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Build a Wood and Slate Basket-Weave Floor: Finishing and Tile

Sand and oil the wood, then infill with tile to complete the project

Now that it’s all sanded down, I’m going to finish the new floor with Waterlox. I like this stuff because it’s easy to use. You don’t have to screen it afterwards. It looks beautiful no matter how you wipe it on.

Typically it’s a three-coat process. We’ve got two coats of the gloss finish, which I’m putting down right now, and then one coat of the satin if you want to knock the sheen back down. I’ll apply the satin coat after the last tiles are in.

Under normal circumstances I would not have oiled the floor at this stage; I would have laid the whole weave; put plywood blocks in the tile spaces as temporary fillers; laid the rest of the wood floor; and have the flooring sanders to do everything at once to blend it all together. But for the purpose of demonstrating how to do the entire project, we’re going a little out of sequence, but it will work fine either way.

The next step is to install Schluter Ditra mat in the spaces where the tiles will go. Ditra is an uncoupling membrane that allows the subfloor to move with changes in temperature and humidity without compromising the integrity of the tile above. Back-buttering small pieces of mat the way we do to fit them into the small square openings is not in the Ditra installation manual, but it work well for this application. We’ll let the adhesive under the Ditra mat set up overnight and we’ll come back in the morning and start setting tile.

It’s day two of the tile phase. I’m going to dry fit each tile, see what the fit is like, and put the adhesive on accordingly. I’m using a 1/4-in.-notch trowel to apply the adhesive to the back of the tiles. This is a modified mortar, which is going to be elastomeric and allow things to move a little bit.

The last thing to do is caulk all of the joints with a sanded caulk, which can handle the expansion and contraction of the wood floor better than grout. After that, it’s finish the rest of my house, and I can move in.


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