Making a Gauge Stick
Most ceramic wall tiles are 108mm sq. x 4mm thick (4 1/2sq.in x 1/8in) or 152mm sq. x 6.4mm thick (6sq.in x 1/4in). The most popular are the smaller tiles as these are easier to work with. There are self-spacing tiles available, but most often you’ll need 3mm (1/8in) plastic lugs, which are placed between the tiles to space them out at exactly the same distance.
Setting out the prepared surface and the tiles accurately is vital if you want to hang the tiles properly. You can make a gauge stick, which will plot the position of the tiles on the wall. Lay several tiles along a length of 50 x 12mm (2 x 1/2in) softwood. Butt the tiles together with spacing lugs or add spacers for square-edged tiles unless these are intended for close butting. Next, mark the position of each tile on the gauge stick. Starting at skirting level, hold the stick firmly against the wall and mark the positions of the tiles on the wall. If you are left with a very narrow strip at the top of the wall, move the rows up by half a tile width to make a wider margin. Mark the centre of the wall and use the gauge stick to set out the vertical rows of tiles at each side. Again, if the border tiles are less than half a width, move the rows sideways by half a tile.
When you calculate the number of tiles you need, then add on an extra 5% to allow for breakage and waste on the tiles you need to cut.
Never slide a tile into position – this moves the adhesive to one side and weakens the grip.
Constantly check tiles with a spirit level, as they tend to ‘creep’ on their adhesive bed.