Tackle your tiling troubles.

A tiling job at home can be as simple as replacing a cracked or loose tile, dealing with crumbling, mouldy grout or as complex as re-tiling a floor, applying a new splash back or taking on an entire shower wall.

I tackled all of the above in my latest renovation and I want to encourage you to have a crack a too. Here are my best tips to save on time, money and physio bills.

Match your existing tiles

If you’re tiles are damaged tiles you don’t need to start fresh and knock them all off the wall.  Take down the tile measurements, or if you have a loose one, take it into Bunnings or better yet a specialty tile shop.
Don’t worry if it’s not the exact same shade of canary yellow or butter cup blue.  There is a nifty tile paint (as long as you  are happy with white) you can use to make them all the same.  It covers everything, even mission brown tiles.

Size matters

Starting fresh? Go for big tiles. The smaller tiles are easier to do yourself but they are so fiddly and there is way more opportunity to get your lines out of whack.

Keep in mind you may need a second set of hands for some assistance with wall tiling when you do go big.

Allow for wastage

I thought I was being economical because I found 1.6m2 of someone’s excess floor tiles online and I needed 1.6m of floor tiles!  Wow, fate right?

I ended up having to buy four boxes of different tiles at Bunnings.  I hadn’t allowed for the wastage that occurs when you tackle tricky corner cuts and just to allow for generally being a novice.

Tiling tools and materials – what do you really need?

You’ve got the tile selection down but what about everything else?

Here is what is in my Tiling Toolbox.  I used the Davco and White Knight products in my first tiling job.   I am sure there are other brands but they worked really well for me.



  1. A grinder with a grinding disc specific for use on stone or masonry (or if you are doing a big area, hire a tile cutter from Bunnings for the day)
  2. A pencil
  3. A measurer (tape measure or ruler)
  4. A right angle triangle thingy (for really straight lines, not just lines you think are straight)
  5. A smaller level to make sure the tiles are not being laid unevenly
  6. A couple of big car washing sponges (you’ll chuck them at the end of the job)
  7. A scraper thingy to apply the glue
  8. A float (its like a rubber or wetsuit type material trowel thingy)
  9. Bucket



  1. Waterproofing sealant (its pink)
  2. Waterproofing goop – not its real name (its green)
  3. Waterproofing tape for the joints and nifty little corner things (get a few each of every kind of corner)
  4. Little + things you use to set the spacing of the tiles
  5. Tile adhesive – premix option that doubles as grout is great for small repairs otherwise its most economical to buy it in big tubs as a powder you mix up
  6. Tile grout – novices – keep your grout matchy matchy, contrasting grout (ie black grout on white subway tiles or white grout on charcoal tiles)


So how long does a tiling job take and was it worth it?

My tiling tasks:

  • Two shower walls, about 3m2.
  • Tiling fix up around the bath
  • Small splash back for new bathroom vanity
  • New tiled floor for the bathroom and toilet floors 3-4m2

Waterproofing – 1 hour to apply the waterproof compound including fiddly bits at edges but then at least another full 24hours to dry properly.

Tiling on the bathroom and shower walls –  2 days of labour (cutting and laying tiles) plus a day of drying time after I grouted.

Tiling of bathroom and toilet floors – 1 and a bit days(could never quite finish in a day!) cutting and laying tiles and a day to dry then  probably only like a half a day to grout and clean up.

So that was about 3.5 days** plus another 2 days of ‘drying’ time.

Was DIY tiling worth it?

Not sure, because I never did get a quote for a tiler to do the work and I don’t have an actual handle on what I should estimate my own labour at.

Did I enjoy it?  Yes.

Do I feel more capable and confident? Yes.

Did it make the tradies peer in the room and ask if it was the first time I had done tiling?  Yes.

Would I do it again? Yes, only with a proper tile cutter.


**My days are a bit shorter than a standard tradies as I tend to get to site at about 9am after seeing kids off to their nanny at 8:15am and I had to leave by 4pm.

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About Suzanne Commerford

Suzanne has stepped out from behind the desk of Australia's largest home inspection business to build the skills, confidence and independence of women to tackle maintenance and home improvement projects around the home.

One Comment

  • New grouting is something that we have been looking to do, or repair our current tiles. I like the idea of doing something new, and 2 days of labour, if we can do it in the same time as you, does not sound half bad. Thanks for listing your experience and project, as it is something that we will be doing soon too.

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