Tile Fix Direct Blog

The 10 Tiling Tools You Need in Your Toolbox

It is said that a bad workman blames their tools, so a wise one knows to keep their toolbox happy with what we think are the top 10 tiling tools any tiler needs.

  1. Tape Measure: Making sure you measure accurately is probably the most essential part of any tiling job. Once the tiles have been cut and adhered to the substrate, if the measuring was off to begin with then there’s no going back. It is therefore vital that you have a good quality tape measure (with no obscured markings) before you start and measure both the surfaces you intend to tile on to and the tiles themselves before moving on to the next task. We recommend measuring it all a second time, just to be 100% sure.
  2. Pencil: Pencils are often overlooked until you are in the middle of a tiling job and desperately need to mark up accurately, then they are like gold dust. Therefore, though it may seem a bit ridiculous to have placed pencils in our top 10 list, you’ll be very thankful when you reach for that pencil and there’s one waiting for you. We recommend investing in a pack of chinagraph pencils – they’re great for marking on hard, glossy surfaces such as ceramic and porcelain.
  3. Manual Tile Cutter: The tool in your toolbox which will most likely become your most treasured is the manual tile cutter. Powerful, versatile and easy to use it can transform your hardest project into a walk in the park. With a manual tile cutter, the cut will be clean and precise, and it won’t affect the quality of the surface material, whether you’re working with ceramic or porcelain.
  4. Tile Spacers: Picture this, the perfect tiles have been selected, the cut and lay is just right, but when you go to grout you realise the spacing is a disaster – it’s every tilers nightmare. All this can be avoided with just a few small tile spacers. These tile spacers help you create equal space during the tile installation, by pushing between four corners of adjoining tiles or being turned on edge and positioned where the edge of one tile sits atop of another. We sell T, Y and X tile spacers so there’s no need to try and adapt them for an unusual shaped tile.
  5. Tile Trowels: No matter what type of tile you are installing, you’ll need to fix them to the surface with some form of tile adhesive . The tile trowel means you can apply the mortar cleanly and evenly to get the best, most professional finish. There are many different options available to suit the tile size and material – one option we love is the Genesis Trowel Set which comes with a range of interchangeable blades so you’ll always have the one you need handy.
  6. Tile Levelling System: There is a fine art to creating a perfectly level tiled surface, and sometimes you need a bit of help getting it. To avoid lipping and achieve the best possible finish a tile levelling system really is an irreplaceable tool.
  7. Grout Float: Comprising of a flat rubber base topped off with a handle, a grout float, similar to a kind of trowel, is used to press the grout into the gaps between your freshly laid tiles. The rubber part prevents damage to the tiles when applying grout. A grout float is an essential tool for those wanting to achieve a professional finish.
  8. Mixing Paddle: Whilst this tool is not considered by everyone to be essential, it is always a good one to have on hand. Whilst you can mix grout and adhesive with an improvised stirrer like a trowel, having the equipment designed for the job will make your life much easier. Mixing paddles are normally made form steel and are designed to fit most power drills.
  9. Sponge: It is the end of the job, the adhesive has cured, the grout has taken hold between the tiles, but it’s likely that there is grout over the surface of the tiles as well. This is where a heavy duty sponge comes in handy – it means you can clean up as you go. We recommend purchasing a proper, dense-celled sponge to remove any excess grout without pulling it out of the joints.
  10. Bucket: Alongside the sponge a proper bucket (not just any old washing up bowl) can help minimise any mess you will make during the tiling process. By buying a proper sturdy bucket, and having a sponge on hand, you can radically reduce your post-project clean-up. A bucket is also essential for mixing up grout and adhesive – pick a good one with with measurements printed on the side to make life easier.

So, there it is, the 10 tiling tools we think of as essential. By keeping all these crucial tools in one place you’ll save both time and energy (no digging through the back of your van for a tape measure or having to go to the nearest DIY store), meaning you can focus on the tiling project at hand. See the full range of tiling tools available online at Tile Fix Direct here.

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How To Install DITRA Matting

DITRA matting is one of the most popular under-tile decoupling systems stocked in the UK. The bright orange uncoupling membrane is instantly recognisable and the range of benefits it provides to an installation makes it easy to see why it’s one of our best sellers.

What is DITRA Matting?

DITRA matting is a polyethylene membrane which has a specially designed anchoring fleece laminated to its underside. The matting has a grid structure of square cavities which are each cut back in a dovetail configuration. DITRA matting is specifically designed for tile and natural stone installations.

DITRA Matting Functions

The DITRA Matting has many functions that make it an ideal product for tile installations:

  • Through uncoupling the floor covering from the substrate, DITRA matting can stop stress cracks being transferred from the substrate to the surface covering.
  • The DITRA Matting can also help with waterproofing. Thanks to the waterproof polyethylene membrane, the matting creates a certified bonded waterproofing assembly with the tile covering. Through this DITRA matting will protect the substrate against moisture damage.
  • The matting ensures equalisation of vapour pressure, by keeping the interconnected air channels between the cavities on the underside of the matting open, allowing any moisture trapped in the substrate to evaporate.
  • The matting significantly improves load distribution, by transferring the load directly to the substrate.
  • DITRA matting has outstanding adhesive properties, meaning it can be used on both floor and wall coverings.

Using DITRA Matting

DITRA matting can be used on a wide range of surfaces including concrete, mortar screeds, gypsum based screeds, radiant heated screeds and masonry/mixed substrates. DITRA matting is particularly useful when installing underfloor heating and provides a decoupling layer between the underfloor heating and the tiles.

Substrates for DITRA Matting

Substrates on which the matting can be installed must always be checked for their suitability to make sure they are level, load-bearing, clean and compatible with the materials to be used.

Concrete: Concrete is subject to deformation processes due to shrinkage. Concrete and pre-stressed concrete may build up tension because of deflection. The Matting means the tensions occurring (in the floor and wall area) between the concrete and the tile covering are absorbed.

Mortar screeds: Tiles can be installed on as soon as they are ready to bear weight as opposed to the usual 28 days of curing.

Gypsum based screeds: According to the applicable standards, the residual moisture of gypsum based screeds should not exceed 0.5% prior to the installation of tiles. With the application of DITRA matting, tile coverings can be installed as soon as the residual moisture is below 2.0%.

Masonry / mixed Substrates: Using the Matting stresses and cracks will not transfer to the tile covering.

Stucco / plaster: Plaster substrates should be examined in accordance with the applicable building codes to ensure they are dry.

Balconies / terraces: As an uncoupling membrane, DITRA Matting neutralises the stresses between the substrate and the tile covering that are caused by the frequent and extensive temperature changes occurring on balconies.

Rooftop terraces: In the case of roof terraces over residential/ commercial or other spaces as well as roof-covered surfaces, the surface needs to be designed as a flat roof, following the applicable technical rules for roof structures.

Synthetic flooring and surface coatings: In principle, the surface must be load bearing and prepared in such a way that a suitable tile adhesive will adhere to it and anchor the fleece on the underside of the DITRA Matting.

Plywood and chipboard: These materials are particularly prone to deformation under the influence of moisture. DITRA Matting neutralises the stress occurring in the tile covering and prevents the penetration of moisture.

Structural plank subflooring: Sufficiently load bearing structural plank subflooring in tongue and groove construction, with the appropriate screws in place, is suited as a substrate for ceramic tiles.

Bituminous screed (paving grade asphalt): DITRA Matting allows for the installation of ceramic coverings on standard weightbearing, unheated mastic asphalt screeds in indoor areas.

Installing DITRA Matting

Prior to installing DITRA matting it is important to make sure that the substrates are even, load bearing, clean and compatible. The flooring should also have sufficient time to dry before you get started with the installation.

  1. Apply a layer bonding adhesive to the level substrate using a 3x3mm or 4x4mm notched trowel.
  2. Cut DITRA matting to size if required, then embed the anchoring fleece on the underside of the matting into the adhesive so that its entire surface is strongly bonded.
  3. Once installed, we recommend placing boards down to protect the matting against damage or loosening from the substrate, which can be caused by heavy mechanical loads.
  4. Tiling can begin straight after the DITRA matting is installed.

DITRA matting is available to purchase online at Tile Fix Direct in 1m lengths, in full 30m rolls or as a full pallet of 6 rolls. For more detailed instructions check out the Schlüter DITRA PDF guide.

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How to Create a Wet Room with Marmox

More and more people are choosing to install wet rooms in their homes, and why not? Wet rooms are striking and spacious, giving your bathroom a distinct luxurious feeling. They are also easy to clean and suitable for all members of the family, making them an attractive option to homeowners.

But a wet room is only as good as its waterproof foundations, and what’s underneath really does matter. That’s why we at Tile Fix Direct choose to stock Marmox products. Marmox have over 40 years of experience in the design and manufacture of materials for the construction industry. At Marmox they work hard to keep their products at the head of the industry. With their continual innovation and market research, you can be sure you are getting the best of the best.

Marmox offer a selection of wet room waterproofing & insulation systems and products, including shower bases and trays, insulations boards and tanking tape – everything you need to make your wet room watertight.

The Benefits of Wet Room Waterproofing & Insulation

Wet room waterproof insulation offers an easy and reliable way of creating a gorgeous bathroom in your home. Systems are used to line wet room floors, walls and ceilings, providing a surface for affixing tiles, vinyl or other finishes, depending on the décor of the room. Specialist features such as wet room linear drains and shower bases also help to ensure that moisture doesn’t leak into other areas of the house, protecting the building structure. By installing waterproof insulation you’ll safe guard not only the wet room, but the rest of the house as well.

Marmox Wet Room Products

Marmox offers a variety of wet room waterproofing products suitable for use in private homes, hotels and other locations. Some of their products are also suitable for use as loft insulation and with underfloor heating.

Marmox Multiboard is a wet room waterproofing & insulation board that can be fixed to walls, floors and ceilings. It can simply be glued in place with a solvent-free adhesive or it can be fixed with specialised washers and dowels. Flexible, curved boards are also available to create arches, rounded seats and curved shower cubicles, as well as sloped boards to enable you to extend the falls out further from the shower tray. These boards are easy to cut and install and can hold the heaviest of wall tiles – making them the perfect tile foundation.

Marmox Showerlay is a wet room shower base that is installed at floor level, making it perfect for people with reduced mobility, as they won’t have to step up to use the shower. Showerlay wet room shower trays are both low-cost and easy to install; it is pre-formed with a slope for easy draining and it can be used with a variety of finishing materials, including tiles as small as 50mm.

Marmox 360 Wet Room Drains can be used with Showerlay shower trays and are available in standard or linear varieties. This innovative drain can swivel from 45° to 90° allowing you to connect it to horizontal or vertical pipes.

Marmox ShowerStone trays are strong shower bases which slope from an outside thickness of 22mm down to 5mm. Manufactured from acrylic and modified concrete, it is easily installed onto floor joists and is suitable for use with finishes including mosaic tiles and vinyl. Additionally, if the size needs to be increased, separate extension pieces can be provided.

Marmox SoundBoard is a soundproofing tile backer board that can be used to reduce sound heard in the rooms below. The SoundBoard is not solely used for soundproofing, it can also provide a waterproof layer, secure decoupling, thermal insulation and low compressibility.

With all these amazing products, you’ll be able to create a perfect wet room with Marmox. Tile Fix Direct are approved Marmox stockists and our customer service team are fully trained to answer any questions you might have about their products. See the full range of Marmox wet room products available at Tile Fix Direct here.

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Product Feature: Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

At Tile Fix Direct we choose the very best products to suit your every tiling need, so you can be sure your tiling is second to none. Introducing Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting. This product is an uncoupling and anti-cracking waterproof membrane with high adhesion for balconies, terraces and horizontal surfaces before laying ceramic tiles or natural stone. The Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting creates a waterproof surface even when overlaid on substrates that are cracked, have not been perfectly cured or might contain vapour pressure due to residual substrate moisture content.

The Unique Features of Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

Green-Pro is a highly innovative Kerakoll creation. The membrane is a high-technology, multi-layer composite polymer system comprising:

  • PA – hydrophobic PA fibres with high tensile strength to guarantee a superior and more evenly distributed available contact surface.
  • HDPE – waterproof and variable geometry HDPE structure to guarantee physical separation between the substrate and the flooring.
  • TNT – highly breathable sheet to guarantee passage of the vapour from uncured screeds or screeds with high residual humidity and to guarantee high levels of adhesion to the substrates.

The Benefits of Using Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

We all know the benefits of using a decoupling layer, but Kerakoll Green-Pro has a range of additional advantages:

  • Waterproofs any surface, old or new, damp or dry, cracked or subject to dimensional variations.
  • Compensates for hygrometric shrinkage and thermal deformation stress.
  • Reduces on-site working times: waterproofing and laying of the coating without waiting, withstands foot traffic immediately.
  • Solves the problem of respecting substrate joints in staggered or diagonal laying (cuts in doorways).

Where to Use Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting can be used both externally and internally. It can be used to waterproof, separate and compensate for vapour pressure prior to laying of ceramic tile and natural stone coatings for domestic, commercial, industrial uses (like industrial kitchens, food industries, warehouses) and for street furniture (check that the size and thickness of the material to be laid is suitable).

  • Screeds, including any that are cracked and not completely cured of with possible vapour pressure caused by residual humidity.
  • Existing ceramic, marble floor tiles, natural stone floorings anchored to the substrate.
  • Cured concrete.
  • Fibre-cement and plaster-board panels anchored to the substrate.

Do not use on anhydrite-based substrates without the use of Primer A Eco professional, concentrated, water-based surface insulation, on bituminous sheeting, on exposed surfaces, on inverted roofs made with insulation panels or low-density screeds, and on roofs of residential spaces built without vapour barrier and insulation layers.

How to Install Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting

  1. Clean the substrates of dust, oil and grease, loose debris or flaky parts, residues of cement, lime, plaster/render, or paint coatings.
  2. Do not apply to substrates at a temperature > +35 °C (temperature of the substrate).
  3. Unroll the sheets and cut them to size, considering a space of approximately 5 mm between the sheets and the perimeter walls, stringcourses, protrusions, columns, pillars, architectural elements, drains, etc., and between one sheet and the next.
  4. Apply Biogel No Limits adhesive using a suitable toothed spreader; lay a thin layer with the smooth side, pressing down heavily to achieve maximum adhesion to the substrate and regulate water absorption.
  5. Regulate the thickness by the tilt of the spreader, using the toothed part. Apply the adhesive to a surface area that will allow laying of the sheets within the open time indicated (check the state of the adhesive frequently). Avoid any build-up of adhesive, that might compromise the flatness of the matting.
  6. Position the sheets or unroll them onto the fresh adhesive, taking care they are flat and avoiding the formation of creases or bubbles.
  7. Create joints approximately 5 mm in width between the sheets and the perimeter walls, stringcourses, etc., and between one sheet and the next.
  8. Immediately press the sheets down onto the fresh adhesive using Aquaform R mixed with a bag of adhesive.
  9. Check that the whole of the white unwoven fabric on the back of the membrane has been dampened; if necessary increase the amount of adhesive and press more carefully. Press properly to ensure that the membranes are taut.
  10. Avoid getting fresh adhesive onto the roller, as this might compromise the surface of the sheets.
  11. Lay the next sheet, aligning it with the preceding one and leaving a gap of approximately 5 mm between one sheet and the next; press immediately, paying particular attention to passage of the roller along the edges of the sheets.

Protect the rolls from direct sunlight, heat sources and rain, both during storage in the warehouse and on site. When laying the matting, protect it from sunshine until shortly before application. For further installation instructions click here.

Green-Pro revolutionises the world of underlying waterproofing, re-writing performance standards to allow applications that are impossible for mineral products. This top of the range standard is why we have chosen Kerakoll Green-Pro Matting, and why you should too.

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Finishing Outdoor Tile Edges PorcelQuick External Tile Trims

Porcelain paving is a great choice for a patio because the tiles are not only hard-wearing and long-lasting, but they are also stylish with an impressive range of colours and patterns. All these benefits make porcelain paving tiles well-suited to any property. However, when it comes to edging your patio, the cut edge on porcelain tiles isn’t quite as attractive as it is on natural stone and the rectified tile means that the edge can also become quite sharp. One way to edge a paving slab is by profiling it. Profiling does have its disadvantages, so PorcelQuick have created a range of stainless steel profiles designed precisely for use with porcelain paving.

Profiling your porcelain tiles can look great, but there are some downsides to this edging method. In the manufacturing of porcelain tiles, the powder is pressed in the shape of the desired tile and then fired at very high temperatures. This process is called vitrification and it removes almost all of the moisture, transforming the powder into an extremely hard material. Whilst this is necessary to make the tiles hard-wearing and well-suited to high traffic areas, it also makes porcelain tiles extremely difficult to cut on site. This means that for the tiles to be profiled or cut, to avoid those sharp edges, they usually have to be sent away to specialist companies with the machinery that can handle this tough material. This can take up to 6 weeks to fully cut and edge your tiles – so be prepared to wait. It’s also a costly process since specialist machinery is needed to cut and profile porcelain.

Luckily for us PorcelQuick have launched their latest range of 316 marine grade stainless steel trims which provide a low maintenance, aesthetically pleasing and simple solution. The trims are easy to look after, to clean simply wipe down with a wet warm cloth or sponge once or twice a month. If the trim is scratched or showing minor rust stains, use a mild abrasive cleaner such as Cif and follow up by wiping with a damp warm cloth or sponge. If the metal is contaminated with oil or grease clean with acetone (nail polish remover) and follow up with a warm water wipe.

PorcelQuick Stainless Steel Double Pencil Profile

The double pencil trim has a square look with rounded edges, it creates a bold and durable look on steps, edges and swimming pool surrounds:

  • Ideal for straight steps with or without overhang of up to 10mm.
  • Available with pre-formed external corners and end pieces.
  • Can be used on pool surrounds and steps.

PorcelQuick Stainless Steel Round Edge Profile

The round edge trim has a curved shape designed to look like a traditional bull-nose finish:

  • Ideal for edging copings or straight steps.
  • Available with pre-formed external corners and end pieces to create a neat finish easily.
  • Can be used on pool surrounds and steps.

PorcelQuick Stainless Steel Straight Edge Profile

A simple stainless steel profile that creates a subtle, contemporary look – perfect for patio edges on tiles up to 20mm thick:

  • Minimalist look.
  • Ideal for edging copings or straight steps.
  • Available with pre-formed external corners.

PorcelQuick Stainless Steel Straight Edge Formable Profile

This trim has the same subtle finish as the above, but can be bent to finish curved edges such as on patio edges, steps and swimming pool surrounds. The formable trim can be bent up to a maximum radius of 85cm:

  • Suitable for use on curved steps.
  • Can be used within curved patterns as a transition piece.

Tile Fix Direct is stocking the full range of PorcelQuick trims so click here for more information or to order online.

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