Q. Both our kitchen and family room floors are covered in tile in shades of brown and gold. The tile was there when we bought the house.
I would like to redecorate in a much lighter color scheme and I want to get rid of this ugly flooring. Is there any way I can put a new layer on top of the old?
A. If the tile in good shape, you should be able to lay another tile layer directly over the old.
First you will need to roughen the existing tile surface so you get better adhesion when applying the new tile layer. Use an electric grinder or masonry rubbing stone.
If the existing tiles have rounded edges, the grout joints may be slightly lower than the tile surface. Larger tiles will span the gaps, but if the new tiles are the same size or smaller than the present flooring, you must fill the joints with grout to level the surface. When level, apply an adhesive that is recommended for installation over existing tile. Re-grout as you would new tiling.
If the existing tile surface is cracked and damaged, or if the flooring surface under the tile is faulty, you may have to install an isolation membrane over the old tiles.
Tile damage, such as cracks or shifting, over a large area is a sure sign of problems with the undersurface, often caused by faulty installation or moisture. An isolation membrane accommodates the subflooring movement without affecting the new tile.
Attach the membrane to the existing tile with latex tile adhesive. Go over the material with a hand roller to eliminate air pockets and ensure a tight bond. Let the adhesive cure for 24 hours, then apply tile over it.
This also works well where cracking has occurred because tile was set over two different subfloorings, such as a concrete slab and plywood subfloor, and for any repair where it is impractical to correct structural problems affecting the subflooring.
Whether the retiling is a do-it-yourself project will depend on how handy you are with tools, measurements and tile cutting required for a job of this type.
One thing to remember: You will need to accommodate the increased height of your new floor in such areas as door thresholds, baseboard installations and allowances for adequate room for opening and closing lower kitchen cupboards.
Q. The oak flooring in our home has dark spots left there by the previous owner. We would like to maintain natural wood floors, but do not know how to go about removing these stains.
If we can't get rid of these spots we will have to install carpeting. Can you suggest ways to restore the floor?
A. Since you do not know the cause of the staining, you will have to experiment with spot-removal techniques.
Rub each stained area with No. 00 steel wool and a good floor cleaner or mineral spirits. Follow this by thoroughly washing spotted areas with household vinegar. Allow it to remain three or four minutes.
If the spots remain, sand with fine sandpaper, feathering out three to four inches into the surrounding area, then rewax and polish.
If repeated applications of vinegar do not remove the spots, apply oxalic acid solution directly to the spotted areas. Use one ounce oxalic acid to one quart of water. Remember to pour acid into water and avoid any splashing. Take great care when using acids because they can be harmful. Wear rubber gloves.
Pour a small amount directly on the spot and let the solution stand one hour. Sponge off with clear water. A second treatment may be helpful if the spot refuses to yield.
The oxalic acid solution will bleach the wood and the areas treated will have to be stained and refinished to match the original color. Sand the area with No. 00 sandpaper and apply matching finish, feathering out into the surrounding floor area. Let dry.
Buff lightly with No. 00 steel wool. Apply a second coat of finish, let dry and wax. If the stains are still visible, the only remedy is to replace the affected flooring or install carpeting.
Send inquiries to Here's How, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column.