Tiling And Plasterboard: 12 Things You Should Know

Tiling is an excellent option to protect the surface of your walls. And for tiling, plasterboard is one of the ideal bases to install porcelain, ceramic or another type of tiles. It is well-known for its strength and durability and is more popular than drywalls. The installation of tiles over plasterboard is straightforward, and following some simple steps can lead to a beautiful result.

Tiling And plasterboard, some helpful tips for a great result:

When you are planning to add tiles to your plasterboard wall, use the following tips for a great result:

● Plaster Testing:

Not every surface can support tiles properly. It’s an essential pre-installation step to thoroughly check the walls to ensure you avoid unnecessary damage to the tiles and surface. Poke the plaster wall surface gently. If the wall crumbles on contact, it means the wall is too fragile.

● Surface Preparation:

You can install tiles on bare and even painted plasterboards.Sand and scrape off any loose paint to allow for proper adhesion. Patch any cracks or holes in the plaster and let it completely dry. Avoid using the tile setting adhesive or drywall joint compound directly to patched plasterboard walls.

● Tile Adhering:

Tiles stick to a wall with the use of an adhesive layer. The adhesive used is either traditional mortar that uses cement or epoxy, or resin-based glue, depending on the type of tiles you’re using. It’s preferable to tile using the thin-set method, as suggested by Ed Sarviel in”Construction Estimating Reference Data”. Thin-set tiling includes a thin glue or mortar layer where the tiles are pressed into.

● Obstacles:

A glue adhesive is highly recommended by professionals rather than a cement-based mortar. Portland mortars and cement-based mortars are commonly used for tile installation, but they don’t work with plaster. For the cement to grip the surface, it needs to be rough, which is the case with plasterboards; therefore, glue works best.  Many products are specifically designed for tiling on plasterboard walls, but any tile setting adhesive designed for thin-set use will work.

Do I Need to Tape Plasterboard Joints Before Tiling?

In general, you should reinforce every internal corner and/or board joint using a suitable alkaline joint tape before you tile over it.

Prime the plasterboard using an acrylic-based primer, such as “BAL Primer (undiluted)”, with a roller or brush, and let it dry before you apply any powered adhesives. Applying a thin coat of adhesive onto the alkaline joint tape is also suggested. You don’t have to prime the tape if you’re choosing a ready-mixed adhesive, such as “BAL White Star Plus” or “BAL All-Star”.

Moisture Resistant Plasterboard Tiling, where should it be used?

In general, moisture Resistant Plasterboards are highly suitable for tiling in wet areas like the bathroom, kitchen, or other humid and moisture areas.

Moisture-resistant plasterboard is an excellent surface for tiling in high humidity areas, such as kitchens, washrooms, and bathrooms.These boards are made with water repellent additives in their core. This ensures that the boards are best suited for intermittent moisture applications.

Use plasterboard for tiling, some useful tips:

In general, gypsum board/plasterboard is an excellent choice for tiling. Ensure that the frame is strong enough, and clean it thoroughly. Use in wet environments moisture resistant plasterboard.

Plasterboard is made of a specific substrate that makes them the perfect base for tiling. Make sure that the frame can support the expected load. You can install tiles on bare and even painted plasterboards. For proper adhesion, sand and scrape off any loose paint. If you see cracks or holes, repair them, and let them completely dry. Reinforce internal corners and board joints using a suitable alkaline joint tape

Plasterboard Sealer for Tiling, do I need to use it?

In general, most professionals advise sealing the substrate before tiling when used in a more moisture environment. It is not advised to use PVA to prime the plasterboard.

The sealer helps to protect the more porous plasterboard against moisture. Most plasterboard manufactures also recommend priming. Priming helps to bound the tile adhesive to the substrate. Keep in mind that not all drywall sealers are primers, and not all primers are sealers. A primer is used to improve the bonding of the adhesive. A sealer is used to add a protective layer against moisture.

Should I use PVA on my plasterboard?

In general, do not use PVA on plasterboard. PVA keeps the tile adhesive from adequately bonding with the substrate. This can result in a weak mechanical grip and increases the chance that tiles will come loose.

If you do plan to use PVA to prime your plasterboard, you can best use diluted PVA. Like a “mist coat” instead of a sizing solution. Mix half of PVA and half of water and use a brush to apply this mixture to plasterboard surfaces. Because of the earlier explained adhesive issue is a good idea to test the diluted PVA and tile adhesive first on a small area. When it is strong enough, use it on the rest of the wall.

Proper preparation of the plasterboard before applying the diluted PVA helps to achieve a good result. Use the following steps:

  • Step 1: Remove any paint that isn’t firm or tightly fixed in place.
  • Step 2: Fill any holes and cracks using sandpaper to fix any uneven areas.
  • Step 3: Clean any present dust or heavy particles.

Preparing Plasterboard for Tiling, these are some valuable tips:

Check that the plasterboard is strong enough for the tiles, strengthen where needed. Prime plasterboard if it is older or used in a moisture environment, or use tanking. If you need to work on a complex area with odd corners or multiple pipes, make a mold from paper.

Before tiling on plasterboard, just like any other surface, preparation is key:

● Screwing Plasterboard:

Screw the plasterboard to the stud work or joints to create a surface for tile installation. You can even utilize bare brick or an existing damaged wall, just patching it with plasterboard where necessary —  here, you need to apply lumps of board adhesive on the plasterboard back and stick it directly to the brick wall.

● Priming the Plasterboard:

If you plan to tile in a more moisture environment, or the plasterboard is older, apply an acrylic-based primer. For a wet environment using moisture-resistant plasterboard is a better alternative. You can apply the primer with a brush or roller on the plasterboard. Let it dry before moving onto the adhesive.

● Applying Tile Adhesive:

Use a notched trowel to apply the tile adhesive. Spread the adhesive evenly in small portions. Avoid spreading the adhesive all at once as it dries quickly. It takes about 20 minutes for freshly applied adhesive to dry, so it’s better to work in small sections.

● Place Tiles on Freshly Applied Adhesive:

As mentioned, it’s suggested to place tiles on the surface as soon as you have applied the adhesive. To ensure equal space between the tiles, use spacers. When working on walls, it’s best to use spacers with a 2mm or higher height.

● Complex locations:

Use a tile cutter where necessary to fit tiles to the edges and around pipes. You must measure the tile before cutting and use the machine according to the instructions. If you find a complex location with odd lines or multiple pipes, make a mold from strong paper. The paper should have the same size as the tiles. Check that you can place the paper to the exact location, so you know that after cutting the tile, it can be mounted as well. When cutting the tile with a tile cutter, do not wear loose clothes.

Tanking Plasterboard Before Tiling, when do I need this?

Tanking is a waterproof barrier system. It’s used to protect sensitive substrates and used for tiling in wet areas, such as kitchens, showers, etc.

Tanking kits contain a grey flexible waterproof coating, surface primer, super-strong polyester matting to support seams in joints all around the wall junctions.

Tiling Directly on Plasterboard, is this a good idea?

In general, you can tile directly on the plasterboard. Ensure that the plasterboard is mounted correctly and strong enough to bear the weight of the tiles. Use a primer to increase the bounding of the tile adhesive.

For priming, it is best to use an acrylic-based primer. After it is dry, you can apply the tile adhesive to the surface and add the tiles as you normally would.

Tiling on Moisture Resistant Plasterboard

In general, you can tile directly onto moisture-resistant plasterboard. In most cases priming, it is advised to increase the bonding of the tile adhesive.

If you plan to use plasterboard in moisture locations, it is advised to use moisture-resistant plasterboard. There is a wide range of options. These types of boards are made waterproof with an additional sealant.

Tiling on Plasterboard Walls, use these steps for a great result:

In general, you can install tiles directly on plasterboard walls. Ensure that the plasterboard is mounted correctly and can bear the weight of the tiles. Use a suitable primer to increase the bounding of the tile adhesive.

Use the following steps to tile on a plasterboard wall:

● Step 1: Prep for Tiling onto Plasterboard

The plasterboard wall should be securely fixed, dry and stiff, with no bulging fixings. It should be at least 12.5mm thick when fixed to battening or timber framing and fixed as per the manufacturers’ instructions. Plasterboard can support a maximum of 32kg/m², which is the general weight of a ceramic tile that is 12.5mm thick.

● Step 2: Dry Tile the Layout

You should conduct a dry test by placing tiles on the wall without any adhesive to determine how you want to position them— either the center of a tile or the joint between two tiles should be positioned in the center of the wall. Try to choose a layout that keeps cutting tiles to a minimum. Make a gauge rod using a length of straight timber. Leaving a gap of at least 2mm wide between each tile, mark out the width of the tiles along with the timber. Draw a line along the top of the tile at the lowest point of the wall. This is where the tiles are being fixed, such as the work surface, skirting board, etc. Nail a batten below this line, and make sure that it’s level using a spirit level. This batten gives you the placement for the first line of tiles. Mark the center point along the width of the wall and draw a vertical line at this center point. Use a spirit level and draw a vertical line along with the marked center point. Start tiling at the center point.

● Step 3: Tile Cutting

You can cut the tiles using a slide cutter or nippers. To make the job easier, try using an electric wet cutter. Use a cardboard template for intricate cuts to achieve more accurate results.

● Step 4: Fix the Wet Areas

In areas that will be subject to moisture, such as showers and wetrooms, it is advised to tank the plasterboard before you start tiling.

● Step 5: Application

Spread the adhesive onto the wall with a notched wall trowel held at a 45­° angle. This creates ribs where the tiles should be pushed into with a firm twisting action. Apply adhesive in small areas and discard any adhesive that begins to dry or ‘skin over’. Areas subject to moisture must have a solid layer of adhesive beneath the tiles. Use a damp sponge and wipe off any adhesive residue from the tile surface before the adhesive sets. Then allow the adhesive to dry fully.

● Step 6: Grout

Clean out any dirt, adhesive, and dust from between the tiles, and allow the joints to dry. Mix the grout as per the instructions on the packaging. Use a soft rubber grout float at 45° and sweep the mixed grout across the tiles diagonally. Make sure that the grout is pushed fully into the joints. Clean any grout from the surface of the tiles and let it dry. Use a damp sponge (NOT wet) and clean off excess grout by wiping across the tiles diagonally. After the tiles are dried, buff the surface using a dry cloth. You can use washing-up detergent mixed with warm water to clean excessive grout within 24 hours of grouting.

● Additional Tip:

Seal the tiles fully using a proprietary sealer before grouting, as it can stain your tiles.

Tiling on Skimmed Plasterboard, some useful tips:

In general, tiles can be applied directly on skimmed plasterboards. But skimmed plasterboards are more suited for carrying lightweight tiles, as they’re not as strong as normal plasterboard. Priming the skimmed plasterboard will improve the bonding of the tile adhesive.

Ensure that the skimmed plasterboard is correctly mounted and can hold the weight of the tiles. Tiles are heavier than you might think, as you can notice when you have to move them into the house. If you are unsure about the strength, it is advised to add an additional layer of plasterboard to increase the strength.

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