For a tub or shower enclosure, we recommend that you start with the back wall first, unless you are also tiling the ceiling, in which case you would start there.
Spreading the Adhesive
Use waterproof mastic that will hold up well under moist conditions. This is very important. If you are applying wall tile in areas not exposed to water you can use a mastic that is not waterproof. All the rest of the tiling techniques still apply. Epoxy adhesives are also available but their drying times can be difficult to control. They are more appropriate in areas where high impact strength darkroom perhaps.
Before you apply the adhesive, carefully read the manufacturer's instructions for drying time so you don't spread any more than you can work with before it sets up; usually you want to spread enough mortar for 30-40 minutes work.
Spread the adhesives on the wall using the flat side of the trowel. Once you've applied adhesive on a wide area, flip the trowel around to the notched side, run it at a 45º angle to create wide grooves. The peak of the adhesive should be as thick or nearly as thick as the thickness of the tile. The valley will only show a thin film. When applying the adhesive, be careful not to completely obscure your working lines. Also, be sure to leave blank spaces for the installation of any accessories you want to install.
Laying the Tile
Set the first tile along one side of the vertical and horizontal working lines. Use a gentle twisting motion, but don't slide it into place as you could move a lot of the adhesive to one side. If you are working with a batten make sure that the tiles are firmly seated on it.
Without the batten, make sure to line the top edge of the tile along the horizontal line. Use shims under the tiles along the lip of the tub to hold the tile up accurately along the line. Lay the tiles row by row, always keeping a watchful eye for correct alignment along the working lines. Tap them with a rubber mallet and a block of padded wood as you go.
Spacing the Tile
For spacing, most standard 4 1/8-inch square tiles have small lugs on the sides which act as spacers and then are later covered by the grout. If your tiles do not, you can use finish nails for small grout lines and for larger grout lines use small molded spacers made for this purpose.
Go back to Part 4 or click to read Part 6.