Ceramic floor tiling provides an attractive look to complete your home and is a step up from 1980s vinyl flooring. From bathrooms to kitchens and door entrances here is some handy advice for completing your own project.
Prepare The Base Floor -It is essential that the concrete surface is level and sound. If there are pronounced dips or hollows or expansion joints these should be filled and levelled using underlay- AC sheeting or levelling compounds. There are a number of fillers available for this job. Also, when tiling whole house floors, tiling should not be carried out for 3 months after pouring concrete. The concrete floor should be dry, that is, has lost its initial dampness. Check this by placing a rubber mat on the concrete overnight. If there is moisture on the surface when you move the mat next morning the concrete is too moist for tiling.
Laying Out The Tiles -In a bathroom most of the cut edges can be hidden under the bath, vanity unit or around the toilet. If possible it is better to tile the floor with all the bathroom fixtures removed. Make sure that the tiles look straight. If the room is not ‘square’ or is an irregular shape this can be a problem. Line up the tiles on the floor so they look straight as you enter the room.1. Mark a chalk line on the floor down the centre of the room parallel with the wall that will give the best layout.2. Lay the first row of tiles down this line.3. Work outwards towards the walls leaving a space between the tiles. Plastic tile spacers should be used to make this gap between the tiles. Any gap between 3mm and 12mm can be used. Often a wide gap of 6mm or more is more attractive than a narrow gap.4. If the final line of tiles before the wall is less than half a tile wide, adjust all the tiles across until the gap is at least half a tile wide. This avoids small cuts which are extremely difficult to make.
Cutting Tiles -Floor tiles are usually thicker than wall tiles and therefore harder to cut. They are also more expensive, so to minimise wastage and save money it is well worth hiring a floor tile cutting tool, ask at your local Bunnings Warehouse Hire Shop. To mark the correct shape to fit shapes, cut a piece of cardboard as a template. Use this to mark the cutting line on the tile.
Straight Cutting At Edges -Place a whole tile on top of the last complete tile that was adhered in place. Then hold another whole tile on top of this tile so that it touches the wall, mark a line along the underneath tile. The off-cut from the underneath tile will fit into the gap.
Laying Tiles -Apply adhesive to floor with a notched spreader or trowel. Push each tile onto the adhesive until it oozes out at the corners. Remove any excess adhesive and leave to dry fully before grouting. Check the information on the adhesive pack. Apply adhesive to an area of about one square metre at a time or it can start to harden before the tiles are applied to it. Use tile spacers between every tile and ensure these are pushed down fully to enable you to grout over them. Every so often use a straight edge or level to make sure all the tiles are laying flat. Any tiles above or below the level of adjoining ones should be removed and some adhesive adjusted. Do not leave this job for too long or it will be impossible to remove the tiles. Fix all whole tiles, then cut and fix the tiles round the edge.
Grouting -Grout when the adhesive is fully dry after a 24hr period, and not before. Using waterproof grout, force the mixture between the gaps in the tiles with a grout spreader, working in a diagonal motion. Remove any surface grout regularly with a damp cloth.
Cleaning - With a clean wet sponge wash out and wipe away any remaining grout until the joints are smooth and level with the tiles. After 30 minutes of drying a hazy grout film should appear, wipe that away with a soft cloth.
Sealing -Apply a silicone or water-based grout sealer to the joints, remove any drips on your tile with a rag. This can make them more water and mildew resistant, and help keep dirt out of the joints. Manufacturers generally recommend waiting until the grout it set and dry, allow at least 72 hrs (check product instructions). Always check tiles for faults before laying and always do a moisture content test when laying tiles directly onto a concrete floor.