Patching and Repairing a Basement Concrete Floor

Patching and Repairing a Basement Concrete Floor

Before you can install your new floor, you’ll need to examine your concrete basement floor to ensure it meets the finished floor’s installation requirements.

After a long deep search and with my 5 years of work in this field I will resume my experiences and the tricks in this article and answering these questions: How do you fix a crumbling concrete floor? Why is my concrete crumbling? What causes cracks in a basement floor? and more.

Any basement floor should be free of cracks and holes, and it should be level. If a concrete floor has a crack but the area is firm, you can repair it with epoxy injection as for a wall. But if the damage covers a fairly large area, chip it out and pour concrete. If your floor feels wobbly when you walk on it, call in a pro for evaluation, you may need to tear out and repour, regardless of what finished floor you’re going to lay down. You can also fix a floor that’s not level.

Chipping and filling a damaged area

  • To repair a damaged, raised, or otherwise unsuitable area for the flooring you want to install, you could use a masonry saw to cut an outline that is about 2 in. deep. Or, use a rented electric jackhammer to chip the area out, taking care not to dig too deep. (Most basement floors are 4 in. to 6 in. deep, but in an older home, it may be only 3 in. deep.)
  • To keep the dust down, have a helper hold a vacuum hose near the chipping blade. Remove all material to a depth of at least 11⁄2 in. below the surrounding surface. Vacuum the area and slightly dampen it. Mix batches of high-strength concrete and pour into the area.
  • Use a board that spans across the patch to roughly “screed the concrete”: drag it across, then use a sawing motion to push the stones down.
  • Smooth the surface to suit your needs. Use a wood or magnesium float, then a steel trowel, to bring the liquid to the surface and to feather out the patch where it meets the surrounding floor.
  • The slower the concrete cures the stronger it will be, so cover with plastic or spray with a mist every 8 hours or so to slow down the curing.

Leveling with self-leveling compound

  • If an area of the floor dips down more than 1⁄4 in., it will adversely affect almost any kind of flooring. Check your floor by dragging an 8-ft. level or a long, perfectly straight board across it in two directions at all points.
  • Where you see a significant rise, just chip it away if you can; otherwise, follow the steps on the previous page for chipping and filling. Where you see a dip, fill it with “self-leveling compound.” This product does not quite live up to its name—you can’t just pour it and walk away—but it is easy to level and feather out. Mix a batch according to directions, so it is pourable and pours into the area.
  • Smooth it with a trowel.
  • Take care to feather the edges as finely as possible. Avoid overworking the surface more than a few strokes will bring too much fine material to the surface, weakening it. Check with a straightedge to make sure you are filling the indentation but not raising the patch above the floor surface.

OR

  • Test the floor to see how level it is. Use a laser level to project a level line on all walls. Mark the line and then measure down to the floor. Compare measurements to determine if the floor is level. If you are installing a subfloor, you can correct the unevenness by shimming under low areas. But if the floor height varies by more than an inch, you should pour floor leveler compound in the low areas. In more extreme cases, you’ll need to resurface the entire floor.
  • Break up and remove very high areas or eruptions, and patch the area with concrete that is leveled with the surrounding surfaces. Use a rental jackhammer to break up the concrete. A hand maul and cold chisel also may be used if the area is not too large: most concrete basement floors are only 3 to 4″ thick.
  • Grind down high spots if they are small and far apart. A rented concrete grinder makes quick work of the job. Even larger areas can be ground down if your ceiling height is already limited (less than 7 ft.).

How to Repair Floor Cracks

  • Prepare the crack for the repair materials by knocking away any loose or deteriorating material and beveling the edges down and outward with a cold chisel. Sweep or vacuum the debris and thoroughly dampen the repair area. Do not allow any water to pool, however.

  • Mix the repaired product to fill the crack according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Here, a fast-setting cement repair product with acrylic fortifier is being used. Trowel the product into the crack, overfilling slightly. With the edge of the trowel, trim the excess material and feather it so it is smooth and the texture matches the surrounding surface.

How to patch a small hole

  • Cut out around the damaged area with a masonry-grinding disc mounted on a portable drill (or use a hammer and stone chisel). The cuts should bevel about 15° away from the center of the damaged area. Chisel out any loose concrete within the repair area. Always wear gloves and eye protection.

  • Dampen the repair area with clean water and then fill it with the vinyl concrete patcher. Pack the material in with a trowel, allowing it to crown slightly above the surrounding surface. Then, feather the edges so the repair is smooth and flat. Protect the repair from foot traffic for at least one day and from vehicle traffic for three days.

How to Patch a Large Hole

  • Use a hammer and chisel or a heavy floor scraper to remove all material that is loose or shows any deterioration. Thoroughly clean the area with a hose and nozzle or a pressure washer.

OPTION: Make beveled cuts around the perimeter of the repair area with a circular saw and masonry-cutting blade. The bevels should slant down and away from the damage to create a “key” for the repair material.

  • Mix concrete patching compound according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and then trowel it neatly into the damaged area, which should be dampened before the patching material is placed. Overfill the damaged area slightly.

  • Smooth and feather the repair with a steel trowel so it is even with the surrounding concrete surface. Finish the surface of the repair material to blend with the existing surface. For example, use a whisk broom to recreate a broomed finish. Protect the repair from foot traffic for at least one day and from vehicle traffic for three days.
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Preparations Before Installing New Hardwood Floor

Preparations Before Installing New Hardwood Floor

Job Preparation

Although most of the satisfaction of installing a beautiful wood floor comes from actually putting down the flooring and not from preparing for the installation, poor preparation often means that beauty will be short-lived. Whoever works on the wood floor is responsible for ensuring that all conditions are ready for the flooring project to commence. it’s always wise to look for potential problems, and many potential problems are water-related.

Preparing The Building

 

Most wood flooring failures are the result of excess moisture. It’s crucial for the flooring installer to verify the moisture content of both the flooring and the structure before proceeding.

The first step in preventing water damage to wood flooring is to ensure that no moisture can enter the building. inspect the exterior of the building thoroughly.

Water should drain away from the building and not into it; downspouts from the gutters should also drain away from the building, and windows and doors should be installed and not leak. moisture from any of these sources has ruined countless wood floors. houses under construction are invariably wetter than they will be in service.

Allow construction dampness—from fresh concrete, wet lumber, plaster and drywall finishing, and drying paint—to dissipate before delivering the wood flooring.

how long to wait depends on how much moisture was initially put into the building and what is being used to remove it. Wood flooring should be delivered only once the house is at the correct moisture level.

most manufacturers produce flooring with moisture content between 6 and 9%, and they recommend the flooring be maintained in this range for best performance. This coincides with the normal comfort range for humans, 30 to 50% Rh at 60 to 80ºf.

to help maintain this moisture content in the flooring, the average moisture content of the framing members should be below 14% before delivering the flooring. floor joists, framing bottom plates, and doorways are generally a good place to measure moisture content with a moisture meter. The heating and cooling system should also be running before delivering the wood flooring.

This will aid in removing residual construction moisture and help get the interior of the home to its normal expected environmental conditions. You may need to run temporary HVAC equipment such as portable heaters, air conditioners, blowers, and dehumidifiers on-site if the home’s permanent system is not operational. it may take a week or two with the HVAC operating to remove the residual moisture from the building.

 

Water stains on the subfloor are a telltale sign of leaky doors and windows. Be sure doors and windows are properly flashed so as not to leak before installing a wood floor.

Moisture in the baseMent

 

Buildings under construction get wet— from the rain before the house dries into moisture dissipating from materials such as green lumber, concrete, plaster, and paint. Always be sure the building is dry before installing hardwood floors.

Basements (and crawlspaces) in both existing and new buildings can be areas of high humidity. While the effect of this on flooring installed in a finished basement is obvious, moisture can migrate upward from any foundation and affect wood floors in the stories above.

moisture is liberated from the building’s foundation as the concrete cures. There may also be moisture vapor permeating through the pores of the concrete from the ground under the concrete slab. even in new construction, many concrete slabs do not have vapor barriers under them to prevent moisture migration.

The ones that do often have only a piece of 6-mil plastic with holes in it, which negates much of the effectiveness of the barrier. Throughout the summer in much of the country, basements and crawlspaces are cooler than the outside air coming into them. As the air cools, the humidity level rises—a problem exacerbated in humid areas, where the cool surface of the concrete may condense moisture out of the air.

This moisture can migrate into the flooring. it’s sometimes common for the subflooring and the bottom of the wood flooring above the foundation to have moisture contents ranging from 12 to 17%. This level is unacceptably high, and basements and crawlspaces may require dehumidification to remove moisture from the air.

 

Flooring grades take into account not only defects such as knots but also length and color variation. And what’s a defect to some people is a character to others, as evidenced by the range of color in the hickory (left) and the knots in the Australian cypress (right).

Choosing flooring materials: grades and species

hardwood flooring is classified by grade, species, and type. The grade generally describes the surface characteristics of the wood, lengths of the flooring, and milling tolerances.

There are several grading systems for hardwood flooring. Various associations create these systems, and use of the systems by manufacturers is voluntary, so caveat emptor.

two of the more common systems are those created by the maple flooring manufacturers Association (mfmA, maplefloor.org) and the National Wood Flooring Association® (nWfA, woodfloors.org). The former system applies primarily to maple; the latter is universal, but mostly used with oak flooring.

today, there are more options for hardwood floors than ever before. hundreds of exotic woods are available from all over the world. each species has its own characteristics, varying in color, hardness, and dimensional stability. selecting wood for a floor is mostly a matter of personal taste (and budget).

Hardwood Flooring Grades

All of the grades listed here will make a serviceable floor. The differences are mainly aesthetic, such as the presence of knots, sapwood, and color variations.

However, wood with fewer defects tends to be more stable and predictable, so you might expect greater or more varied seasonal movement with lower grades. Of course, price is another difference, with higher grades usually costing more.

 

Clear red oak.

 

Select red oak.

MFMA Maple Grades

First Grade. The highest standard MFMA (Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association) grade is hand-selected to minimize the natural character variations of the species.

Second Grade. The most commonly specified maple flooring; this grade exhibits more natural variations than first grade. Third Grade. This grade has the same structural integrity as first and second grades and exhibits more natural variation than either grade.

Third and Better. This grade is comprised of a mixture of first, second, and third grades of MFMA northern hard maple. Utility Grade. This grade of MFMA maple may contain all defects common to maple, but the wood must be firm and serviceable.

 

No. 1 common red oak

 

No. 2 common red oak.

NWFA Hardwood Grades

Clear. Clear wood is free of defects, though it may have minor imperfections.

Select. Select wood is almost clear but contains some natural characteristics such as knots and color variations.

Common. Common wood (No. 1 and No. 2) has more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations than either clear or select grades and is often chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room. No. 1 Common has a variegated appearance, light and dark colors, knots, flags, and wormholes. No. 2 Common is rustic in appearance and emphasizes all wood characteristics of the species.

should also be taken into consideration. for example, light-colored floors make smaller rooms feel larger. harder woods stand up better in high traffic areas. And areas subject to moisture fluctuation should be floored with more dimensionally stable woods.

Color

 

There are over 100,000 different types of woods in the world. Practically every color, weight, hardness, texture, and grain pattern imaginable is available.

Wood flooring is available in a variety of colors that can change the feel of any room, making color one of the most critical aesthetic design elements. The palette of colors seems limitless. American walnut provides deep rich brown tones, hard maple has white with tan hues, and purpleheart really is purple. You can stain wood floors, but with the availability of so many colors, I generally try not to—when a stained floor is scratched, it can be hard to match the color exactly. however, I do use stain to highlight individual elements in an ornamental wood floor.

oxidation and sunlight change the color of wood flooring, which can be a big consideration in a room with many windows. American cherry undergoes an extreme color change, darkening to a dark reddish color within a few weeks in direct sunlight. Walnut has a medium to a high degree of color change, lightening from dark brown to a golden brown. Red oak ambers slightly. Brazilian cherry starts out a tan-salmon color with some black striping and turns a rich, deep red.

 

The color of the flooring can change the feel of a room. Dark flooring makes a large room seem more intimate, while light-colored flooring tends to enlarge small spaces.

Hardness

The relative hardness of wood species is commonly measured using the Janka hardness Rating (see the chart at right). This test measures the force needed to embed a steel ball (0.444 in. diameter) to half its diameter into the wood being tested, with the rating measured in pounds of force.

While you’re not likely to be embedding steel balls in your floor anytime soon, the hardness of the wood is an important consideration. The average woman wearing high heels can exert 2,000 lb. per sq. in. on a wood floor (and I’ve seen many floors severely damaged by women’s heels). if you have a big dog with long nails, eastern white pine floors with a hardness rating of 380 lb. might not be your best choice.

Brazilian walnut with a hardness rating of 3,680 lb. would pass the high-heel test and give dog nails a run for their money. one last word on high heels: if a heel of one of the shoes is damaged and has a protruding nail, it can attack the floor with 8,000 lb. of force. no wood flooring can stand up to that.

The hardness of wood usually varies with the direction of the wood grain. Quartersawn flooring is a little harder than plainsawn flooring. end-grain floors were a traditional floor covering in factory buildings, heavy-traffic commercial buildings, museums, bridges, and boardwalks. They absorb energy and noise, and the angle of cut allows the growth rings to resist scraping and general wear more effectively than traditionally flatsawn or even quartersawn boards.

Wood hardness Scale

The hardness of wood is ranked by the Janka Hardness Rating. The higher the number, the harder the wood.

diMensional stability

As we saw in some earlier posts, wood flooring shrinks and swells as its moisture content changes, some species more than others. Plainsawn red oak flooring is the most readily available species and is often used as the baseline to compare with other species for dimensional stability.

teak is about twice as stable as plainsawn red oak. of course, we could compensate for that by using quarter sawn oak flooring, which would be almost as stable as plainsawn teak.

Wood Flooring Throughout the House

People tend to expect wood flooring to be in certain parts of the house, such as halls and other high-traffic areas and formal dining rooms, but it offers advantages in most areas of a home.

Hardwood flooring will outlast other materials like carpet and resilient-type floorings such as vinyl or linoleum. It also provides a comfort level that ceramic floors cannot match.

Wood flooring can even work in kitchens and baths, as long as you take certain precautions: Water spills must be wiped up, bathrooms should have ventilation to remove humid air, and bath mats should be placed outside the shower.

I must have seen thousands of wood floors in bathrooms and kitchens, and the only problems I have come across were associated with leaking plumbing fixtures or dripping condensation from an un-insulated toilet tank. Wood flooring is also a good choice for bedrooms.

Carpeting can be nearly impossible to keep clean of dust and pet dander, and many people with allergies find they sleep better after installing wood floors. About the only place where wood flooring is not my first choice is the foyer. I prefer stone or tile, which stands up better to the puddles of water and bits of gravel my kids track in with their snow-covered shoes.

Types of Wood flooring

There are three main categories of wood flooring: strip flooring, plank flooring, and parquet flooring. for the most part, all three categories are sold as 3⁄4-in.-thick, tongue-and-grooved boards. (engineered flooring is an exception—while it can be plank or strip, it’s usually under 3⁄4 in. thick and made up of different layers of wood glued together like plywood.) strip flooring, the most popular category, has boarded up to 3 in. wide.
Wood Plank flooring can be considered any boards 3 in. or wider. (There is some confusion between the two because some strip flooring manufacturers occasionally produce flooring up to 31⁄4 in. wide to ensure the greatest yield from the raw material supplied to the mill.) Parquet flooring is individual wooden tiles that can consist of many pieces. strip, plank, and parquet flooring are available in solid wood or engineered, and as unfinished or prefinished.

Bamboo and Cork Flooring

With the growing interest in all things “green,” bamboo and cork have become more popular as flooring materials in recent years. Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world and actually considered a grass. After harvesting, the bamboo is cut into strips, steamed, dried, glued, and placed in a heat press. Bamboo makes a good flooring material, but its quality varies dramatically between manufacturers. cork flooring comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. The cork trees are unharmed by the harvesting of the bark, and they continue producing cork for an average of 150 years. cork flooring has millions of microscopic air pockets that give it the ability to return to its original shape after an impact.

End-grain flooring is made from sections sliced from the end of thick beams. Typically glued down, end-grain flooring is extremely durable and was a favorite for old factory floors.

Estimating Flooring

calculating the amount of wood flooring needed for a project depends on a number of factors. The first, of course, is the actual square footage of the space, but you also have to consider the shape of the room.

There will be some waste on every installation, but there’s usually less in rooms that are simple rectangles. most strip or plank flooring installations in a square room require about 5% extra flooring to allow for cutting waste and any culling defects. Rooms with many angles jog or bays will require 15 to 20% more wood.

Both lower grades of wood and diagonal installations can add 15 to 20% waste. lower grades may have more defects that need to be removed. And the end boards on a diagonal floor are not cut at 90°, which means that the cutoff waste has to be re-cut before they are used as starter boards on the next rows.

Parquet wood flooring generally requires 10% extra material in a square room and 15 to 20% for rooms with lots of angles and corners.

national industry standards allow manufacturers to sell products with a maximum of 5% defects that do not fall within that grade of flooring. most manufacturers of unfinished flooring abide by these standards. however, many manufacturers of prefinished wood flooring have proprietary grades for their products.

A knowledgeable dealer should be able to help predict the amount of waste. lower grades of wood will have more defects, which might lead to more waste. Then again, a defect to one person might be an aesthetically pleasing element to someone else.

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How to Install Ceramic Floors.

How to Install Ceramic Floors.

Laying Out The Finished Floor

Before you start installing your finish flooring, measure and plan the job. Careful planning is especially important for ceramic, stone, or vinyl tiles, but it is a good exercise for other types of flooring, too. Plan with these considerations:

  • Avoid ending up with thin slivers of tile or strips, which look sloppy.
  • If both sides of a room will be visible, plan so that the tiles on each side are close to the same width, for a symmetrical appearance.
  • If one wall is not parallel with a nearby wall, or if the walls are significantly out of square each other, you will end up with a row of flooring that grows progressively narrower along its length. Make this row as wide as possible, so the imperfections will be less noticeable.
  • Sometimes you can’t avoid having a row of narrow or sloping tiles or strips. In that case, try to position them where they will be covered with a couch or other large piece of furniture.

Often you need to make layout compromises. In the basement shown below (bottom left), for example, it would be ideal to have tiles or strips of equal width at each of the walls, for symmetry. But if that leads to a very narrow row against the cabinet, you may need to adjust the layout. Starting with full-size tiles at the left will lead to 5-in.-wide tiles against the cabinet and 7-in.-wide tiles against the right wall—perfectly acceptable. But you may want to cut off 2 in. or so from the left-side tiles for an even better look.

Layout stick

With ceramic or stone tiles that have grout joints, it can be a bit confusing to get the measurements right. So make a layout stick: Lay a row of tiles on the floor, separated by the spacers you will use. Set aboard next to the tiles and make a mark in the center of each grout line. This layout stick will help you visualize how the tiles will be arranged when you lay them.

To make a layout stick, set the tiles on the floor with spacers and mark the centers of the joints.

Measure and plan so the tiles abutting both walls and cabinetry will be of pleasingly substantial width.

Marking layout lines at a right angle

If you will install tiles, you’ll need to start with layout lines at a perfect 90° angle.

  • Use the 3-4-5 method. Start by snapping a chalk line (or drawing a pencil line using a long straightedge) that is two or three tiles away from a wall.

  • Make sure you will be able to kneel on one side of the line and install tiles up to the wall. Make a short mark on the chalk line indicating where you want a tile to end in the other direction. Measure 3 ft. along the chalk line and make another short mark. Mark a line 4 ft. away from the chalk line, estimating to be at a right angle to the first short mark.

  • Then measure carefully and mark the place that crosses the third line precisely 5 ft. away from the second line. Chalk a line between the first mark and the intersection of the last two marks. The two chalk lines will be exactly square to each other.

LAYING CERAMIC OR STONE TILE

Be sure to choose tiles made for flooring; wall tiles will almost certainly crack. Choose your cutting method: Ceramic and porcelain tiles can be straight-cut using a snap cutter; for cutouts, you will need a grinder (or a circular saw) equipped with a masonry or diamond blade, or a wet tile saw. The natural stone tile should be cut with a wet tile saw, which you can rent.

The surface you are tiling over must be very firm: When a large adult jumps on it, you should feel no flex. This is usually not a problem with a concrete basement floor, but if the subfloor is plywood, it should be firmed up with a layer of the concrete backer board. Set the tiles in polymer- or latex- reinforced thin-set mortar.

You can use standard sanded grout to fill the joints. In the example shown on the bottom, I used epoxy grout, which is a bit more difficult to install (you’ll need to wipe it more often and more thoroughly), but it forms a stain- and mold-resistant surface that is easier to clean. Buy plastic tile spacers that produce the grout width you desire. I used 3⁄16-in. spacers, a common choice. Sweep or vacuum the subfloor thoroughly. If it is dusty, give it a quick damp mop to ensure that the mortar will stick to it.

USE THE RIGHT TOOLS AND MATERIALS The right tools and materials are key. Ask your tile dealer which notched trowel is best to use. For most tiles, 1⁄4-in.-deep notches work best; for thicker tiles, use a trowel with 3⁄8-in.-deep notches. Fortified or reinforced mortar gets mixed with water only. If the mortar is not fortified, manufacturer’s directions may tell you to mix with latex liquid. If you mix this type of mortar with water only, it will not be strong enough and tiles will come loose.

  • It’s important to start nice and straight. Temporarily attach a long straightedge to the floor, aligned with your layout mark. Here we use the factory edge of a sheet of drywall, but you can use plywood as well.
  • Pour a couple of inches or so of water into a 5-gal. bucket. Add powdered polymer-reinforced thin-set mortar. Using a drill with a mixing paddle, start with short bursts, then Work clean; squeezed-up mortar is easier to remove before it dries. You may need to regularly wash your hands and your tools.run the drill steadily to produce a smooth mix.

KEEP THINGS CLEAN: Work clean; squeezed-up mortar is easier to remove before it dries. You may need to regularly wash your hands and your tools.

  • You will need to add water or powder as you go. The final mix should be the consistency of mayonnaise—plenty wet, but firm enough so ridges produced by a notched trowel (next step) hold their shape. Work in small sections at a time; you should be able to finish a section in 10 minutes. Drop dollops of mortar onto the area, then spread with the smooth side of the notched trowel. (Many installers skip this step, but it ensures that the mortar sticks to the floor.)

  • Then comb the surface with the notched side of the trowel. Use long, sweeping strokes, aiming at an even surface with no large blobs.

  • The trowel should graze the subfloor only gently if at all. Take care not to cover any layout lines. Lower the tiles into position. Avoid sliding them more than a half-inch or so.
  • After several tiles are set, insert plastic spacers to produce straight grout joints. In the center of four tiles lay the spacer flat, so it spaces all four tiles. Where only two tiles meet, set the spacer on end.

  • Once you install adjoining tiles, you will pull out and lay most of these spacers flat as well. Once in a while pick up a tile and look at its back, to be sure it is resting in thinset over at least 75% of the surface.
  • If not, you may need to press the tiles or lay mortar with greater thickness. Run a short straightedge, like the board shown, over the surface to check for any high or low tiles. These can often be leveled out by laying a board on tiles and tapping with a hammer.
  • In some cases, you may need to pick up a tile and either add or scrape away some mortar, then reset the tile. After a number of rows, the tile lines may start to get a little wavy, especially along a line that will be highly visible. Press a straightedge against the line to fine-tune the positions.

  • Allow the mortar to dry for at least a day. Probe gently with a screwdriver to see that the mortar is dry. Mix a batch of sanded grout according to the package directions. Here we mix epoxy grout, which has an epoxy additive.
  • Drop dollops of grout onto the floor. Use a laminated grout float to first press the grout into the joints.
  • Press firmly with the float held nearly flat, and sweep the float in at least two directions at all points, to be sure there will be no voids. Then tilt the float up and use it as a squeegee to scrape away most of the excess grout.

  • Always scrape at an angle to the grout lines, or the float will dig into the joints. Fill a bucket with clean water. After you have grouted for 15 minutes or so, start wiping with a large damp sponge. Press gently and use long, sweeping strokes. You will need to turn the sponge over, then rinse repeatedly.
  • Clean several times. When the water gets dirty, replace it with clean water. As you clean the tiles, also use the sponge to create consistent grout joints. This is sometimes best with the sponge bunched up. When grout dries on the tile surface and produces a haze, wipe it gently away with a damp sponge. The next day there will still be some haze. Buff it with a dry or slightly dampened towel.

This is How To Cut Tile

  • To make straight cuts on ceramic or porcelain tile, position the tile against the fence of a snap cutter so the cutting wheel aligns with the cut mark.
  • Lower the wheel onto the tile and press down with medium pressure as you slide the cutter to score a line all along the length of the tile. Lift up on the handle, then press down to snap the cut. To make a number of same-size cuts, position and tighten the tool’s guide. If you have an angled cut to make, position the tile so the cut marks are both over the center strip, and score a line in the same way.
  • You may need to use a nibbling tool to complete the cut. A nibbling tool, also called tile nippers, can often be used to make rough cutouts or small cuts—which may be accurate enough if they will be covered with wall trim.

  • If you need to cut a narrow sliver, first score a line with a snap cutter, then use a nibbling tool to complete the cut.
  • A wet saw makes neat cuts and is the best tool to use when cutting stone tile. You can also make occasional cuts using a grinder with a diamond or masonry cutting blade. This produces clouds of dust, so do it outdoors.

Scrape before Grouting Before you start grouting, wash the tiled surface clean of any mortar smears. Check the joints to see if the mortar has squeezed up near the tile surface. If so, scrape it away with a screwdriver. Otherwise, the mortar will show through the grout.

A FAN CAN HELP On a basement floor, and especially if the room is humid, it may take more than a day for the mortar to dry before you can apply grout. To speed up drying, direct a fan to gently move air around the room.

How To Cut Mosaic Tile

  • Mosaic tiles come on sheets of individual tiles attached to a mesh backing. You can cut out whole tiles easily, by slicing through the backing.
  • To cut through individual tiles, use a wet saw. Or, for ceramic tiles (but not stone tiles), score cut lines with a snap cutter.
  • and finish the cuts using a nibbling tool. When you wipe up the grout, don’t try to tool individual grout lines; just wipe gently and repeatedly with a damp sponge.

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