How to tile your laundry floor - Part 2
In Part 1, we saw how to lay the floor tiles. In this part, I'll describe how to fit around awkward shapes, and then some tips on grouting.
My tiles are 300mm x 600mm and the tile saw is too small. So I took the fence off, and instead clamped a piece of wood to the tile. In this way, the fence is now attached to the tile and there is no restriction. Pictures 1 and 2 show this clearly.
Marking out an awkward shape.
When the tile needs to go around a curve, then it's best to make a cardboard template. Then you can make cost-free mistakes. Once it is ready, transfer the shape to the tile - with the tile face-up. Use water-resistant cloth tape because this will not fall off when cutting, and it is easy to see. The tape won't go around a curve too easily, so cut a thin strip.
How to cut a curve
Arbitrary shapes are easily cut by repeated cuts perpendicular to the tangent of the curve. See picture 6.
The little pieces will break off easily. Bend them away from the glazed face.
Be careful of the shards because they will be extremely sharp. These points can be removed with a belt sander (picture 7), or by hand using coarse carborundum paper. If you use a belt sander, then use an old belt because after this little exercise it won't be good for much else.
Choosing the grout.
Choose grout that matches or compliments the colour of the tiles. In my case, the tiles are a deep green and a grey grout blends in nicely.
Additionally, some grout is flexible, and if your gaps are large, it's a very good idea to use flexible grout especially over a substrate that could expand or contract. In my case, I've used this non-flexible grout before over particle board and it has had no problems.
Unfortunately, these products have a limited storage-life, and mine was well out of date which is why it had lumps in it. Luckily, these lumps were not cured, and they could be broken apart. For me, saving $50 with a bit more work was worth the trouble. All I had to do was crush the lumps before mixing with the water. I guess there is a small chance the grout could not perform properly but I was prepared to take that small risk.
The grout should be about the consistency of toothpaste. If it is too watery then it might not be as strong, and if it is too stiff, then it's hard to work and might dry before you finish using the batch. Leave it a couple of minutes to mature, then stir once more before using.
Since my grout was a little old, I took some further precaution. I used a tile as a mixing palette and a scraper to further mix each glob before working it into the tiles. This eliminates every trace of lump and made a nice smooth finish.
Remove all the spacers!
Work the grout deep into the gaps. You can when the gap is full if you can push down on it near one end and see it ooze out. If you don't completely fill the gap, then it will eventually fall out or leave unsightly bubbles.
Note: Some grout contains portland cement which is an irritant. Use gloves.
Use a squeegee to pick up waste from the surrounding tile. Leave it for a few minutes to settle. Then start to smooth the grout.
A grout-sponge has soft rounded corners which prevents digging into the grout. We the sponge and then squeeze out as much water as possible. Very lightly, draw the sponge over the tile in one direction only, across the joint, not along it. Turn the sponge over and repeat.
Now wash the sponge. This seems like a pain to do and you will get the feeling that it might be faster to do more wiping between washing but this is a bad idea. It will just keep smearing grout across the tile and make the grout too wet.
Let it dry for maybe 15 min to 1/2 an hour - depending on the temperature of the room, and repeat this task. By now the grout in the tile should be stiff because the tile draws moisture away and hardens it. Do not miss this step because firmly dried grout is very difficult to remove.
After about an hour or so, you should be able to polish the tiles with a rough cloth without damaging the grout in the grooves. After a couple of more hours, then test to see if all the grout has been removed from the surface of the tile.