Tips for Tiling on Plasterboard

Can you tile on plasterboard? The short answer is yes, however, there are many factors to consider, such as the condition of your plasterboard and the weight of your tiles. It is also essential to effectively prepare the plasterboard so that the tiles can be affixed securely. Sunrise Tools can provide you with all the tools and equipment that you need to start your next tiling project. To help, here is a list of top tips for tiling on plasterboard.

Can You Tile Onto Plasterboard - Assessing your Plasterboard

As we have mentioned, it is possible to tile over plasterboard; however, it is important to check that the plasterboard is strong enough to hold the weight of your tiles. Standard drywall can hold a maximum weight of 20kg per square meter if it has a plaster skin or 32 kg per square meter without a plaster skim.

When working out if these weights will work with your tiles, it is also important to take into account the weight of tile adhesive and grout that will also be held up by the plasterboard. Add an additional 2-4kg per square meter to account for these products. If your plasterboard does not support the weight of your tiles, you may need to install cement board as this can carry up to 200kg per square meter.

Once you have checked the plasterboard’s maximum weight capacity, it is also important to ensure that your plasterboard is in good condition. The plasterboard should be dry and securely fixed to the wall.  Your plasterboard should be no less than 12.5mm thick and should be free of dents or contaminants that may stop the tiles from adhering to the wall. Any screws in the plasterboard should be secure but not too far into the wall that they damage the plaster as this can prevent the tiles from affixing to the wall. Ensuring that the plasterboard is solid and in great condition is important as if it falls or crumbles, your tiles will be destroyed.

Preparing Your Plasterboard

It is also important to prime your plasterboard to effectively prepare it for the tile adhesive. Apply an acrylic-based primer with a large brush or roller and allow it to dry thoroughly before beginning to tile. If there are joins or corners in your plasterboard, use some joining tape before priming and tiling to reinforce them. If you are using ready-mixed adhesive, then you do not need to prime – this step is only required when using powdered adhesive.

Some websites may recommend that you use PVA glue to prime your plasterboard; however, this will not work and could damage your wall and tiles. This is because PVA glue does not soak into the plasterboard properly. It then forms a layer on top of the plasterboard that stops the tile adhesive from penetrating and gripping the wall. Therefore, this means that the tiles are only held on by the layer of PVA rather than the whole plasterboard, meaning that they are more likely to fall off. This is why primer is so essential, as it prepares the plasterboard for optimum grip.

Applying your Tiles

Once your plasterboard is prepared, it is now time to tile over it. To do this, you will need to use tile adhesive to attach the tiles to the wall. There are two main types of tile adhesive, ready mixed and powdered, each of which comes with advantages and disadvantages. Take a look at our summary below to identify which type is best for your tiling job.

Ready Mixed Adhesive is already prepared for you and is a flexible formula. Some ready mixed adhesives are not suitable for wet rooms or power showers, so it is important to check this if you are planning to tile these areas. This type of adhesive is usually easier to use as you do not need to add water or work out quantities. Ready-mixed adhesive works better on smaller tiles measuring up to around 30x30cm, so it should not be used on larger tiles. Ready-mixed adhesive can be more affordable than powdered options.

Powdered adhesive is suitable for both wet and dry rooms and can be used both outdoors and indoors. It is even suitable for areas such as walk-in showers that will be completely submerged in water. If you are using larger tiles, powdered adhesive may be the best choice as it maintains its structure effectively. Powdered adhesive tends to have a faster drying time than ready mixed adhesive, and this therefore means that the tiles can be grouted and finished quicker. If you are unsure which type of grout to use, tile retailers will be able to advise you.

Apply your tile adhesive in small sections to your plasterboard, and then place the tiles on top, pressing them gently. If the back of your tiles have deep ridges, you may need to back butter them, layering the adhesive on both the back of the tiles and the wall. It is important to only tile a small section at a time so that the adhesive does not dry out before the tiles are applied. Wipe off any excess adhesive with a damp cloth.

For a professional finish, use tile spacers to ensure that the tiles are evenly distributed and a levelling system to check that your flooring is not uneven. Sunrise Tools stock a variety of tiling tools to aid your tiling projects, including spacers and levellers.

Before grouting, you need to wait for your adhesive to dry. The grout should be applied across the tiles, filling in all the gaps between them. Grout residue can be removed from the tiles using a damp cloth. After the grout has dried, your tiles will be securely attached and waterproof.

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