Step 7: Bathroom floor tiles

Installing tiles across an even plane is something that even I can handle. More about that later. But installing tiles on a floor with slopes requires the skills of a real tile master, such as my dear wife Cathy!

Our bathroom floor has two floor drains, and as a result varying degrees of slopes.

Areas with steeper slopes, such as around the shower drain, have a larger surface area compared to adjacent areas with a gentle slope. To keep the floor tiles in nice and even rows, the joint width needs to be adjusted to make up for the difference in surface area.

The adjustments are fractions of an inch or millimeters, but they matter if one would like to have the appearance of an evenly tiled bathroom floor.

Small floor tiles, like the sheets of hexagonal tiles we are using, help a lot in this process. Smaller tiles means more joints, which means it is easier to lay them across slope transitions such as from a gentle slope to a steeper slope, or across a ridge. It also means that the width adjustment between the tiles can be distributed across more joints, which makes it virtually impossible to notice.

And because the width adjustments are so subtle, this is an incredibly hard task to execute and better left to the pro, such as Cathy.

On larger areas of even slope, Cathy was able to work with full tile sheets. But once she got into areas of slope transition and steeper slopes, she had to dissemble the sheets and place the tiles individually to keep everything in straight lines.

The other beauty of the hexagonal floor tiles is that they don’t produce the perpendicular joint pattern of square tiles. Small imperfections in the perpendicular joint pattern would be immediately visible. The four directional pattern of the hexagonal tiles is much more forgiving.

Another thing Cathy is really good at is leaving small riddles for me on the time lapse photography. Is she really happy that the job is done or does this mean she would like to run from it?

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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