Floor and Wall Tiler
Kaiwhakatakoto Taera Papa, Taera Pakitara
Floor and wall tilers lay tiles on internal and external walls and floors.
Floor and wall tilers with up to three years' experience usually earn
$18-$25 per hour
Floor and wall tilers with over three years' experience usually earn
$25-$35 per hour
Source: Tile Association of New Zealand, 2018.
Pay for floor and wall tilers varies depending on location, qualifications and experience.
- Apprentice floor and wall tilers usually start on training minimum wage, with their pay increasing as they gain experience and unit standards.
- Floor and wall tilers with up to three years' experience usually earn between minimum wage and $25 an hour.
- Floor and wall tilers with over three years' experience usually earn between $25 and $35 an hour.
- Those running their own business may earn more than this.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
Source: Tile Association of New Zealand, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Floor and wall tilers may do some or all of the following:
- discuss tiling designs and options with clients, and give quotes
- measure and mark surfaces based on plans
- clean and prepare surfaces
- lay liquid waterproof membrane in showers and bathrooms
- make and lay adhesives for tiles to be laid on
- cut, shape and lay tiles
- grout, seal and polish tiles.
Skills and knowledge
Floor and wall tilers need to have:
- knowledge of tiling methods and materials
- the ability to interpret plans and clients' ideas
- ability to calculate tile layout and cut tiles with as little waste as possible
- knowledge of how to use tiling and cutting tools
- knowledge of health and safety regulations.
Self-employed floor and wall tilers also need business skills.
Floor and wall tilers:
- usually work regular business hours, but may also work weekends and evenings
- work in buildings that are under construction, being altered or renovated
- may work at heights.
What's the job really like?
Daniel Van Den Borst
Floor and Wall Tiler
How did you get into floor and wall tiling?
"When I was at school I did a couple of days' work experience with the guys I work for now, Jos and Marcel Wynands. I always knew I wanted to do a trade – working in an office just isn't for me.
"For work experience I got to work on quite a nice house in Eastbourne where we tiled a pool on the roof of a house. Although I was mostly just helping out with odd jobs and doing the waterproofing, I realised this was what I wanted to get into. I was still at school and had a year or two to go, but once I finished I needed a job and approached Jos."
Any advice for someone thinking of doing a tiling apprenticeship?
"Make sure it's what you want to do before you start. Go and do a few days of work for a tiler before making up your mind.
"I know a few people who have started an apprenticeship and they do complain about money. You do work hard for not too much pay, but when you get qualified, that's when you get more money and it all pays off. Three years of not being very well paid, but in the end it's all worth it."
Floor and wall tiler video
Nick finds out about being a floor and wall tiler – 8.16 mins. (Video courtesy of Just the Job)
Clinton: Well, in Hamilton’s rapidly expanding leafy suburbs, demand for floor and wall tiling is booming. Mike Savage, who has been tiling for 36 years, is to be Nick’s mentor for a couple of days.
Mike: Okay Nick, here’s our first job. This pallet here, we’ll put that on the trailer. Six bags of that, that’s your job mate.
It’s nearly smoko time mate.
Mike: I think the perfect trainee would be good at maths, have good common sense and a good willing aspiration to work.
Hey Nick, the digs are a bit cool aren’t they? I think you better wear a t-shirt today if that’s alright. That looks pretty good pal, you’re part of the company alright?
Clinton: First job, mixing the mud or tiling cement.
Mike: It's variable speed, so don't pull it full-on.
Clinton: A new tiled area has been planned in the hallway by the front entrance.
Mike: Health and safety issues, knee pads, they are not for your head, they are for your knee.
Nick: Why do we use these knee pads?
Mike: You’ve only got one set of knees Nick, look after them.
Mike: So you want a good level of mud, so you get a good even plane on the surface. And that all reflects in the floor level, because floors are never true, so it’s up to you as a tiler to find a good plane.
Nick: Why is it stripy?
Mike: If you have a solid foundation like that, it will key to the tile, but it won’t let the air out. So that lets the air out.
Clinton: Nearly halfway, time for Nick to start spreading the mud.
Mike: Now this is not easy.
Nick: Oh, man this is hard.
Mike: With the notch end, go this way, yep that’s it.
Nick: This is my first time doing wall and floor tiling – it looked easy, but it’s not. It’s pretty hard, especially putting down the mud. And the tiles, you’ve got to judge it right. So yeah, it’s good giving it a go.
Clinton: Tiling around the fixtures in a home requires accurate measuring, so you do need to know your maths. You also need it to calculate costs and quantities.
Mike: OK, Nick, this is a tile splitter, it’s score and break. So every tile you split, you’ve just got to take the sharpness off the edge.
Nick: Why do you do that for?
Mike: Just so it doesn’t cut your fingers, because it’s like glass.
Nick: Oh, OK.
Clinton: Things start to get tricky when you’re cutting the corners.
Mike: Now, the only thing that will cut ceramic or porcelain, or any tile, is a diamond blade.
Mike: I actually think he’s performed pretty well on the wing. Up the front he’s been pretty strong, and in the ruck with the bucket I think that was pretty choice. So, for a Waikato supporter, I think he’s doing all right.
Clinton: Mike’s passion for the job lies in its variety and creativity. Next day, Nick gets taken on a tiki-tour of some of his favourite work.
Mike: Okay Nick, so this is where the skill level comes into it with tiling. You’re looking at polished porcelain tiles, which are a little bit harder to work with. There’s some beautiful tiled showers in the bathrooms and ensuite.
Nick: There’s a lot of detail on these ones.
Mike: There is a lot of detail in the pebbles.
Some people have a natural flair for tiling; it can be quite artistic.
Mike: OK Nick, here’s another example of what the client wanted. They had the stone, and didn’t really know what to do with it. So we came up with a design with the timber and the stone together. The stone looks beautiful, the timber reflects on the rest of the house where there’s solid flooring in there.
Clinton: Tiles play one of the most important roles in bathrooms. Back at the work site, a new bathroom is nearly finished.
Mike: So, this is probably the most important area in tiling, the floor and wall. It has to be right, there’s no room for error. So there’s the stone inserts up the walls – just the white tiles on the wall and the 45 on the floor. So that creates a natural valley for the water to flow down to the waste.
Clinton: Today Russell Alison, the BCITO training adviser, has a meeting here at the work site. In Waikato, there are 34 apprentices doing a floor and wall tiling qualification. Ben Smith, one of Mike’s apprentices, is being checked out today.
Russell: OK Ben, where are we at mate?
Ben: I’ve just finished these ones.
Clinton: The floor and wall tiling national certificate is a hands-on qualification and Russell’s regular meetings with employers keep him up to date with a trainee's progress.
Mike: Thanks Russell, we’ll see you again.
Nick: So Ben, are you enjoying floor and wall tiling?
Ben: Yeah, it’s a pretty sweet job.
Nick: So, what’s the best thing you look at at the end of the day from the job?
Ben: When you finish a job and you see how happy the clients are. That's really good.
Clinton: Tea break over Ben, the tiles laid yesterday need to be finished off.
Nick: So, why do we do grouting?
Ben: It’s just the finishing touch to the tiles, it just makes it look nice. And you can choose a whole range of colours – just whatever suits the tile really. Here you go Nick, your turn now.
Clinton: Quite soon, Nick finds himself bogged down in the grout.
Nick: How would we get rid of all this stuff here?
Ben: You just get a sponge and go over the whole area, it wipes off pretty easily.
Ben: Well that wasn’t too bad for your first time.
Clinton: So has Nick got what it takes?
Mike: I'd definitely be quite happy to employ Nick, especially with the enthusiasm that he has to be working.
Nick: I think it’s gone really well. At the start it looked real easy, but once I gave it a go it’s quite hard. So it’s pretty much easier said than done.
I really liked how it’s unique with the tiles and stuff, not everything looks the same. And the finish makes it look real good.
Clinton: If you’d like to become a qualified tiler you’ll need to complete BCITO’s Level 4 national certificates in floor and wall tiling whilst in employment as part of a managed apprenticeship.
You will work under an experienced tiler who will provide you with on-the-job coaching and support throughout your apprenticeship. You will also have the guidance of a BCITO training adviser.
There are no strict entry requirements to starting a tiling apprenticeship. It will help if you have good maths and English skills as you will need to work out measurements, quantities and angles and be able to understand instructions well.
Tiling’s not just a job, it’s a professional career. It will take you around two to three years to finish your apprenticeship and be fully qualified.
It costs $960 to start, then $705 for each year of training after that.
To start your career in tiling contact the BCITO on 08700 422 486 or visit bcito.org.nz for more information.
There are no specific entry requirements to become a floor and wall tiler. However, you can do an apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Floor and Wall Tiling (Level 4). The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) oversees apprenticeships.
- Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation website - information on training as a floor and wall tiler
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a floor and wall tiler. However, construction and mechanical technologies, maths and English are useful.
Year 11 and 12 learners can find out more about the construction industry, and gain relevant skills, by doing a National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades (Levels 1 and 2) through the BConstructive programme.
For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.
These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.
Floor and wall tilers need to be:
- careful, methodical and accurate
- able to follow instructions
- able to work independently and as part of a team
- trustworthy and reliable
- skilled at planning
- good at basic maths.
Useful experience for floor and wall tilers includes any building and construction work.
Floor and wall tilers need to have steady hands and good hand-eye co-ordination. They spend a lot of time crouching and kneeling, which puts stress on knee joints. They also need to be comfortable working at heights.
Find out more about training
- Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO)
- 0800 422 486 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.bcito.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Strong demand for floor and wall tilers
Chances of getting work as a floor and wall tiler are good due to:
- growth in construction activity, which is expected to continue until at least 2023. This is mainly due to more homes being built
- building work needed to upgrade leaky homes and earthquake-prone buildings.
Floor and wall tiler appears on Immigration New Zealand’s construction and infrastructure skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled floor and wall tilers from overseas to work in New Zealand.
However, like many building jobs, this role can be affected by economic conditions. A downturn in the economy can lower demand for floor and wall tilers.
Self-employment common among floor and wall tilers
Most floor and wall tilers are self-employed, or run their own small business, usually employing up to five other tilers.
- Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation, 'Tiling', accessed August 2018, (www.bcito.org.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 25 June 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Manson, B, manager, Tiling Association of New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, August 2018.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 2018', July 2018, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Ranchhod, S, 'Construction Bulletin – July 2018', July 2018, (www.westpac.co.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Floor and wall tilers may progress to set up their own floor and wall tiling business.
Last updated 11 September 2019