Ceramic Tile Floor Instructions
In just three steps you can lay a ceramic bathroom floor that will last as long as the house. The first task is to remove the old floor covering, whatever it is. After that, take the upper wooden floor and expose the subfloor. Remove all nails and debris and carefully check the subfloor for signs of rot, warped boards, and damaged spots. If you need to replace any boards, do so now, as the new tile floor will permanently cover the subfloor.
As part of the preparation, remove the door from its hinges and the sill, or saddle, so that the shingles can be placed in a straight line between the interior door frames. Remove the shoe molding and skirting so that the tiles can be extended to the wall.
Finally, consider other obstacles on the floor. Radiators can usually be raised slightly, or at least enough to fit the tiles under them. Water pipes must be surrounded by tiles. Permanent fixtures will also be surrounded with tile.
The second step is to lay the tile. Begin by spreading a layer of waterproof paper over the entire area, overlapping at least 2″ at each joint and folding the edges 1/2 to 3/4″ on the walls and around any fixtures. Support the paper enough to keep it from shifting as you work. On top of the paper, lay a fine mesh metal drywall, nailing it across its entire surface at 6-inch intervals with stainless nails. The bar must be absolutely rigid. Cut the lath with tin snips or wire cutters and fit snugly against the wall. and in the corners To fit around the pipes, cut as shown in the drawing below.
Next comes the cement, a mixture of 1 part Portland cement, 5/2 to 3 parts sand, and enough water to make a gritty mix. Avoid excess water, as the tiles will sink completely in a watery cement. Spread the cement to a depth of 3/4″ and level it. If you have a large area to cover, divide it into sections with soil (3/4″ boards to be used as a guide for leveling the cement) and place only one section at the time. The dregs are removed as work progresses, so do not drive nails in such a way that the dregs cannot be easily removed.
Tiles of this type, sometimes called mosaics, are usually sold in “sheets” of one or two square feet, already glued correctly spaced onto sheets of paper. Place the first sheet on the cement, paper side up, in one corner. Place the next one next to it, keeping the same spacing between sections as observed in the paper glued ones. Continue until area is covered.
Sooner or later you will come to places where tiles need to be cut. They can be broken by first scoring each side with a glass cutter, then breaking them open with a pair of pliers. The jagged edges come off with small pinches with the tips of the pliers. Irregular and curved lines are formed in the same way. Carefully cut surface side to a scored line and remove rough bottom sections at will. Slate and stone cutters, or motor-driven carborundum discs, speed up the tile cutting process but are not necessary.
With the shingles in place, grading begins. Use a length of 2 by 4 with a perfectly flat side and a hammer. Place the flat side against the tiles and lightly tap the wood with the hammer, sinking the tiles into the cement. Move the stick slightly and tap again until the entire surface has been covered. Check your progress with a spirit level to see that no valleys or ridges are created. Where individual tiles stick out, knock them down. During the taping process, the paper to which the tiles were glued will come loose. Remove it and clean the tiles with a damp cloth, being careful not to get any loose.
To fill the cracks between the tiles, make a second cement mix; a 1:3 mix, but diluted with water to a creamy paste. Do this on the tiles and work into the cracks with a brush. Blot the excess, then wipe the tiles with a damp cloth that is rinsed frequently. If you have laid the floor in sections, repeat the entire process until all the tiles are laid.
In doorways, lay tiles in a straight line between door frames. At this point, you will find that you have raised the level of your bathroom floor. This is due to the 3/4″ of cement plus 1/4″ of tile. The old wooden floor was less thick. To make an adjustment between the tile floor and the floor in adjoining rooms, spread a tapered layer of cement across the threshold and place the wooden chair or threshold on the concrete. It will no longer be level on top, but its curved surface is designed to accommodate such differences.
If you decide to replace the baseboard, place a 1/2″ tape of caulking compound around the entire edge of the bath onto the tile and press the new baseboard into this compound to provide a watertight joint. You can of course nail into the baseboard or omitted.
If cement remains on the tiles and has hardened, make a 10 percent solution of muriatic acid and water and wash the floor with it. The acid softens the cement to allow its removal. Wear rubber gloves and be careful when handling the acid. Read the instructions carefully. If the mortar between the tiles has become dirty, wash the floor with sodium hypochlorite or any bleach cleaning fluid.