Installing tiles in your home can completely transform the look and feel of your space. However, it's essential to ensure that the tiles are properly set and grouted to avoid any issues down the line. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with expert advice on grout and tile adhesive applications to help you achieve a durable and lasting finish when installing tiles in your home.

How To Apply Tile Adhesive

Before you can grout your tiles, you need to ensure that the tile adhesive has been applied correctly. Applying tile adhesive is a crucial step in the installation process, and it's essential to follow the right techniques to ensure a successful and long-lasting tile job.

Prepare the Surface

First and foremost, ensure that the surface you're working on is clean, dry, and free from any dirt, grease, or debris. If the surface is uneven, consider using a self-levelling compound to create a smooth, flat surface. Once the surface is ready, use a notched trowel to spread a thin layer of adhesive over a small area, typically about 2 to 3 square feet.

Comb the Adhesive

After spreading the adhesive, use the notched trowel to comb through it at a 45-degree angle. This step is essential as it creates ridges in the adhesive, allowing for better adhesion and helping to prevent air pockets from forming between the tile and the surface.

Check for Coverage

Always apply the adhesive to the wall evenly as this ensures better adhesion and helps fill any voids in the wall, providing a more stable and secure bond. If the coverage is incomplete, additional adhesive may need to be applied.

Apply the Tile

Once the adhesive is combed, work quickly and place the tile onto the adhesive-covered area. Apply firm pressure to the tile and twist it slightly to ensure that the adhesive ridges are fully embedded into the back of the tile. It's important to work in small sections and apply tiles within the time specified by the adhesive manufacturer.

Make Use Of Spacers

When installing tiles, it is crucial to leave proper spacing between them and this is where tile spacers come into play. Spacers are small, plastic or rubber crosses that are temporarily inserted between tiles during installation to maintain consistent grout lines.

Typically, spacers are used on both the floor and wall tile and the size of the spacer should match the desired grout line width. It is essential to position the spacers at every intersection of four tiles to ensure uniform spacing throughout. Furthermore, using spacers also contributes to the durability of the tiled surface, as consistent gaps provide room for flexibility, reducing the risk of tiles cracking or shifting over time.

hand placing spacer in tiles

Clean as You Go

As you work, be sure to clean any excess adhesive from the tile surface with a damp sponge or cloth. Wiping away excess adhesive as you go will make the final cleanup process much easier and prevent the adhesive from drying and becoming more difficult to remove.

Grout the Tiles

Once the tiles are set and the adhesive has cured according to the manufacturer's instructions, you can proceed with grouting the tiles. Refer to the specific grouting instructions for your chosen product, and ensure that the grout is applied evenly between the tiles and is wiped clean from the tile surface. Keep reading for a more in-depth explanation in regards to grouting tiles.

white bathroom with new tiles

Common Tile Adhesive Issues and How To Prevent Them

One of the primary reasons for tile adhesive failure is improper surface preparation. Before applying the adhesive, it is essential to ensure that the substrate (the surface onto which the tiles are being laid) is clean and free from dust, debris, and any contaminants that could interfere with the adhesive's ability to bond. It is also important to ensure that the substrate should be structurally sound, with no cracks or excessive movement that could compromise the integrity of the bond.

Another common cause of tile adhesive problems is excessive moisture. If the substrate contains too much moisture, it can prevent the adhesive from properly curing and bonding to the surface, potentially leading to tiles becoming loose. The excess moisture can cause the adhesive to remain in a semi-cured or soft state, preventing it from fully hardening and reaching its maximum strength. This can result in a weak bond between the tile and the substrate, making the tiles prone to lifting, cracking, or becoming loose over time.

The type of tile you choose can have a significant impact on the performance of the adhesive. Certain tiles, such as natural stone or porcelain, may require specialised adhesives. Using an adhesive that is not compatible with the tile material can lead to poor bonding, as the adhesive may not be able to create a strong enough bond with the tile's surface.

For instance, natural stone tiles may require an adhesive that can penetrate deeply into the tile's surface to create a strong bond. In general, it is best to use a modern, polymer-modified adhesive such as Tilemaster Adhesives' Magix, Setaflex and Ultimate ranges which are suitable for use with most types of natural stone.

How To Grout Tiles

Applying grout correctly is crucial for a long-lasting tile installation that looks great. Grout not only fills the spaces between tiles but also contributes to the overall appearance and durability of the installation. To achieve a professional-looking and durable tile installation, it is essential to follow the correct grout application process.

Curing the Tile Adhesive

Before applying grout, ensure the tile adhesive has fully cured, following the manufacturer's recommended drying time. Grout should never be applied to an uncured adhesive, as it can lead to the tiles loosening or shifting, causing cracks in the grout lines.

Preparing the Grout

Carefully follow the instructions on the grout packaging for proper mixing ratios and techniques. Mixing the grout correctly is essential for achieving the desired consistency.

Applying the Grout

Use a rubber grout float to evenly spread the grout over the tiles, working in small sections. Then, apply the grout in a diagonal direction across the tiles, forcing it into the joints at a 45-degree angle. This angle helps ensure full coverage and prevents the grout from being scraped out of the joints during application.

Work in Small Sections

Grout small areas at a time, as it can dry quickly. Avoid covering more than a few square feet at once to prevent the grout from drying too fast and becoming difficult to work with.

Clean the Excess Grout

Once the grout has been applied, use a damp sponge to wipe away any excess grout from the tile surfaces while the grout is still fresh. Apply a light mist of water to the grout lines and continue wiping with the sponge to create a smooth, even finish.

Removing The Grout Haze

Use a clean, dry cloth to buff and polish the tiles, removing any remaining grout haze. This step is crucial to achieve a clean, professional appearance.

By following these detailed steps and properly applying the grout, you will achieve a high-quality tile installation with well-filled grout joints and a clean overall appearance.

Common Tile Grout Issues and How To Prevent Them

Grout failure is a common issue that many homeowners face, and understanding the causes can help prevent this frustrating problem. One of the primary causes of grout failure is improper preparation and application. When grout is not mixed correctly or applied evenly, it can lead to weak spots and may ultimately fail. Additionally, inadequate curing time during installation can compromise the grout's strength. It's crucial to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for mixing and application, allowing sufficient time for the grout to set properly.

Another frequent culprit behind grout failure is water damage. Grout is porous, making it susceptible to water getting in. When exposed to prolonged moisture, especially in areas like bathrooms and kitchens, grout can weaken and crack over time. To prevent water-related grout failure, ensure proper sealing of grout lines, especially in high-moisture areas. Regular maintenance, such as fixing leaks promptly and using water-resistant grout, can significantly reduce the risk of water damage.

Inadequate cleaning practices can also contribute to grout failure. Over time, dirt, grime, and mould can accumulate on the grout surface, leading to discolouration and deterioration. But on the other hand, harsh cleaning chemicals can further weaken the grout. As such, it is essential to clean grout regularly with mild, pH-neutral cleaners and a soft brush and avoid using abrasive tools that may damage the grout's integrity.

In conclusion, grout failure is a prevalent issue with several underlying causes, primarily stemming from improper installation, water damage, and inadequate cleaning. Homeowners can protect their grout by following manufacturer guidelines during installation, ensuring proper sealing in moisture-prone areas, and adopting gentle cleaning practices.

The Online Tile Shop’s Tile Adhesives

The Online Tile Shop’s Tile Adhesives are available in various formulations to suit different tile types and substrates. Here are some of our popular options:

Trade FlexiRapid: This flexible adhesive is ideal for unstable substrates and offers excellent adhesion strength. It is suitable for a wide range of tile materials, including ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone.

Standard Set: The Standard Set adhesive provides a strong bond for large-format tiles. It is easy to apply and offers excellent workability.

Setaflex: Setaflex adhesive is specifically designed for natural stone installations. It offers exceptional bond strength and flexibility, ensuring the longevity of your natural stone tiles.

The Online Tile Shop’s Grouts

The Online Tile Shop’s Grout range includes options that are resistant to cracking, staining, and discolouration. Here are some of the options from our grout range.

Grout 3000: Grout 3000 is a high-performance grout that resists cracking and provides a durable finish. It is available in a variety of colors to match your design preferences.

Coloured Grout: The coloured grout options from The Online Tile Shop allow you to add a touch of personality to your tile installations. With a range of vibrant colours to choose from, you can create stunning visual effects.

To enhance the durability and longevity of your grout, The Online Tile Shop also offers Primeplus, a protective sealer that guards against staining and discolouration caused by moisture. Applying Primeplus regularly can help maintain the beauty of your grout over time.

Get started on your brand new tile project today and create a space that truly reflects your style and personality.

white grouted tiles in kitchen

33 Reviews


4.6 Rating 33 Reviews

peter dolman

Verified Customer

I ordered a tile saMple and was amazed to receive within 2 days. Efficient service thank you.

5 days ago


Verified Customer

Excellent service, customer services were really helpful answering my order queries which culminated in a speedy delivery.

6 days ago


Verified Customer

Received excellent service; they added some additional tiles on for me as I realised I hadn't ordered enough on the day they were due to be despatched. Very helpful staff, smooth delivery and delighted with the tiles. Would def recommend and will use them again. (Amazonia Jade Green 6.5x20cm Rectangular Gloss Ceramic Wall Tile)

20 days ago


Verified Customer

|Excellent Service, tiles arrived very quickly and were well packed. Would highly recomemend this company.

3 months ago

Olena Golovtchouk

Verified Customer

Great tiles, very expensive delivery

3 months ago

Robin Temple

Verified Customer

Excellent service and I am thrilled with the tile you sent. I will be placing an order for more of these tiles to use as a splash back in a small kitchen .

3 months ago

Claire Martin

Verified Customer

Superb service and product

3 months ago


Verified Customer

Very happy with these tiles. Arrived quickly and very well packaged.

4 months ago

Sian Pugh

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Great price and fantastic service

4 months ago


Verified Customer

The tiles were a great price compared to other online retailers selling the same tiles. However, £30 for a DHL delivery seemed a bit expensive for a small order (approx 220 15x10cm tiles for a splashback).

4 months ago