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Procedures And Hints For Tiling Projects

Aug 18, 2007
Whether it's for a house extension, or as part of a factory new-build, attention to floor level is critical. Compare levels at doorways on each side of the room, check existing floor levels in adjacent rooms where walls are to be demolished, and ensure that any remedial work takes into account the thickness of your new tiles + the thickness of adhesive to be used.

String lines or water levels are invaluable assets in this procedure.

If the floor suffers from humps and bumps, it will probably be cheaper to lay a self-leveller than remove the bumps. This is certainly true where more than say 5% of the floor undulates by more than 6mm.

Current cement self-levelling products can be laid at up to 20mm in one pour, and walked on within 3 or 4 hours. Entrances to adjacent rooms should be considered before raising floor levels.

To reduce a floor by grinding is difficult and expensive.

Very often grinding will cost many times more than levelling up by self-leveller, so if you are not certain where levels should be, aim low!

Should your levels be worse than 20mm out then a mortar screed should be utilised. There are many proprietary screeds available, and providing the finished screed levels are reasonably flat, a tile adhesive will cope with any minor level deviations, allowing your tiles to lie flat. Assuming the floor to be flat we can begin preparing for tiling.

Floor Tiling:

When planning a tiling project, your main considerations will be:-

* Thickness of tiles
* Cutting tiles
* Setting out
* Types of tile material
* Floor levels
* Potential slip hazard.

Thickness of Tiles:

When using ceramic or porcelain tiles, these are more or less guaranteed to be calibrated, i.e. the same thickness throughout, and the same overall dimensions

Natural stone is less likely to be so, and some allowance for variation in shade, thickness, and overall dimensions should be accommodated.

It is not un-common to witness variations of 3 to 6mm in the thickness of natural stone tiles, and for this reason they are generally bedded into a sand-cement screed which can absorb these discrepancies. Variations in length and width can only be accommodated through the use of an appropriate joint width.

Natural stone can be supplied as a calibrated tile, but at some extra cost. Since calibrated tiles are generally laid into a thin-bed adhesive, a cheaper process than bedding in sand and cement, the cost of calibration will be mitigated by a reduced installation cost.

Cutting of Tiles:

Ceramic tiles can be successfully cut using 'scriber' type devices. These carve a line through the tile glaze at the point where the tile needs to be snapped off, and a small leverage device actually carries out the snapping of the tile. These devices can be purchased at a cost of 50 pounds or thereabouts, paid for by the savings of doing the work yourself!

Thicker tiles, such as terrazzo or marble, need to be cut with a much bigger rotating diamond blade saw, which is water-fed. These can usually be hired from tool-hire shops, which also rent the transformers to power them.

This is a messy process, so make sure to have some waterproof clothing handy, and follow the hirers safety instructions.

Types of Tile Material:

This is quite a personal and subjective issue, but generally porcelain and ceramic tiles are cheaper and easier to install than natural stone, and much more readily available. Whether they look as good is a debatable point.

Give thought to the wear properties of each material, and consider what the area will be used for when it is finished. Do you need an anti-slip finish? Will chemicals be spilled onto the floor? Seek professional advice if you have any doubts.

Pay special attention to the floor levels before you choose your tiles. Floor grinding is a very expensive operation.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been at the forefront of the industrial flooring industry for 15 years. For more information visit http://www.premfloor.co.uk
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