21 January 2008

Q&A time! More Sticky Tile Advice

We are still on Hiatus, but I got a question today that I think is worthy of a small update. A lady named Marie posted a comment on this post asking for help with her self-adhesive tile installation:

i had tile put down this summer 12x12 good tile he pull up all the old tile & cleaned the floor put down some wood then the self stick tile now every time i walk on it ,it sounds sticky.What can i do about it. THANK U MARIE

Marie, I'd have emailed you but you didn't leave an email address :)

It sounds as though your installer did not level the floor properly. Applying a new substrate is only part of the job - the substrate must be levelled and smoothed with a filling compound and allowed to cure, then sometimes re-levelled, before tiles are applied. This is even more important with larger or self-adhesive tiles, as they require a perfectly level surface to adhere properly.

The right application tools are very important. Having some way to press the tiles down, such as a roller, is crucial to bonding the tiles in place. If this is not done immediatley after the tiles are applied (usually after the entire floor has been laid), the tiles can release from the floor due to temperature fluctuations, and make a sticky noise when the floor is walked on. It is equally important not to walk on the new floor for the time recommended on the tile package, as walking on it may cause the adhesive to slip while it is curing.

Also, the quality of the self-adhesive tiles can significantly affect their sticking power - I've used expensive tiles and cheap ones, and universally had cheap tiles slip, peel and creep, even when thoroughly pressed down with a weighted roller. I've had best luck with the Armstrong brand of self-adhesive tiles, though the quality of tiles they produce is also affected by the price range and intended use. Some cheaper tiles will peel right up on a hot day, for example.

A slightly uneven surface is one of the reasons we chose small, ceramic tiles for our bathroom. The cost would have been approximately the same for inexpensive tiles (our ceramic tile was about 1.80 a square foot) + grout + substrate + leveling and filling compound vs quality self-adhesive tiles (generally about 3.00 or more a square foot) + substrate + leveling and filling compound.

On the positive side, it tends to be fairly inexpensive to pull up and replace self-adhesive tiles in order to correct insufficient floor leveling. Good luck!