How to Properly Install Flooring? Tips to Control the Project

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You will find below tips for proper floor installation and maintenance so that it does not become loose or crack soon after the work is done. You will also learn how to avoid installation issues.

Poorly done subfloor: it is uneven, cracking or loosening

Most common cause

During house construction, the floor is being laid out without a proper foundation in place. The construction worker must have applied the mortar mix on the dirty surface (dust, etc.) and without having made the adherence layer. The adherence layer must be made in preparation for laying down a floor and actually applying the mortar mix. If this is not the case, the subfloor cracks and loosens and can become full of stains.

It can also be

The construction worker has not correctly defined the height of the subfloor and marked the level before starting, and then the subfloor has crooked.

How could you avoid it

Bad or good screed very much depends on the quality of how the work is done. You could confirm with the mason, before starting the work, that he needs to clean the foundation. The mason also needs to lay down the adhesive layer before applying the mortar mix. 

Besides the above, you could have checked at the beginning of the work to see if the mason was really using the level and height markers.

If your house already has subfloor check the quality of the work done. If you are making a new subfloor, make sure you follow what the mason is doing. A well-made subfloor should be flat, even, without stains or cracks.

The floor has cracked and dropped like popcorn

Most common cause

The most common cause is a bad base (which is a subfloor). In general, the floor is loose because the subfloor was badly made: it was uneven, with different heights or did not dry out for as long as necessary before the mason laid down the floor slabs.

It can also be

That the grouting has been applied without waiting for the drying time of the mortar mix that glued the floor slabs (required drying time is usually 72h). In such case, the water that continued to evaporate from the mortar mix could not escape any longer and the floor cracked and became loose. 

In both cases, the issue is impatience. Either impatience to see the work being ready immediately, or the mason’s impatience to finish his work fast.  The thickness of the joints (grouts) between the floor pieces is indicated in the box of the tiles by the manufacturer. There is no point in buying floor tiles that have irregular edges and need more distance between the tiles. This type of floor cannot be installed in the same way as the one with straight edge grinding.

How you could avoid it

You need to check the quality of the sub-floor, before confirming the placement of the floor. And you need to control the time of all stages of work done on-site, to make sure that the mason waited for the sub-floor to dry before laying down the floor. If you feel that you are impatient and in a hurry, you need to slow down and wait for the work to be finished properly and have a well-done floor at the end of the project.

If you see that the floor is cracked and loosening, have the courage to remove what was done and do the installation again. For the next time, before installing the floor, make sure that the base is well done and follow the specifications for joints (grouting) indicated by the manufacturer.

Empty floor

Most common cause

The adhesive mortar mix must not have been applied correctly. It should have been evenly distributed to fill the entire volume of the floorboards. It may have been that the construction worker ended up putting mortar mix only partially, in the middle of the floorboard, to speed up the work. Because of this, you received a beautiful hollow floor as a gift.

It can also be

Use of the wrong mortar mix, without paying attention if it was the right mortar mix for the type of floor that you are installing. Or it could also be that the subfloor was breaking or had stains or cracks.

How could you avoid it

You need to follow the work of the installation of the floor. You need to check that the mason evenly spreads the mortar mix within the floorboard. Also, it is a good practice to check whether the sub-floor was done well, and make sure that the mortar mix you bought is the right type for the floor you chose to install. For example, porcelain tiles only glue with a porcelain mortar mix. If you use a porcelain mortar mix with ceramic flooring, the tiles will not glue properly and will come off.

Five secrets to avoid loose floor

1. The right mortar mix for the type of floor

There is a specific type of mortar mix for fixing porcelain flooring and another type of mortar mix for ceramic flooring. If you fix porcelain tiles with ceramic mortar mix, the floor will come loose sooner than you think! When you buy the mortar mix for your project, check the type of mix you are buying on the manufacturer’s packaging.

2. Well applied adhesive mortar mix

For the floor not to come loose, the adhesive mortar mix needs to be applied well. It should be spread with a specific tool as if it had been spread with a comb.

To find out if the worker is doing the job right, ask to show you one segment of the floor that has just been done. Ask to lift one tile of the floor and show you that the surface below has this combed design. If you see that the mortar mix surface does not have grooves, the floor will become loose. Ask to redo it, as it is easier to redo now, than after all work has been finished.

If you think it’s embarrassing to ask to take off one tile to take a look, make sure the worker is using a special tool to spread the mortar mix. Ask to show you this tool. There is nothing embarrassing in asking for this.

3. The right thickness of the grout

For the floor not to loosen or crack the thickness of the grout is also important. No matter how beautiful the thin grout is, resist this temptation, as most of the floor tiles have not been made for it. If you take a look at the packaging, all floor tiles have the ideal grouting width on their specification. 

Thin grouting can normally be used only with certain rectified porcelain tiles.

4. Drying time

It is necessary to wait for 72 hours after the floor tiles have been glued, to be able to apply the grouting. Otherwise, the grout, which is applied on the floor tiles that did not have time to dry for sufficient time, will burst like popcorn and the tiles of the floor will become loose.

5. Well made subfloor

And the last essential element for any floor not to come loose and be well done is the quality of the subfloor. It needs to be well leveled and not have any stains or cracks.

So, in order to have a well-done floor, it is necessary to choose the right material and closely follow all the stages of the floor project. 

Read also: Why hiring an architect makes sense for a project? – in this article. And, How to decrease the construction impact on the environment? – in this article.

The subfloor is hidden, but it is very important. Plan well, follow the project together with the work team, and make the tests as the mason proceeds with the project. If you arrive when the full project is already finished and the floor is already installed, it won’t do much good, as you will not see what is done under the floor tiles.

Prevention is always better than breaking up the final work to do it again!

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