Ceramic and porcelain tiles are really popular because they are within most budgets and are easy to lay and care for.
Glass tiles are also low-maintenance and look fantastic, but they’re usually expensive. Stone tiles, such as slate, marble and limestone, can be costly too, as well as higher maintenance, and they can vary a lot in thickness, colour and texture.
Mosaic tiles are available in lots of different materials and are perfect for creating a feature wall or splashback, but they’re rarely cheap. They come in sheets on a mesh (or paper) and the mesh is supposed to keep the individual tiles evenly spaced – but it doesn’t, in my experience, work very well. The number of grout lines means mosaics can also be hard to keep looking good too.
If you’re buying tiles online and you haven’t seen them in person, make sure you get a sample first because you could end up being disappointed. Of course, you may prefer to buy tiles in store, where you can see what you’re getting.
Another advantage of buying instore is that you can ensure all the tiles come from the same batch (as long as there’s a batch number on the boxes), so they’re exactly the same colour and finish.
To work out the number of tiles required, multiply the length by the height of each wall (or part wall) to be tiled (minus the area of any doors, windows, etc) and add them together to get the total area – then remember to allow around 10 per cent more for breakages and wastage. Lots of tiles are sold per square metre and even if they’re not, it should say what the price is per square metre – this is the easiest way to work out the cost.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of the tile adhesive and grout, tools, spacers and other accessories. Cutting the tiles can be tricky, but using an electric tile cutter with a water-cooled diamond blade makes it much easier.
The adhesive and grout must be suitable for where you’re tiling (not all can be used in showers, for example) and the sort of tiles you’re using. I find ready-mixed adhesives and grouts easiest to use, as it can be hard to get it right when mixing up powdered products. Combined adhesives and grouts are particularly useful, especially if the adhesive oozes through the gaps between the tiles – it’s much easier to use the same product to grout than to clean out the gaps.
Like all DIY, tiling takes some time and patience to get right, but it will save you a lot of money if you can persevere.