling was easier than restoring the cupboards. I am so glad it is over and all sparkling clean. If we ever shift and need to renovate a kitchen again, I hope I would have enough money to give the job to the experts or at least buy flat pack cabinets which would save a lot of work.