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Installing Tile Floor: How to Prevent Bending or Flexing

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Lorraine in Georgia is calling in with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    LORRAINE: We are in the process of remodeling a 108-year-old farmhouse and we want to do it right. It was my grandfather’s. We’re going to be renting it, so we’re trying to watch our expenses.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    LORRAINE: In the kitchen, we had to go down to the floor joist and we are going to put back on top of it a subfloor called AdvanTech.

    TOM: OK.

    LORRAINE: And what we were initially talking about doing was putting cement board on top of that and then doing a 20×20 porcelain tile.

    TOM: OK.

    LORRAINE: But I’ve heard about a product called Schluter-DITRA and they’re saying that tiles won’t ever break if you use that. And I’m trying to watch what we’re putting into this house because it is going to be rental. But we’re trying to figure what would be better; to put cement board and then the porcelain tiles or the large tile; or do the Schluter-DITRA.

    TOM: Lorraine, it’s a good question. The Schluter-DITRA that you’re referring to is essentially a membrane that goes under the tile but it’s pretty complicated to install. Because on top of the plywood subfloor, you would have to put mortar; then you’d have to put the membrane, then more mortar, then the tile.

    Another thing to consider is that if you are going to use 20-inch tile, that floor has to be absolutely rock solid because the bigger the tile, the easier they break. And so if you have any flex whatsoever, you’re going to have broken tiles. And especially since you mentioned that this is going to be a rental situation, you don’t want to have that kind of maintenance.

    So what I would suggest, especially since you’re starting from scratch, is why not just do a standard, old-fashioned but always reliable mud floor where you put in a mud underlayment; it’s reinforced with mesh; and then once it dries it’s rock solid – there’s no bend, there’s no flex and you can put your tiles down right on top of that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I imagine the cost is going to be far less than going for something as high-tech as that substrate you’re talking about.

    LORRAINE: OK, so that might be the better way to go.

    TOM: Alright, Lorraine. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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