What is the best way to make your flooring safe? Some points from Satish Salpekar

The broad categories of bathroom concepts are:

The dry bathrooms are the ones in which shower area is physically separated from the rest of the bathroom, so that the shower area is the only wet area in the bathroom.

The bathroom is generally divided into three parts i.e. shower, wash basin and water closet.

The floor beneath wash basin and water closet is supposed to be dry. It is achieved by using health faucets and/or hand sprays and/or jet sprays, which discharges water inside the WC only and not floors.

The shower area is physically separated by a 50 to 75 mm curb in floor and a plastic bathroom curtain and/or aluminium sliding partition and/or full glass partition. One is supposed to take shower within the wet area only. Get dried inside the shower area and the come out on a bathroom matt.

This helps keeping most of the bathroom dry. Thus, the bathroom floor does not become slippery.

Wet areas

The wet bathrooms are the typical Indian bathrooms where there is no separation of activities. Thus, when you take bath the whole bathroom floor gets wet. The water is also splashed on door shutters.

If your door is made of wood then the wood gets decayed and it stinks like urine.

Types of tiles: The basic types are wall tiles and floor tiles. The wall tiles are available in both glossy as well as matt finish. These are normally rectangular in shape. The floor tiles are also available in glossy as well as matt finish.

There is also a special category in floor tiles called anti-skid. These are generally in square shape. Some floor tiles are also available in rectangular shape.

Sizes, available aplenty in the market these days, are dependent on the shape and size of the bathroom and the tastes of the owner

Before you begin, it is imperative that the walls are clean, sound and dry. The surface should be as flat as possible and therefore you will need to remove any wallpapering and coat any flaking paint with a stabilising primer.

Now would be a good time to make your very own gauge stick, which will help you plot the position of the tiles on the wall. Find a piece of softwood and lay several tiles next to it (adding spacers if the tiles are square-edged or butting together those with lugs) and mark off the position of each tile along the stick.

Setting out the tiles

The size and shape of your bathroom ultimately decides on how you set out the walls. Mark the bottom of the lowest row of tiles and temporarily nail a thin guide batten to the wall, aligned with the mark. Use the spirit level to ensure that this is perfectly horizontal.

Marking the centre of the wall, use the gauge stick to set out the rows of tiles on each side of it. If the border tiles measure less than half the width of a tile, reposition the rows sideways by half a tile. Use the spirit level to place a guide batten against the last vertical line and nail it to the wall.

If you have to tile around an object such as a window, use that as your starting point so that the surrounding tiles are of equal size. Cut tiles should be placed at the back of the window reveal. Again, use a temporary guide batten above the window to position the row of tiles above it.

Slopes in floors

The bathroom floors shall not be successful unless adequate slopes are provided in floors. The shower area should ideally have a slope of 1:100 measured from the longest point from the drain. The rest of the bathroom floor can have a leaner slope of 1:200. Also check for the direction of the slopes in bathrooms. Most of the times in mass scale constructions the bathroom slopes are invariably in a wrong direction.

It's important to always use a waterproof tile adhesive for areas that will come into contact with water. Most tile adhesives are sold ready-mixed, although some will require you to add water yourself. Apply the adhesive to the wall so that it covers about 1 meter square.

Grouting & Sealing

It is essential to use waterproof grout for any bath or shower surrounds. Grout comes in a pre-mixed paste grey, white or brown paste, although it is also possible these days to source coloured grouts that will blend in with your choice of tiles. Allow the tile adhesive to harden for 24 hours before applying the grout using a rubber-bladed spreader, ensuring that all the joints are filled.

Using a sponge, wipe the grout from the surface of the tiles before it sets and smoothens the joints with a blunt-ended stick. When it has dried, use a dry cloth to polish the face of the tiles and leave for about a week before using.

Place bathroom faucets in such way that they are adjusted to the nearest tile joint. Cutting edges of tiles is easier than drilling a hole in them.

(The author is Consulting Civil Engineer, Nagpur Vice President (West), ACCE-I)

Keywords: real estate