How to lay Tiles

Laying of tiles is one of the most important part of finishing work, as simple as it seems there are basic steps to follow.

In Nigeria, we imports tiles and most are coming from China and Spain, others from Italy, Turkey etc

For a fairly good tile it is preferable to use Spanish tile. Most tiles imported from China seems to be of lower quality to the Spanish and some of them are not of equal sizes which will affect the outcome when finally installed on walls and floors.

Tiles for walls are different from the ones for floors and one shouldn’t be used for the other except in rare occasions for decorative purposes on walls.

Level surface is required for both though they shouldn’t be smooth to allow easy bonding of cement and tiles .


You have to get your plumb handy, place  the cement/sand on the surface of  the walls and make sure the wall is not painted with oily paint for an old building going through some some renovations.

If the wall have very smooth surface or oily paint you’ll need to peel the paint off, ask your tiler to get you the chenmical to use for it.

After you’ve done the wall screeding and checked with plumb, soak all the tiles you need in water for sometimes minimum of 30 minutes, if not when you apply cement all the tiles will break because of the reaction between cement and the dry tiles.

Nail a tie rod or slim wood measured from the ground for about 100ml or 150ml round the room, make sure the wood is properly placed horizontally, you need the plumb to establish that.

You have to measure some distance from ground to accommodate the screed and floor tile after. Then rub each tile with cement, cement must cover the entire face of tile to avoid holes that may ultimately leads to tiles piulling off from walls later. Cement slurry is prepared with ordinary cement and water.

You also needs to buy spacers , they are tiny cross like plastics to help in spacing tiles evenlyAfter plaing the first row of tiles, when you are placing the next row separate them with these spacers, continuer this in other rows until you get to the ceiling  or as the design demands.

After you may have done the floor then you can remove the wood that was the base for wall and now complete the wall tile.

To do the floor, use mix of cement and sharpsand as screed to get an even level . Is good to do this when the door has been placed to achieve a level that will flush perfectly with the base of the door i.e the base of the door is now taking as the tile floor level.

Getting floor done also requires establishing straight lines with tiles, for a room you can establish the center and take a point convenient before you start laying directly on the screed. Tiles are most often in perfect  square so it may expose any error in walls of building so is better the effects of error are rather shared equally along the edges of walls.


As was mentioned earlier floor tiles are different from wall tiles. Most wall tiles are ceramic and are mostly used in kitchen and toilet , they are easily cleaned and helps to reduce stains because of their make.

They also comes in different sizes in millimeters like 100mm x 100mm, 200mm x 200mm,150mm x 150mm, 400mm x 300mm etc. The number of tiles you require depends on the size of the area being tilled and you must allow for 10% extra for breakages/wastages and spares for future replacements .

For floors is good you use the ones that are antislippery with a considerable gripping property.

The stairs must have better gripping value so thread tiles are often used.

To calculate the area to be tiled, for a wall multiply the width by the height of the wall, and for a floor area , multiply the length by breadth to know the total square area, fortunately tiles are also sold in per square meters in markets so is easy to know the quantity you need. Have in mind the pieces of tiles are the lower the numbers that will make a square meter.

After laying tiles you can apply coloured cement along the spaces between , allow the work to dry and then clean and wash the entire surface. You can also polish some tiles if need be.

For a broken tile remove the grout or cement around the tile ,shatter the broken tile into pieces safely, scrape the cement under before replacing with a fresh one, use flat wood to beat into place.


An architect with decades of experience


  1. The information you posted in this website are very useful to so many people.

    God will continue to give you the strength to carry on. (Amen).


    Shade Olayemi (Owonikoko)

  2. Please i will like u guys to give us lectures on to do UNDERPINNING in a building. Thanks so much for all ur infos. May the lord continue to strenghten u guyz

  3. Hi

    1. when laying Chinese tiles always level a gap for grouting. Many people don’t like it, but a) china tiles can vary in size, this allows for it, other wise you waste a lot or you end up with a curve in the line, b) if a tile breaks it’s easier to remove with out breaking the adjacent tiles, c)do not dot and dab, speed the tile mixture evenly first USE a comb to ridge the mixture then lay your tiles, you not get any cracked edges, d, level your room first ideal use a laser.
    2. in your picture of laying concrete German style’ ALWAYS put your re-bars on a min of 50mm spacer, not on the floor like the pic, all re-bars that’s exposed to the weather, on floors or pillars & beams should have a min of 50mm of concrete between the steel and outside, on internal walls a min of 35 mm can be used.

    Remember it takes as nearly as long to do a bad job as to do a good job, preparation is the key.

  4. i have learnt a lot. Atleast knwing the sizes os f tiles and aswel how to calculate the M2 (sqaure meter) when laiying.
    Thank u sir!

  5. Very Instructive information may God continoue to increase you in wisdom!!!! appreciate ur good work thumb up to you guys.

  6. I really appreciate your efforts in this educative write up. God will continue to give you more knowledge and wisdom because its really helps me

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