Tiling On Plaster, 25 Things You Should Know

Explore the intricacies of tiling on plaster in our latest blog post! Get ready to dive deep into home improvement as we discuss crucial tips, tricks, and techniques for achieving a flawless finish on your plaster surfaces. I will cover everything from material selection to proper installation methods, ensuring you can easily transform any space.

Tiling on plaster:

Tiling on plaster is a popular and versatile option for home improvement projects. Essential steps include preparing the plaster surface by assessing its condition, cleaning and priming it, choosing suitable tiles and adhesives, and carrying out the tiling process with the right tools and techniques. By following these steps, homeowners can achieve a professional finish that enhances their living spaces.

Tiling on plaster can seem overwhelming, but with the right know-how, it’s achievable for any DIY enthusiast. Continue reading as we share valuable knowledge and insider tips, guiding you through a successful tiling project to transform any space.


Installation of Tiles on Plastered Surfaces

Tiling on plaster is popular for homeowners looking to improve their living spaces. It is a versatile and practical method used in various rooms, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom. We will explore the essential steps, tools, and tips to successfully tile on plaster.

Preparing the Plaster Surface

Before you start tiling, it is crucial to prepare the plaster surface. A well-prepared plaster surface will help achieve a smooth and flawless tiling finish.

– Assessing the Condition of the Plaster

First, examine the existing plaster to ensure it is strong and free from damage.

Check for any cracks, dampness, or loose plaster, as these issues need to be addressed before tiling.

  1. Cracks: Small cracks in plaster can be filled with a suitable filler to create a smooth surface. In case of larger cracks or damage, re-plastering might be necessary.
  2. Dampness: Damp plaster should be left to dry completely before tiling. Installing tiles on damp plaster can result in loosening and falling off over time.
  3. Loose plaster: If the plaster is unstable or coming away from the wall, it needs to be removed and replaced.

– Cleaning the Plaster Surface

The next step is to clean the plaster surface thoroughly. Remove any dust, grease, or debris that may affect the adhesion of the tiles. Wash the surface with mild soap and water, and then allow it to dry completely.

– Priming the Plaster Surface

Priming the plaster is essential to ensure proper adhesion of the tiles. A primer helps seal the porous plaster surface and provides a suitable base for the adhesive.

  1. Choose a suitable primer for plaster surfaces specifically. Consult with a local hardware store for recommendations.
  2. Apply the primer using a brush or roller, covering the entire surface evenly.
  3. Allow the primer to dry completely as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Choosing the Right Tiles and Adhesive for Plaster

The choice of tiles and adhesive plays a crucial role in the success of tiling on plaster.

– Tiles

Selecting the right type and size of tiles can significantly impact the final result. Consider the following factors while choosing the tiles:

  1. Room and usage: Choose tiles suitable for the specific room and its purpose.
  2. Tile weight: Lighter tiles are recommended for plaster walls as they put less stress on the surface. The maximum weight recommended for plaster walls is 20kg per square meter.
  3. Tile size: Small to medium-sized tiles work best on plaster walls as they distribute the weight more evenly.

– Adhesive

Select a tile adhesive compatible with both the plaster surface and the chosen tiles. Always check the manufacturer’s guidance and recommendations for the best adhesive, as using an incorrect one can result in poor adhesion and inability to hold the tiles.

Tiling Process

Once the surface is prepared, and the materials are chosen, it is time to start tiling on the plaster.

– Tools and Equipment

To properly install tiles on plaster, the following tools and equipment are needed:

  1. Tile adhesive
  2. Notched trowel
  3. Tile spacers
  4. Spirit level
  5. Tile cutter
  6. Grout
  7. Grout float
  8. Sponge and clean water

– Measuring and Marking

Before starting, measure and mark the area to be tiled. This helps ensure the tiles will be evenly aligned.

  1. Find the center point of the wall and mark it with a pencil.
  2. Draw horizontal and vertical guidelines from the center point using a spirit level.

– Applying the Tile Adhesive

  1. Mix the tile adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Spread a layer of adhesive on the plaster surface using a notched trowel.
  3. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle and create ridges in the adhesive for better adhesion.

– Installing the Tiles

  1. Start placing the tiles from the center of the wall, following the guidelines.
  2. Press each tile firmly into the adhesive, using a slight twisting motion.
  3. Use tile spacers to maintain a consistent gap between the tiles for grouting.
  4. Check the level of the tiles regularly with a spirit level, making adjustments as needed.
  5. Cut the tiles as necessary to fit around any obstacles using a tile cutter.
  6. Leave the adhesive to set as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

– Grouting the Tiles

  1. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Push the grout into the gaps between the tiles using a grout float.
  3. Remove any excess grout using the edge of the grout float.
  4. Use a damp sponge to clean the surface of the tiles, removing any remaining grout.
  5. Allow the grout to dry completely as per the manufacturer’s instructions.


Tiling on plaster can be a rewarding and value-adding home improvement project. By following the proper preparation steps, choosing suitable tiles and adhesives, and applying careful installation techniques, you can achieve a professional finish that enhances your living space.

Is it Possible to Install Tiles Directly onto Plaster?

Tiling directly onto plaster is a topic that often sparks debates among professionals and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. While some argue that tiling onto plaster is a-okay, others caution against it due to potential issues that may arise.

In this article, we will explore both sides of the argument, as well as delve into the alternatives and best practices for tiling onto plaster surfaces.

Plaster: An Overview

Before we dive into the dos and don’ts of tiling on plaster, it’s important to understand what plaster is and its typical applications. Plaster is a mixture of lime, sand, and water applied to walls and ceilings as a protective and decorative coating.

Plaster can be applied directly onto brickwork or onto plasterboard.

It offers several advantages, including:

  • Smooth, attractive finish for paint or wallpaper
  • Fire-resistant and soundproofing qualities
  • Excellent base for tiles (depending on the type of tiles and condition of the plaster)

However, plaster also has its weaknesses. It can be prone to cracking and crumbling when subjected to moisture, movement, or shifting in the underlying structure.

Now that we have a basic understanding of plaster let’s discuss whether tiling directly onto it is a good idea.

Tiling Directly Onto Plaster: The Pros

There are several reasons why some people may choose to tile directly onto plaster:

  1. Time-saving: Tiling onto plaster is quicker than installing a tile backer board or plywood substrate, as you can skip the extra preparation steps.
  2. Cost-effective: By choosing to tile directly onto plaster, you can potentially save on the costs of additional materials and labor.
  3. Skill level: Tiling onto plaster is a relatively straightforward process, which makes it more accessible for DIY enthusiasts with limited experience.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Tiling directly onto plaster comes with risks, which we will discuss in the next section.

Tiling Directly Onto Plaster: The Cons

Despite the potential benefits of tiling onto plaster, there are some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of:

  1. Moisture sensitivity: Plaster is prone to moisture damage, which can cause it to crack, crumble, or expand. In areas with high humidity or water exposure (such as bathrooms), this can be a significant concern.
  2. Adhesion: Tiling onto a plaster surface can sometimes result in weak adhesion between the tiles and the wall or floor. This may lead to tiles becoming loose or falling off over time.
  3. Weight: Plaster may not support heavy tiles like large-format or natural stone tiles. In these cases, you may need to install a stronger substrate to ensure a stable and long-lasting installation.

With these risks in mind, it’s essential to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of your specific project before making a decision.

Important Considerations for Tiling Onto Plaster

If you decide to proceed with tiling directly onto plaster, there are several important factors you should consider to ensure a successful installation:

  1. Inspect the plaster: Before beginning installation, examine the plaster surface for any signs of damage or deterioration. These issues must be addressed before tiling if you notice any cracks, loose areas, or crumbling plaster.
  2. Surface preparation: Ensure the plaster is clean, dry, and free from contaminants that could interfere with adhesion. This may involve removing dust or dirt, scraping away loose paint or wallpaper, or applying a primer if necessary.
  3. Choose the right tile adhesive: When tiling onto plaster, it’s essential to use a flexible tile adhesive specifically designed for this purpose. This will help to accommodate any movement in the plaster and avoid potential issues with adhesion.
  4. Tile weight considerations: If you plan to use heavy tiles, consult a professional to determine if the plaster can support the weight or if a stronger substrate is required.
  5. Grouting and sealing: Properly grouting and sealing your tiles will help protect the plaster from potential moisture damage and ensure a lasting installation.

Alternatives to Tiling Directly Onto Plaster

For those who want to avoid the potential risks of tiling directly onto plaster, there are other options to consider:

  1. Tile backer boards: Installing a tile backer board over the plaster provides a stronger, more stable substrate that can better support the weight of tiles and resist moisture damage.
  2. Plywood: As an alternative to tile backer boards, you can install plywood over the plaster surface. This option is generally cheaper but may offer slightly less stability and moisture resistance.

In conclusion, whether or not you should tile directly onto plaster depends on various factors, such as the type and weight of the tiles, the condition of the plaster, and the specific requirements of your project.

Before deciding, weigh the pros and cons and consider the alternatives to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome. And if you’re ever in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional.

What are the steps to properly prepare plaster walls for tiling?

Preparing plaster walls for tiling is an essential step in achieving a flawless, long-lasting tile installation. Without proper preparation, you may experience uneven surfaces, crumbling, or moisture damage.

This article will discuss the necessary steps to prepare plaster walls for tiling, ensuring a smooth and durable result that will last for years.

Assessing the Condition of the Walls

Before you begin, it is important to assess the current condition of your plaster walls. This will help you determine any potential problems you may encounter during the preparation process and how to address them.

– Check for Moisture Damage

Exposure to water and humidity can cause plaster to soften and weaken over time. Inspect the area for signs of moisture damage by looking for discolored or stained areas, peeling paint, or a musty smell.

If you find any issues, make sure to address the source of the moisture before proceeding with the preparation process.

– Inspect for Cracks and Imperfections

Cracks, dents, and other imperfections in the plaster can compromise the integrity of the tile installation. Inspect the walls closely for any visible issues and mark them for repair.

If there are large cracks or unstable areas, you may need to consult a professional to determine the best course of action.

Repairing and Cleaning the Walls

Once you have assessed the condition of your plaster walls, it’s time to make any necessary repairs and clean the surface in preparation for tiling.

– Repairing Cracks and Imperfections

Small cracks and holes in the plaster can be easily repaired using a premixed patching compound or a mixture of water and plaster in Paris. Apply the mixture to the damaged area, filling any voids or cracks.

Use a putty knife or similar tool to smooth the surface and remove excess material. Allow the repaired area to dry completely before sanding it smooth.

– Cleaning the Surface

Before applying any adhesive or mortar, the plaster walls must be clean and free of dust, dirt, and debris. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the entire surface, removing dust or lose particles.

Use a mild detergent to clean the area thoroughly if there are any greasy or oily spots. Allow the walls to dry completely before proceeding.

Priming the Plaster Walls

Priming the plaster walls is an important step in the preparation process, as it helps to create a stable and consistent surface for the adhesive to bond properly. Use a high-quality, water-resistant primer designed for use on plaster surfaces.

Apply the primer evenly using a roller or brush, covering the entire surface. Allow the primer to dry per the manufacturer’s instructions before moving on to the next step.

Applying a Waterproofing Membrane (if Necessary)

Applying a waterproofing membrane to the plaster walls is highly recommended in areas such as bathrooms or kitchens, where there may be significant exposure to water or humidity. These membranes help to protect the plaster and tile installation against moisture, reducing the risk of damage from water infiltration.

Choose a waterproofing membrane product suitable for plaster surfaces and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Generally, the membrane must be applied in a uniform, consistent layer across the entire surface, with particular attention paid to corners, edges, and any areas of potential water exposure.

Preparing the Tile Layout

Before you tile the walls, it is a good idea to plan your layout and make any necessary adjustments.

– Measure the Walls and Tiles

Measure the dimensions of the walls accurately and calculate the number of tiles required for the project. It’s a good idea to purchase 10% of tiles to account for any potential breakage or mistakes during the installation process.

– Dry Fit the Tiles

Dry-fitting the tiles on the walls will help you visualize the final result and make any necessary adjustments before applying any adhesive. This can be especially helpful in areas with unique shapes, such as around windows, doors, or plumbing fixtures.

Preparing the Adhesive

Finally, after completing all the necessary preparation steps, you can mix the adhesive for your tile installation. Choose a high-quality tile adhesive recommended for plaster surfaces and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper mixing ratio and consistency.

With your plaster walls prepared and your tile layout planned, you are now ready to begin the tiling process, ensuring a successful and long-lasting installation.

1. Remove old tiles and clean the surface
Use a scraper or chisel to carefully remove any old tiles or wallpaper, and then clean the surface of the wall to remove any dirt and debris.
2. Fix any damage or imperfections in the wall
Use a plaster repair product to fill any holes or cracks in the wall. Sand the area smooth once it has dried.
3. Check the wall for moisture
If the wall feels damp, use a moisture-resistant primer to seal the surface and prevent future issues.
4. Prime the wall
Apply a high-quality primer to the entire wall, allowing it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Apply a waterproofing membrane (optional)
In high-moisture areas, apply a waterproofing membrane or liquid over the primer to prevent water damage.
6. Make leveling marks
Use a spirit level and pencil to create leveling marks on the wall to ensure the tiles are installed evenly.
7. Mix adhesive
Prepare the tile adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring the correct consistency.
8. Apply adhesive to the wall
Use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive evenly onto the wall, starting from the bottom corner and working upwards in small sections.
9. Install the tiles
Starting from the bottom, press each tile firmly into the adhesive, using spacers to maintain even gaps between the tiles. Follow your leveling marks and cut tiles as needed to fit the space.
10. Grout the tiles
Use a plaster repair product to fill any holes or cracks in the wall. Sand the area smoothly once it has dried.

What Materials Should Be Applied on Plaster Before Tiling?

Tiling over plaster may seem complicated, but it can be done accurately and effectively with the right preparation and techniques. We will look closer at the essential steps to prepare plaster for tiling, including what to put on plaster before tiling.

Assessing the Plaster’s Condition

Before you can begin tiling, it’s vital to assess the condition of the plaster. This will ensure a smooth, long-lasting tile installation.

– Age of the Plaster

Consider the age of the plaster before tiling. If the plaster is new, you should wait at least four weeks before tiling. This allows the plaster to dry and settle properly.

If the plaster is older, it’s essential to check for damage, crumbling, or any other issues that may impact the effectiveness of the tile adhesive.

– Surface Integrity

Check the surface of the plaster for cracks or damage. If you find any, these issues must be repaired before tiling. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to apply new plaster or use a patching compound to create a smooth surface.

– Moisture Levels and Dampness

High moisture levels or dampness in the plaster can affect tile adhesion. You must address any moisture-related problems like leaks or moisture penetration from external walls. It’s also crucial to ensure no plumbing issues, especially in areas such as the bathroom and the kitchen.

Clean the Surface

Dust and dirt particles on the plaster’s surface can impact the effectiveness of the tile adhesive. Before beginning the tiling process, cleaning the plaster thoroughly is necessary. Use a soft brush to remove dust, then wipe the surface with a damp cloth. Allow the surface to dry before moving on to the next step.

Sealing and Priming the Plaster

Sealing and priming the plaster is crucial to ensure proper adhesion of the tiles. The tiles may not stay in place without proper sealing and priming, leading to an unstable installation.

– Sealing the Plaster

Sealer is a vital product to apply on plaster before tiling to prevent moisture from being absorbed by the plaster. This process is known as ‘sizing.’ Use a plaster sealer or diluted PVA glue, following the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct water ratio to the product.

Apply the sealer to the plaster surface using a brush or roller, ensuring an even and thin coat. Allow the sealer to dry according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

– Priming the Plaster

Using a suitable primer is essential when tiling over plaster. A good quality acrylic-based primer should be used for compatibility with the tile adhesive. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct primer for the specific tile and adhesive.

Apply the primer evenly to the plaster’s surface, ensuring no gaps or overloaded areas. Allow the primer to dry completely per the manufacturer’s drying time recommendations.

Choosing the Right Tile Adhesive

Selecting the right tile adhesive is crucial for a successful and durable tiling installation. Different tiles and surfaces require specific adhesives to ensure proper bond strength.

For tiling over plaster, a flexible cement-based adhesive is typically recommended. This type of adhesive is suitable for most tile materials, including ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone. Ensure that the adhesive you choose is compatible with the plaster sealer and primer and the type of tile used.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing the tile adhesive to the correct consistency, and use a notched trowel to apply the adhesive to the plaster surface.

Final Thoughts

Preparing plaster for tiling is essential to ensure a successful tile installation. These crucial steps of assessing the plaster’s condition, cleaning the surface, sealing and priming the plaster, and choosing the right tile adhesive will lead to a professional and durable installation.

Remember to use quality products and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to achieve the best results.

Prepare the surface.
Apply a primer.
Prepare the adhesive.
Apply the adhesive to the wall.
Place the tiles on the adhesive.

What is the Process for Adhering Tiles to Plaster Surfaces?

Choose the Right Tile Adhesive

Choosing the right adhesive is the first and most important step in sticking tiles to plaster. I recommend using a ready-mixed tile adhesive specifically designed with plaster walls.

These adhesives typically have a strong bond and can handle the weight of tiles on vertical surfaces. Look for a product labeled as suitable for plaster, ceramic tiles, and moisture-resistant.

Prepare the Plaster Surface

Before you start, it is essential to prepare the plaster surface to ensure a strong bond. Follow these steps for the best results:

– Clean the Plaster

Remove dust, dirt, or grease from the plaster surface using mild detergent and warm water. Wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue, and let it dry thoroughly before proceeding.

– Sand the Surface

Lightly sand the plaster surface using 120-grit sandpaper. This will create a rough texture, allowing the adhesive to bond better. Be sure to remove any loose or flaking plaster, as this can compromise the quality of the bond.

– Repair any Damage

Fill any cracks or holes in the plaster with a suitable filler or plaster repair compound. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. Allow the repairs to dry completely, then sand smooth to create an even surface.

– Check for Moisture

Ensure there is no moisture on the surface of the plaster. Excess moisture can weaken the adhesive bond and cause tiles to slip. If the plaster is newly installed, allow it to dry for at least a week before tiling.

Lay Out Your Tiles

Before sticking the tiles to the plaster, plan your layout to avoid any mistakes or gaps.

– Measure the Wall

Measure the height and width of the plaster surface and calculate the number of tiles you will need. Remember that you will need to include space for grout joints between each tile.

– Dry Fit the Tiles

Lay the tiles out on a flat surface, such as the floor, to visualize your design and ensure you have enough tiles. This will also give you an idea of how the tiles will fit on the plaster surface and whether any cuts are required.

– Mark the Plaster

Using a level and a pencil, draw a horizontal line on the plaster to guide the first row of tiles. This will help ensure that the tiles are installed straight and level.

Applying the Adhesive

Now that the surface is prepared and you have planned your layout, it’s time to apply the tile adhesive.

– Mix the Adhesive

If you are using a powdered adhesive, mix it with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are using a ready-mixed adhesive, you can skip this step.

– Apply the Adhesive

Using a notched trowel, spread a thin, even layer of adhesive onto a small section of the plaster surface, starting at the bottom where you marked your guideline.

Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle and use the notched edge to create ridges in the adhesive. This ensures an even distribution of adhesive and helps the tiles bond firmly to the plaster.

Install the Tiles

With the adhesive applied, you’re ready to install the tiles.

– Press the Tiles into Place

Starting at the bottom of the wall, press the tiles firmly into the adhesive, ensuring they align with your guideline. Be sure to leave a gap between each tile for grout.

– Use Tile Spacers

To maintain consistent spacing between the tiles, use tile spacers. These small, plastic devices are inserted between each tile and help maintain a straight and consistent grout line.

– Cut Tiles as Needed

If you need to cut a tile to fit, use a tile cutter or wet saw to create a clean, precise edge. Measure and mark the tile before cutting to ensure accuracy.

– Allow Adhesive to Dry

Once all the tiles are installed, allow the adhesive to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically 24 hours.

Grouting the Tiles

After the adhesive has dried, you can apply the grout to finish the installation.

– Mix the Grout

Mix the grout with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

– Apply the Grout

Spread the grout across the tiles using a grout float, pressing it firmly into the joints. Be sure to remove any excess grout from the surface of the tiles with a damp sponge.

– Allow the Grout to Dry

Allow the grout to dry per the manufacturer’s instructions, typically 24 hours. Once the grout is dry, remove any remaining haze by wiping the tiles with a clean, damp cloth.


Sticking tile to plaster is not a complex task. Proper preparation, using the correct adhesive, and attention to detail during installation will ensure a successful and long-lasting result.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that will enhance the appearance and value of your space.

Ensure the wall is clean, dry, and free from flaking plaster.
Apply a suitable tile adhesive to the back of your tile using a notched trowel.
Press the tile firmly onto the plaster wall with a slight twisting motion to ensure good adhesion.
Use tile spacers to maintain even spacing between each tile.
Allow the adhesive to dry, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once the adhesive has dried, remove the tile spacers and apply grout to the joints using a rubber grout float.
Wipe away any excess grout with a damp sponge and allow it to dry.

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