Your Complete Guide To Tiling Over Brick Walls

In Perth, Ross’s Discount Home Centre is well-known for having one of the largest tile ranges at the lowest possible prices, and this is something we’re very proud of. While we offer affordable products for all aspects of a renovation, including DIY kitchens, tapware, and bathroom products, we sell more tiles than any other product.

The popularity of tiles comes from their ability to transform a room for very little money. Whether you want to change the style of a space, add colour to a space, or modernise a space, tiles can help you achieve this more than any other produce.

One of the best ways to use tiles to accomplish such goals is by creating a feature wall or updating existing tiles. And, in Perth, there’s a good chance you will be tiling over bricks in either case.

While we love supplying Perth with an extensive range of tiles at the lowest possible prices, we also love sharing handy renovation tips with our valued customers. Today, we’re going to provide a complete guide to tiling over bricks, which can save you a lot of time and money in a quick renovation project.

Tiling Over Brick Walls

Customers of Ross’s Discount Home Centre often ask us whether you can tile directly onto brick walls without needing to apply any plaster or tile underlay. While this is possible using tile cement or mastic powder tile adhesive, it’s not what we recommend.

Brick walls do not provide a smooth surface and will likely result in an uneven finish. While our tiles are cheap, you don’t want to flush your money down the drain having to redo your work due to an unsatisfactory finish.

When wanting to tile over bricks, there are three options to create the smooth surface needed for a professional finish:

  1. Cover the brick with a cement sheet (tile underlay),
  2. Build out a stud wall in front of the brick wall and apply plasterboard to it,
  3. Apply a smooth render layer to the brickwork.

Today we will share instructions for these three options

Cover the Brick Wall With Cement Sheeting

tiling bathroom walls
Tiling over Villaboard covered brick wall with waterproof membrane

In our opinion, coving a brick wall with cement sheeting is the quickest and easiest option of all.

  1. Remove any existing glue or mortar from the brick wall to be as flat as possible. Also, give it a brush down with a broom to remove any dirt or dust that may probit the tile underlay adhesive from sticking to the wall.
  2. Use a standard 12mm cement sheet or a waterproof cement sheet for bathrooms. Villaboard from James Hardie is a great option for wet areas. If you’re tiling over bricks in a bathroom, the villaboard will need waterproofing before tiles can be applied.
  3. Dab the adhesive on the back of the cement sheet as per the manufacturer’s recommendation and apply it to the wall. Press it against the wall in all areas that adhesive was applied. Continue this process till the entire brick wall surface has is covered.
  4. Now that you have a smooth surface to work with, you can now start tiling.
  5. Starting at the bottom working up, use a trowel to apply a suitable tile cement-based adhesive like Mastik Tile Adhesive 20kg to the back of each tile as you go or to a small wall area. If applying the adhesive directly to the wall, be sure to spread it out evenly and don’t work too far ahead of yourself, or the bond will set before you lay the tile. Add enough for only 1-2 tiles at a time.
  6. Apply the tile to the wall, pressing the tile firmly to ensure it bonds well with the adhesive and sits flush on the cement sheet.
  7. Insert tile spacers around the tile before moving onto laying the next tile. As the wall is vertical, tile spaces will prevent the tiles from slipping down, resting on each other and maintain the grout space.
  8. Continue steps 5 – 7 until tiling is complete.
  9. Wait the recommended time stipulated by the adhesive manufacturer before applying a quality grout like FSDD from Ardex. Fill all the joints with grout and wait the recommended time specified by the grout manufacturer for the grout to firm up.
  10. Complete the job by wiping the tiles down with a clean, damp sponge and bucket of water to remove excess grout.

Build a Plastered Stud Wall in Front of the Brick Wall

tiling over plasterboard stud wall
Tiling over plasterboard stud wall

The second-best option for tiling over a brick wall is to build a stud wall in front of it and apply plasterboard to it.

You could apply plasterboard directly to the brick wall as per the cement sheet instructions above. However, if you ever want to retile the wall or expose the brick in the future, you’ll find that removing glued plasterboard from a brick wall is a nightmare. It will also allow for any plumbing or electrical work that may be needed in the tiled wall. For these reasons, adding a stud wall to support the plasterboard is a godsend. There are a couple of factors to consider with this option; it will take 10cm off the room, and you will need to redo the cornice if there is an existing cornice.

  1. Create your stud frame using 90 x 45 mm F5 pine. Get the top and bottom plates and mark the vertical stud positions, usually 300 or 450 mm apart.
  2. Nail the plates and suds together to form the frame. I find it easier to construct the stud wall frame on the ground then move it into place rather than building it in place against the wall.
  3. Once you have a frame, you can add the noggins between each stud for support.
  4. Stand the stud wall up and move it into position directly in front of the brick wall and fix it in place by nailing the top and bottom plates to the ceiling and floor.
  5. It’s now time to apply plasterboard to the stud wall. For this, get a good plasterboard adhesive and dab it on the stud wall frame as per the manufacture’s recommendations.
  6. Take the plasterboard and press it against the stud wall, pressing hard on the areas where the adhesive was applied.
  7. Now that you have a smooth surface to work with, you can now start tiling.
  8. Starting at the bottom working up, use a trowel to apply a suitable tile cement-based adhesive like Mastik Tile Adhesive 20kg to the back of each tile as you go or to a small wall area. If applying the adhesive directly to the wall, be sure to spread it out evenly and don’t work too far ahead of yourself, or the bond will set before you lay the tile. Add enough for only 1-2 tiles at a time.
  9. Apply the tile to the wall, pressing the tile firmly to ensure it bonds well with the adhesive and sits flush on the plasterboard.
  10. Insert tile spacers around the tile before moving onto laying the next tile. As the wall is vertical, tile spaces will prevent the tiles from slipping down, resting on each other and maintain the grout space.
  11. Continue steps 5 – 7 until tiling is complete.
  12. Wait the recommended time stipulated by the adhesive manufacturer before applying a quality grout like FSDD from Ardex. Fill all the joints with grout and wait the recommended time specified by the grout manufacturer for the grout to firm up.
  13. Complete the job by wiping the tiles down with a clean, damp sponge and bucket of water to remove excess grout.

Apply a smooth render layer over the brickwork

Tiling over rendered brick wall
Tiling over a rendered brick wall

The last option for tiling over a brick wall is to apply a layer of render over the brickwork to create a smooth surface ready for tiling. While this may seem easier than the steps listed above for creating a stud wall, remember that a) this is a messy job that requires much preparation to make the render, and b) once the brickwork is rendered, it’s gone for good. You won’t be able to expose the brick in the future, and you won’t have space for any plumbing or electrical works.

  1. Remove any existing glue or mortar from the brick wall and brush it down with a broom to remove any dirt or dust that may cause the render to fail.
  2. Mix up a batch of cement-based render and apply it directly to the brickwork.
  3. Use a trowel followed by a float to create a smooth surface layer.
  4. New render needs to cure for 7 – 14 days before tiling. Pay special attention to the tile adhesive’s application instructions before commencing tiling.
  5. Starting at the bottom working up, use a trowel to apply a suitable tile cement-based adhesive like Mastik Tile Adhesive 20kg to the back of each tile as you go or to a small wall area. If applying the adhesive directly to the wall, be sure to spread it out evenly and don’t work too far ahead of yourself, or the bond will set before you lay the tile. Add enough for only 1-2 tiles at a time.
  6. Apply the tile to the wall, pressing the tile firmly to ensure it bonds well with the adhesive and sits flush on the render.
  7. Insert tile spacers around the tile before moving onto laying the next tile. As the wall is vertical, tile spaces will prevent the tiles from slipping down, resting on each other and maintain the grout space.
  8. Continue steps 5 – 7 until tiling is complete.
  9. Wait the recommended time stipulated by the adhesive manufacturer before applying a quality grout like FSDD from Ardex. Fill all the joints with grout and wait the recommended time specified by the grout manufacturer for the grout to firm up.
  10. Complete the job by wiping the tiles down with a clean, damp sponge and bucket of water to remove excess grout.

Conclusion

Using tiles to change the style or add colour to a space is often the cheapest and easiest way to breathe new life into an outdated space. Tiles come in literally hundreds of styles, sizes, patterns and designs, and are relatively easy to apply to any wall, even brick walls.

If you’re looking to tile over a brick wall, then you have three options to consider to ensure a professional finish. You can apply cement sheeting to the brickwork, build a plastered stud wall in front of the brick wall, or you can render the brick wall to create a smooth surface.

While each option yields the same end result, the most convenient option is to apply cement sheeting directly over the brickwork. This option means you can start tiling right away and involves the least amount of work. However, if you want to add plumbing and electrical into the wall, you will need to opt for option two, building a stud wall covered in plasterboard. This will provide the necessary space required for plumbing and electrical. Rendering over the brickwork is really only a good option if you’re experienced with render and have no intention of exposing the brick wall in the future.

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll find the perfect tiles, tile adhesive, and grout for the job at Ross’s Discount Home Centre. As one of Perth’s largest tile suppliers, we literally have hundreds of tiles available, all at the lowest possible price.

Head into our showroom at 57 James Street Guildford or shop from our extensive online selection for delivery across Perth Metro.

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