Why Dot and Dab Tiling Should Be Avoided

DISCLAIMER - This is a guide only and Tilesporcelain Ltd is not liable for the finished tiling project.

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You may have heard the term ‘dot and dab’ in relation to fixing tiles onto a surface with adhesive. In dot and dab tiling, adhesive is applied on only sections of the surface area and the back of the tile opposed to an even layer, which is the traditional method. The dot and dab technique results in the back of the tiles and surface upon which they are laid on not being completely covered in adhesive. Instead there will be gaps where the tile is not secured by any form of mortar which can cause many short term and long term problems. Below we explain why the dot and dab method should be avoided.


First of all because the tiles are not properly secured, some may even fall off walls before the adhesive has set thus potentially causing damage to the floor or application below or even worse harming yourself or somebody else in the room. Although floor tiles applied in this way will pose less risk to yourself and others it is still not recommended.

Laying Tiles

Moisture damage can be a big problem with tiles that have been applied through the dot and dab method. Even waterproof adhesive cannot compensate for gaps where the area between the back of the tile and underlying surface is not filled. Moisture can cause mould and dampness which over time will not only cause damage to the underlying surface but may also result in the tiles becoming loose. Moisture can also penetrate through to the surface of the tiles, causing permanent staining.

Cutting Tiles

Dot and dab tiling does not provide a secure fix on floors. Areas beneath the tile which are not covered with a layer of adhesive will be weaker and therefore more likely to crack under pressure.

Finishing Touches

The dot and dab method actually goes against the British Standard code of practice for tiling. Here is a recommended way of fixing tiles with adhesive which complies with British Standard guidelines: Begin by spreading an even layer of adhesive across a small section of the substrate with a trowel. Working in small sections will ensure the adhesive will not begin to set before you fix the tiles in place. Butter the back of the tile with adhesive before pressing and twisting into place. This method will ensure there are no gaps between the back the tile and the underlying surface. Correctly fixed tiles can last a very long time providing they are properly maintained.