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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Prepare the Door Jambs for Tile

One of the marks of a professional tile job is how the door jambs look when you're done. The idea is to not leave any raw edges of tile showing. These should be covered with trim of some kind, unless it's up against a threshold or cabinet. Let's talk about how I handle the tile around the door, which can be a tricky spot.

To make the cuts to the door jamb or casing, I use one of my new favorite tools, a Rockwell Sonicrafter. It has a small blade that oscillates back-and-forth allowing you to make plunge cuts into wood that would be otherwise impossible, or at least, barely possible.

I used to attempt these cuts with a reciprocal saw which is crazy at best. It's hard to control and I would normally end up replacing all the casing after the damage I made...

The Sonicrafter comes to the rescue. It's nearly identical to the Fein Multimaster, but costs much less. I considered the Fein, but for the amount of use that I give it, I think the Rockwell tool will suit me fine. So far I'm thrilled with it and I'm sure I'll think of many more uses for it as time goes on.

Anyway, for this project, I laid the blade over a scrap of the 1/2" Hardibacker and a piece of tile and used this height to guide my cut. Adding to this the width of the blade, this will usually be exactly the right height to allow me to slide the tile in underneath later.

This picture shows how it looks after I've laid the tile. The marble threshold butts up to the inside of the door jamb, while the tile slides under the casing back to the wall. Any exposed edges will get covered up by the baseboard and shoe moulding.

For most bathrooms, I like to use a marble threshold (also called a sanitary sill) at the doorway. This should be placed directly under the door, but it's typically wider than the door. I prefer to notch the door jambs and slide it forward until it's flush with the door jamb on the inside.

If you don't do this, you'll have a small place in the corner that won't get covered by the door casing where you'll have a tricky cut or a very small piece of tile to deal with as you can see in this picture.

Grouting the tile and caulking around the threshold complete the job and hopefully leave the homeowner with a top-notch finished product.


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