Rip it up and start again

Rip it up and start again

September 2019

John Simons faced a choice: over boarding an existing parquet floor, or ripping the whole lot up to create a sound subfloor for tiling.

All tile installations demand a sound subfloor; one that’s clean, dry and level.  Given the choice of over boarding an existing parquet floor, or ripping the whole lot up, the former can often seem like the best (and fastest) option.  After all, who knows what horrors might be lurking under the wood?

One of Tilemaster Adhesives’ customers, John Simons, recently faced this exact dilemma when he was asked to tile an intricate, bespoke hallway floor with Porcelthin tiles.  Despite the attractive thought of the time that could be saved from overboarding, knowing the potential issues going down this route would cause, he opted to lift the parquet – an original herringbone.  He took on board that he would have to build the floor height back up by 50mm - the thickness of the wooden blocks - to hit the existing finished floor heights of the rooms off the hallway.

Simons commented that the wood came away from the subfloor ‘surprisingly easily,’ with very little or no bond to the subfloor in places. This most probably would have been a result of the bond and materials weakening over the years through wear and tear, but could also possibly be the fact that it hadn’t been bonded particularly well to start with.  Whatever the reason for the timber not being particularly well adhered to the substrate, fixing over it could have caused several issues:

As the parquet wasn’t firmly fixed to the substrate, attempting to fix anything to this could have resulted in complete de-bonding of the timber.  Also, as timber needs to expand and contract, overboarding and tiling would have prevented this natural movement which, once again, could have caused considerable issues.

Lifting the parquet revealed a bitumen layer which, given the age of the property, was most likely acting as a damp proof membrane; this needed to be repaired/replaced.  

Simons decided that the floor could do with being pre-smoothed prior to installing a new DPM.  The flooring compound needed to be moisture tolerant and suitable to be used below a DPM or, in this case, above an old, damaged, incomplete DPM.  He opted to use Tilemaster Super Flow 30, as this product would allow him to install the new DPM on top in as little as 90 minutes.  Simons did just that and, after 90 minutes, was ready to apply Tilemaster Fast One Coat DPM: a solvent-free, epoxy-based, product that cures in four to five hours.  The two-component DPM can be used on surfaces with a relative humidity of up to 98% and can be installed where no structural DPM is present.

Once Tilemaster Fast One Coat DPM had cured, a coat of Tilemaster Prime + Grip multi-purpose bond enhancing primer was applied to the surface before adding some further height to the floor build up using Tilemaster Rapid Level 30 – an ultra-rapid setting, flexible floor leveller and smoothing compound. Once Tilemaster Rapid Level 30 was dry, it was primed with Tilemaster Primeplus before 20mm insulating boards were installed using Tilemaster Standard Set Setaflex adhesive, ready to fit the electric underfloor heating system on top. The electric cables were then fully encased in another layer of Tilemaster Rapid Level 30 and, once this was set, the floor was again primed with Tilemaster Primeplus, followed by Tilemaster Anti-Fracture Mat fitted with Tilemaster Standard Set Setaflex.

It was only then that Simons was able to start setting out and begin tiling, using Tilemaster Standard Setaflex adhesive, for what was going to ultimately be a test of skill, patience and attention to detail. Once tiled, the floor was grouted using Tilemaster Grout 3000.
The removal of the parquet and Simons’s preparatory work provided an essential sound base and enabled him to showcase his fantastic skill set to achieve an outstanding top-end finish; one that no doubt will sit handsomely in the portfolio alongside his other outstanding work.

For advice and more information, please contact Tilemaster Adhesives on tel. 01772 456831, email  or visit  
To contact John Simons, tel. 07783 151345 and email

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