Lay­i­nag tile on a fi­fire­place hearth

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Front Page -

The fi­first step in the process of lay­ing fi­fire­place tile, and it’s the most im­por­tant one, is to pour a low­ered plat­form that the ce­ramic tile will rest upon. It needs to be solid so the tile doesn’t crack.

You can use coarse sand and Port­land ce­ment to make this mud. Mix three parts sand to 1.5 parts Port­land ce­ment. If it’s too much trou­ble to get th­ese in­gre­di­ents, you can pur­chase bags of mor­tar mix at a hard­ware store. Add just enough wa­ter to make the mix­ture the con­sis­tency of a stiffff ap­ple­sauce. To ex­tend work time get the mor­tar mix cold be­fore mix­ing and use cold wa­ter. Chilling the mix slows the hy­dra­tion re­ac­tion that turns the wet mor­tar into hard stone, giv­ing you ex­tra work time.

You need to make sure this mor­tar bed is in the same plane and it’s at the right height so the fifin­ished tile sur­face is 3/43/4 of an inch be­low the wood flfloor. Add 7/87/8 of an inch to the thick­ness of the tile and that’s the dis­tance the fifin­ished mud flfloor must be down from the sur­face of the wood. This gives you the req­ui­site 1/81/8 inch you need for the thin­set that will be used to bond the tile to the cured mor­tar mud base.

To cre­ate this re­cess, you’ll smooth the wet mor­tar with a wood screed you make. Use a very straight piece of 1-by4 to make this. Cut the wood 1 foot longer than the width of the re­cess. Cut a 9-inch long L-shaped notch at each end that’s the same depth as you need to drop the mor­tar base. The thin­ner ends of the wood screed sit on top of the wood flfloor and the rest of the wood screed drops down into the hole.

When you shovel in the wet mor­tar and start to slide the wood screed side­ways and pull it to­wards you at the same time, you’ll cre­ate a very uni­form sur­face that’s go­ing to sup­port the tile. As you pull the wood screed across the wet mor­tar, con­stantly check to make sure it’s the right height. Af­ter you feel you’re fifin­ished, pull it across again to strike offff any ex­cess mor­tar that may have mounded up be­hind the screed. Check for ex­cess along the edges where it abuts the wood flfloor.

Give the fresh mor­tar a day to har­den and you can then in­stall the tile. Use a 1/41/4 by 1/41/4 notched trowel to spread the thin­set mor­tar you’ll use to bond the tile to the new mor­tar. Spread it evenly and press the tile lightly into the thin­set. It will com­press to the 1/81/8- inch thick­ness.

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