In today’s START To Downsize article, ‘Easy How-To Tips for Laying a Floating Tile Floor’, I will walk you through the steps needed to transform an ugly tile floor, such as the one we started with, shown above, into a simply beautiful tiled floor, using the SnapStone porcelain floating tile floor system.
The benefits of using a floating tile floor system, such as SnapStone, are that it takes less time, involves less prep and is MUCH less messy and dirty, since you are not using a traditional tile-setting method, but merely floating a new tile floor over the old one. Depending on the size of the room being done, it is entirely possible to prep, tile and grout a room in a single day using the SnapStone system!
SnapStone tiles come in two sizes, 12″X12″ and 6″X6″, and each tile is contained within a hard plastic tray with a rubberized base, seen in the picture, below:
Notice the tabs on all four sides of the tile’s tray. These interlocking tabs are the means by which the tiles are connected to one another to create the floating floor.
Since SnapStone comes in two tile sizes and eleven different colors, there are countless combinations and layouts possible to suit every taste and room style.
Using SnapStone is a great DIY project, since traditional tiling methods are not required. These floating floor tiles can go over any hard-surface flooring, such as vinyl, hardwood, tile or cement.
Minimal prep is needed. Here are the steps we went through to get the bathroom ready to tile:
Pop the door off the hinges - The door we removed was a lightweight, hollow-core door, which can easily be removed by one person.
However, it is an easier process with two people:
One person holds the door and one person pops the hinge pins out of the hinge holes.
Put the tip of a standard screwdriver in the bottom of any one of the hinges and use a hammer to tap up on the screwdriver’s handle. This will push up the hinge pin so it can be grabbed and wiggled out.
Repeat with the other hinge pins and take your door off the now-pinless hinges. Remove the door to another location.
Remove the base trim, shoe molding (if any), and door casing-
Here is how we did it:
We used a 3″ broad knife carefully inserted behind the base trim to create a small opening.
Then we inserted a Wonder bar prying tool into the opening and gently worked the trim loose. Be very careful, as trim can be brittle and easily cracked and/or broken.
We worked our way around the room and removed all the base trim and shoe molding.
When it came to removing the door casing, we realized the pink tile had been installed after the door casing was already in, effectively cementing the casing in place.
If you find yourself in the same situation, use a hacksaw or a Dremel tool with a saw bit attachment where the door casing meets the existing floor tile and cut through it. Once that has been done, proceed to loosen the casing from the wall, as demonstrated with the base trim.
Since the new tiles will raise the level of the floor, you will need to trim down the door casing before re-installing.
Remove the toilet, any caulk residue and the old wax ring -
How to remove the toilet:
The first thing to do is to turn off the water supply at the valve, behind the toilet.
After the water has been turned off, flush the toilet a couple of times to empty the tank and bowl. Bail out any remaining water.
Use a box cutter or other sharp tool to cut the caulk around the bottom of the toilet, then remove the caps covering the bolts which secure the toilet to the floor.
Remove the nuts from the bolts and store them where you will be able to find them when the time comes to re-install the toilet. Our bolts had rusted almost completely through, so we had to replace them with new ones. It is possible to buy a wax ring with new bolts included in the package.
Wiggle the toilet until it breaks free from any remaining caulk and lift the toilet off the bolts.
How to remove the caulk:
Use a chisel and a hammer to take up all the caulk residue. The floor needs to be as even as possible before laying the new tile.
How to remove the old wax ring:
Scrape up the old wax ring using the same broad knife you used to take up the base trim.
Wax rings are incredibly sticky and gooey, and you will undoubtedly get your hands and broad knife all sticky and gooey, too. Not to worry – both will wash clean.
Removing the wax ring is a necessary step to get to your ultimate goal – a beautiful new floating tile floor.
Set the toilet somewhere safe -
We put it in the tub, after laying some old carpet samples in the tub for protection. Old blankets, towels or a thick layer of newspapers would also work to keep the tub’s bottom from getting damaged.
The final step before tiling:
Image: Microsoft Office
Sweep the floor (vacuuming work, too).
Now you are ready to start laying your SnapStone floating porcelain tile floor system!
It is best to start laying the SnapStone tile on a straight wall. Before I could get a picture taken of laying the first tile next to the tub, my husband had already gotten the first four tile clicked into place and was on to the second row. As you can see, he is lifting the tile up just slightly as he taps it. This helps the tabs to click into each other.
Do as many full tiles as you can before you have to start cutting the rest of them to fit.
It only took about 15 minutes to get all the full tiles clicked into place.
Every tile remaining had to be custom-cut to fit. It is not as hard as it might sound. The right tool makes every job easier!
If you use a wet tile saw, similar to the one shown, above, cutting the tile will not be hard.
When you remove the SnapStone tiles from their box, each one is separated by a piece of paper, which is exactly the size of the tile in its plastic tray. Use one of these sheets to trace the exact shape of your custom-cut tile, then transfer those markings to your tile. Using templates will work perfectly.
When you are ready to cut around the toilet’s waste pipe, it may happen that the hole will be located on two tiles, as happened to us:
Make your template as directed above and transfer the markings to the two tiles. Start on the outside edge of one tile and make many closely-spaced cuts inward to the pencil marks. When you have made all your cuts, it will be easy to break off the pieces, leaving the semi-circular opening, seen above. Just take your time and do not rush – you can do it!
Once both pieces are cut, just click them into their companions.
Set the threshold. We should have done this before we started laying the SnapStone tile, but we were just too excited. As it turned out, it really did not matter, nor did it affect the finished product.
Back-butter the threshold with an adhesive. We had this container of a tile adhesive/grout combo from a previous job, so we used it to secure the new threshold. Back-buttering is simply the process of applying a layer of adhesive to an item being stuck down, in our case, the threshold. You can also use a construction adhesive, like PL-400 or PL Premium.
It is recommended to allow several hours for the threshold to dry, being careful not to move or disturb it during that time.
It took a total of about 4 hours from prep to laying the tile to putting down the threshold for this bathroom.
While we let the threshold dry, we used that time to work on other projects and came back later in the day to grout the tile.
It is critical to use only the SnapStone flexible, pre-mixed, color-coordinated grout to grout your SnapStone tiles. The grout only comes in one size container and each container of SnapStone grout covers 50 to 60 square feet.
Once you open your grout container, it will have to be mixed up. Use the 3″ broad knife you used to take up the base trim for this job.
FYI: It will take several minutes to get the grout thoroughly mixed, as the grout’s liquid component will have separated from the heavy, sandy, granular grout base during shipping. Take special care to bring up all the heavy granules from the bottom and get them fully incorporated with the liquid.
Once you have the grout completely mixed, plop a glop of it on a tile joint, as seen, below:
Use a rubber-edged grout float, not a foam-edged grout float and begin by placing your float at a 45-degree angel to the grout joint. Force the grout firmly into the joint, filling it completely.
Pulling the float at a 90-degree angle across the joints, remove any excess grout.
Do not grout around the perimeter of the room, as these are considered to be expansion areas.
In bathrooms or other areas exposed to moisture, use a silicone caulk to seal the perimeter.
Clean the grout as you go. If you are working alone, do not grout more than 10 square feet before cleaning the grout.
Use a dampened sponge in a circular motion to clean the tiles and smooth the grout lines. Wipe grout residue by making a diagonal pass with your sponge, rinsing the sponge after each pass.
Check your work and add back grout, if needed.
It took just 45 minutes to grout and wash the tile.
Allow grout to dry for 24 hours.
Use Krud Kutter, a heavy-duty cleaner, applied with a nylon scrubber, if there is grout haze remaining on the tile, being careful not to get it in the new grout.
We used the Krud Kutter the next morning and it really cleaned up the tile. The grout does not need to be sealed and will be fully cured in 28 days. During that curing time, do not use cleaning products or solvents on the grout.
Replace the toilet, using an expanded wax ring and a flexible water supply, if necessary.
Replace the base trim, shoe molding and trimmed-down door casing.
Replace the door, trimming the bottom, if necessary.
The result? Take a look!
A beautiful bathroom, where pink is used only as an accent, not as an all-over floor color!
I love how easy and fast it was to transform this bathroom using the SnapStone floating porcelain tile system.
The cost? We spent $196 on tile, grout, a threshold, an expanded wax ring and a new flexible water supply line for the toilet. If you owned a tile saw or could borrow one from a friend, this would be a very inexpensive DIY project.
We charged $410 labor for this bathroom and completed it in 1-1/2 days.
If you chose to hire the job done, it would have run you $606, not a bad price for such a dramatic change in so little time.
SnapStone is available in the Upper Midwest at Menard’s, a regional home improvement store. If you live outside of the Upper Midwest, you can purchase SnapStone online at Lowe’s, who offers the option of picking up your online order at your nearest Lowe’s retail location.
If you are more of a visual learner, you will find comprehensive DIY videos on the SnapStone website.
Consider using the information found in today’s START To Downsize post, ‘Easy How-To Tips for Tiling a Floor’, to DIY a SnapStone floating porcelain tile floor system, or hire us to do the job for you!
Please share your SnapStone experiences with me via Comments. I would love to hear all about them!