Tile Fix Direct Blog

Tiling

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.

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.

NEW BAL Flexbone VAried & 2Easy Uncoupling Systems

Great news – BAL Flexbone 2Easy and Flexbone VAried are now in stock at Tile Fix Direct! We’re excited to be able to offer you these two exciting new uncoupling products that will save you time and money on your next floor tiling job. BAL now offer a complete uncoupling package of solutions and say “Each and every project has different requirements. Maybe height build-up is an issue, perhaps time is an issue, or the substrate is particularly troublesome. Cavities or no cavities, lightweight or floating, water- proof or not – we have the uncoupling solution for you!”

BAL Flexbone 2Easy Floating Uncoupling Matting

Flexbone 2Easy is a unique uncoupling matting that requires no adhesive between the mat and the substrate. That’s right, as long as your floor is level and stable you can simply give it a quick sweep, roll out the matting and start tiling. Flexbone 2Easy is 3mm thick and has a bone-shaped structure that’s much easier to fill with adheisve than other cavity-style decoupling mats. Because there’s no adhesive beneath the matting it can be used in places where tiling was not an option before; for example rental properties, heritage projects or showrooms where the flooring might need to be changed frequently. You can even use it over new anhydrite or sand & cement screeds that are not cured as the moisture will evaporate through covering joints. The matting comes on a 20m roll but you can also buy it in 5m cut lengths.

BAL Flexbone 2Easy Perforation for Moisture Vapour Dissipation

Flexbone 2Easy Perforation for Moisture Vapour Dissipation

BAL Flexbone VAried Bonded Uncoupling Matting

Flexbone VAried is a bonded uncoupling mat but with the same bone-shaped structure as 2Easy that’s easy to fill and reduces installation time by up to 30%. This matting is perfect for floors subject to lateral movement; it stops tiles cracking or popping up and has 50% higher shear strength than other cavity mats. It’s also waterproof so it’s the ideal choice for wet rooms, showers and bathrooms as no additional tanking is required. Flexbone VAried is recommended for underfloor heating, new cement screeds, timber floors and existing floor surfaces and can be used to install large format ceramic & porcelain tiles, slabs & natural stone with a minimum edge length of 100mm. As well as domestic environments, it is perfect for high load bearing commercial projects such as shopping malls, airports, car showrooms, office buildings and hospitals.

BAL Flexbone VAried Griplock Technology

Flexbone VAried Griplock Technology

Find out more about the full range of BAL uncoupling solutions and which one is right for your project on the BAL Uncoupling Tip Sheet and shop the full range at Tile Fix Direct here.

How To Install The Eterno Ivica Adjustable Paving Support Pedestal System

After a steady rise in popularity over the last couple of years, it seems porcelain paving is here to stay. It’s easy to see why it has become the material of choice for homeowners; it’s available in a range of designs, has a slip resistant surface and isn’t affected by the changing British weather. But when it comes to installation, there is some debate around which method is best. A traditional solid base and tile adhesive seems the best route to go down, but if you are installing porcelain pavers onto a balcony or terrace this is not a practical option – this is where pedestals come in.

What is a paving pedestal system?

These plastic pedestals don’t look like much but they can be used to create a tiled area on balconies and terraces quite easily. Most systems involve using a series of plastic pedestals to support the tiles and create a raised floor. There are a number of different types available including adjustable, self-levelling and extendable. This system is relatively mess-free and uses no adhesive or grout, leaving the joints between the tiles completely open. The base will need to have the correct falls and be fully waterproofed to allow the water to drain away below the tiles.

Benefits of the Eterno Ivica paving pedestal system

There are a range of benefits of using Eterno pedestals on balconies and terraces, we’ve listed some of them below:

  • Self-levelling head for easy installation
  • Better thermal insulation
  • Improved acoustic insulation
  • Significantly lighter
  • Hides pipes and equipment
  • Flat & level surface
  • Excellent absorption of structural movement
  • Quick drainage through open joints
  • Very strong & resistant to loads
  • Easy to remove or replace a single tile

How to install Eterno Ivica paving pedestals

Eterno Ivica pedestals are relatively easy to install – we have outlined the basic instructions below.

  1. Measure the height you want your finished patio to sit at and take away the thickness of the tile – this will give you the height of the pedestal you will need. Patio height – tile thickness = pedestal height.
  2. Use a length of string to mark the finished patio height across the whole area –
    the pedestals will need to be adjusted in some areas to accommodate the falls in the base – check it is level using a spirit level.
  3. Place four pedestals at the corners of where you are laying your first tile. Remove the unused spacer tabs by snapping them so the only remaining one’s are in the joints.
  4. Place a spirit level on top of the tile and adjust the pedestal using a Pedestal Adjustment Key until it is level. Continue to do this as each tile is installed. Do not stand on the tile while adjusting the pedestal underneath it. The self-levelling head compensates for gradients up to 5%.
  5. In corners or around edges the pedestals can be cut using a saw.
  6. Use a length of wood or a long rule and a spirit level, check the finished area is level.

Watch the below video from Eterno Ivica for a visual installation guide.

Eterno Ivica paving pedestals at Tile Fix Direct

We stock a number of Eterno Ivica pedestal products at Tile Fix Direct for use on balconies and terraces:

Kerakoll BioGel Adhesives Now Available at Tile Fix Direct

We are very excited to now be stocking two adhesives from Kerakoll: both BioGel No Limits and BioGel Extreme are now available to order online at Tile Fix Direct. Kerakoll adhesives are fast becoming a favourite amongst UK tilers as they can be used with a wide range of substrates and materials. Read on to find out more about the Kerakoll BioGel adhesives available at Tile Fix Direct.

Kerakoll BioGel No Limits

Available in Grey and White Shock, BioGel No Limits is a gel based adhesive that can be used to fix almost any material to almost any substrate. The adhesive can be mixed to your preferred consistency and will not thicken or shrink. It is extremely easy to apply thanks to its soft texture, non-slip qualities and shape memory. BioGel No Limits contains pure white Carrara marble from the Kerakoll quarries that renders products workable, delivers incomparable performance, and gives the White Shock version an unmistakable uniform white colour. BioGel No Limits is eco friendly and has an Eco5 GreenBuilding Rating®. Kerakoll BioGel No Limits is available in single 25kg bags or full pallets of 42 bags.

Benefits of BioGel No Limits Adhesive

  • Thixotropic and fluid
  • Double open time
  • Shape memory
  • No slip
  • Water resistant
  • High and low thickness
  • Full wetability
  • Frost risk reduced
  • No shrinkage
  • High deformation
  • Structural adhesion
  • Distributes tensile strength
  • Increases the performance
  • Transfers the forces
  • Absorbs dynamic load
  • Eco friendly
  • Coverage: 1.25kg/m2

Kerakoll BioGel Extreme

Supplied in a bucket, this two part hybrid gel adhesive has been tested under the most extreme conditions. It provides fast bonding with adhesive strength that’s 5 times stronger than a standard C2 cement-based adhesive. It’s 10 times more deformable than a class S2 cement-based adhesive and really easy to apply thanks to its smooth gel-like consistency. Kerakoll BioGel Extreme is available in single 10L tubs or full pallets of 33 tubs.

BioGel Extreme is eco friendly, making it perfect for green building projects. It can be used over existing tiles, underfloor heating, concrete, gypsum & anhydrite, brick, plaster and most other substrates to fix all types of tiles, natural stone, insulation, metal and glass. For the full list of suitable substrates, materials and uses please see the data sheet.

Benefits of BioGel Extreme Adhesive

  • Very fast bonding
  • Long open time – 180 minutes at 23°C
  • Shape memory
  • Water resistant
  • Easy to spread
  • Maximum deformability
  • Full wettability
  • No shrinkage
  • Structural adhesion
  • Distributes tensile strength
  • Increases performance
  • Transfers force
  • Absorbs dynamic load
  • Frost proof

Browse the full range of Kerakoll adhesives available at Tile Fix Direct online here.

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