Renovation & Design

Tile replacement a comparatively quick fix

No job too small to help fill contractor's calendar

A premium-grade adhesive (above) was pre-mixed on site and trowelled into both areas before each tile was positioned. Two rows of tiles (below) were installed using rubber spacers to eliminate any shifting while the tile adhesive set.

Two rows of tiles are installed using rubber spacers to eliminate any shifting while the tile adhesive sets.

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

The section of two rows of tiles that had loosened from the subfloor seemed to vanish from sight once the grout began to set.

As a contractor, a busy schedule is sought after.

Amidst spending hours per day at a job site, it is also necessary to look ahead and schedule the next jobs in order to keep the work calendar filled. And every once in a while, there are a few days or partial days here and there to tackle a potential client’s smaller tasks.

A client contacted me in late spring regarding an issue he had encountered with an existing tiled floor. Sometime during an afternoon, once the day’s current deck-build tasks had concluded, I made my way to his location to inspect the problem.

The house was built entirely on a concrete slab, and the majority of the main floor was tiled. Over time, slight shifting of the slab had caused several grout lines in two main areas, including some of the tiles themselves, to let go.

Upon learning that my client had more than enough extra tile from the time it had initially been installed, I suggested that the best course of action was to quarantine the two affected areas and replace full sections of tile, rather than a few individual tiles here and there. This would provide the most consistent and cohesive long-term fix.

On the first day, loose tiles were removed in order to ascertain the scope of both affected areas. Any adjacent tiles with a hint of movement were then popped out, as well. The areas were then cleaned and cleared of any loose grout and debris, and the old adhesive was scraped away down to bare concrete. A premium-grade tile adhesive was mixed on site and new tiles were placed in both pre-prepped areas. Tiny white rubber spacers were used along the perimeter of each area, as well as between each tile, to eliminate any shifting while setting. After the tiling step was completed, the grouting would occur during my next free afternoon.

Later that same week, my schedule allowed my return to the client’s house to continue with the grouting step in order to complete the tiling fix. Although the original grout colour was not known by name or brand, it appeared to be a standard charcoal.

So, before venturing back, I made a pitstop at the local Home Depot to pick up some Fusion PRO grout. Of late, my greatest grouting successes have occurred while using this pre-mixed, resin-based grout for two reasons — it’s less messy because there’s no need to mix on site, and the pre-mixed grout adheres better and for longer to the tile, providing a hint of flexibility, as well.

It is this give that far outperforms the older-style cement grout — even if there happens to exist an ever-so-slight motion between tiles due to unwanted movement below the tile, it is far less likely that the resin-based grout will crack or let go. This improves longevity of any tiling repair, especially in areas whereby subfloor movement cannot be easily addressed. And, moreover, the pre-mixed grout is self-sealing, which eliminates an annoying step and additional visit to the client’s house.

The tiny rubber spacers were removed and the grouting task was tackled in both areas. The grout was trowelled into every grout line and subsequently sponged until flush with the tile surface. A second sponging cleaned away any unwanted excess of grout throughout both areas. And, finally, once the grout was given the chance to set briefly, the top of each tile was then thoroughly wiped down to rid the tile surface of any grout residue.

Before heading out, it already appeared as though the affected areas would simply blend into the flooring and once again become part of the whole, vanishing from sight. Altogether, the areas had been prepped, re-tiled and grouted in less than four hours total, over the course of two separate days — not bad.

As a contractor, the need to squeeze in the odd job now and then is unavoidable. And provided the client voices flexibility, the job can usually be tackled in short order (even if I must work the odd weekend to get it done in a timely fashion).

After all, the goal is to please all my clients, no matter how small the job.


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