Tiles are a classic design choice for homes throughout the UK. Whether it’s Victorian style homes that have refreshed existing tile work or modern home interiors with completely new tile installations, you’ll find tiles offering great aesthetic appeal, practicality and sophistication.
Many also choose tile as it’s a relatively affordable material that still offers a more premium finish than materials like vinyl or carpet. However, despite the versatility and beauty of tiles, laying them down on your floor deserves a decent amount of careful consideration. We explore a few things it takes to get your new tiled floor just perfect.
Achieve a Completely Flat Surface
While all floor coverings like wood or laminate flooring need a solid base for installation, some materials are more flexible than others and can adapt as the house expands and contracts, which naturally happens throughout the year.
Unfortunately, ceramic and porcelain tiles, by contrast, do not offer much flexibility or compensation for change.
Without the right kind of floor structure in place, your tiles can end up cracking and splitting rather than bending and flexing as other materials would do. Obviously, this is not ideal and can lead to both the injury of people in your house who might stand on a cracked tile, as well as the need for someone to repair the work.
The best thing you can do when putting down tiles is to ensure you are dealing with a completely even floor before you start. A contractor can easily help you figure this out and let you know about any slumps or defects in your floor’s surface.
Some might not be noticeable to the naked eye so it’s best to measure it. One way to do this is to check the floor with straight-edged pieces of wood or a level and actively look for any low spots.
Ultimately, tiling a wavy and uneven floor is difficult to do and ineffective. As well as being hard to attach the tiles in the first place, it’s much more likely for tiles to become loose or dislodged with uneven surfaces.
Make the Necessary Adjustment to Your Floor Level
If you are installing a completely new floor, perhaps as part of a bigger renovation or installation of underfloor heating, we would highly recommend you work with diligent liquid screed contractors who can put down a completely even and robust surface that will work well with pretty much any floor covering you choose, now or in the future.
However, if you’re not looking to carry out that kind of work, but you have identified variations in your floor’s surface, such as low points or peaks, you will need to address these somehow with the help of flooring professionals.
For all floors with significant variation between highs and lows, it’s well worth putting down a layer of self-levelling liquid floor screed to create a flat surface. You’ll need to bring up the surface to match the rest of the floor.
The beauty of today’s offerings of pre-mixed liquid screed is that it can easily be poured across the floor surface, finding its own level, so that you will be left with a floor that is perfectly flat when you need to lay down your tiles.
Alternatively, if you are only seeing a few high points in an otherwise flat floor surface, you might be able to get away with sanding this area down with the right tool.
Future-Proof Your Floor
When laying a tiled floor, always consider how it will stand the test of time. A nice looking tiled floor can easily be undermined by lack of long-term thinking when it comes to things like water damage protection and movement joints.
Allow for Movement
As mentioned, most solid substrates will naturally shrink or expand over time to some degree and if you don’t plan this into your tiling plan, you could see surfaces become stressed and fractured over time.
Even a completely flat surface isn’t enough to stop this from happening and you will need to create adequate movement joints and expansion gaps to protect your floor’s integrity.
You can also look into using anti-fracture mats which unbind the tiles from the substrate and take away some of the stress between the screed layer and your tile layer. Talk to a professional for advice about this.
Any floor surface in your bathroom or kitchen should be protected against water damage in some way. Even if your tiles are perfectly laid they might still let moisture through due to the way tiles are sealed and joined by grout and fixative which may wear away.
You might also want to consider waterproofing some of the floor and sealing the room to reduce damage from leaks, especially in wet rooms or homes with young children where an overflowing bathtub is a likely occurrence once in a while.
Work with a Trusted Professional
If you are a skilled tiler or willing to take on the challenge of tiling your own floor, then we respect that. But just remember that most people find this task much harder than initially imagined. It’s not the actual application of the tiles to the floor that’s difficult, but making sure that everything fits together perfectly, like a puzzle.
Some rooms are completely symmetrical and box-like, while others have crazy angles or sections where your tiles will need to be cut to shape and applied carefully. For these reasons, we would recommend considering a professional tiler to avoid the various mistakes and problems that arise when tiling your floor.
No two rooms are the same and an experienced tiler will be able to assess your individual floor and propose the best strategy to ensure consistency and surface integrity, within the context of any unusual angles, curves, cuts, heights and the way tiles will interact with the substrate below.
Equally, if you’re planning a floor renovation and new tiled floor installation, you may be in need of liquid screed experts who can ensure you have a completely flat surface before you actually lay down your first tile.
Even if you’re not decided on the type of finish you want to put down in your home, working with a diligent liquid screed company in Oxfordshire can help you ensure any flooring material you choose to put down in the near or distant future will benefit from a flat and flawless surface.