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Instructions of Ceramic Tile Floor
In just three steps you can lay a ceramic tile floor in the bathroom which will endure as long as the house itself. The first task is to take up the old floor covering, whatever it may be. After that, take up the wood top floor and expose the subfloor. Remove all nails and debris and check the subfloor carefully for signs of rot, warped boards and damaged spots. If any boards need replacing, does it at this time, for the new tile floor will cover the subfloor permanently.
As part of the preparation, remove the door from its hinges and the threshold, or saddle, so that the tiles may be laid in a straight line between the inside door casings. Remove the shoe molding and baseboard so that the tiles may extend to the wall.
Finally, consider other obstacles on the floor. Usually radiators can be jacked up slightly, or at least enough to lay the tile beneath them. Water pipes will have to be surrounded with tile. Permanent fixtures will also be encircled with the tile.
The second step is laying the tile. Begin by spreading a layer of heavy waterproof paper over the entire area, overlapping at least 2″ at every joint, and turning up the edges from 1/2 to 3/4″ at walls and around fixed objects. Tack down the paper sufficiently to prevent moving it while working. Over the paper lay a fine-mesh metal plaster lath, tacking it down over its entire surface at 6″ intervals with rustproof nails. The lath must be absolutely rigid. Cut the lath with tin snips or wire cutters and fit it closely against the wall and in the corners. To fit around pipes, cut as shown in the sketch below.
Next comes the cement, a mixture of 1 part Portland cement, 5/2 to 3 parts sand and just enough water to make a sandy mixture. Avoid too much water, as tiles will completely sink into a watery cement. Spread the cement to the depth of 3/4″ and level it off. If you have a large area to cover, divide it into sections with grounds (3/4″ boards that will be used as a guide in leveling off the cement) and lay only one section at a time. Grounds are removed as work progresses, so do not drive nails in such a way that the grounds cannot be easily removed.
Tiles of this type, sometimes called mosaic tiles, are usually sold in one or two square-foot “sheets,” already pasted at correct spacing on sheets of paper. Lay the first sheet on the cement, paper side up, in one corner. Lay the next alongside, keeping the same spacing between sections as is observed on the ones pasted to the paper. Continue until the area is covered.
Sooner or later you will come to spots where tiles must be cut. They can be broken by first scoring each side with a glass cutter, and then snapped with a pair of pliers. Ragged edges are flaked off by little nips with the nose of the pliers. Irregular and curved lines are formed in the same way. Nip off the surface side carefully to a marked line and remove the rough lower sections at will. Slate and stone cutters, or power-driven Carborundum discs, speed the process of cutting tiles but are by no means necessary.
With the tiles laid in place, leveling off begins. Use a length of 2-by-4 with a perfectly flat side and a hammer. Lay the flat side against the tiles and tap gently on the wood with the hammer, sinking the tiles into the cement. Move the stick slightly and tap again until the entire surface has been gone over. Check your progress with a spirit level to see that no valleys or ridges are created. Where individual tiles protrude, tap them down. During the taping process, the paper to which the tiles were pasted will come loose. Remove it and wipe the tiles with a damp cloth, taking care that none are dislodged.
To fill the cracks between the tiles, make a second mixture of cement; a 1:3 mix, but thinned with water to a creamy paste. Pour it over the tiles and work into the cracks with a paint brush. Mop up the excess, and then wipe the tiles clean with a damp cloth frequently rinsed. If you have laid the floor in sections, repeat the entire process until all tiles are laid.
At entrances, lay the tiles in a straight line drawn between the door casings. At this point, you will discover 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 wood floor was less thick. To make an adjustment between the tile floor and the floor of adjoining rooms, spread a tapered layer of cement across the threshold and lay the wooden saddle or threshold over the cement. It will no longer be level across the top, but its curved surface is designed to adjust such differences.
If you decide to replace the baseboard, lay a 1/2″ ribbon of caulking compound around the entire edge of the bathroom on the tile and press the new baseboard into this compound to provide a watertight joint. Quarter-round shoe molding may, of course, be either nailed into the baseboard or omitted.
If there are left-over traces of cement on the tiles and it has hardened, make a solution of 10 per cent muriatic acid and water and wash the floor with it. The acid softens the cement to permit removal. Wear rubber gloves and be careful in handling the acid. Read the directions carefully. If the mortar between the tiles has become soiled, wash the floor with sodium hypochlorite or with any chlorine cleansing liquid.
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