Levelling floor tiles


G

GMM

Of all the things I have done on houses, I have never yet laid
ceramic / stone / etc floor tiles and I'm steeling myself to do this
in our hallway, which is only about 6 sqm (so not too much of a
disaster if it's a screw-up!). Anyway, there is always plenty of
advice about getting the pattern right and square but I can't find any
tips on getting the level right, which seems pretty crucial for a good
finish. The floor is concrete, so no problems with flexing etc.
Ideally, I'd like to bring the tiles up to the level of the floor they
meet (should be enough, but not too much, room for this). I guess the
question is whether there is a clever way to set the levels apart from
spending a lot of time with spirit levels, which is the only approach
that seems practical to me. In the absence of a clever way, I was
thinking that I would set something (eg some battens or maybe
plastering guides) to mark the level and lay the central block of
uncut tiles to this, then let them set and run out from these to do
the edges. Does that sound sensible? Any advice would be very welcome.
 
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G

geraldthehamster

Of all the things I have done on houses, I have never yet laid
ceramic / stone / etc floor tiles and I'm steeling myself to do this
in our hallway, which is only about 6 sqm (so not too much of a
disaster if it's a screw-up!). Anyway, there is always plenty of
advice about getting the pattern right and square but I can't find any
tips on getting the level right, which seems pretty crucial for a good
finish. The floor is concrete, so no problems with flexing etc.
Ideally, I'd like to bring the tiles up to the level of the floor they
meet (should be enough, but not too much, room for this). I guess the
question is whether there is a clever way to set the levels apart from
spending a lot of time with spirit levels, which is the only approach
that seems practical to me. In the absence of a clever way, I was
thinking that I would set something (eg some battens or maybe
plastering guides) to mark the level and lay the central block of
uncut tiles to this, then let them set and run out from these to do
the edges. Does that sound sensible? Any advice would be very welcome.
I may not be the best person to reply to this, having done it only
once, but here goes anyway.

Firstly, I wouldn't start at the centre of a hall and work outwards,
because I'd want to avoid standing or kneeling on tiles I had already
laid until the adhesive was well hard (so to speak). If you use a
suitable notched trowel, designed for this purpose, it will create a
level, even bed of adhesive (which you spread for each new area as you
go). Then it really is down to a spirit level, or at least a
straightedge, to ensure that the tiles don't go up and down.

Assuming you are using cement-based adhesive, err on the side of a
stiffer mix.

If you are wanting a really deep bed of adhesive, to raise the level,
then this might be less easy to get right first time.

If the floor is bare concrete, seal it with dilute PVA first.
 
S

Stuart Noble

geraldthehamster said:
I may not be the best person to reply to this, having done it only
once, but here goes anyway.

Firstly, I wouldn't start at the centre of a hall and work outwards,
because I'd want to avoid standing or kneeling on tiles I had already
laid until the adhesive was well hard (so to speak). If you use a
suitable notched trowel, designed for this purpose, it will create a
level, even bed of adhesive (which you spread for each new area as you
go). Then it really is down to a spirit level, or at least a
straightedge, to ensure that the tiles don't go up and down.

Assuming you are using cement-based adhesive, err on the side of a
stiffer mix.

If you are wanting a really deep bed of adhesive, to raise the level,
then this might be less easy to get right first time.

If the floor is bare concrete, seal it with dilute PVA first.
What you're really after is marrying up the 4 corners of your area and
having the tiles between them at the same level, so the chances are none
will register 100% level on a spirit level. You just need a couple of
lengths of 2" x 1", one cut to size for the length, and one for the
width. Use them to level the tiles as you go. On the length you'll be
checking that the batten sits on both the far corners and leaves no gap
on the tile you're laying.
I know you're supposed to start in the middle but, providing you've laid
a line out and know where they're going to end up, you can work from
whatever edge suits you.
 
T

The Natural Philosopher

GMM said:
Of all the things I have done on houses, I have never yet laid
ceramic / stone / etc floor tiles and I'm steeling myself to do this
in our hallway, which is only about 6 sqm (so not too much of a
disaster if it's a screw-up!). Anyway, there is always plenty of
advice about getting the pattern right and square but I can't find any
tips on getting the level right, which seems pretty crucial for a good
finish. The floor is concrete, so no problems with flexing etc.
Ideally, I'd like to bring the tiles up to the level of the floor they
meet (should be enough, but not too much, room for this). I guess the
question is whether there is a clever way to set the levels apart from
spending a lot of time with spirit levels, which is the only approach
that seems practical to me.
Levels and strings, thick and variable cement beds and endless patience
is the only way sadly.
In the absence of a clever way, I was
thinking that I would set something (eg some battens or maybe
plastering guides) to mark the level and lay the central block of
uncut tiles to this, then let them set and run out from these to do
the edges. Does that sound sensible? Any advice would be very welcome.
Use string(and a long level) instead to get the main run, and a small
level across them.

Then run strings across to keep the other rows more or less correct.

I found rapid set Ardurit to be ideal. Almost no slump at all in beds up
to 1.5" thick in places (crap screed job. Don't ask :)) Use tail ends
of cement buckets to fill major hollows.
 
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G

GMM

Thanks chaps - It looks as though nothing really beat a bit of hard/
careful work does it?
 

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