Laying Tile on your Uneven Floor

Determine requirements and obtain materials

Measure the room and examine the floor. If the surface is concrete or
old tile, then you will not need to follow Section 2. If it is a wood
floor, Section 2 is required. Obtain enough roofing felt and metal lathe to cover the floor if
Section 2 is required,. Both can overlap slightly, so an exact quantity
isn’t required. You will need enough roofing nails for one nail every
4-6 inches.

Divide the square footage of the room by 3 and use that number as the
cubic footage of sand required. Get one back of Portland cement for
each 8 cubic feet of sand.

Prepare Wood Subfloor

Roll out the roofing felt and cover the entire floor. Let the felt
sheets overlap each other slightly. Once you need help from a local tile contractor don’t hesitate to get in touch with them.

Lay the metal lathe over the felt
and nail down with roofing nails. Pull the lathe tight as you place each
nail. You don’t want the lathe to have any bounce. The lathe sheets can
overlap slightly or have slight gaps between them.

Install the Mud Bed

Mix the cement with dry sand in the wheelbarrow. This should be a
large commercial wheelbarrow approximately 5 cubic feet in size. Fill
the wheelbarrow almost full with sand leaving enough room for half a bag
of portland cement and room to mix. Add half of a bag of cement and mix
with the hoe until there is not unmixed sand or cement visible in the
wheelbarrow. You can do the mixing with just a flat-bladed shovel, but a
large hoe makes the job much easier.

Add water to the mixture a little at a time and mix it thoroughly.
Start off with about a gallon of water. Continue mixing and slowly
adding water until your mixture feels like wet sand. It should just
stick together good if you clench some in your fist. The mixture
shouldn’t be soggy or drip water when you pick it up in your hand.

Use the shovel to place two lines of the mixture across the floor.
One line should start at the highest point on the floor and extend
parallel to one of the walls, preferably toward a door. The other line
will be parallel to that one close enough that you can bridge both lines
with your longest straight edge.

Press and tamp down on the mud mixture to compress it. Your starting
place at the highest point on the floor should be at a depth of about an
inch. Place a piece of the lattice strip on the line with the starting
point. Using the level and again starting at the high point, move the
level back and forth, pressing down on the lattice strip to make it
level with your starting point. When complete, you should have one level
line of mud, fully compressed which is level with your starting point
about an inch above the highest point on the floor.

Place another strip of lattice strip on the other line. Use the
straight edge to span the two lattice strips. Place your level on the
straight edge and tamp down on the second strip until it is level with
the first. Next using the level, make the second line of mud level in
the same fashion you used on the first. At this point, you have to lines
of cement that are level with each other. This will be your working
level for the rest of the floor.

Fill the area between these two lines with mud, mixing more as
needed. Spread the mixture fairly even and level to a height an inch or
two above your lattice strips. Use the trowel to tamp it down firmly.
The area between the two strips should now be full and tightly
compacted, slightly higher than the lattice strip. Carefully remove the
lattice strips and replace them with a shorter length of 3-4 feet.

Place the straight edge across both lattice strips starting at one
end of the room. Using a sawing back and forth motion, pull the excess
mud from the center so that it is flush with the lattice strips. Use the
trowel to smooth back over the surface. If the trowel sinks into the
mud or makes a depression, trowel more mud into that area and repeat. As
you back across the room in this fashion, you should be leaving a
smooth, level cement surface flush with the lattice strips.

Slide the short lengths of lattice strip back as you go, giving you a
new surface to work from. Carefully, fill the void left by the lattice
strip with mud and smooth with the trowel. Now as you complete each
section, you are leaving a smooth, even, cement floor behind you.

Continue backing across the room using the same method until the
entire room is covered and even. You now have an even surface on which
to install the porcelain tile.

Laying the tile

Mark a straight line off the longest wall, two tile widths plus the
width of your grout joint, preferably in a line of site from a door.
This will make sure the tile looks straight even if the room is out of
square. Mix thin-set according to package directions and spread it with
the notched trowel between the line and the wall. Place the tile against
the line and work toward the wall. Gently twist or tap the tiles into
the thin-set to ensure a good bond. Make any needed cuts against the
wall with the tile saw. Porcelain tile is harder and usually larger than
ceramic tile, so a tile saw is preferred rather than a traditional tile

Continue working across the floor in this fashion, spreading and
tiling a couple of feet at a time. Make cuts as you go with the tile
cutter. Allow the floor to set 24 hours when complete. If it sounds difficult you can get help from a local licensed contractor.

Mix grout according to package directions. Spread using the grout
float, forcing grout into all joints and pulling the excess off with the
edge of the float like a squeegee. Wash grout off of the surface of the
tile with a damp sponge while smoothing the joints at the same time.
Allow grout to dry to a haze and then wash again with clean water. Allow
to dry, then buff with a clean dry towel if necessary.

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