Laying a reclaimed floor is not easy work, though if you follow some simple rules it should not be too hard. Below are outlined the tools, methods and precautions that are most suitable for completing the task.
It is always sensible to look over the product that has been received. Separate out any chipped or broken tiles and use these for cuts or in areas that won’t be visible, i.e. Under kitchen cupboards.
The tools that will be required for laying are as follows:
- Electric drill and mixing paddle
- Angle Grinder or Tile Saw.
- 3 Buckets
- Sponges (At least 3)
- Combed Tiling Trowel
- Bucket Trowel
Of course, if you are doing a small area like a fire hearth, it is possible to get by with just a bucket, a trowel and a sponge.
Dry lay an area. This need not be greater than say a couple of square metres but it will give you the opportunity to study the desired pattern and also the width of the grout line that is possible. We always believe that a grout line should be as narrow as possible as a reclaimed floor looks better than a grouted floor.
One more thing before you start laying. Clean the area to be laid thoroughly of any dust or debris that may prevent the tiles from adhering to the floor.
When laying on a new screed or underfloor heating always use a flexible floor tile adhesive. This is essential as it allows for contraction and expansion of the sub-floor and will prevent the tiles from cracking. If laying on an old screed a tile adhesive or a mortar mix may be used but we strongly recommend an adhesive unless experience has been previously gained in this area.
First, it is imperative to find the centre of the area to be laid. This is more important in small areas than in large ones as areas such as corridors or boot rooms and washrooms can look quite wonky if not laid from the centre out. Chalk lines and marker pens can prove very useful in the demarcation of these areas. Think long and hard when laying a herringbone pattern as the centre lines are not always where you think they may be.
Use the combed trowel to put the adhesive onto the floor. The thickness of this will depend upon what has been noted during the dry lay. If the floor was quite flat and even, then a comb of 4mm in depth will suffice. However, if the floor needs levelling that little bit, then a comb of up to 10mm may be desirable to achieve a more level surface.
The tiles can now go down on to the adhesive. It’s not important to wet the tiles before laying when using an adhesive but I know that some people still prefer to do this.
Finally, the cuts around the edges can be made and slotted into place.
Remember to keep the work area as clean as possible and if any adhesive gets on the tops of the tile, to wipe away immediately.
The first seal is one of the easiest yet most important steps of laying a reclaimed terracotta or brick floor. There are a whole host of sealers that are available in retail stores or online. Most of them are either silicone or oil-based and will give a shine to the floor. We stock a Natural Sealer from our sister company GoProtect Ltd. that won’t do this. We have two types. The first is a nigh on invisible sealer that won’t change the state of the tile and this has been used in 90% of the photography on our website. The second is a colour enhancing sealer that will deepen the tone of the tile if that’s preferred.
There are two methods of application that both work as well as each other. Firstly spray on. Quite simple, fill the sprayer with the sealer and apply a liberal coat over the floor. Secondly, paint on. I always find that it’s easiest to use a brush that has the same width as the tile and to make one back and forward motion over the tile.
Whichever way you seal, about 65% of the sealer will need to be used. It is akin to putting a first coat of emulsion on a bare wall, in that it will use a lot more of the product than subsequent coats.
- Make sure that any flexible joints are either filled with silicone/mastic.
- Ensure that a suitable coating of sealant has been applied before grouting.
- Ensure that all equipment is clean and free of impurities.
- Use clean water, free of contaminants.
- Do not mix grouts of different types or from different manufacturers.
- Do not mix with cements or limes etc.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before mixing any grouts or adhesives.
- Ensure that all materials are used prior to the pot life being exceeded.
Preparing the joints
Make sure that the sealer has had at least 8 hours (overnight) to cure. If not the grout will penetrate the absorbent terracotta or brick tile and discolour it. The gaps between the tiles that are to be grouted should be clean and dry. Any protruding adhesive needs to have been either wiped away whilst laying or chipped away once dry and then vacuumed clean. The joints should be clear for at least 2/3 of the depth of the tile.
Applying the grout
One should always use the same method of working the grout to obtain a uniform result. We highly recommend floating the grout as it gives a far more uniform finish to the floor but it is also possible to point the grout as in finishing off a brick wall. If sealed correctly the tiles should not be porous and the work not too hard. Fill the tile joints with the grout paste using either a hard rubber float or squeegee without leaving voids or gaps. It is important to work the grout into the joints, ensuring there are no air bubbles.
Remove any excess grout from the surface by drawing the float diagonally across the joints whilst the paste is still fresh.
Leave the paste to firm up in the joints until it is no longer liquid. A dusting should appear on the surface of the tiles
Clean off any surplus grout with a damp hard cellulose sponge working diagonally across the joints without applying any pressure, ensuring that the sponge does not penetrate the joint. Rinse the sponge frequently preferably using two or three buckets of water; one for removing the surplus paste from the sponge and the other one or two for just clean water for the final rinsing of the sponge.
Use a special grouting sponge – Bath or household sponges rapidly fall to pieces and become quickly overloaded with grout.
If the cleaning off is carried out too soon after application (when the paste is still liquid) it is possible that the grout will be partially removed from the joints.
On the other hand, once the product has set hard, cleaning by mechanical means will be necessary which is very difficult and likely to cause damage to the surface. However a light, fine sanding is possible without deterioration of the tile.
A second coat of sealant is now required. This 35% of sealer that you should have leftover will not penetrate any areas that have been fully sealed. However, it will protect any areas that have not been sealed and of course, this includes the grout as well. Keep off the floor until the sealer has fully dried and then enjoy. It is worth mentioning that our sealer actually improves over a two week period and though it is working and protecting within a few hours, it fully works after a period of 2 weeks. Any spillages within this time should not be allowed to rest but should be cleaned off immediately.
It is now time to sit back and enjoy your floor but if there are any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Brick and terracotta Grout and Adhesive
If you are looking to lay a brick or terracotta tile floor, we have found that MUDD grout and adhesives work really well with our products.