How to Install Ceramic Tiles on Walls? 

Ceramic tile is a favorite for many homeowners thanks to its durability and resistance to stains. It is a popular choice for floors, but it can also be used on walls to create attractive and functional backsplashes behind sinks or stoves, or as an encasement for bathrooms and showers. 

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Learning how to install ceramic wall tile is a little more involved than floor installation, but it’s still an easy DIY project with the right prep work and patience. Plus, it’s a great way to get rid of a dated drywall surface without paying the high costs of a complete remodel. 

Before tiling, inspect the wall thoroughly to ensure it is structurally sound. If the wall is rotting or weak, it could warp, crack or break when you try to install tiles on top of it. It may be necessary to replace the wall before tiling it or at least fix it to make it more strong and more durable for tiling. 

Using a tape measure, mark and form the lines that will serve as your horizontal and vertical midlines. This helps you keep the row of tiles straight and divides the area into sections to be tiled. 

If your tile layout will feature thick mortar joints, be sure to account for the spacing when drawing your grid. Creating the grid will also help you avoid making a crooked line between rows of tiles, which can be a common mistake when installing tiles on a wall. 

After you have marked the grid, cut a batten out of scrap wood that’s long enough to run the length of your tiling area, about 1 inch thick and wide. Screw the batten into the wall studs to hold it in place. When you lay the first tile, use it to align and guide the rest of the tiles against the batten to ensure that they’re all perfectly straight. 

Set the first tile against the batten, aligning it with the lines that you formed in Step 2. Then, use the edge of the tile as a guide to place the next row along the line. If the tile is lippage, its edge will be higher or lower than its neighbors. Keeping the tiles square to each other is essential for a smooth and professional-looking result, so use a framing square or A-square to check the edges of your tiles against each other every few rows. 

Apply the thin-set adhesive, working in 2-by-3-foot sections, using a notched trowel to spread the adhesive. Then, press each tile firmly into the mortar, aligning it carefully with both the horizontal and vertical lines in your grid. As you press, the adhesive flattens, filling in the spaces between the ridges created by the trowel. 

Once the first row is in place, continue spreading and setting the tiles in 2-by-3-foot sections. As you go, hold a straightedge alongside the edges of each tile to make sure that the row of tiles is straight and level. If you haven’t done this before, you might need a few practice runs to get the hang of it.