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priming walls for tiling with norcros prime bond

How to prepare a wall for tiling

In this blog we have you covered for all you need to know to get your walls in tip top shape, so your lovely new tiles stay where you put them!


Preparation, preparation, preparation! No matter what type of project you are planning for, kitchen backsplash, bathroom walls, shower cubical or how the size of the tile being used, a small metro tile, mosaic or huge porcelain tile. When it comes to tiling, as with most things in life, preparation is one of the most important parts of a project.

As a rule of thumb, the better the foundation you have to work on, the fewer the snags you will have to overcome to achieve your desired finish. If you’re thinking ‘It’s ok; I can work with those craters’ it isn’t and you won’t without a LOT of extra time and energy. So, save yourself the hassle and prepare your surfaces properly. It will definitely be worth it and your future self will thank you.

To that end, we’ve put together this handy guide to get you on your way to tiling bliss. You can thank us by sending in photos of your completed project to or tag us on Instagram. And as an added bonus, we might even tell you how awesome you are. 

Strip your walls - What is on must come off!

First thing’s first; whatever is on your wall needs to come off and that includes picture hooks, nails, screws etc.  If there’s wallpaper, we recommend to completely strip the walls down. If the wall is already tiled, we wouldn’t recommend to tile on tile; yes it could save you time BUT it could cause complications and repairs further down the line, not to mention reducing your room size by a few inches all round!

To successfully remove your old tiles, we have a guide for that too which can be found at How to remove your tiles.

    Identify your wall condition

    Once your walls are stripped, you can better see what state they are in and decide how to proceed. If your walls are mainly smooth and flat with only minor problems such as small holes and/or cracks, happy days. Send a quick salute up to the tiling gods and be on your merry way to filling in those imperfections. If your wall has more craters than the moon and is bumpier than a rocky road brownie, you’ve got a few choices for what to do next: 

    • Remove any extra flaky plaster, use filler and then skim over the wall to give a level finish.
    • Dot and dab with plasterboard to make the wall flat again.  
    • Put up cement tile backer boards which are waterproof so especially great for bathrooms/ wet rooms.  

    Not going to lie, whatever you choose to do here can be time consuming and will probably entail you cursing the tiling gods for the dusty hell you’re in. BUT, it really is a case of reap what you sow; a bumpy and unlevelled surface will mean wonky and loose tiles that you will focus on every time you look at your finished project. That’s definitely not good and your future self will not be a happy bunny.

    Can I plaster my walls before tiling?

    Yes, you can but timescale is something you need to consider as it takes about a month to dry properly. So as long as you factor this into your project timeline, you’re good.

    Once that's sorted, the preparation is nearly done! Hurrah! And on to the next part...

    Do I need to prime the walls and if so, when?

    Making sure your walls are clean and dry, the last thing you have to do before you’re finished with this stage is to prime the wall.  As we all know, some surfaces can be incredibly absorbent and the last thing we want is for the walls to absorb all the tile adhesive, meaning the tiles won’t stay put.

    Luckily for you, we have Norcros Prime Bond, which is an SBR acrylic based primer, ready to take up the gauntlet and bond that adhesive to the wall.

    Please don’t try PVA primers; they don’t work well with the moisture and cement used in the tile adhesives so you will end up with loose tiles at the end. One key difference is that, whereas PVA remains water soluble after drying, SBR does not.

    There’s a whole bunch of scientific explanations for why acrylic and SBR primers are best suited to this task, but we’ve decided to spare you from the chemistry PhD speak. You’re welcome.

    Again, as with most things, as long as you follow the application instructions on your chosen primer, it’s all good.

    Ready to tile - camera, set, action!

    You’re clear for tiling! I repeat, you’re clear for tiling! Now your walls are in an awesome, level condition and your surfaces are all primed, you are signed off preparation and ready for the main event.

    Never fear, we’re not going to leave you hanging! Because we're so nice, we have put together a blog to guide you through the tiling process: Tile like you mean it. 

    Previous article How to tile a wall - Tile like you mean it
    Next article How to remove tiles from walls - break it off

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