How to Lay Subway Tile

Subway tile is a style that was made popular by the New York subways about a hundred years ago. It has since become a popular style in homes. Although it fell out of popularity for many decades, it has recently become a fashionable retro option for tiling kitchens and bathrooms. The tiles are rectangular in shape and normally come in dimensions of 3 by 6 inches, though other options are also available. There is also a large choice of difference colors. If you have some degree of experience with any other kind of tiling, you should have no difficulty installing subway tiles.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Subway tiles
  • Tile adhesive
  • Tile spacers
  • Trowel
  • Grout float
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile nippers
  • Grout
  • Tile sealer
  • Measuring tape
  • Bubble level

Step 1 – Prepare the Surface

Preparing the surface correctly is essential to make sure that the tiles adhere properly. The surface that you begin with should be completely smooth and clean. If there are any holes in the walls, these should be patched up first and then sanded down so that the surface of the repaired area is flush with the surroundings. Before you begin installing the tiles, determine the thickness of the grout lines and the pattern in which the tiles are going to be installed. Plan the layout beforehand. When you start installing the tiles, you should begin from the center, working outwards if tiling a floor and from the top when installing tiles on a wall.

Step 2 – Install the Tiles

Use the notched end of the trowel; cover the smooth, prepared surface of the wall with a layer of adhesive. Only work with a relatively small area at once, otherwise the adhesive may start to dry before you install the tiles. Set the first tile in place, twisting it slightly so that it adheres to the surface. As you install the remaining tiles, use tile spacers to maintain the grout lines and to stop the tiles from slipping. Wipe away any excess adhesive as you work, before it has a chance to set on the surfaces of the tiles. When it comes to fitting tiles around electrical or plumbing fittings, cut them with tile nippers and tile cutters as required. Leave the tiles overnight to adhere to the wall properly.

Step 3 – Grout the Tile

The grout should only be applied once the tiles have properly adhered to the wall. Remove the tile spacers at this point. Mix the grout as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a grout float, holding it at a 45-degree angle, to spread the grout into the gaps between the tiles. Pack the grout tightly into these joints and wipe away any excess as you work. Use a slightly wet sponge. Allow the grout to dry and wipe over the tiles with a cloth. Finally, apply a layer of appropriate tile sealer over the entire surface of the wall or floor once the grout has dried.