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How to Install Wall Treatments


How to Install Mirror or Cork Wall Tiles
Mount each tile with tabs of wall-mount tape, at the corners and in the center.
Mount each tile with tabs of wall-mount tape, at the corners and in the center.

Cork tiles add warmth and make an instant bulletin board; mirror tiles make a small room bigger and are far less expensive than a plate-glass mirror. Both kinds of tile are easy ­to install.

Tools:

  • Measuring rule
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Chalk line
  • Scissors
  • Chalk
  • Yardstick
  • Sharp utility knife, or heavy-duty scissors, or glass cutter
  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves

Materials:

  • Graph paper
  • 3/22-inch-thick, distortion-free glass mirror tiles or cork squares
  • Heavy-duty double-stick wall-mount tape
  • Newspaper

Time: About 2 hours for an 8×10-foot area

Planning the Wall and Buying Materials

Buy mirror or cork tiles precut in 1-foot squares. Before you buy the tiles, measure the wall or door to be covered and sketch it on graph paper. Plan the pattern you want to use -- a simple block pattern is easiest, but you can also set the tiles in a diamond or other pattern. If you're tiling only part of a wall, you won't have to cut the tiles. If you're tiling the entire wall, plan your arrangement so that you have to cut as few tiles as possible at the edges of the wall.

Count the number of tiles you need; if you'll have to cut tiles, allow several extra for wastage. If the tiles don't come with mounting tape, buy heavy-duty double-stick wall-mount tape to put them up with.

Preparing the Wall for Tiles

Before tiling the wall, make sure it's clean and smooth. Remove any loose paint or wallpaper and smooth the wall surface as necessary.

Start setting tile at a bottom corner of the wall, or at the floor on one side of the area to be covered. Snap a chalk line down the wall at the corner and check it with a level to be sure it's plumb; adjust the line as necessary. If the corner is out of plumb, you're probably better off stopping the tiles short of the corner instead of cutting them to fit.

Installing the Tiles

To install the first row of tiles, start with the bottom or corner tile. If the tiles already have mounting tape on the reverse side, peel off the backing paper as you place each tile. If the tiles don't include mounting tape, cut five 11/2-inch pieces of heavy-duty double-stick wall-mount tape. Apply a piece of tape to each corner of the tile, parallel with the tile edge, and set the last piece in the middle of the tile. Align the side of the tile on the chalk line and press it firmly but gently into place. Work up the chalk line to set each tile in the first row; work vertically and butt the bottom of each tile against the top of the last one. Place tiles the same way all across the area to be covered, butting the edge of each tile against the tile edge of the last row.

Score mirror tiles with a glass cutter; snap back along the score to complete the break.
Score mirror tiles with a glass cutter; snap back along the score to complete the break.

Cutting Tiles

To cut cork tiles, measure and mark to the required width with chalk. Cut with a sharp utility knife and use a yardstick as a straightedge; if the tiles are thin, use a heavy-duty scissors. To cut mirror tiles, measure and mark to the required width. Spread newspaper to protect your work surface, and set the marked tiles face up on the paper. Wearing safety goggles, score each tile at the marked point with a glass cutter; hold the cutter vertically and cut along the yardstick as a straightedge. Wearing work gloves, turn the scored tile over and snap it sharply backward to break it at the scored line.

Finishing the Wall

Finally, when all tiles have been cut and set, go back over the tiles to make sure they're solidly in place. Press each tile gently but firmly at the corners and in the middle to bond the wall-mount tape completely to the wall and to the tile surfaces.

On our final page, you will learn how to install a wall safe.

For more information on do-it-yourself home improvement projects, try the following links:

  • If your floors need work, you won't need to hire expensive specialists with our article on How to Repair Floors.
  • Learn how to create your own walls with our article on How to Drywall.
  • For instructions and tips on doing a good paint job, see our article on Painting Walls.