Darkroom Floor--Laying Tile, any tips?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by ic-racer, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'm going to lay commerical grade vinyl tile onto my cement basement darkroom floor.
    I am going to use Armstrong 1/8" Commerical Vinyl tile. Home Depot sells this "ROBERTS" brand adhesive that I was going to use : http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pdfImages/d4/d420fb12-779c-48bf-a439-84fe2fdca0bb.pdf

    I'm going to rent a tile cutter and 100lb roller. I have a blowtorch to warm the tile for the intricate cuts.

    I did all the other construction on my darkroom, but I have never put down a professional tile floor, so this will be a first time job. I did lay peel-and-stick in my parents basement when I made a darkroom in 1973. That stuff was horrible, it all peeled up on the edges after a few years. My dad eventually took it all out when I was in college.

    I'm a little bit wiser now, so I'm hoping for a better result.

    Any tips or suggestions before I get started?
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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  3. Dave Pritchard

    Dave Pritchard Member

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    Use a chalk line to make a straight line to align your first row with. Your first tile should ideally be in the center of the room. Start in the middle. Work out toward the edges. This means that you will end up trimming all of the tiles at the walls. Since walls are almost never straight or square with each other, you'd have to trim lots of tiles anyway. Oh, and use the size of notched trowel recommended on the tile adhesive directions.
     
  4. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    If you haven't already purchased material/tools/etc. have you considered a two part epoxy finish similar to what is used on garage floors? I considered tile in our laundry room in the basement but decided on the epoxy. It comes with some multi-colored flakes for traction and appearance. Much easier and probably cheaper than laying tiles. Just a thought.
     
  5. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I would recommend against the two part epoxy...at least the kits in the home centers. Mine is pealing up after a couple of years. It looks nothing like an industrial epoxy floor, though. If I could do it again, I'd use sheet vinyl.....those gray tiles are pretty classic, though. With enough wax, the seams would probably not be too bad!
     
  6. Reinhold

    Reinhold Subscriber

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    Do give some thought to bobwywiwyg's suggestion.

    Unless that floor is really flat and smooth, getting the tile joints tight enough to seal out liquid spills will be a challenge.
    My floor was lumpy enough that I knew tile wouldn't work. Period.
    I used a medium gray concrete paint and laid down anti-fatigue mats. Now I work in my stocking feet (blisssss).

    Harbor Freight has 2 foot square 3/8 inch thick interlocking mats for a couple of bucks apiece.
    They're also available as exercise mats at Wally World...

    Reinhold

    www.classicBWphoto.com
     
  7. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Hey, if you really want to lock out spills, there's always ceramic tile on top of backerboard, with epoxy grout. Sheet vinyl flooring is going to be way easier, of course.

    Duncan
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i didn't bother with tile or formica or any of that stuff
    i have rubber mats and wood plank to stand on and couldn't be happier.

    the darkroom i had when i was a kid had some sort of rubbery-formicay tiles
    and i never liked it ...

    have fun
    john
     
  9. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    I've bought some 2' sq interlocking matts at Costco,they are easy on my feet but the area's I stand by the sink the most get more squished and distorted so as not to interlock with the others very good.
     
  10. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    Been there, done that...
    My darkroom floor is concrete, not particularly flat nor smooth.
    As it is concrete you must seal it to avoid fine dust coming out from it.
    I used a clear (sunny yellow) professional garage paint (two coats) to make the floor very attractive and resistant.
    It is easy to clean, very resistant, and being clear, help having the darkroom not so dark ;-)
    Near the enlarger and the sink I have put a rubber fatigue mat (this is very important)...
    The paint was very expensive (bought at a professional store) but really cheaper than vinyl floor plus glue plus extra time for work....
    Of course YMMV ;-)
     
  11. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I would advise against any vinyl flooring in a darkroom, especially a commercial grade VCT. These types of flooring require regular maintainance, and sealing. They are NOT chemical resistant, and if not prepped properly prior(dang, that was a mouthful)to install, they pop up. Most DIY'ers get the adhesive to thick and have it oozong between tiles making a horrible mess to clean, it must be applied thinly and allowed to flash before laying tiles. A good garage floor or deck paint with anti-fatigue mats is, as most have said before, the best way to go. Save money on the tiles, and spend on supplies.

    Rick
     
  12. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I went with a floating vinyl floor over dry-core. The edges stick together and installation was very easy. It's waterproof, and so far it's wearing just fine. Nice thing with this arrangement is my feet are about 5 degrees warmer in the winter than just plain concrete.
     
  13. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    As with John, I put some heavy duty rubber mats on the concrete floor of my darkroom. They came in 3' x 3' sections that interlock and are very comfortable to stand on. Once or twice a year I take them outside and clean them with a hose and brush, and while they are drying I mop the darkroom floor.
     
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  15. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I used a nice sheet vinyl in my basement darkroom and have been really happy with it.

    Mike
     
  16. rternbach

    rternbach Member

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    Basement Darkroom Floor

    I agree that peel and stick is the worst. I've done some floors myself and I've had them professionally installed as well. If you go with tile you should lay down an orange sheetgoods layer (a closed cell foam specially for this purpose) over which thinset concrete is spread. Tiles are laid on the wet thinset and then grouted. Personally, what I've done in the basement darkroom area is use rubber mats on bare concrete. If I upgrade I will get better mats--cushiony, heavy duty, chemically resistant, commercial kitchen type mats.
    I've got enough projects going as it is.
     
  17. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    I'm planning on using grey epoxy paint on the concrete floor in my soon-to-be darkroom. Relatively inexpensive, easy to clean and durable (I hope).

    Trond
     
  18. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    Poured acrylic floor

    I almost went this route with my darkroom. Further research showed me that it wasn't chemically resistant enough, but the biggie for me was that it wasn't sufficiently water proof. Water will go right through it, if slowly. And darkroom chemistry is largely water-based.

    What I did instead was a poured acrylic floor. Seamless. Waterproof. Seriously resistant to the chems. And, any color I wanted. And we added some "sand" into it to make it completely non-slip. All that, and it was only 2/3 the cost of tile.

    And after all that, I've yet to spill anything on it. Sigh... better to have it (and that floor drain) and not need it than need it and not have it.
     
  19. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Has anyone made a fibreglass floor with mat and polyester resin? I have used it for roofing and I think it would make a good darkroom floor as you could continue it up the skirting boards/walls and fronts of cabinets for a few inches and create a fully waterproof tray in the darkroom.


    Steve.
     
  20. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I've used a similar product, also done peel and stick vinyl, and sheet vinyl in various applications. I had sheet vinyl in my prior darkroom. It was only 7x9 feet, so it was cheap and easy to put down. That was over a wood subfloor. However, when I had a water leak, it destroyed the cheap vinyl and I had to replace it.

    In the darkroom I'm currently building, I considered most of the alternatives discussed, but elected to go with ceramic tile, and my one splurge on this project is to have it installed by someone who knows what he is doing. It's not rocket science, but it is hard work and experience (which I don't have) makes the result better.
     
  21. rternbach

    rternbach Member

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    I've used epoxy paint as well. It's fine if it is put down on a perfectly dry surface and doesn't get wet from moisture in the concrete. You can sprinkle epoxy flakes into the surface to give it some color. Make sure you have good ventilation when you paint it on.
     
  22. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    As others have mentioned, the epoxy can be the wrong choice under certain floor conditions (concrete not old/cured enough, too much moisture, not cleaned properly). Otherwise, if you follow the directions for prep you shouldn't have any problems.
     
  23. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Just got things measured and planned out with a 'test box' of tile. Having the pattern alternate makes me nauseated, so I'm going to run the pattern the same way on all the tiles.

    I may put some some squishy rubber tile or mats over the vinyl tile in the areas where I stand a lot.
     
  24. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I've built two basement darkrooms. In the first instance, I used a vinyl tile that required that I spread a mastic using a notched trowel. In the second, I used a self-adhesive tile.

    Frankly, I don't think either is a good solution. The problem is that either approach is a lot of work, and when you are done, the floor looks nice, but is still just as hard as the concrete it is laid on. In both of the darkrooms I have built, I ended up looking for some kind of cushioned mats to lay over the floor to make standing in front of the sink for several hours less painful.

    Something must be done to seal the surface of the concrete - otherwise, there is a dust problem. I've concluded that if I had it to do over again (and hopefully, I won't), I would clean the floor, and the paint on some kind of sealer. Then, I would buy shop cushions to lay down on the floor to make it 'prettier' and more comfortable to work on. I found some 2x2' rubber pads at Lowes that I've used, and I've seen similar products at Harbor Freight (for less $$).
     
  25. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    FYI
    When I had my business I needed a quick cheap floor finish when I moved in to a new address. I mixed 2 gallons of linseed oil with 5 gallons of paint thinner and applied 2 coats. Totally eliminated dust from the concrete and sealed the floor. Not a practical solution in many places but works really well even for a garage. Just be careful of the solvent vapour.
     
  26. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Regarding concrete, for proper adhesion, it needs to be degreased and cleaned, use of an acid etcher, thoroughly washed with water to remove any residue of the acid, before painting. Never had a problem with epoxy paint pealing. Easier than it sounds.