Tiling A Screened Porch: Grouting The Floor

So you have a screened porch and you want to tile it? I say GO FOR IT! With a little time and instruction anyone can accomplish this task.

Tiling a Screen Porch: Grouting the floor

By Walt Lange

Depending on the overall area of the porch you wish to tile the project can easily be done in one or two weekends by most homeowners, unless there are a couple of things that have to be done first which I will start by explaining.

This pre-tiling inspection will depend on if you have a raised porch area or a ground level concrete slab floor. Depending on the type of tile you intend to use, most cases people tile this type area with a 12 inch square tile, either ceramic or Saltillo and they add an accumulative weight to a raised porch. Check the foundation, structural support to assure that it will handle the increased weight of the tile and fortify if necessary. On a concrete slab, check for larger than usual cracks, all concrete slabs do crack due to the normal shifting of the earth, and repair any major cracks to maintain an even, smooth surface for your tile.

Raised Porch: To prepare a raised wooded porch for tiling it is recommended that you lay a 1/8 to ¼ inch sub flooring material that is hardboard that can be found at your local Home Improvement Center. Lay the sub flooring flush together at the seams and screw to the existing decking or flooring. DO NOT install screws any closer than 8 inch spacing this will allow for normal expansion and contraction, using joint compound (commonly called "mud") smooth all seams to maintain a consistent surface for your tile. Now we can begin.

Tools and supplies required:

1. Enough tiles to cover the area and usually a 15 % excess to allow for breakage.

2. A tile cutter

3. Mastic or the recommended adhesive for the type of tile to be installed

4. A mason's trowel and a tiling trowel (the tiling trowel is smooth edged on one side and grooved on the other check with your Home Improvement Store for the proper size grooves for the type of tile you plan to install.)

5. A chalk line and measuring tape

6. Tile spacers (size per recommended type for the grout spacing)

7. A large carpenter's square or similar type straight angle.

First measure the area to be tiled and find the center, then working from the center mark a grid pattern to fit the tile and grout spacing with your measurements and chalk line.

Depending on whether you are using a premixed Mastic (or adhesive), mix according to instructions. Working from the center out using the mason's trowel lay a portion of adhesive at the center and with the tiling trowel, using the smooth side lay and even coat over an approximate 24 in square area. Mark the center of your floor space with one of the tile spacers, then with the grooved side of the trowel, holding it at a 45 degree angle drag the trowel edge through the layer of adhesive leaving a pattern of rows of the adhesive. Placing your tiles from the center out and lightly push or tap the tile to seat in the adhesive. Check the first tile for plum to the wall with your carpenter's square.

Place tile spacers upright between the tiles at all corners and then continue to lay your tile using the same method previously mentioned working in a circular pattern out from the center of the floor space. As more tile are added check frequently for level across the faces of the tile in all directions. Once all the tile are in place allow to stand at least 24 hours or as indicated by the adhesive mfg., check the tile to see that it is firm and not wiggling in any manner. Before drying remove all spacers gently so that you do not move tile position. You will notice that from working center out that you will have probably rows along the edges where you will have to cut the tile to fit, along the walls leave the space of a tile spacer.

After all the tiles are set firm and the adhesive is thoroughly dry, with and damp sponge wipe the faces and edges of all the tile clean of any excess adhesive that may have stuck to the face of the tile.

The final step is to grout the areas between the tiles and up against walls. For this part of the project you will need the following tools and supplies:

1. Three five gallon pails or buckets.

2. One or more large square sponges.

3. A bundle of clean dry cloths

4. Grout compound mix (in the color of your choice)

5. A rubber float, (this is similar in appearance to the tiling trowel with the following exceptions, the face of the float is rubber and all sides are smooth.)

6. A ½ to ¾ hp drill motor.

7. A mixing paddle.

In one five gallon container, mix about ¼ bag of grout compound at a time, using the drill motor and paddle adding water slowly until the compound has the consistency of a grainy putty. You do not want to mix more than you can apply in a 20 min segment at one time as it sets up rapidly.

Pour a moderate to generous portion of the grout mixture on top of the tiles, continuing to work out from the center of the room. Then with the rubber float, holding it at a 45 degree angle at all times and working in a 45 degree angle across the groove with consistent pressure work all the grout mixture into the grooves and continue this process until you have used all the grout you have mixed. You will see a haze on the face of the tiles where the grout mixture has been dragged across the tiles.

The two remaining five gallon bucket should be 2/3 to ¾ filled with clear clean cold water. Use one to rinse off your tools to keep compound from drying on the float causing drag lines in your grout and the other for washing the tile. Where you see the haze from the grout dragged across the face of the tile, squeeze out a wet sponge until just damp and wipe the tiles clean of haze, rinsing the sponge frequently. Always wipe again at a 45 degree angle to the grout lines and gently along each grout line in one smooth strokes with very light pressure.

After everything has dried, the adhesive, grout, etc. wipe down the tiles once more with clean cold water and rinsing often. Then wipe dry and buff with clean cloths.

Depending, once again, on the area to be tiled this is possible to be accomplished in just a few weekends or less by the average homeowner.

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