7th Dec 2022 -

It is perfectly possible to tile directly on top of the plasterboard, and in this quick guide, we will explore how to pick tiles that your plasterboard wall can support the best options for tile adhesives, and the best methods for tiling. We’ll also look at your options for tiling inside bathrooms, and the specific solutions to waterproof your plasterboard walls.

Preparation for Tiling On Plasterboard

You can tile straight onto new plasterboard, whether it’s a stud wall or dot and dab, though you will have to be mindful of weight. A bare plasterboard can hold a maximum weight of 32kg per square metre, whilst a board with plaster skimming applied can only hold 20kg per square metre. 

Tiling straight onto bare plasterboard will also save you time compared to skimmed plasterboard. You should factor in 2kg to 4kg for the weight of adhesive per square metre. You will have to take these numbers into account when picking out tiles to apply to your plasterboard walls, and you should avoid using any heavy tiles on your plasterboard walls. You should not tile on painted plasterboard, if your plasterboard is painted you should remove it before tiling, using a wallpaper stripper to remove all emulsion paint.

Ceramic tiles are comparatively light and would make a good choice for tiling on plasterboard, coming in a variety of styles and colours. Tiles are sold in varying thicknesses and sizes. Their weights per tile should be listed on specifications or can be requested from a customer service representative. It’s important to know that your plasterboard wall can withstand the weight of the tiles you are applying to it. There is no maximum thickness amongst commonly available tiles, but you must check the weight before purchase, particularly when looking for items like stone tiles.

You have a choice of using ready-mixed or powdered adhesive for your tiles. Ready-mixed is easier to use, without a preparation process, though it is only suited to smaller tiles. If you’re using a tile larger than 30cm2, or porcelain tiles, you should use powdered tile adhesive as it is stronger.

Before you start tiling you should make sure how the tiles will fit onto your plasterboard wall. If you are using tile spacers you should be able to correctly calculate how many tiles will fit onto your wall, and if you will need to cut any tiles to properly complete a wall. You can buy a tile cutter to help you do this. 

A ceramic tile of less than 15mm thickness, which should be any tile you use on plasterboard, can be cut using a tile cutter. If you need to cut a rounded tile, you will need to use a tile saw or a hacksaw with a tungsten carbide rod. You should be careful not to crack the tiles when cutting them.

How to Tile On Plasterboard

  1. Your plasterboard should be dry and flat before you tile onto it. Make sure there are no protruding screw heads within the boards. To prepare your walls for tiling adhesives you must first apply a coat of an acrylic-based primer as an undercoat. Your primer should be applied with a roller or brush and left to dry.
  2. Your next step should be to apply tile adhesive to the plasterboard. Spread using a notched trowel in small sections, getting an even distribution of the mixture. When using the notched trowelling method you will have about 20 minutes to apply tiles before the adhesive dries, so it is wise to do the wall in manageable sections. Place the tiles into position, using tile spacers to maintain equal distance on the wall.
  3. Once the tiles are in place, leave the adhesive to dry for as long as the packaging specifies. If you are using tile spacers you should remove them during the drying process, leaving enough time for the tiles to stay in place but not too much that the tile spacers themselves are dried into the wall.  
  4. Then you will need to grout the gaps between tiles. Grout is available in both powdered and ready-mixed forms. Before grouting, you should clean away any loose or excess adhesive with a sponge. Grout should be applied using a rubber grout float, sweeping the grout across the riles diagonally, and pushing grout into the joints. Wipe off excess grout on tiles with a wet sponge. When your tiles are dry, clean the surface with a dry cloth. Any residues should then be cleaned with warm water and washing up liquid within 24 hours.
Construction worker using joint compound for plasterboard.

Tiling Plasterboard Bathroom Walls

You can also tile onto plasterboard in your shower or bathroom. If you are fixing the plasterboards yourself it may be worth investing in moisture-resistant plasterboard for your bathroom. Tiling on moisture-resistant plasterboard can help protect your bathroom walls. 

You should prime the plasterboard with an acrylic plasterboard primer. Then you should tile with a waterproof tile adhesive and a waterproof grout, using the same technique as a regular wall. Tiling plasterboard bathrooms is essentially the same as a regular wall, but you must make sure to use specifically marked waterproof products. You can tile around your bathroom, including on the plasterboard in your shower area. You may have to cut your tiles to fit around bathroom fixtures like towel rails.

If you are using regular plasterboards in your bathroom you should use two coats of waterproof tanking below the adhesive. 

Superb plasterboard for tiling options available

Experience the ultimate in plasterboard for tiling at Building Materials Nationwide. Our selection of plasterboard solutions is specifically engineered to provide the ideal surface for tiling applications. These boards offer exceptional stability and moisture resistance, ensuring your tiles stay securely in place, even in high-moisture environments like bathrooms and kitchens. Whether you are a homeowner embarking on a DIY project or a trade professional handling extensive installations, our plasterboard guarantees a smooth foundation for your tile work.

Professionals should consider opening a trade account with us to gain access to dedicated account management support as well as competitive trade pricing and speedy UK delivery. Partner with Building Materials Nationwide to access premium plasterboard for tiling and enjoy trade-focused advantages. Either spend 2 minutes signing up now or message us below with your questions before getting started.

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