How To Lay Floor Tiles On Concrete

How To Lay Floor Tiles On Concrete?

Whether you’re opting for the timeless appeal of natural stone tiles or the sleek modern look of porcelain tiles, it’s essential to have a suitable foundation for your flooring project. Concrete stands out as a common and practical choice for tiling, as it offers the necessary stability for the installation.

Installing ceramic or porcelain tiles demands a stable surface, as these materials are unforgiving to any bending, flexing, or shifting. Additionally, the grout used to fill tile seams cannot accommodate flexing or shifting either. Thus, a robust and unyielding base is imperative to prevent cracks from transferring to the tiles.

Concrete, widely employed in construction projects, serves as an excellent substrate for tiling due to its inherent strength and durability. Despite its suitability, achieving a smooth finish requires careful preparation and precise installation steps.

Read more: How To Install Damp Proof Membrane On Concrete Floor?

A General Guide To Floor Tiling On A Concrete Base

Concrete Curing Considerations

A common oversight is not allowing sufficient time for the concrete to cure. Concrete curing involves providing the necessary time, moisture, and temperature for the concrete to attain its intended properties. Although concrete begins to set immediately after being poured, the complete drying process may take days or even months. Manufacturers typically recommend waiting at least 28 days for the concrete curing process to conclude before commencing any coating work.

Surface Preparation

Regardless of the surface, proper preparation is vital, and concrete is no exception. A thorough cleaning is imperative to establish a solid bond for stoneware placement. The surface should be entirely free from dust, dirt, and debris.

Eliminating Impurities

The presence of greases, oils, or chemical substances in the concrete poses a risk to your tiling project. Oils or greases can hinder adhesion, potentially causing tiles to peel off.

Read more: How To Insulate Concrete Floor?

Addressing Unevenness

Concrete residues in the formwork’s slots can lead to surface irregularities. Using a diamond grinding cup helps achieve a level surface with the right flatness for optimally tiling a floor on concrete.

Removing Unwanted Structural Elements

Exposed steel rods within a concrete structure must be removed using a metal disc grinder. Treating exposed metal with an anti-corrosion coating is also advisable.

Creating Drainage and Repairing Cracks

When installing a drain in concrete, consider the slab’s width to prevent structural weakening. Address any cracks that may develop during the curing period using epoxy resin so you get a professional finish and prevent future issues.

Read more: How To Lay Vinyl Flooring On Concrete?

Sealing the Floor

Concrete’s porous nature makes it prone to liquid and air absorption. After the concrete is fully dry, seal its pores using a primer to enhance bonding with adhesive, preventing water penetration, and mitigating issues associated with porous materials.

Using Levelling Systems and Suitable Adhesive

For tiling a floor on concrete indoors, level surfaces using a self-leveling compound. After applying the compound, allow a minimum of 24 hours for drying before laying tiles. Additionally, select the appropriate adhesive based on the type of stoneware and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a successful installation.

Read more: Can You Put Artificial Grass on Concrete?

3 Different Ways Of Tiling On Concrete Floor

Installing Tile on Concrete Using an Uncoupling Membrane

An uncoupling membrane serves as a separation layer that prevents the direct impact of concrete movements and cracks on the overlying tile. Unlike concrete, this flexible buffer layer does not mirror the actions of the subfloor. Since subfloors are prone to movement and cracking, such issues can be transmitted to the tile. The uncoupling membrane disrupts this transmission chain.

Direct Installation of Tile on Concrete

It’s quite common to find ceramic and porcelain tiles installed at or above grade level, typically on a cement board underlayment or directly on plywood. However, the idea of installing tile directly on concrete might seem unconventional yet logical.

However, concrete does not fare well when faced with foundation shifts. The pressure exerted by groundwater from beneath can lead to cracking, and tree roots habitually infiltrate under concrete slabs, causing them to lift and crack. It’s prudent to anticipate that concrete will eventually develop cracks during its lifespan. Any movement in the concrete is directly transmitted to the tile. Consequently, cracks in the concrete translate into cracks in the tile.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that installing tile directly on concrete doesn’t always guarantee cracking. A stable concrete surface can serve as a reliable substrate for many years.

Tile Installation on Concrete Using Cement Board

Cement backer boards are composed of 100% inorganic materials, providing resistance to rot, shrinkage, or decomposition.

On the surface, placing a cement board on a solid concrete foundation might seem redundant—a cement product on another cement product. Seasoned tile installers hold differing views, with some suggesting its use, especially when significant floor-level adjustments are required. In such cases, affixing a Cement Backer Unit (CBU) to the concrete is deemed preferable to the labour-intensive process of floating an entire floor with a mortar bed.

Despite varied opinions, the consensus among most tile professionals is that attaching a CBU to a concrete floor introduces more challenges than benefits.

Read more: How To Seal Concrete Floor?

The Takeaway

While DIY-ing your way through tiling your concrete floor is not really difficult if you have some experience, you can always call in professionals if you want to. And for getting your mix onsite concrete, contact Pro Mix Concrete!