Surface Prep Requirements When Laying Tile

With an abundance of colors, designs and sizes to pick from, tile features custom style and durability for floors, countertops and walls. Tile is a high-end end, due in part to the high labor costs of installing the shingles. If you’re familiar with basic tile setting tools, then you can save yourself money by laying your own shingles. Preparing the surface correctly can mean the difference between a tile job that lasts a life or tile that comes and breaks loose.

Proper Floor Structure

Once the grout sets, a new tile floor is a good sheet, along with any movement of the floor under can cause the ground to decipher. Because of this, it isn’t a good idea to install a tile floor over floor trussesthat can be made to move or “deflect.” A traditional floor consisting of joists offers a much better foundation for tile.

What Lies Beneath

Tiling is an alternative for covering old flooring that would be tricky to eliminate, like an existing tile floor. This is a frequent practice during remodeling projects, however, the best-case situation is to lay new tiles directly on underlayment. Concrete slabs are acceptable for laying tile so long as they are flat and never crumbling. Exterior-grade plywood or cementboard provide optimum surfaces for laying shingles. Carpeting and loose or bubbling linoleum must be removed, as must old tile that isn’t well-adhered into the substrate below.

Tiling Countertops

Laying tile on countertops takes a moisture barrier to protect the plywood or fiberboard that rests on the cabinet base. An effective means to accomplish this would be to set a 4-mil polyethylene sheet above the plywood base, then put cement board on top of that. Wrap the polyethylene above the edges of the plywood to guard it and install a narrow strip of cement board along the edge to hold it in position. Without adequate moisture protection, water, especially around the sink, can seep through grout joints and saturate the plywood base, causing it to delaminate, swell and crack the countertop.

Walls, Showers and Tub Surrounds

Tile does not need to be around a flat surface; tiled walls add custom fashion to bathrooms, mudrooms and playrooms. For walls not subject to moisture, then you can tile above ground, but remove old wallpaper. Greenboard, a type of moisture-treated drywall, is acceptable for walls that will not experience frequent splashes of water. If you’re masonry inside shower walls that will often be wet, then install cement board and tape seams with fiberglass mesh tape made for cement board (do not use standard fiberglass drywall tape) along with mortar. Utilize a shower pan liner on a bathtub floor before laying shingles.

Wash Surface

A clean surface is crucial for laying tile. Vacuum or sweep away all debris and dust. Remove loose floor tiles and fill the voids with thinset. If you’re tiling over existing glazed tile, then scuff the surface of the old shingles, either with sandpaper or with a chemical sanding alternative, to remove the shine for the mortar or thinset to efficiently adhere.

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