The first step here was replacing the rotting floors with a nice plywood base and then applying the tar paper on top of that. Make sure it’s nice and flat and then staple the paper down for a nice foundation. I’m putting down white penny tiles.
Put down the wire base and then staple it down mercilessly so nothing floats too high. Once you have it stapled every few inches or so, hammer down any high places so you can put down just a few thin layers of cement instead of several. Trust me here.
For the cement layer, I used a quick drying, self-leveling cement. I ended up needing two bags for a small space because it really spreads pretty thin. To mix it, I used a 5 gallon bucket and a mixing paddle attached to a drill. It sets up SUPER quick so work quickly. You’ll need a second set of hands to slowly pour the powder into the bucket while you’re mixing. The powder is really fine, so please work with eye and nose/mouth protection. You don’t want to breathe this stuff in. Work outdoors if you can.
See? I didn’t hammer it down enough. Time for a second layer.
The second layer covered most of the high places. I still wish I had hammered the high places down more, but I’m not overly concerned since most of the floor in the room will be covered by appliances or cabinetry.
Okay, laying this part down was really tedious. Since this is an old house, none of the corners were even close to perfect 90 degree angles, which made it very tricky for me to decide the best way to orient the tiles. I spent a few hours with a mathematically inclined friend trying to place the tiles. Eventually we came up with a pattern that made sense.
Once the tiles are set down in a way that you like them, it’s time to grout. I used Polyblend, non-sanded in the color “snow white”. Mixing the grout is very similar to the cement mixing process, using the same bucket and paddle in the steps above. Follow the instructions on the package.
Sealing the floors:
Purchase best sealer that Home Depot has, which is about $30.00 per quart. I recommend Mira Seal 511. Do the sealer about 48 hours after the grout has had time to dry. Please keep in mind, this sealer will have some smell so make sure to open windows and wear mask. Apply small amount and let it penetrate about minute or two, then wipe the area with dry cloth. Make sure not to leave any un-penetrated sealer more than 5 min., which will leave a foggy spot and very difficult to remove. Wait about 2 hours or more and apply second coat. You can test the floor by drop just little bit of water over sealed floor and you will see the water drop set as round shape over sealed floor. If you see this round shape, you successfully sealed the floor! You may need to reseal maybe once every two years or so.