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How to tile your laundry floor - Part 1

Updated on January 25, 2012

Preparation

You need a surprising number of tools for this job. It's best to do all the preparation first, and gather the tools in one place because otherwise you might find yourself frantically hunting for things while the tile adhesive gradually becomes unusable.

The instructions on the adhesive states for how long it is workable, and this is normally dependent on temperature and humidity. The one I chose remained workable for 2.5 hours. It's best not to mix too much especially at first because then you can gage how fast you can work for the remaining time.

My project was for a laundry floor over particle-board. Over time, the floor has settled and this caused some dips and unevenness. So I used a floor-leveller first. The alternative is to use more adhesive where there are dips, but this quickly gets very time consuming and fiddly. You end up with a poor result because it's hard to make the tiles flat.

I put a coat of waterproof membrane over the top of the floor leveller. It's not that this is a permanently wet area, but there is the potential for leaks, so it's a good idea to prepare the floor in case of flooding. Of course, the floor waste should go in a place that is lowest. This is called profiling the floor. In some cases (like mine) the floor naturally falls away from the edges. This is because in the corners, I put some plastic angle. I sealed them to the floor with waterproof glue and stapled them in place. This made the edges a little higher than the centre.

Tools.

1  Spirit level. Drop sheet. Extension cord. Jigsaw. Cloth tape. Floor grate.
1 Spirit level. Drop sheet. Extension cord. Jigsaw. Cloth tape. Floor grate.
2 Drill bit Scraper. Tape measure. Pencil. Piece of sturdy, straight wood. Rubber mallet. Plastic tile wedges. Squeegee. 10mm notch trowel. Tile spacers. Tile adhesive.
2 Drill bit Scraper. Tape measure. Pencil. Piece of sturdy, straight wood. Rubber mallet. Plastic tile wedges. Squeegee. 10mm notch trowel. Tile spacers. Tile adhesive.
3 And of course - a RADIO!
3 And of course - a RADIO!

Tins of stuff.

4 This is the water-proof membrane that I used. It stinks like nothing I can describe. Stupidly, I did it in the evening, and the smell permeated through the house. The kids hated me. We had to open up every window. It tailed off after a few hours.
4 This is the water-proof membrane that I used. It stinks like nothing I can describe. Stupidly, I did it in the evening, and the smell permeated through the house. The kids hated me. We had to open up every window. It tailed off after a few hours.
5 This is the floor leveller.
5 This is the floor leveller.
6 You will need a mechanical method of mixing the tile adhesive because it needs to mixed well. This is not possible to do by hand because it is thick and sticky. The drill needs to be quite powerful.
6 You will need a mechanical method of mixing the tile adhesive because it needs to mixed well. This is not possible to do by hand because it is thick and sticky. The drill needs to be quite powerful.
7 This is s long straight-edge recovered from a built-in-wardrobe. If you don't have a straight edge, then a string line will do, but don't hammer nails in the floor to anchor it because that will put a hole in the waterproof membrane.
7 This is s long straight-edge recovered from a built-in-wardrobe. If you don't have a straight edge, then a string line will do, but don't hammer nails in the floor to anchor it because that will put a hole in the waterproof membrane.
8 These tiles are 300mm x 600mm. Being quite large, you can't have much of a slope on the floor, and the surface needs to be flat. Lay out the tiles and check out where they lie in the room. Use the scraper on any high spots, reapply membrane.
8 These tiles are 300mm x 600mm. Being quite large, you can't have much of a slope on the floor, and the surface needs to be flat. Lay out the tiles and check out where they lie in the room. Use the scraper on any high spots, reapply membrane.
9 Start with a full tile at the edge of the door. This looks nice compared to a cut-tile. Use the straight edge and draw a guideline along one edge of the tiles. This will ensure you keep on-target when tiling.
9 Start with a full tile at the edge of the door. This looks nice compared to a cut-tile. Use the straight edge and draw a guideline along one edge of the tiles. This will ensure you keep on-target when tiling.
10 This is a water bottle that I used as a measure. The tile adhesive required 1.7L for 8Kg of mix. It's a good idea to measure this rather than guess.
10 This is a water bottle that I used as a measure. The tile adhesive required 1.7L for 8Kg of mix. It's a good idea to measure this rather than guess.
11 Put the water in first, then the powder and mix until you see no lumps or dust. The consistency should cause peaks that don't relax.
11 Put the water in first, then the powder and mix until you see no lumps or dust. The consistency should cause peaks that don't relax.
12 Oh - You will also need a drink, and some silicone. Don't get the two mixed up.
12 Oh - You will also need a drink, and some silicone. Don't get the two mixed up.

Start work.

13 After 10 minutes, the adhesive is ready to use. Spread some out with a trowel. It won't pour out.
13 After 10 minutes, the adhesive is ready to use. Spread some out with a trowel. It won't pour out.
14 Smooth out one or two tiles-worth to a depth of about 5mm.
14 Smooth out one or two tiles-worth to a depth of about 5mm.
15 Then use the 10mm notched trowel to create grooves. Be consistent and scrape away to the floor every time. This will ensure the tiles all lie flush to each other. If they don't then tap them in or use a wedge.
15 Then use the 10mm notched trowel to create grooves. Be consistent and scrape away to the floor every time. This will ensure the tiles all lie flush to each other. If they don't then tap them in or use a wedge.

Some tips

16 Gently drop the tile exactly butted to the others. Then pull the tile away to make a gap.This pulls the glue away from the joint. If you push the tile towards the others, then the gaps fills with glue. Any excess must be removed.
16 Gently drop the tile exactly butted to the others. Then pull the tile away to make a gap.This pulls the glue away from the joint. If you push the tile towards the others, then the gaps fills with glue. Any excess must be removed.
17 Gently tap over the tiles with the sturdy straight edge and a rubber mallet. This will spread the glue a little better. Also check again that each tile is level. If not, slide it back and insert a shim or wedge under the recessed join.
17 Gently tap over the tiles with the sturdy straight edge and a rubber mallet. This will spread the glue a little better. Also check again that each tile is level. If not, slide it back and insert a shim or wedge under the recessed join.
18 Use the squeegee to get the last bits of adhesive from the sides of the bucket.
18 Use the squeegee to get the last bits of adhesive from the sides of the bucket.
19 Check for flatness before going too far. It quickly becomes very difficult to lift the tiles. If you must, then use a wooden wedge.
19 Check for flatness before going too far. It quickly becomes very difficult to lift the tiles. If you must, then use a wooden wedge.
20 At this stage, including preparation and layout, I'd been working for two hours. The tiling part was quite quick because there were no fiddly adjustments to make. Ensure that the tiles all line up with each other properly.
20 At this stage, including preparation and layout, I'd been working for two hours. The tiling part was quite quick because there were no fiddly adjustments to make. Ensure that the tiles all line up with each other properly.

Calculations

Now that you have used a certain amount of adhesive, count the tiles that it laid. In this way, you can calculate the remaining adhesive requirements and not have any waste.

Here is an example.

Let's say you used 4Kg of powder and this laid 10 tiles. How much powder do you need for 7 more tiles?

Remember those stupid IQ tests where you get silly questions like:

Dog is to bark, as cat is to _________.

You have to fill out the missing word? Well you can do the same thing with tile adhesive - only using a little bit of algebra.

4kg is to 10 tiles as x kg is to 7 tiles.
Now put this in mathematical language:
4 = 10 like x = 7.
We can express this as a ratio:
4/10 = x/7

Now it's a simple bit of algebra. Multiply both sides by 7 to leave x on the right hand side:

7 X 4/10 = x
so x = 28/10 = 2.8 Kg.


You need 2.8 Kg of powder. Weigh it out an put it in a spare dry container. Now how much water?

The instructions say 8 Kg of powder needs 1.7L of water.

8 is to 1.7 like 2.8 is to x
8/1.7 = 2.8/x


divide both sides by 2.8. This will leave 1/x on the right hand side.

8/(1.7 X 2.8) = 1/x

Now flip both sides upside down:

1.7 X 2.8 / 8 = x
x = .595 

( 0.6L of water is close enough ). Measure out the water and mix the adhesive into it. You will find the consistency is perfect, and you won't have much (if any) left over after 7 tiles.

A Sanity check

21 Using the straight edge, line up the tile's gaps and check against the line drawn onto the floor. In my case, it drifted out a little, and I had to bring the tiles back into line by tapping on the right. Ensure 8mm gap between tiles and wall.
21 Using the straight edge, line up the tile's gaps and check against the line drawn onto the floor. In my case, it drifted out a little, and I had to bring the tiles back into line by tapping on the right. Ensure 8mm gap between tiles and wall.
22 I used the spirit-level to find the lowest spot for the floor grate. We are now one tile away from this. So I laid out the tile and positioned the grate upside down to draw around it.
22 I used the spirit-level to find the lowest spot for the floor grate. We are now one tile away from this. So I laid out the tile and positioned the grate upside down to draw around it.
23 Here is the (badly) drawn circle. I actually drew the inside as well which was not needed. Drill a hole for the jigsaw blade. Also check that this spot is not covering a joist!
23 Here is the (badly) drawn circle. I actually drew the inside as well which was not needed. Drill a hole for the jigsaw blade. Also check that this spot is not covering a joist!
24 Cut the circle along the line (not either side) using the jigsaw. Clean up all the dust and wipe it with a damp cloth.
24 Cut the circle along the line (not either side) using the jigsaw. Clean up all the dust and wipe it with a damp cloth.

A tip:

I drew not lines - but arcs to give a rough indication where the next tile comes to. This way, as the adhesive covers the pencil line, you can still estimate where lies the peak of the arc. Pull the adhesive just past this point. Keep checking the straight-edge line and adjust the tiles as you go. After a while it will be impossible to nudge them.

25 Check that the grate fits well, and lines up exactly in the corner of one tile only. This removes the need to cut two or four tiles and makes a neat job.
25 Check that the grate fits well, and lines up exactly in the corner of one tile only. This removes the need to cut two or four tiles and makes a neat job.
26 You can't easily draw on gloss tiles, so mark the cutting edge with the waterproof cloth tape.
26 You can't easily draw on gloss tiles, so mark the cutting edge with the waterproof cloth tape.
27 I used a wet-saw and diamond tip blade to cut out for the grate. Use a smooth-type blade not the fluted type. Then it won't chip the tiles glazed surface.
27 I used a wet-saw and diamond tip blade to cut out for the grate. Use a smooth-type blade not the fluted type. Then it won't chip the tiles glazed surface.

Normally, the plumber would have placed a waste drain at some point in the floor and it will eb already plumbed it in. In that case, then you should really measure away from that point to make the grate land at the edges of tiles or purchase a hole-cutting saw suitable for tiles and use a round grate. These tools tend to be expensive so you could hire one or buy one then sell it afterwards. By the way, the smaller the tile, the more steeper gradient possible. This is why shower basins use small tiles. For large ones, tilers will often cut them on the diagonal to permit a fall towards the grate.

In my case, I decided that "look" to be ugly as it would work better with square tiles, and opted for a properly waterproofed floor and a gentle slope. This floor is open underneath, so in a case of flooding, the water can simply fall out the hole. I will put a fly-screen net and a pipe underneath to stop bugs and vermin.

28 If this was a wet-area, like a shower basin, then this would not be acceptable because you need a much more complicated set-up. But in this case, put a bead of silicone sealant around the edge.
28 If this was a wet-area, like a shower basin, then this would not be acceptable because you need a much more complicated set-up. But in this case, put a bead of silicone sealant around the edge.
29 The silicone will take a long while to cure and allow you to lay the surrounding tiles then adjust it for level. Make it a tiny but lower than the edge of the tile. Later I will fix a pipe via access below. (The house is on stilts).
29 The silicone will take a long while to cure and allow you to lay the surrounding tiles then adjust it for level. Make it a tiny but lower than the edge of the tile. Later I will fix a pipe via access below. (The house is on stilts).
30 Time for lunch. Note how the fiddly parts eat up the time before you get to eat up.
30 Time for lunch. Note how the fiddly parts eat up the time before you get to eat up.
31 The last row of tiles needs cutting. Measure this, and find the smallest measurement that fits all along without cutting on an angle. Leave a gap at the wall which will be hidden later under skirting.
31 The last row of tiles needs cutting. Measure this, and find the smallest measurement that fits all along without cutting on an angle. Leave a gap at the wall which will be hidden later under skirting.
32 This is the wet saw. It's just a cheap job - about $45. The original blade was poor quality and wore out rapidly. A quality replacement lasted a long time and cost $40 -- nearly as much as the machine.
32 This is the wet saw. It's just a cheap job - about $45. The original blade was poor quality and wore out rapidly. A quality replacement lasted a long time and cost $40 -- nearly as much as the machine.
33 I use a tape-measure with a flat back. Measure between the tile and the wall and lock the tape. This measurement is then transferred to set the fence on the saw.
33 I use a tape-measure with a flat back. Measure between the tile and the wall and lock the tape. This measurement is then transferred to set the fence on the saw.

Tips:

  • Slope the table away from you by setting up on sloping ground and water will drain away too. Then you won't be standing in mud.
  • Elevate extension-lead plugs and sockets to keep them away from water.
  • Use eye protection.
  • Use hearing protection.

34 This cheap saw needs periodically filling with water. A more expensive one would have a continuous feed.
34 This cheap saw needs periodically filling with water. A more expensive one would have a continuous feed.
35 I found that my old blade was worn thinner than the rife and the tile would not pass all the way through. So I had to take a break and purchase a new blade. This ate up another hour.
35 I found that my old blade was worn thinner than the rife and the tile would not pass all the way through. So I had to take a break and purchase a new blade. This ate up another hour.
36 Here is the semi-finished floor. I've got seven tiles left. These will go in places where I don't intend to have fixed furniture. Wait 24 hours before grouting.
36 Here is the semi-finished floor. I've got seven tiles left. These will go in places where I don't intend to have fixed furniture. Wait 24 hours before grouting.

Stay tuned...

I stopped today's work at about 5pm.

In the next articleI will describe how to cut a concave corner from the tiles to finish the tiling, and then do the grouting.

Comments

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    • bruzzbuzz profile image

      bruzzbuzz 

      6 years ago from Texas , USA

      Wow. For a daunting task that requires a great deal of tools, you make tiling a laundry floor look possible for an average DIYer. Thanks for your wonderfully detailed hub.

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