A beautiful outdoor living area

Transform an ordinary concrete patio into a beautiful outdoor living area by tiling over the concrete. There is a handsome array of suitable tiles and other paving materials to choose from and store personnel typically offer extensive design and installation information to prepare you for the task. Setting tile takes some effort but it is a project that you can divide easily into manageable work sessions. The beautiful results add real value to your home. Here are the basics for tiling a patio.

1. Prepare the Surface: Start by cleaning the surface using a concrete cleaner and either a pressure washer or a stiff scrub brush. If the slab is finished (paint or other sealer) or excessively rough, you must grind the surface with a scarifier. You can rent this walk-behind grinding machine for about $60 a day plus the cost of a set of blades.

· Caution: Always wear knee pads when kneeling on hard surfaces.

2. Isolate any Cracks: If you have wider-than-hairline cracks in the concrete, use a liquid-applied isolation membrane so the crack won't transmit through the tile. To apply the system, which is available at tile dealers, brush or roll on the liquid, lay on the reinforcing membrane, and apply another coat of liquid. Allow it to dry.


3. Lay Out the Tiles: Plan your layout so you don't end up with too narrow a tile course (row) on the edges. Snap two perpendicular chalk lines marking the center of the patio (left). Plan either to have a grout joint on these centerlines or to center a tile course over them, whichever gives you the best layout. Temporarily position a row of tiles along each line with plastic spacers to test your layout.

· Tip: Use the 3-4-5 triangle rule to verify that your centerline is perpendicular to the house and to the other centerline. From the corner formed by two intersecting lines, measure out 3 feet along one line and 4 feet along the line perpendicular to it. The diagonal line connecting these two points must equal 5 feet.

4. Place Mortar Setting Bed: Mix a latex-Portland cement mortar (thin-set). Using your chalk line as a guide, spread the mortar with a notched trowel over a 2x5-foot section of the floor. Tilt the trowel so that you leave mortar only in the ridges created by the notches.

· Tip: The size tile you are using determines the size of the notch on the trowel. Larger tiles require more adhesive, therefore have larger notches.


5. Set the Tiles: Butter the back of the tile with mortar. Set the tiles using plastic spacers to maintain desired grout joints. Press each tile into place and tap it with a rubber mallet to firmly set and level it with adjoining tiles. Remove the spacers just before they get out of reach.

· Tip: Many floor tiles are difficult to cut using a score-and-break tile cutter. Rent a diamond-blade tile-cutting wet saw. It's much easier and you're much less likely to break any tiles.

· Caution: To allow for expansion and contraction, provide expansion joints wherever the tile meets a vertical surface (house, stair, etc.). Large patios must also have expansion joints every 12 feet. Provide an expansion joint by removing the mortar (while it's wet) along the joint down to the concrete, and use polyurethane caulk instead of grout to fill the joint.

6. Grout the Floor: Let tile set overnight before applying grout. Mix grout to a sour-cream consistency and apply it with a rubber float. Push the grout diagonally across the tile with the float tilted at a 45-degree angle. Then make a final pass with the float tilted at nearly 90 degrees. Allow grout to stiffen and sponge off excess with a damp sponge. Sponge off the grout haze the next day.

· Tip: To minimize cracking due to too-fast drying, cover the floor with polyethylene and keep it moist for 3-7 days by misting it with a hose.

Materials List

· Concrete cleaner
· Pressure washer or stiff scrub brush
· Knee pads
· Isolation membrane and brush or roller
· Chalk line
· Ceramic tile (approved for floors)
· Tile spacers
· Latex-Portland cement mortar (thin-set)
· Mixing container
· Notched trowel
· Rubber mallet
· Floor grout
· Rubber float
· Large synthetic sponges
· Water bucket
· Polyethylene sheeting
· Grout-color polyurethane caulk
· Caulking gun

Written by Roy Barnhart, home improvement expert, Fairfield, CT.

Article from: www.doityourself.com