Floor and Wall Tiler
Kaiwhakatakoto Taera Papa, Taera Pakitara
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Floor and wall tilers lay tiles on internal and external walls and floors.
Floor and wall tilers who are new usually earn
$16-$20 per hour
Experienced floor and wall tilers usually earn
$25-$36 per hour
Source: Careers New Zealand research, 2016.
Pay for floor and wall tilers varies depending on location, qualifications and experience.
- Apprentice floor and wall tilers may start on the training minimum wage, with their pay increasing as they gain experience and unit standards.
- New floor and wall tilers not doing an apprenticeship usually start on minimum wage or a little more, with their pay increasing as they gain experience.
- Experienced floor and wall tilers usually earn between $25 and $36 an hour.
- Those running their own business may earn more than this, but their income depends on the success of their business.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
Source: Careers New Zealand research, 2016.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job 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 cement 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 hours, and may 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 the job?
"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."
Nick finds out about being a floor and wall tiler – 5.41mins. ( Video courtesy of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation)
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: I think the perfect trainee would be good at maths, have good common sense and a good willing aspiration to work.
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: 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. 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: Because you’ll 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: OK Nick, so this is where the skill level comes into it with tiling. You’re looking at polished porcelain tiles, there’s some beautiful tiled showers in the bathrooms and en suite. Some people have a natural flair for tiling, you 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 their 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 for Ben, and 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 easy.
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 really like tiling, it’s unique with the tiles and stuff, not everything looks the same. And the finish makes it looks really good.
Clinton: There are two certificates in floor and wall tiling – a Level 2 introductory qualification and a Level 4 trade-level qualification. You need to have a good understanding of maths, reading and writing. NCEA Level 1 or 2 maths and English are preferred. If you are creative and have an eye for detail, then a BCITO apprenticeship in floor and wall tiling is for you.
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
No specific secondary education is required for this job, but maths, English and technology to NCEA Level 2 are useful.
Year 11 and 12 students can learn 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 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience.
- BConstructive website - information on the BConstructive programme
- Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation website - information on the Gateway programme
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.
Find out more about training
- Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO)
- 0800 22486 - email@example.com - www.bcito.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for floor and wall tilers are good due to:
- a construction boom that is predicted to last until 2021, meaning more building work
- the extra 22,000 houses that are needed over the next 10 years in Auckland
- building work needed to upgrade leaky homes and earthquake-prone buildings
- increased demand for tiling in public buildings and up-market houses
- the Christchurch rebuild, which is predicted to extend until at least the end of 2017. Floor and wall tiler is included on Immigration New Zealand's Canterbury skill shortage list, which highlights occupations expected to be in shortage during the rebuild of the region.
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
Nearly 70% of floor and wall tilers are self-employed, or run their own small business, usually employing up to five other tilers.
- BRANZ and Pacifecon, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 4', July 2016, (www.branz.co.nz).
- Bryan, R, office manager, PTS Tiling, Careers New Zealand interview, August 2016.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
Progression and specialisations
Floor and wall tilers may progress to set up their own floor and wall tiling business.
Last updated 30 May 2017