08 March 2009

Laying the Ditra to tile the basement floor

Now that the work is done in retro-fitting the basement floor with radiant heat, it is up to us to finish the rest. Kevin swabbed a sealant layer over the new subfloor last weekend and yesterday, we laid the Schluter-Ditra uncoupling membrane down. It's main purpose is to separate the newly poured gypsum slab from the tiles above it, leaving each layer room to contract and expand at its own rate without cracking the tiles. It's especially important with radiant heated floors like ours. It also helps to evenly distribute the load of tiles and serves as a protective moisture barrier.

Laying out the Ditra with thin-set in the downstairs bathroom.

It took us just one day to lay down all the Ditra, although on Friday I prepared for this by laying it all out and custom cutting the pieces to fit each room. The bottom fleece layer of the Ditra is attached to the subfloor with a thin-set mortar (mixed to the consistency of waffle batter). We have a good system going where I mix the batches of mortar, Kevin lays it down with the V-notch trowel (since he's the one with the knee pads), I help to lay out the piece of Ditra so it lines up properly, one of us uses the floats to smooth it in place and ensure good contact with the thin-set below and Kevin hauls in the new 50 pound bags of mortar to mix. I take small breaks when it gets cumbersome to lean over my beach ball-sized belly.

Savannah plays ball in her newly "Ditra-ed" room.

Today we tackled step three of tiling over the Ditra, but we depended on a neighbor's help for laying it all out first to get a good grid. He helped us decide what to do about the non-square rooms as well, since we weren't exactly sure about that. With the 18x18" tiles we chose, it's been a snap to lay them down now that we're working from a good grid. Our neighbor also left an extra pair of knee pads so I'm helping to apply the mortar with the notched trowel and to place and space the tiles with Kevin. We are thrilled with our good fortune in finding helpful and kind neighbors with a strong sense of community.

The plan is that while Kev is at work, I will measure and mark the tiles that need to be cut and label them sequentially so when he has a free moment, he can simpy pick up a pile of tiles, cut them on the marked line, then we'll have them all labelled to be set down when we have the chance. It should go faster that way. Teamwork is a great thing.

So far so good! 87 tiles down which comes to about 200 square feet of tiling today.

Mortar will come last after all the tiles are cut and laid- these tiles are still drying and setting.

Also, after yesterday's finding I took Savannah to the emergency care clinic today and am thrilled to say, they took us very seriously and we were treated "by the book". They sent the engorged tick to a lab for processing (I brought it in our tick jar that is half-filled with rubbing alcohol), Savannah walked out with a week's supply of Strawberry Creme flavored prophylactic antibiotics and in four weeks, she'll have a blood work follow-up to be sure she doesn't have Lyme disease. I couldn't be happier with the service. Lyme disease is a reportable illness since it's important for officials to keep on top of the demographics for the spread of this disease. The doctor also said that I had removed all of the mouth parts but there was a small scab in the center of the red infection that I had mistaken for a mouth part. Still, I'm special ordering the fine tipped tweezers because until our guinea hens are engoring themselves on daily meals of ticks, we will probably need them again and again...


Jackie said...

It is so satisfying to see your home transform, isn't it? Looks like you guys are getting a lot done and all that sweat equity will pay off!

Atlanticsong said...

I sure hope so! Everything is always slower and more expensive than you planned for when it comes to renovations... But there's nothing better than the completion of a project.