How To Stack Subway Tile

Tile 5

Tiling can be an intimidating project especially for those who have never done it before.  With this post, I want to hit a little on how to stack subway tile.  Tile is one of those things that takes patience and a little bit of perfectionism, especially with subway tile.  With subway tile all lines need to be level and even.  To do this you will need a few key tools and items.

Tools and Key Items Needed:

Level (I like to use as long of a level as a the space will allow)
Spacers (These were 1/8th in spacers, I also like to use the rubber spacers as opposed to the plastic)
Tile Wedges
Grout Trowel
1/4 in square notched tile trowel
2 Buckets for water and Thinset
Tape Measurer
Tile Saw

Tile 2

Step 1

Once the deck is set (the floor, top of counter, top of bath…) the next step would be to find center line on the wall you are tiling and mark it the entire height you will be tiling.  I usually use a Sharpie for this.  Once center line is marked the next step would be to mark the top of the first row.  To do this, place a tile you will be using on 2 spacers on top of the deck and mark the height on the wall.  Once this is marked take the tile down and using a level draw that line the entire length you will be tiling.  Using a tile and some spacers check this line in a few spots to make sure it lines up.  If the deck is level it should line up. I also like to get my layout dialed in before I start setting.  Starting at center line split 1 tile down the middle or place 2 tile on each side of center line with a spacer in between.

Step 2

Now that all the lines are marked it is time to start tiling.  Butter the back of a tile with Thinset and place on wall.  Put 2 spacers under the tile (it should line up with the mark you made).  Start at center line and work your way out following this step.  This is where the grout trowel will come in handy.  As you place each tile on the wall use the grout trowel to press the tile into the wall, this helps to apply it evenly so one side is not sticking out further than the other (do this with 2 tiles side by side before putting the spacer in between them).

Tile 3

Step 3

Once the first row is set it is time to get the level out and the tile wedges.  Place the level on top of the first row.  Make sure the row is level, if it is off at all find the tile that is causing it to be off and adjust accordingly using a tile wedge.  Once it is level, look at the top of each tile up against the level and make sure the tops of the tiles are all touching the bottom of the level or close to.  If a tile is dropped below use a tile wedge on the bottom corner of the tile that is not touching the level and bring it up until it is touching.

Tile 1Step 4

Once the first row is set follow these steps for the following rows and stack your way up.  Make sure to start at center line each time and to alternate 1 tile split at center line and 2 tiles splitting center line each row.

Tile 4

Take your time as you do this.  It is better to have your lines dialed in as you go than to be in a hurry and get off track.  Once you are off track its not easy to fix it with out it being noticeable. But if you do don’t fret, just use the tile wedges and through out a few rows try to get back on track.

While doing this please be sure to build safely and smartly. Make sure all your surfaces are clean and level before you work on them.  This ensures everything squares up correctly.  Make sure it is all square before starting up. Have fun trying out the project and be safe.  I hope this helps give some guidance on how to stack subway tile. I hope it turns out great!

If you are curious to how this bathroom turned out stay tuned I will be sure to post pictures of the finished product.  It is a beautiful elegant bathroom.

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