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My Tile Floor Installation

Do you ever get the handyman bug?  Or, is it just a push from your significant other to start a project?

For me, I realized a couple weeks ago that something was in the air.  (You know you better start preparing yourself when your wife is thumbing through the local home improvement magazines and paying more attention to the DIY channels on television.)

With a little reservation on my part, we decided to give our bathroom a makeover.  Since the bathroom we were working on also serves as our laundry room, it was of vital importance that the project would be completed in one week.  And, there is the fact that two of my three children are teenage daughters... so, one can understand the pressure we were under to complete the bathroom makeover on time!

After we had picked out the type of tile and paint colors, we knew there was no turning back.  So, we decided to start the project one night after work.  Having no experience tiling a floor, we had done homework ahead of time by reviewing information online.  As part of this research, we found it is very important to understand what lies beneath the flooring.  The flooring we were removing was a vinyl flooring that was edge glued over a birch wood underlayment.  This was then nailed down to the wood subfloor.  We learned from our research that in order to have a tiled floor that would last we needed to tear out the vinyl and the underlayment.  Since the underlayment was approximately 1/4 inch thick, removing this would help minimize the added floor height that would result from the tile and cement board we were adding.  Removing this would also provide a nice transition to the laminate wood floor in the kitchen next to the bathroom.

I spent an hour removing the toilet, pedestal sink, washer and dyer.  Last, I removed the baseboard molding in preparation for the demolition of the vinyl and underlayment.  (At this point, I want to recognize every tile contractor in the country, as I learned that you better have good knees.  My respect for the tile profession continued to grow throughout the course of the project.)  The demolition of the flooring went easier than I anticipated.

A room gets ready for a STEP Warmfloor heating system to be installedThe next day I pre-cut all the cement boards in preparation for the STEP Warmfloor radiant heating system. I have experience selling radiant heat. Once in awhile I also assist contractors and homeowners in installing this system.  I must say that the STEP Warmfloor system was the easiest part of the entire bathroom makeover. I stapled directly through the heating element, avoiding the outside wire bus braids.  The wires were routed below the subfloor, where the 24 volt transformer will be installed.  We marked the locations of the bus braids on the wall and snapped a chalk line.  This will provide us a mark to avoid the bus braids of the heating element when we screw the cement board in place.  The STEP Warmfloor heating element can either be installed under or over the cement board.  I chose to go under. (I've included a photo of the installed STEP Warmfloor product above).  

We then spent the better part of the day thin setting the cement board in place and then screwing it down directly through the STEP Warmfloor heating element, while at the same time avoiding the bus braids.

The project was moving along better than expected, as we had experienced no major problems - and, better yet - no arguments!  The next day we began prepping the tile installation.  I recommend slowing down and drawing on some patience when installing tile, as the placement of the tiling is extremely important and you don't want to go too fast. A wet saw is also a must.  Thankfully we had borrowed one from a friend. This proved to be our most useful tool. The tile went down nice and easy and we both took turns thinsetting the mortar in place, while the other cut the tiles. The grout was laid about 48 hours later and then sealed after it dried.

In five days we completed our bathroom makeover.  My wife and I are both extremely please with how it looks and are proud of the fact that we did it ourselves.  The electric radiant floor heating system provides an enhanced feeling of warmth and luxury to the bathroom and laundry areas.  Perhaps, best of all for me personally, is that we finished the project before my teenage daughters complained about their dirty laundry. The only problem I am faced with now is that since this went so smooth, I have noticed my wife already watching the DIY network again.  I think she wants to work on the master bedroom. I think I better invest in some good knee pads!