6 Steps to Prepare a Wall for Tile

  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $0-50
What You'll Need
Ammonia-based cleaner
Paint scraper
Work gloves
Face mask
Spray bottle

Wall tile installation can be quite a good idea to decorate a room, such as your kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom. Keep in mind that you cannot just buy the tiles and install them directly. First you need to prepare the walls of the room. The techniques differ if the wall is already painted or not, but they still have the same function so that the tiles will not fall from the wall and that the adhesive will stick to the wall too.

Step 1 - Removing the Molding and Wallpaper

Remove any molding you may have on the wall. Make sure that you remove also the molding you have on the ceiling or on the floor, and even surrounding the doors and windows on the wall. Apart from the molding, you need to remove the wallpaper and if you have tiles that are fixed to the drywall, you must remove them as well.

Step 2 - Checking and Replacing the Drywall

Inspect the drywall carefully and see that it is fixed securely to the studs in the wall with nails or screws. If you are going to install tiles on a bathroom wall, you need to remove the drywall and replace it with backerboard that is resistant to water. That should be done to prevent any damage to the wall due to constant exposure to water. You must also do this if you are installing tiles in the shower or bathtub area.

Step 3 - Checking the Drywall and Backerboard

Before you start fixing the tiles, check the drywall or backer board and see that it has a smooth surface. Clean the surface thoroughly if you see any dirt on it, and smoothen it with sandpaper if you feel that it is necessary. On the other hand, if you think you should use sandpaper on drywall as well, you must take care of any holes or cracks in it first.

Step 4 - Dividing the Wall

Locate the wall’s center. You can measure the height of the wall as well as its width and then mark the spot where you see the intersections. Use a piece of chalk to mark the wall from top to bottom and from one side to the other, dividing the wall into 4 areas.

Step 5 - Cleaning the Painted Wall

If you want to install tiles on a wall that has already been painted, keep in mind that such a wall is not very suitable for wall tile installation. Clean the surface of the wall with an ammonia-based cleaner, then use a paint scraper to scratch away the paint from the wall. It is better if you focus most of your attention on the paint that is loose.

WARNING: Make sure your work area is properly ventilated, and put on work gloves and a face mask before working with ammonia products. They can be toxic to breathe in and stain clothing.

Step 6 - Sanding the Painted Wall

Once you have removed all the paint you could from the wall, it is time to smooth the surface with medium-grit sandpaper. Be very careful when you are sanding; you do not want to damage the wall. After you finish, use a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust.