Do I need a tiler? All you need to know about tiling

Tilers are responsible for all aspects of the tile laying process in a number of different environments. These can range from domestic kitchens and bathrooms to industrial locations, such as shops, offices and hotels. Another common area of their work is in swimming pool construction. Some tilers will specialise in certain areas, such as marble fixing, restoration, or underwater tile repair. Others will specialise in mosaic tiles, thus their work contains an artistic element in the laying process.

When would I need a tiler?

A tiler is needed whenever you require tiles to be laid. Virtually all tilers work on both walls and floors, and they are able to work with a variety of materials, from ceramics to slate. If the job is only a small one then just a single tiler is needed. However with larger projects, for example tiling industrial premises and laying swimming pool tiles, a group of tilers will be needed.

The tile laying process

Tilers have to be able to perform all parts in the tile laying process, thus their training is often long and extensive.
  • Initially they have to measure the area so that they can calculate how many tiles and how much adhesive will be needed. It is essential that this is accurate as any mistakes made here would cost the tiler.
  • Next all the tiles need to be cut to the correct size and shape. Hand tools or machinery will be used depending on the size and width of the tiles, and the tiler will do this himself or herself. Again it is vital that this is done correctly so that no loss is incurred.
  • The tiler will then lay the tiles out in the designated areas to check that all calculations and cuttings have been done correctly, and that the tiles fit in place.
  • If the area which is to be tiled needs any restoration work then the tiler will remove or repair any surface before the rest of the process is performed.
  • An adhesive (this may be ready-mixed or the tiler may make it himself or herself using sand and cement) is then used to level out the surface, and will also fix the tiles in place.
  • When this has partly dried the tiler will then carefully and precisely lay the tiles onto the adhesive so that they are set in place. The tiler uses plastic crosses to ensure that all the tiles are equidistance apart and to make sure that they do not move out of place while the adhesive is setting.
  • Once the adhesive is completely dry, this may take several hours, the tiler will then use a grout to fill in the spaces between the tiles. They will then wash the tiles to make sure that no adhesive or grout has left any marks, and then leave the grout to dry.

What qualifications does a tiler need to have?

Currently tilers do not have to have a specific qualification in order to practice which can make finding a good tiler a difficult process. Some colleges offer the Construction Industry Train Board (CITB) Intermediate Construction Award (Tiling) so this may be a qualification that a tiler will say they have. NVQs and SVQs are also available in Wall and Floor Tiling, but most tilers will have been trained by being a construction apprentice. However, by 2010 the government is requiring that all workers within the construction industry must hold a Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) card, or they must be registered with an associated scheme. To be eligible for the card the worker must possess a NVQ or a SVQ, or a satisfactory corresponding qualification, and have passed a health and safety assessment. Each card has a grade which is given according to the experience and qualifications of the worker. This will enable you to be able to choose the standard of your tiler which has been calculated against specific requirements.

Where can I find a tiler?

There are a number of sites on the internet which provide details of tilers, one of the best of these is Place4tilers. The Tile Association (TTA) offers the most comprehensive directory of tilers on the internet and all those listed are members of TTA. This site is especially useful if you are trying to find a specialist tiler, product or tile.

How much will it cost?

You will be expected to pay for all tiles and adhesives, thus the cost of these will depend on the type of tiles which you use and the quality of the adhesive and grout. Obviously the size of the area that is to be tiled will affect the cost of these also. Some tilers will expect you to obtain the tiles and adhesive yourself. The cost for the labour of the tiler will obviously depend on the size of the area that is to be tiled, the average price for a tiler (outside London) is £35 per m2. However, the detail which is required from the work will often manipulate the price also, thus if small, intricate tiles are used then the laying process will be harder and thus will cost more. If any restoration or repair work is needed to be done then this will also manipulate the price of the tiler’s labour. In general, the cost of labour is job specific.

What should I ask the tiler?

  • How much will this job cost?
  • Will you provide adhesives and grout?
  • How long will the process take?
  • Have you used this type of tile before? (If you are using a specific material)
  • Do you think any work needs to be done to the surface before the tiles are laid?

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