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Floor Preparation


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Floor Preparation for Bathroom and Kitchen Remodels

There’s a guiding phrase in construction that you may have heard: “Measure twice, cut once.” 

Or maybe you’re more familiar with Ben Franklin’s version: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Or another corollary: “Penny wise, pound foolish.” Both phrases are critical, with respect to tiling.  Tiling is definitely something you don’t want to have to do twice. My own motto, in fact, ties in here: “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”

Leveling the Floor before Laying Tile

It’s more often than you might expect that I find floors that aren’t level. While it’s not ideal, you can make that work sometimes with linoleum or carpet, but it doesn’t make sense to go the the effort and expense of tiling a floor, when it’s not level to begin with.  In one recent job, a large family’s clothes washer was literally hopping around in its spin cycle because the floor beneath it was uneven. 

Before I begin any project, I determine whether the floor is level.  If the surface is uneven, we'll discuss options for rectifying the problem before laying tile.
 

In the video here, I am going to use a self-leveling material.  Once poured onto the concrete, it flows to the lowest part of the floor and levels out the lower areas. 

The other option for a homeowner is to grind the concrete down to level out the high spots.  This method of leveling creates a lot of concrete dust, which is very undesirable when the homeowner is living in the home while the tile work is being done.  As a consideration for my clients, I try to make my work as dust free as possible.

 

Seal before Laying Tile

In a recent basement-level laundry/bathroom remodel, water damage was revealed after pulling up the existing linoleum.  To prevent this from happening in the future, a waterproof membrane was applied, as an extra step to ensure beautiful tile, and no rework for years to come.  Without this extra protection, you may have tiles popping up or mold growing in the future—forcing you to redo the project, or deal with a moldy laundry room, which can be a health hazard, in addition to the odor.  It takes more time, of course, but—in the end—a few extra hours can be well worth the peace of mind, knowing that you’re eliminating potential water damage with your new tile and remodeling investment.

After we’re confident that we have a level floor surface, and knowing that water damage is no longer a concern, we can move on to coming up with a tile-installation strategy for the particular room that we’re working with.  Click here to go to the page that covers optimizing a room for tile layout, grouting, and managing transitions.


Last Updated: June 10, 2013