Ceramic Floor Tiling 3 - Surface Preparation Ceramic Floor Tiling 3 - Surface Preparation

  1. Before you start, clear away anything that will get in the way or get wet like rugs, towels, glass bathroom shelves, and other accessories.
  2. It's important to cover any drains that are in close proximity to the job with some tape so that debris won't fall down the drain and cause it to clog. For a sink, also line it with cardboard so as not to scratch it.
  3. Remove the baseboards as well as door and window trims by using a pry bar. Be careful not to damage the walls as you do this.
  4. Remove the faucet handles, escutcheons, shower heads, and spigots. Use a cloth between your wrench so as not to scratch these pieces.
  5. Remove the toilet. Don't ever tile around a toilet while it's in place. First, turn off the supply valve to the toilet. Then flush the toilet to drain off the water in the basin. Next, pull the little white caps at the base of the toilet off and with a small wrench undo the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. Get some help to gently lift the toilet off the wax drain ring and put it aside on old newspapers and rags to soak up any excess water drops.
    As for any cabinetry in place, it's generally easier to tile the whole floor surface rather than having to cut and fit around it, but you may decide in your particular situation to work around the cabinetry.
  6. When installing tile to the floor you will most likely be increasing the height of the floor where it will be necessary to cut the bottom of the door. To do this, first mark the bottom of the door by stacking two pieces of tile alongside of the door. This will assure you that the door will swing clear of your newly tiled floor.

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Floor Underlayment

  1. Proper backing for the tiling surface is very important. Backing for the tile floor may consist of exterior grade heel-proof plywood, lauan underlayment panel, mortar based backer board, or exterior plywood underlayment. It should be at least 11/4" thick over a minimum of 16" on center floor joists. Otherwise a "flex" can cause tile to pop out of place.
  2. If you are installing a new underlayment, it's recommended that you staple polyethylene plastic on top of the subfloor before you install the underlayment to ensure protection from water penetrating down to the subfloor.
  3. If applying a sheet of plywood underlayment, leave a slight gap between panels and about 1/4" along the edges to allow for slight expansion and contraction.
    You can fill low areas with this quick drying patching compound using a wide application blade to create as flat a surface as possible.
  4. Stagger the joints of the underlayment in a brick-joint fashion and be sure that underlayment seams do not fall directly over existing subfloor seams. With whatever underlayment you use, except the backer board, slightly countersink or "dimple" all the nails.
    Whatever you do, don't ever use particle board, flake board, or masonite as underlayment for ceramic tile and be sure that your surface is dry and clean.
  5. If you use a mortar based backer-board, seal the joints and seams with the proper joint compound and then seal with a moisture resistant bonderizer.
  6. You can lay tile over concrete, just make sure to give it a minimum of 28 days to cure. Vinyl tile can also be applied directly over existing tile or vinyl unless the vinyl is sponged backed. If the vinyl is glossed, you'll need to de-gloss it to get a proper bond.
  7. Before you start, when you are checking your materials, check the doorways to determine the tiles you'll need to finish the exposed edges properly. For example, if your finished floor level is going to be higher than the adjoining room or hallway, you should get bull nose tile to create a smooth transition. If the floor meets a carpeted edge where the levels are pretty much the same, then a regular square edged tile will probably be fine.


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