How to Apply Adhesive

While the concept of fitting tiles to a wall may seem like an intimidating DIY prospect to newbies, you may actually find it to be a very simple and rewarding experience. By following these simple-to-understand tips, you can apply adhesive to a wall in a jiffy, and to a high standard

What you will need

  • Your choice of tile adhesive
  • Tile trowel
  • Your choice of tiles
  • Vertical and horizontal wooden battens
  • Screws and a screwdriver or drill
  • Spirit level


Take a pencil and mark out the area you wish to tile, measuring it to ensure that you do not have to cut tiles if it is not necessary. Also take note of any obstacles you may have to negotiate, such as wall fixings and plug sockets; any exposed wiring could prove problematic. Any areas that have gouges or holes ought to be patched up prior to applying adhesive to ensure the job goes as smoothly as possible. When choosing your adhesive, make sure it works with the surface you wish to apply it to.

1)   Fix the battens to the wall

When you have marked out your favoured tile positioning by using a spirit level both vertically and horizontally, get two pieces of perfectly straight batten - preferably made of wood - and fix it to the wall using either nails or screws with plugs. It is better to use screws as it is sturdier to support tiles until the adhesive sets.

2)  Applying the tile adhesive

Before mixing your tile adhesive, you ought to calculate how much you will need for the job as per the manufacturer's instructions. The trick is to not make too much at any one time, just enough to cover one or two square metres at a time. When you've got the amount you need, apply the adhesive to the wall using a tile trowel, ensuring that you get an even coat. Be sure to use the teeth on the tile trowel to create ridges in the adhesive by holding the trowel at a 45 degree angle; this will provide the surface with greater traction for the tiles. You should aim to apply the adhesive to an area of around two and a half tiles wide and an inch higher than the tile's height.

3)   Fitting the first ceramic tile

From here, you should move relatively quickly to install the first tile; taking your time will only let the adhesive set. Be sure to sit the tile into the corner of the battens before pushing it against the wall firmly in a twisting motion to ensure you remove any air pockets. Place your spirit level vertically on the tile to ensure it is straight before moving onto the next placement.