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Tiling contractors often have to answers questions related to tiling, whether it is for floors or walls. Here we address some of the most frequently-asked ones.

1.       How many tiles and how much tiling material should I buy?

To calculate the number of tiles needed, you first calculate the surface to obtain the number of square metres. If the floor you want to tile is 6 m long and 4 m wide, you multiply the two and you have a 24 square metre surface. Then you add 15% of the surface for breakages, cutting work and a little extra to store in case you have later breakage. This means you need to buy 27.6 square metres of tiles. Regarding tile cement: a simple rule of thumb is that a 20kg bag should allow you to tile 3 square metres. Therefore, in our example you will need 9 bags of tile cement. With grout you roughly cover 30 square metres with a 20kg bag. This means in our example 1 20kg bag of grout will be sufficient. Please remember that the state of the surface that you are tiling on and the space between tiles may require more tile cement and grout.

2.       Can I tile on top of existing tiles?

Contrary to what some “experts” may tell you, yes you can, provided that the existing surface is solid. The first step is to check for cavities and cracks on the tiles. You cannot tile directly on the existing tiles, though. What you need is a bonding agent. Contractors often use a mixture of building cement and bonding liquid to create a thin-set slush which is first applied and allowed to dry before tiling. For extra bonding strength, we recommend that tile bonding liquid is also added to the tile cement when tiling on tiles.

3.       Can I drill into tiles?

Yes, you can, but unfortunately it requires some patience and skill (and nerves of steel!). Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of damaging tiles when drilling into them:

·         Ensure that the tile is fixed solidly. If there is a cavity at the back of the tile, the tile may crack when you drill through.

·         Apply masking tape over the spot where you plan to drill to create more traction for the drill. Alternatively, tap a nail lightly to remove some of the glazing. This is a precaution for the drill slipping or jumping around and causing damage.

·         If you don’t have a tile drill-bit, use a carbide-tipped masonry or a diamond-tipped one.

·         Do not use the hammer drill setting on your drill.

·         Start drilling slowly, on low speed and gradually increase the speed as appropriate.

·         Apply constant firm pressure, but not too hard or you will break through the tile rather than drilling into it.

·         Lubricate the tip of the drill bit with water as you go along.