Inspiration and advice for your building project
Stone and slate floor tiles look great and provide a hardwearing, waterproof surface for a kitchen, hall, conservatory or bathroom. Its worth buying all the tiles you will need in one go to avoid any differences between batches allow at least 10% for wastage.
Tiling with same sized tiles is well within the scope of a competent house restorer but random pattern tiles do require a little moe planning and time. Here, Fired Earths African Slate random pattern tiles are laid in a large L-shaped conservatory. This should provide a cool surface thats easy to keep clean.
1. The floor must be smooth and level to accept the new tiles. These tiles are being laid on a new concrete screed, levelled to allow for the thickness of the tile. Fill any large holes with a self-levelling compound. If you have a boarded floor, this will need to be covered with water-resistant plywood at least 12mm thick to form a stable, rigid sub-floor. Use stainless steel fixings to avoid staining the grouting.
2. The secret of successful floor tiling is to spend time working out the tile positions known as setting out. First, mark the mid-point of the longest wall and make a chalk line at right angles to this mark. You can then work outwards from this reference line. To make the job easier, you can also add a centre line between the shorter walls. Remove the skirting boards and door thresholds.
Lay out the tiles from one side of the line but make sure the random pattern is set out by offsetting some of the tiles. Otherwise, you will have an obvious line across the finished floor.
3. Mix up the powder adhesive with a stirring rod attached to a power drill. Its essential the mix is thoroughly stirred and is wet enough to stay workable as you lay each section of tile. Dont try to use adhesive that has begun to harden.
4. Use a notched spreader to apply adhesive under one or two tiles at a time. Work in 0.5m2 sections at a time. Always use a notched trowel so that the adhesive is spread in evenly sized ribbons across the floor. The ribbons make it easier to move the tiles into the exact position required. Use the recommended plastic spacers to keep uniform gaps between each tile.
5. As you work, use a spirit level to check that the tiles are level. Buy a 1-2m level for accuracy and re-check regularly.
6. Lay a straight metal edge or timber batten across the tiles to check the surfaces are level with each other. Stretch the batten diagonally across the tiles as well as along the surface.
7. Work towards the edges of the room, keeping the pattern as random as possible. At this stage lay as many whole tiles as you can to fill in the majority of the floor.
8. Next, make a template of any awkward shapes or use a profile gauge to transfer the shape to the tile. Cut and use tile nibblers to form the shape needed.
9. Add adhesive and fit the shaped tile around the obstacle. Remember to leave an expansion gap around the edge of the floor of at least 10mm.
10. Measure the small infill sections around the edges, allowing enough for grouting in between each tile.
11. A water-cooled electric tile saw is the best tool for cutting slate and thick floor tiles. Always use goggles and follow the safety instructions provided with the tool. Alternatively, use an angle grinder.
12. Fit the small off-cuts around the floor edge. Its often easier to butter the back of the tiles with adhesive rather than trying to spread adhesive on a small floor area.
13. When all the floor adhesive has had time to thoroughly dry, move on to the grouting stage. Mix up the dry powder grouting in the same way as the adhesive.
14. Use a smooth rubber-edged spreader to force the grouting into the gaps between the tiles. Work the tool in sweeping strokes diagonally across each joint face.
15. Clean off as much excess grout as possible with a clean sponge and plenty of clean water. Turn the sponge over frequently to remove as much grout as possible. Dont walk on the tiles until you have protected them with sealant.
TIP: If any of the gaps at the room's edge are less than half the width of the smallest random size tile, move your chalk line across to increase the gap.