FAQs

You’ve got questions ~ let’s dig for some answers

assorted bath floors

Choose from these sections:

All of our FAQs are listed on this page, and not always in any special order. Use the links, above, to jump to specific sections.

Have a question you don’t see answered here? Use the Comments area, bottom of the page, to add your question to our list.

Flooring Types FAQ section

Q: What’s the best kind of floor for the bathroom?

A: Ceramic tile is the top performer for bathroom service. Why? Great selection, it is easy to clean, rot, mold and mildew proof. When properly installed it is almost invincible and waterproof.

Q: My kids splash water around, can I use laminates in the bathroom?

A: Laminates are not recommended for use in bathrooms. Laminates can be damaged by continual exposure to water.

Q: My wife likes the cork flooring we put in the kitchen. Can I put the same kind in the bathroom too?

A: If correctly sealed, cork may be used in the bathroom. Some cork products are manufactured like laminates. Those specific cork products are not recommended for use in the wet bathroom environment.

Q: Will ‘self-stick’ tiles work on an old concrete floor or on ceramic tile?

A: Yes, self-stick vinyl tiles will adhere to clean, dry concrete and old ceramic tile surfaces that are level and smooth.

Q: I have an old concrete floor with tiny mosaic tiles, can I put new tiles on it instead of ripping it out?

A: Usually the floor will end up too thick if you add another layer of ceramic tiles, making the height of the floor excessive. If you don’t wish to rip it out, thinner “peel and stick” self-adhesive vinyl tiles or sheet flooring might be a renewal option for you.

Q: Can I get ceramic tile put in today?

A: You may get a small installation of standard ceramic tile put in today, but it will not be ready to use immediately. It takes 24 hrs. for thin set and grout to harden properly. Ideally, grout lines should be sealed prior to first use. Allowing 24 hours after the tile is installed is a good idea.

Design FAQ section

Q: Can I do the floor now and change the old toilet and vanity later?

A: Yes, just keep in mind future upgrades may not match the “footprint” of the old furnishings . Styles change, so consider doing the whole floor surface just in case.

Q: Can I remodel my bathroom floor without changing the rest of the room?

A: Yes, your bathroom floor can be upgraded without changing the rest of the room. If you are satisfied with the existing layout and fixtures, nothing has to be changed.

It is always a good idea to think ahead though, so plan carefully and allow for changes that may be unavoidable in the foreseeable future. If your fixtures are worn, for example, upgrading now may save disturbing the new flooring later. Similarly, if you are contemplating design alterations in the future, consider saving time, money and inconvenience by incorporating those changes now.

Q: Everybody says ceramic tile floors are cold to walk on. Can you get heaters for them?

A: Yes. There are several types of heaters available that can be safely placed directly on the substrate under ceramic tile. Other options include installing approved heating products between the floor joists underneath.

Q: Do the toilet and vanity have to be removed to remodel the floor?

A: Doing a bathroom floor installation, it is always tempting and easier to leave all fixtures in place. It seems like a lot of extra trouble unhooking water and soil pipe connections. It can be messy and smelly too. Is the sub-floor solid, or is it deteriorated around the toilet? That should be concern number one.

With care and a good substrate, some flooring such as self-adhesive tiles can be carefully and satisfactorily fitted around existing fixtures, but consider that a new ceramic tile installation is a long-term investment that can last 30 years or more. Will you end up having to upgrade the toilet, tub and vanity in a year or two?

Bottom line, for the best outcome, fixtures should be removed to enable complete floor renewal. It is a good choice, and if you do end up changing fixtures a few months down the road, you will be happy you did.

Q: Will a new floor look good with the old toilet, tub and vanity?

A: Flooring can be selected specially to match older fixtures to look retro and complementary, or flooring can set the tone with older fixtures displayed as accent accessories. The visual appeal of any combination is one of personal taste.

Q: Can a ceramic tile bathroom floor be waterproofed?

A: Yes. Waterproof products can be placed beneath the ceramic tile.

Installation FAQ section

Q: Which flooring is the easiest to install?

A: Self-adhesive vinyl tiles are among the easiest materials to install. Linoleum-type sheet flooring is also easy to put in place. Outside of the bathroom, consider laminates.

Q: Can I install ceramic tile myself? I’ve never done flooring.

A: Doing a ceramic tile floor installation correctly is exacting work. It takes practice to become skilled enough to create those exceptionally beautiful installations. With the right information, advice, care, tools and moderate skills, you can install a presentable ceramic tile floor. We have even seen amazing projects completed beautifully by amateurs.

As with any project, there are “tricks to the trade” that will contribute to that impeccable, professional finish you want. With ceramic tile, consider doing a small project first or participating in one to get comfortable working with ceramic, then go for it. You can do it.

Q: Do I have to put in new sub-floor plywood if I’m installing ceramic tile?

A: Does your floor flex when you step on it? If it does, or if the plywood is decayed, displays mold, or is in bad condition, it must be replaced to ensure adequate support for ceramic tile.

Q: Do I have to do the whole floor at once?

A: No. Keep in mind that if a few months lapse between the first section and last sections completed, coloration differences may show up from fade, or color differences in batches of tile and grouting coloration can be noticeable.

Q: Can I put new flooring on top of old stuff?

A: If the substrate and old flooring is in good condition, and the old flooring is not loose, some types of flooring can be placed directly on top, such as sheet flooring, self-adhesive tiles, and cork.

Q: Does new flooring have to go under the vanity and toilet too?

A: Not necessarily, but under some circumstances it is a good idea to extend new flooring completely under all fixtures to accommodate future upgrades or design changes you have in mind.

Q: Can I apply thin set cement right on underlayment?

A: Yes, apply the thin set directly on clean underlayment. Ensure old underlayment is solid, clean and dry.

Q: Can I walk on ceramic tiles as soon as they’re stuck down with thin set?

A: No. Walking on the tiles before the thin set is hardened may shift or settle the tiles unevenly. Allow thin set to harden completely prior to walking on the floor.

Q: How do I cut a round hole in a ceramic tile for the toilet flange?

A: Use a suitable (labeled for ceramic tile) hole saw if available, or in a pinch, drill 1/8th” holes around the perimeter using a carbide bit. Place the holes close together, break out the ceramic carefully, and use a tile nibbler to smooth the edges where necessary.

Q: How can I cut a curved line on ceramic tile?

A: A perfect curved cut can be made by carefully using a small 4″ diamond blade in a hand-held grinder. Skill and care is required. Some porcelain tiles may also be cut by scoring with a glass-cutter but breakage can be a problem. Use a nibbler to complete the job if required. * Caution: follow safety protocol and wear safety glasses.

All About Tile Grout:

Q: Does grout color have to match the tile?

A: No. Grout can be the same color as the tile, but grout colors are often chosen to accent or contrast the tile color as a design feature.

Q: Is pre-mixed grout in a pail better than dry mix-it-yourself?

A: No. Pre-mixed grout can be more convenient for small jobs, and may contain specific additives.

Q: What’s the difference between “sanded” and “unsanded” grout? Do I have to sand the grout?

A: “Sanded grout” refers to the sand content of the grout. Unsanded grout contains no sand. Sanding of grout lines is not required. Smooth the grout lines with a damp sponge while the grout is still slightly wet.

Q: How do you get the grout in all those little cracks?

A: Pour properly mixed grout onto the tile and use a trowel or “float” to force the grout into the cracks. A specialized grouting tool can be handy at times. See “How to grout like a professional”.

Q: Do the cracks or spaces between the tiles have to be filled right up?

A: The spaces are usually filled level with the tile surface and smoothed. There should be no gaps, spaces or bubbles. You may choose to lower, or round the grout profile if you prefer the “raised tile” look.

Q: When mixing grout, what does “slake time” mean?

A: “Slake time” is the time it takes water or other liquids to properly “wet” all of the cement grout particles uniformly when mixing. Read the grout package’s instructions for the recommended slake time.

Q: Why does my tile floor look like it had milk on it after it was finished? I cleaned off all of the grout when it was wet.

A: What you are seeing is called “grout haze”. Grout haze becomes visible after the floor dries, when wet grout has not been completely removed on clean-up. Clean water must be used for the final tile cleanup. Use a 2-bucket setup for cleaning and rinsing the sponge. For rough or porous tile types, a “grout release” product may be required.

Q: What is a “2-bucket” setup ?

A: Using 2 buckets, one for the initial cleanup, and a second bucket with clean water, for the final cleanup. Important to avoid “grout haze”. For larger jobs, simply dump and refresh the water in a single bucket, as you go along. (Don’t dump heavy grout sediment on the bucket’s bottom–empty that into a disposable container.)

Q: Can I use mortar cement instead of grout? It’s cheaper.

A: Mortar cement could be used, but it is not recommended. Although grout is a cement-like material like mortar, grouts are specifically designed for ceramic tile, and may have additives designed to prevent shrinkage, cracking of the grout line away from the tiles, and to provide superior adhesive strength. Some grouts also contain latex additives and chemical sealants to make sealing of the grout lines unnecessary.

General Repairs FAQ section

Q: My old bathroom floor ceramic tile is really old and loose too. Can I just glue it and then paint it?

A: Not recommended. As a temporary measure ceramic tile can be reinstalled and grouted back in place, but tiles loosen for several reasons, and will continue to loosen if the problem is not corrected. Painting ceramic tile is also possible, but the results and durability will only be as good as the specific paint product you use.

Q: I noticed some of my old ceramic tiles are cracked . Why did they break?

A: Ceramic floor tiles usually break due to lack of adequate support under them. Ceramic has great compressive strength, but tensile strength is poor. The sub-floor was probably flexing, inadequate for the floor span, or deteriorated by water damage.

Q: Do I have to put in new sub-floor plywood?

A: No. If the sub-floor plywood is solid, in good condition with no mold or decay present, it should be fine.

Q: If I’m just putting in linoleum, do I have to put in new sub-floor plywood?

A: Replace the sub-floor if it is deteriorated. For linoleum, a small amount of flex is acceptable as long as the plywood is in solid condition.

Q: What if the plywood on the bathroom floor is soft and spongy?

A: Soft and spongy wood is seriously deteriorated. Replace it.

Q: Under the vinyl tile, the underlayment is all wet. Is it any good?

A: It might be good if it hasn’t been wet too long. How long has the substrate been wet? If wet for months from a leaking toilet flange or other plumbing defect, both the underlay and the plywood can be swollen and decaying. Dry the floor carefully and inspect it for separation, warping, and wood rot.

Q: How can I tell if the sub-floor and plywood need replacing ?

A: If the sub-floor and plywood is soft and spongy enough that you can push a pen knife blade into it easily, or through it, the wood is deteriorated badly by wood rot. It may even be unsafe. If you can easily pull off large strips of plywood, or if there is evidence of blisters and separation of the layers, it should be replaced.

Q: If the underlayment is rotten, should the main plywood be replaced too?

A: Yes, bad or weakened sections of flooring plywood should always be replaced.

Q: The top edges of the floor joists are rotten. Do I have to replace them?

A: Yes, the joists should be replaced if in very bad condition. If the joists are mostly solid, upper-edge support for the flooring can provided by laminating suitable dimensioned lumber along the sides of the joists.

Q: I want ceramic tile, but if I put in ceramic tile, how can I fasten the toilet down again?

A: The toilet flange is fastened to the floor by carefully drilling holes through the ceramic using correctly sized carbide drill bits. It sounds much more difficult than it is.

Q: How do I replace the seal on the toilet if I wreck it pulling the toilet off to change the floor?

A: Follow instructions that come with the new seal. Clean the hub, soften the seal if required and press it into place on the hub ensuring the rubber insert (if there is one on your chosen product) is facing the right way. Lower the toilet carefully onto the flange and secure it.

Q: I forgot to put the floor chrome trim on the toilet water shutoff pipe before I put the valve on it. Now what?

A: Install a split decorator pipe flange trim on the pipe at the finished floor instead.

Miscellaneous Questions:

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A: ANSWER This is a sample answer used as a place holder.