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Old 11-07-2011, 04:05 PM   #1
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Tile Floor - Tile Baseboard


I am tiling my bathroom floor with 2" square 12x12 sheets. The baseboard is going to be 4.25x4.25 matching tile, with the curved bottom that you would think go on the floor with the floor tile butting up to it with a grout joint in between. In the past few weeks I've been checking the bathrooms of my favorite restaurants (and pubs). There doesn't seem to be a consistent way this is done. Sometimes the baseboard tiles sit on top (which looks odd IMHO), sometimes they are on the floor with the floor tile coming up to them and a grout joint.

What I am thinking about is putting the baseboard tiles on the floor, with the floor tile butting up to them and a grout joint. But I'm afraid that normal expansion will cause issues. What if I were to attach the baseboard tiles to the wall with silicon? Would that provide enough give to keep the grout joint w/ the floor from cracking or even worse, buckling of the floor tile?

I've probably not explained my dilemma very well, but hope somebody can help.

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Old 11-07-2011, 04:12 PM   #2
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You are talking about "cove-base" tiles and they come two ways. One way that you see in restaurants and used commercially is a coved tile with a flat nose. This is so that the cove tile can be installed first and the floor field tile comes to it making a typical grout line. The method can create some issues over time due to expansion of the floor substrate and field tiles. Expansion breaks the toe off the cove tiles. The final joint that would be grout where the floor meets the wall shouldn't be grouted, it should be caulked. The trouble is...installers don't usually take the time or spend the money to do it correctly.

Another cove-base tile is a style that has a softer nose on the toe. Softer meaning curved. This is called "sanitary cove-base" and is typically set atop the floor tile. It should be gapped slightly to let some caulk get in the groove. This tile gets attached to the wall only and the toe/floor juncture gets caulk.

So...what's the problem?

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Last edited by Bud Cline; 11-07-2011 at 04:52 PM. Reason: dumb spelling
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Old 11-07-2011, 04:34 PM   #3
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The "softer" tile also has a finished (glazed) toe? This is what I have. I was looking at it, and it seems I could lay the floor first, then caulk along the floor/wall joint, back-butter the baseboard and set it in the fresh caulk. That would give a nice clean edge (wouldn't have to worry about exact cuts of the floor tile too much) and you wouldn't see the caulk, it would actually be recessed back from the toe a quarter inch or so. When grouting the vertical lines of the baseboard, just use wax paper or something to keep the grout off the floor and it should look fine. Or am I utterly confused?
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Old 11-07-2011, 04:52 PM   #4
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Why do you even need silicone?? It is not much faster or cheaper just use a mortar or at least any other tile adhesive. Silicone will hold, but no one using the silicone for tile its just not what is for. You can even use a liquid nail adhesive, but why...
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Old 11-07-2011, 04:55 PM   #5
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I think the cove-base should be gapped slightly so that when caulked afterward things have a little room to move. Placing the base in a bead of caulk will not guarantee a gap at the floor, in fact, it almost guarantees the base will touch the floor in places.

Do it however you want.

Last edited by Bud Cline; 11-07-2011 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:18 PM   #6
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Marins, you're right, silicon was a bad idea. Bud, thank you for your help. I think I have a plan in place, I'll use a shim to make sure there's a gap between the floor and the cove base tile. What do you recommend, 1/16 inch? My thought on the caulk is that by caulking behind, I would still get the water barrier so that water sloshed from the tub won't get to the wall, but the caulk wouldn't be visible. It seems no matter how nice the caulk looks when you do it, after a couple years it looks like crap. Of course, that's probably my less-than-skillful caulking abilities.

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Old 11-07-2011, 06:38 PM   #7
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I would gap it not less than 1/16", use dimes or pennies.

Once gapped the caulk can be pushed into the gap to create the barrier you desire. When caulking if you will put out a bead two or three feet long, then strike it with your finger and immediately follow up using a wet sponge to finish the caulk you'll have a professional looking job. Wipe the excess caulk from your finger onto a piece of scrap paper or something and keep going. Keep your sponge clean and strike with the sponge only once. Turn the sponge to a clean edge and do it again. Don't dilly dally and give the caulk time to skin. Use a siliconized caulk.

If things move enough (over time) the caulk will tear and separate anyway. Caulk (like grout) is a maintenance issue over time. Expect it.

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