Cement render vs plasterboard for tiling?

12 Nov 2018
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United Kingdom

I've removed old tiles from my bathroom walls and parts of the wall came off with it so I've ended up back to brick and concrete blocks. I'm about to get a couple bathroom fitters come to give quotations but I wanted to educate myself beforehand so I'm better prepared to instruct the fitter and be aware of things to avoid.

I was initially going to get the walls to be tiled plastered but read that it might not be the strongest surface to tile onto (20kg/sq meter?) as the tiles I'm planning on having up are 600x300 so not the lightest https://www.wickes.co.uk/Wickes-Seattle-Cloud-Glazed-Porcelain-600-x-300mm/p/175715

I then read up on rendering versus plaster boarding the walls but I'm not sure which would be better. Here's a pic to give some idea of the bathroom and state of walls (more plaster has come off since then):
https://drive.google.com/open?id=15VTk_Bf5i2AD4LA9MVDobHojudV01vFc (ignore the red circle)

I'm leaning towards the rendering route since I'd lose less space but appreciate theres a drying time involved there. Any recommendations or advice would be much appreciated!
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I would recommend plasterboard and skim. Then apply a 50/50 SBR or PVA to water mix onto the wall to change the surface from high suction to low suction (ie. to stop the plaster sucking the water out of the adhesive creating weak adhesion). Make sure you use a white powdered floor tile adhesive to stick them on with, they will likely fall off with with premix wall adhesive. Tiling the entire walls is not an issue with weight onto plasterboard. Weight is only an issue if you tile an entire wall same day straight off the bath, you are best putting two courses on first and allow to set, or, fix wooden battens around the room, tile the room and then next day etc.. remove the battens and fit the cuts below to the bath, floor etc.. Do not tile directly onto plasterboard without it being skimmed, otherwise they're impossible to remove without obliterating the plasterboard.

If it was mine, I would plasterboard and skim out, then minimum tile above the sink, partially around the bath and where you stand in the bath for a shower. Then emulsion the rest of the walls with softsheen. Then you can freshen the room or have a change of colour by repainting the walls, changing tiles not so easy.

The rule with tiling, avoid skinny cuts. So take into account (where applicable) the height of floors, skirting, bath, ceiling, doors and the bottom and top of windows. If it lands bad somewhere, consider introducing a border at dado or picture rail height.

Patterns - I now often tile 1/3rd brickwork, So instead of traditional brickwork bond of 50/50, consider 1/3rd so you have three courses before it repeats.

With adhesive, it's best practise to always notch trowel the wall, even if you have to dot and dab the tiles.
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