What Do Tilers Do? (With Primary Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Tilers play a significant role in the home and commercial construction sectors. They complete the decorative and protective tiling work on buildings. Knowing what tilers do can help you determine whether this is the right career for you. In this article, we answer the question, what do tilers do?, show the skills you might require to do tiling work, list the reasons to become a tiler and explain the steps you can take to begin this career.

Related: How To Become A Construction Worker

What do tilers do?

A tiler is a person who decorates and protects floors and walls using various types of tiles. They usually apply clay, slate, marble, ceramic or glass to interior surfaces in homes and buildings, especially kitchens and bathrooms. On the outside, they apply tiles to patios, swimming pools, terraces and gardens. Tilers usually work for construction firms, though some work as independent skilled labourers.

Here are some duties a tiler may perform:

  • Inspect the interior or surfaces that need tiling

  • Provide estimates for the number of tiles, installation time and costs

  • Clean walls and floors in preparation for tiling work

  • Remove old grout and cement from surfaces

  • Fill gaps, cracks and holes in floors and walls

  • Level uneven walls, floors and other surfaces with plaster

  • Spread adhesive onto ready surfaces and tiles, then set tiles in position

  • Make tiles to flush with corners, edges and fittings

  • Ensure proper spacing and alignment of floor and wall tiles

  • Grout tiles and apply waterproofing systems to surfaces

  • Lay coloured tiles in patterns to create eye-catching mosaics

  • Lay terrazzo, cement or granolithic flooring

  • Apply grout to tiles and perform finishing work

Related: What Does a Builder Do? (Plus How To Become One in 6 Steps)

How to become a wall and floor tiler

There are various routes to follow to become a wall and floor tiler. You could do a short course, find an apprenticeship, or undergo on-the-job training. Explore possible routes and find out which one is right for you.

1. Earn a certificate

Completing a vocational training program is typically necessary before you can apply for tiling jobs. You may apply for a Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling program at a local TAFE. Training usually consists of an apprenticeship and hands-on instruction. The course teaches you to read and interpret plans and specifications, apply basic levelling procedures. Training also includes instruction about wall and floor tiling materials, surface preparation and floor or wall tile installation. You also earn waterproofing and repairing damaged floor or wall tiles.

2. Apprenticeship

Once you earn a certificate, you can look for apprenticeship opportunities with a construction company. Working under a skilled tiler, you can learn first-hand how to lay tiles on various surfaces, waterproof wet areas and use multiple tile accessories and materials. The training you receive might help you find work within the construction industry.

As an apprentice, you might work for at least 30 hours a week for your company. You may split your time between on-the-job training and vocational school. Apprenticeships are open to individuals over the age of 16 years.

3. Apply for tiling jobs

Next, you can create a CV that demonstrates your work experience and skills as a floor or wall tiler. Potential employers are always interested in seeing see your work experience. You can list the projects you have completed and the tasks you performed.

The Indeed Job Board might be a good starting place for those looking for entry-level jobs. Many employers post new job opportunities online. You may create an account and upload your CV and cover letter. You can apply for tiling jobs that match your qualifications afterwards.

Tilers' job environment

Work location may vary depending on the tiler's assignment. Some tilers work in residential homes, commercial or industrial facilities and rental apartments. Others perform house remodelling or restoration work. Due to the nature of the work, tiler jobs usually require flexibility and a willingness to travel. Tilers work standard daytime hours, though some may work overtime as the project completion date approaches.

Like other tradespeople, floor and wall tilers may perform various manual tasks and have a direct approach to solving problems. Their work environment usually suits those who prefer practical work with tangible results over sedentary roles. Those who learn quickly on the job, communicate well with colleagues and have a keen attention to detail can go far in this trade.

The average salary for tilers

The average salary of a tiler is $68,352 per year. The amount may vary depending on their job location, expertise and employer. Those who work in larger cities may earn more than their counterparts in small towns across the country.

Related: What Is Salary? Definition, Types and Examples

Top skills for tiling jobs

To perform any tiling job, you may consider cultivating these skills:

  • Creativity: Tiles come in a range of colours, designs and formats. Creativity allows the tiler to combine various tiles to produce highly aesthetic results on interior or exterior surfaces.

  • Planning: Tilers usually follow a tiling plan layout when performing their work. Strong planning skills enable the tiler to execute intricate designs and patterns.

  • Building skills: It is crucial for tilers to have in-depth knowledge of various tiles and materials. Building skills ensure the tiles prepare surfaces and install tiles correctly.

  • Physical stamina: Tiling work is both physically demanding and tiring. Tilers usually lift and move heavy tile boxes and work in uncomfortable positions for several hours.

  • Basic maths: Tilers usually measure floors and walls to determine how many tiles a surface might need. Strong math skills ensure the tiler takes accurate measurements and does proper calculations.

  • Time management: Tilers often work standard hours and complete assigned work within that period. Using their time management skills, the tiler can plan their work based on the workload.

  • Technical skills: It is essential for tilers to know how to use tile cutters and other tools of the trade to perform their work. Technical skills enable the tiler to perform manual tile installation properly.

  • Accuracy, precision and attention to detail: Tiling work is a precise job. Accuracy and attention to detail prevent installation errors and reduces material wastage.

  • Collaboration skills: Tiling jobs usually bring the floor or wall tiler into contact with stonemasons and plumbers. By collaborating and coordinating with other construction people, a tiler can minimise errors and misunderstandings at the workplace.

  • Communication: Tilers usually follow briefs from the foreman and the client. Strong communication skills ensure the tiler understands the job requirements and performs a flaw tile installation to meet the client's expectations.

Benefits of tiling jobs in Australia

Tiling is a practical profession with an artistic side to it. Talented tilers usually combine both aspects to produce unique, beautiful and durable floor or wall coverings. Tiler jobs also produce tangible results, which can be rewarding and fulfilling. Outstanding work may lead to appreciative and happy clients. Another benefit of tiling work is that no two tiling jobs are the same. Finally, the industry may offer higher earning potential to business-minded tilers who venture into the private tiling business.

Tilers career path

Tilers may pursue a range of potential career options. Skilled tillers can broaden their skill set to include other forms of flooring and coverings such as vinyl, marble and linoleum, and they can become flooring experts. They might also attend training and learn how to create custom tile compositions for their clients. Tilers who look to take additional responsibilities beyond specialisation can choose to work with a construction company and progress to the position of a foreman or site manager. Another possible career path for ambitious tilers is self-employment.

Tiers can also work as salespeople or commercial consultants for tiler manufacturers and floor or wall producers. With extra training and additional experience, you could progress into the role of a site supervisor, contract manager or clerk. You may also work as a trainer or assessor at a vocational school, training new tilers.

Job growth and prospects

Job Outlook, a government employment initiative that compiles national statistics, shows that jobs in the floor and wall tiling sectors grew by over 68% between 2013 and 2015. Employment levels rose from 14,500 to 24,000 during that period. Forecasts suggest the industry might experience a modest but steady rise in jobs with a project total of 19,200 by 2025. The forecast predicts job openings to remain average.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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