Tile gauge or tile rod
Make a gauge rod using an old offcut of 2″ x 1″ wood or similar, which should be reasonably straight.
Layout several tiles on the floor, spaced as they will be when fixed. Either use plastic spacers, matchsticks or the lugs on the tiles themselves to allow for the grout between each tile.
Place the rod next to these and carefully mark the line of each join.
You now have a suitable rod for marking out tile positions.
Setting out plain Walls
Measure the height of the wall and divide by two.
Mark this height on the wall.
Using the gauge, lightly mark tile joins from this line down to the bottom.
If the size of the last tile will be less than half a tile, move the original starting point up or down by half a tile and repeat the process. If the size of the last tile is greater than half a tile, keep these marks.
Horizontal levels and tile battens
Using a spirit level or water level, draw a horizontal line across the wall for the bottom of the lowest row of whole tiles.
Secure a batten to the wall along this horizontal line to serve as a base from which to tile.
Vertical tile guides
Now measure the width of the wall, mark the centre and repeat the laying out process horizontally.
Again, if you are left with less than half a tile at the ends, move the original mark by half a tile in either direction.
Mark the tile joins from your gauge rod and, using a spirit level, mark a vertical line for the middle tile.
Tiling part walls
When tiling is to be only over part of the wall, consideration will need to be given to the position and size of the ‘edge’ tiles.
If, for example, only the bottom half of the walls are to be tiled in a room, it will be preferable to finish with a whole tile at the top and setting out will need to allow for this.
Tiling around worktops and baths
When tiling above kitchen worktops, or around a bath, it is usually desirable to have a whole row top and bottom if possible. However, you may also need to take into account the position of items such as windowsills, so that narrow strips of tile are avoided as much as possible.
Tiling at windows and doors
Again, consider the effect of different starting points on the layout of tiles around the window or door.
Evenly sized tiles either side of the window will look best, but the merits of this will need to be weighed up against the need for evenly sized tiles at either end of the wall.
If the reveals of the window or door are more than a whole tile, the cut tiles should be fixed at the outside edge with the adhesive.
Plan tile layout first
When tiling a whole room, the layout should be worked out before fixing any tiles with adhesive.
This can be done by considering one wall at a time, but the baseline must be worked out for the room as a whole.
Tile levels around windows and doors
When establishing this baseline for the wall tiles, consider the levels of windowsills, door heads and other items such as bath top and worktop levels.
Probably the most effective method to ensure good results is to draw each of the walls to scale on paper and to map out the alternatives.
When setting out a whole room, ensure that the horizontal line around the base ties up at each of the corners before fixing the base batten. Tiling which steps up or down at the corner can look awful.
Draw each wall to scale on paper.
Using the same scale, draw out a grid of tiles on tracing paper or acetate.
By holding this grid over your scale drawings, you can assess the best position for the tiles.
Remember though, that the horizontal lines will need to be matched up on all the walls!