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Saturday, November 14, 2009

New 18" Tile Floors for Two Bathrooms

I spent the last few days working in Mt. Juliet at a beautiful new home. Most of the time, new homes are marketed with lots of space, but not necessarily many upgrades inside. These clients have been working hard to make their newer home a showplace with lots of custom trim, tile and paint colors. They called me to lay tile in their two upstairs bathrooms.

Both the upstairs master bath and guest bath came with vinyl floors and white walls. The homeowners wanted the floors to seem as much like one large piece of tile as possible. We did this by using huge 18" tiles and very small 1/8" grout lines.

The tiles are glazed porcelain, which is a ceramic tile that has a coating of porcelain making it nearly impervious to stains or mildew as well as easy to clean.

I started by laying 1/4" Hardibacker cement board throughout both bathrooms over a layer of modified thinset. The purpose of the thinset is to give a solid supporting layer underneath the cement board and fill any small holes or cracks. The cementboard is very resistant to moisture and won't expand or contract like a wood subfloor does.

One of the other tricks to this project was that it was upstairs in a home full of white carpet! A scary thought when you consider carrying around a bucket of tabacco-colored grout. Nonetheless, with ample preparations like lots of plastic anywhere that I might decide to walk and dropcloths in the work areas the carpets were still white when I left!

Working with 18" tile isn't that different than other tiles. I have a small tablesaw-like wet saw which cuts these tiles without a problem despite it's small size and 4 1/4" blade. Some of the sliding-table wet saws will not work with 18" tile because the arm that holds the motor will be in the way of the large tile.

At the end of an intense four days, the floor was looking great but will be even better when accompanied by some color on those walls, which, I'm sure, is coming soon...


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