From the Floor Up

Preparing Cement Floor for Tile

Posted by Daltile Team on May 19, 2016 11:25:50 AM

Before you can think about installing tile, get your subfloor prepped.

There are four simple principles to help you prepare concrete floor for tile installation: clean, dry,

A cement subfloor can provide a great base for a tile floor. But without the right preparation, there will be no end of headaches and you’ll eventually replace the floor.

There are four simple principles to help you prepare concrete floor for tile installation: clean, dry,sound, and level. Once you’ve got these under control, you’re all set for success. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Clean

Start by sweeping your concrete floor to get rid of all dust and debris. Then give it wet mop with plain water. Use a few tablespoons of a degreasing cleaner in warm water and scrub the concrete with a scrub brush. Finally, rinse thoroughly.

A clean surface helps you see smaller cracks that might need repair. It also increases the chances that you’ll get a better bond between the concrete and the next layer of your subfloor.

Dry

Ensure your floor has thoroughly dried before proceeding. Blot it dry to get up any residual water then air dry. If you live in a humid climate, you might want to wait overnight to give excess moisture a chance to evaporate.

Cement’s biggest issue is keeping moisture under control. Getting it as dry as possible before applying a sealer is very important.

Sound

Patch little cracks or holes with a cement patching compound. You can use a trowel to apply and use the edge to ensure the patch has edges level with the surrounding concrete.

If you have large cracks or displaced concrete, this might be a sign of deeper problems. Consult with or hire a professional to make repairs to save you bigger problems later.

A sound surface is necessary when preparing concrete floor for tile installation. Cracks and depressions may create weak spots that cause tile to crack in the future. After ensuring your concrete surface is level (the next step) apply a concrete sealer. Cement is porous and draws moisture from the ground up through the slab. Sealer is a barrier between the cement and the mortar that will keep moisture build-up away. That increases the bond between the cement and the mortar, as well as decreasing mold growth.

Level

Use floor leveling compound for large holes or flaws in your cement floor. The compound is a cement-based material that is thick enough to stay where it needs to be, but also flows well to fill in depressions in your so your floor is flat.

You can cover the floor with leveling compound to ensure you have a flat surface to work with rather than only applying to areas you think need it. The pros make quick work of this process, using a specialized hose to put the leveler right where it’s needed without making a mess.

Uneven cement is death to tile. It makes breakage much more likely than if the tile has a fully supportive surface. Get the full life out of your tile with a level subfloor

Once your cement surface is clean, dry, sound, and level, you’re ready to move on to the next step. Depending on your situation, you might need to consider things like installing a membrane, putting in floor heating, placing backer board, etc. It’s best to check with a pro to ensure you have the right subfloor in place before you spread mortar and lay tile.

Topics: How to Install Tile

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