Special ceramic, porcelain, or stone tile flooring is the focus of this section. A marble mosaic medallion is the first example below. This section will also detail special flooring projects using ceramic, porcelain, or stone tile. Please visit the other sections in The Tile Doctor dealing with floor tiling for additional information.
Eventually this section will detail the installation of chemically resistant tile floors, sound rated tile flooring, and tile floor warming systems.
Speaking of tile floor warming systems, let’s look at what the industry offers us today. Basically there are hydronic or heated water systems and electrical systems which are powered by high and low voltage.
In the hydronic line there are systems that use a plastic type water line and systems that utilize copper lines. The water is heated to the desired temperature and the routed or pumped through the lines heating the adjacent areas in contact with the lines. Look at this industry offering from Warmboard, Inc. Their system consists of a 1 1/8” subfloor panel which is routed out for the hydronic tubing and the routed out channels are then covered with aluminum sheet.
In the electrical line there are manufactured mesh mats, like the one we will show you later in this section, manufactured rubber mats, and ones where the installer runs the heating wires in a grid fashion. Electrical current heats the wires to the desired temperature which in turn heats the areas in contact with the wires.
Both the water and electrical systems work well and have distinct advantages which the purchaser must weigh out. Generally, the hydronic system is installed in a fairly thick application due to the large tubing while the electrical system is generally much thinner. The hydronic system generally is installed as part of a new construction effort while the electrical is handy for thin remodeling projects.
Let’s look at one of the industry’s offering from Warmly Yours, Inc. The following text and photographs are compliments of Warmly Yours, Inc. and we wish to thank Fred Selvais for his expert instructions and help in the process.
The area in this project to receive the warm floor was a large bathroom located on a residential second floor. We therefore had to prepare the subfloor to receive the warm floor product and eventually travertine stone floor tile.
As in other areas of The Tile Doctor website, we prepared the bathroom floor for the warm floor and travertine tile by installing a backerboard surface. For more on the backerboard processes go to: Floors Interior .
Here Fred explains the Warmly Yours radiant heating mesh mat system and we develop a game plan from the simple to follow instructions included in the kit. We also examine the enclosed mat, thermostat, warning buzzer, and wiring.
Dr’s Tip: This system relies on the integrity of the heating element wire and the wires that are at either end of the mat. Care should be exercised not to injure any of these wires. The only thing that is OK to cut is the mesh. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions carefully.
Fred then measures the room to make sure that we have enough mat to cover all the necessary areas that we wish to warm under the travertine tile.
He then showed me how the mat lays out in a “dry” fashion and then explains how to cut the mat to fit.
There are wires at each end of the mat. There is a white wire which is 26 feet long and a yellow wire that is 13 feet long. The layout is situated so that these two wires can meet at the thermostat and power station. This system runs on 110 volt AC. It may be best to have a qualified electrician install a box and power up the unit. In our case, we located he thermostat and power box right next to the entrance door where there was already power at a light switch.
The mat, when in the process of heating the floor, will draw approximately 11 amps for our 200 square feet installation.
The mat is then cut and laid out in the room without using any staples or glue. Final adjustments are made for coverage.
At this point the wires are arranged and lead back to the point that they will enter the electrical wall and box. The wires are connected to the alarm buzzer which will sound if the wires are cut or damaged.
A hole is drilled that will allow the wires to enter the floor plate just above the subfloor and then the wires are fished up through the wall to the junction box. It is a good idea to reconnect the alarm buzzer if it was disconnected during this step.
Note the one wire with the large diameter black connector. Both ends of the mat will have these. If possible recess the floor where this connector is located. It will be glued in place later.
It is at this point that the floor temperature sensor is installed. Locate the sensor in a part of the floor that will not be covered with furniture or anything else that will radiate heat back into the floor. The sensor tip should be between the heating element wires. The point here is to avoid situations that will create false sensor readings.
At is point the loose wires are inspected and held in place with hot glue and the mat is stapled in place using ¼” staples.
Dr’s Tip: The heating element wires within the mesh must never overlap. Whenever possible, the control wires and sensor should also not overlap.
This is the finished floor warming system.
The point in using the glue and staples is to hold the mat and wires in place for the steps that will follow. It is at this point that the installer could thinset and tile directly over the mat.
We elected to float the mat in place with a self leveling mortar bed.
The travertine tile was then installed in thinset over that.
This next topic will detail the installation of a geometric design. The balance of the floor was installed in this residential project. While the floor was in the layout stage, the geometric design was included and chalk lines were placed in the appropriate position.
The marble tile selected for this design was then cut into the necessary shapes using a template provided by the homeowner.
When the tiles were cut, they were laid out in the design to verify the fit.
The installer then set about the task of installing the tiles on the concrete slab using latex Portland cement mortar.
Following the installation, the tiles were allowed to cure and were grouted along with the balance of the floor.
These are some fine examples of beautiful mosaic floor tiles.
The following photos deal with a special need for a waterproof floor for a commercial bathroom. These photos are courtesy of Paramount Tile in Riverside, California.
The project started with the removal of existing tile by the demolition crew. This left the sub-floor pitted and uneven hence not suitable for the subsequent flooring. The remedy for the project included waterproofing the floor. This was accomplished using a premium liquid applied waterproofing membrane. The membrane is reinforced at all corners and extends up the vertical surfaces by 2".
Following the waterproofing step, the floor is carefully pre-floated with a self-leveler.
Note the technique used by the tile mechanic in using the self-leveler.
The techniques for installing the tile after the waterproofing and leveling steps does not differ very much from the steps elsewhere in The Tile doctor.
This includes grouting and eventual sealing of the grout joints.