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Tackling tile, loving a new look

Fri, Sep 7th, 2012
Posted in All Home & Garden

Brandon Brotzel sets tile for a bathroom display at the Tile Superstore & More in Rochester. Photo by Wendy Wilson

The pride and satisfaction derived from completing a home improvement project is realized each day - just by looking across the room.

With a little sweat, hard work and some good design advice, an individual can save 30 to 40 percent of the cost of installing a tile floor if they do it themselves, according to tiling expert Jim Korsmo. Korsmo co-owns the Tile Superstore & More in Rochester with Lorrie Swancutt and Travis Prigge.

“Now that summer’s over, I think everybody’s starting to look at the projects they left behind,” Korsmo says. “I think a lot of people are trying to get projects done before the holidays.”

One such project is installing bathroom floor tile. Korsmo shared the relatively simple instructions to get the job done. The project takes two days. Estimated labor time is about 12 to 16 hours for a 40 to 50 square-foot bathroom.

Installing bathroom floor tile is “well within the realm of a do-it-yourselfer” he says, but he recommends assistance for updating other areas of the bath such as installing a shower. A professional is usually needed in the shower region because a rubber liner must be employed with careful attention to pitch and water-proofing.

So, let’s get started.

Installing the underlayment

Thoroughly clean the area to be tiled.

Next, trowel an underlayment thinset mortar to adhere fiberock to the plywood floor. Different adhesive methods may be employed if the floor is concrete.

Nail the fiberock down to the floor.

Laying it out

After installing the fiberock, lay out the pieces of tile and make cuts for the room edges.

“You lay that all out so you know where you want to start,” says Korsmo. “You try to design where you will have the largest cuts possible. You don’t want little tile slivers.”

A wet saw is used to make the cuts. Other equipment may be used to score and snap the tile.

“Spacers can aid in getting the proper spacing in the tile,” Korsmo says.

Another layer of thinset is applied over the fiberock. “You comb that on with one of those notched trowels,” he says.

Installing the grout

Let the floor sit overnight. The next day, the grout is applied.

“You mix it to kind of a mayonnaise consistency or a real creamy peanut butter,” Korsmo says.

Spread the grout between the tiles with a grout float and wipe it smoothly with a sponge.

“You’re done,” he says.

Let the area dry for about a day before walking on it.

Design trends

After the tile installation, more choices are often encountered, says Korsmo.

“What are you going to do on the walls?” he asks. “Update the vanity? We do cabinetry - or use a remnant of granite for your vanity top? One thing kind of leads to another.” The choices are endless.

The latest trends in tile are using larger-bodied tiles such as 12-inch-by-24-inch pieces and plank tiles that can be as large as two feet by 12 inches.

“A larger-bodied tile will simplify the look of the floor and will actually make the room feel larger because it’s not busy small tiles,” Korsmo says.

Another new trend is using plank porcelain that has a wood look.

“It’s virtually indestructible. It won’t scratch. It won’t chip. It never needs refinishing and it’s very sanitary,” he says. “We have all the products and tools that they would need to do [the project],” Korsmo says. Wet saws rent for about $30 a day.

For those who prefer not to tackle the installation themselves, the store has professionals available to install it for them.

“We are able to offer some very up to date design looks at lower prices,” Korsmo says. “We stand behind everything.”

The store also provides individual classes directly to customers to help them through the design project.

“How we differentiate ourselves is the uniqueness of our product and the design element that we can bring to the project,” he says, explaining that the Tile Superstore has two decorators on its staff who offer design advice free of charge to customers.

More information may be obtained from the Tile Superstore & More at 507-285-1109, 2411 7th Street Northwest, Rochester.

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