Tile is a large investment in your home or business. Unfortunately many people are under the impression that slapping tiles on the floor is child’s play. Anyone can do it and do it well…this is simply not true. The truth is that floor tile installation is a complex and intricate process; one that is easy to mess up, leaving you with an unflattering floor. There are a couple key items that are important to a quality floor tile installation:
This is the first and most important step in the floor tile installation process. Tile needs a stable, non-moving subsurface to do its job. If there is any “give” in your subfloor, your tile and grout will eventually crack and become an eyesore, or worse, a hazard! Even if you add brand new plywood however, your floor might not be level, having peaks and valleys.Once your tile is installed, this will give the illusion of being on the ocean – up and down and rolling all over!
To fix this, a little bit of floor prep is required. This usually entails a self-levelling compound, but could also include Dry Pac or grinding of the substrate.
Once we know that your floor is flat we use one of two methods to stabilize the subfloor in a wood frame installation:
-Plywood/Hardi Backer: Depending on what kind of subfloor you already have, we will add the appropriate substrate to make your floor stable and ready for tile. Usually this is either 1/2″ plywood or 1/4″ Hardie Backer. Occasionally we also use 5/8″ or even 3/4″ plywood. We screw these boards down every 3-4 inches around the perimeter of each sheet, then 6 inches in the middle, ensuring that it will stay in place. In the case of Hardie Backer we also use thin set to bond the board to the previous subfloor.
-Schluter Ditra System: A polyethylene membrane with a grid honeycomb structure, the ditra is bonded to the subfloor with thinset, followed by the tile being bonded to the ditra with thinset. This provides the best possible solution for vapour transmission, waterproofing and protecting the tile surface from substrate movement. This product is often seen on many home improvement and DIY shows.
This is where the installation begins to look good, and, as a bonus, speeds up the installation process! There are numerous layout options for every single room, but the bottom line is that you have to dry lay your tiles, or measure snap lines to form a grid.
This must be done well before you even mix your thinset so you know exactly where each tile will be going and what size pieces you will require.
This helps prevent snap layout decisions that could result in an unattractive layout.
Using a laser and/or a chalk line to create reference lines on your floor help ensure your install is nice and straight. Giving your installation a more uniform and professional look.
Thinset- This is what bonds your tile to your substrate. Don’t skimp here; use the best materials you can buy as using a cheaper thinset material will ruin your tile, layout and floor levelling. Make sure the tiles have close to 100% contact with the floor through using the proper notched trowel and back buttering the tiles.
Grout- When choosing grout, keep in mind what the room will be used for. You can get away with a lighter colour in the bathroom, but if you have 4 kids who love mud, it’s probably not best to use the same light colour in your back entryway. Sealing grout will ensure your grout colour lasts for years. There are also different options for grout in addition to unsanded and sanded. Epoxy is great for areas where you are looking for ultimate durability, and there are premium blended grouts that can be used on any size grout joints and have superior stain resistance.
With many potential hurdles and pitfalls, it is important that whoever installs your new floor does so with care and attention to detail. This ensure’s that everything is done correctly so that your new floor lasts a lifetime.