Choosing Vinyl and Cork Tiles
Vinyl-tiled floors are especially suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. They are hard-wearing and resistant to grease and acids.
These can be laid on suspended timber floors, provided the underfloor ventilation is really good. Do not lay tiles on timber treated with a preservative, on bituminous underfelts or directly on new boards, which may shrink. Prepare uneven floors as for laying sheet vinyl.
Special, such as Evo-Stik 873, is needed for laying floor tiles. Follow the instructions on the tin.
There are also self-tiles which have a coating of and a backing sheet of greaseproof paper. With the paper peeled away, the tile is pressed in place.
Lift old or unwanted tiles with a sharp scraper, heating the top gently with a blowtorch if you have one. If an odd tile comes loose, scrape away the old adhesive and remove loose dust before applying a fresh coating and replacing the tile. To remove dried adhesive or paint from tiles, rub with a cloth dipped in white spirit, cleaning quickly as the spirit dissolves vinyl.
For a long-lasting, non-slip surface, apply a plastic sealant, such as Marley Clearseal, after carefully cleaning the newly laid tiles. For a high gloss finish, apply a water-based emulsion wax polish. Cork tiles are laid in much the same way as vinyl tiles. They require a firm, level surface and it is essential for solid floors to have a damp-proof membrane. Prepare cracked or uneven floors as for sheet vinyl.
Cover suspended timber floors with sheets of seasoned, staggering the sheets to avoid continuous joints. Good underfloor ventilation is essential.
Some vinyl tileare suitable for cork tiles. Additionally, cork tiles are held down by driving in five headless pins, one at each corner and one in the centre. On hard surfaces, weigh the tiles down with bags filled with sand, or other heavy objects, until the sets.
Tile manufacturers supply concentrated polishes for a hard wax finish; this can be maintained with wax polish or plastic sealants.
Estimating and planning
Vinyl and vinyl asbestos tiles, which are generally 300 x 300 mm (12 x 12 in), 250 x 250 mm (10 x 10 in) and 229 x 229 mm (9 x 9 in), are available in a variety of colours. If you propose using two colours, plan a pattern for laying before you start work. Cork tiles are 300 x 300 mm or 12 x 12 in and are sold in various shades.
To estimate the quantity needed when buying plastic tiles of one colour only, first measure the length and breadth of the room. Using the chart below, follow the lines from these measurements to the point of intersection, then read off the total number of tiles required. For instance, you will need 252 tiles for a room 4.5 x 3.5 m. or 13 x 10 ft. If a hearth protrudes, measure this separately and subtract the appropriate number of tiles.
Divide irregularly shaped rooms into rectangles, estimate the number of tiles needed for each, and add those numbers together for the total required.
If tiles of two colours are to be laid chequer-board fashion or in alternate rows, simply halve the total and buy equal quantities of each colour. For more complex patterns, trace a scale plan of the room from the chart, drawing in the lines of tiles but omitting the numbers. Shade in the pattern and count up the number of tiles needed of each colour.
Marking out; spreading adhesive
Rub a line with chalk and tie it between the pins A and B, which are tacked into the floor or skirting in the middle of facing walls. Position the pins about 25 mm (1 in) above the level of the floor.
Check that the line is taut, then snap it to leave a chalk mark on the floor. Remove the lines but leave the pins.
Mark the centre of the chalk line and run a row of ‘dry’ tiles to an end wall, lining the first tile up with the chalk line and the centre mark.
If the gap between the last tile and the wall is 75 mm (3 in) or less, snap a fresh line on the floor half the width of a tile from the original line. This will then provide adequate borders of equal width against the end walls.
If the gap is more than 75 mm wide, or after you have marked the new line, run another row of tiles at right angles to the first one.
Repeat the procedure if the gap at the end of this row is 75 mm or less. Otherwise, snap a line at right angles to the first and through the centre mark.
You have now established the lines against which to lay the tiles. With the pins in place, spread adhesive over the lines and snap fresh chalk lines on top when set .
Covering the floor; tackling borders
Tile half the room at a time, first spreading adhesive over about 1 sq m (1 sq yd) of floor on each side of the centre line. Place the first two tiles in the right angles of the chalk lines, then work outwards from each side to form a pyramid pattern. Spread more adhesive and continue tiling up to the borders.
Next cut border tiles: place a ‘dry’ tile exactly over an adjacent ‘fixed’ tile, hold another on top, flush with the wall, and score along the inner edge. The trimmed section A will fit the border .
Use the same method when cutting a tile to fit an angle, such as a door-frame or chimney breast. First, place and mark the tile as though cutting it for a straight border .
Move the tile, without turning it, opposite the other face of the angle, again placing it over a fixed tile, and draw a line at right angles to intersect the first. Cut along the lines up to the intersection with a knife or pair of scissors.
Treat more complicated shapes, such as curved architraves, in the same way, but taking separate measurements from each surface in both tile positions. In example , with the tile in its first position, draw lines a tile-width away from the surfaces A, B, C and D. Where the outline is curved, draw a freehand cutting line between marks after making intersections from the second tile position.
In practice, this method of marking is easier than it sounds and perfectly accurate. If you prefer, cut paper templates of corners or irregular shapes; or shape a length of soft wire to the outline and transfer this to the tile as a tracing guide.
You can buy adjustable template formers. These consist of a row of movable needles which take the shape of any object they are pushed against.