Today I’m sharing how to install tile flush with hardwood floors, like I did in my bathroom. Can you believe the Jack and Jill bathroom finally has floors? I’m making slow but steady progress. The vanity area of the bathroom has a combination of hardwood and tile. The room that contains the shower and toilet is all tile but it butts up to the wood in the other room.
I wanted the tile to be flush with the hardwood floors so I installed the tile on LATICRETE STRATA_MAT™ XT . It helps create an even transition between typical ¼” to 3/8″ thick tile and 3/4″thick hardwood flooring. The STRATA_MAT XT replaces 1/4″ thick cement board — it’s much lighter, easier to cut and installs with just mortar (no screws required).
Installing STRATA_MAT XT
I cut a piece of STRATA_MAT XT to fit in the powder room. Then I test fit that piece and cut out the vent and toilet drain hole. It was a little too short on the “L” but it’s not a big deal. I’ll add a small piece to fill in that spot. It is important to leave 1/4″ between the STRATA_MAT and the walls to allow for movement.STRATA_MAT is designed so you can install it with the same mortar you’re using to install your floor. You select your mortar based on the type of tile or stone you are using. I’m using porcelain tile so I’m using LATICRETE 4-XLT, a polymer fortified adhesive or “large and heavy tile” mortar.
I started in the back corner and worked my way out of the room, covering the entire floor with mortar.Then I set the STRATA_MAT in place, fabric side down.I crawled around on the floor with my grout float to press the STRATA_MAT down into the mortar. Because it is somewhat transparent, you can see when it is properly embedding. The light spots show where the mat is not embedded or there’s not enough mortar.You can pull up a corner of the STRATA_MAT to check coverage. If you don’t have 100% coverage, you need to push harder or add more mortar. 🙂Once the STRATA_MAT is properly bedded in the mortar, you can immediately start tiling. No need to wait for the mortar to dry.
How to Install Tile Flush with Hardwood Floors
First use the flat side of the trowel to fill all the vents with mortar. Then apply mortar with the notched side.Skim the back of each tile with mortar as well before you lay it.The STRATA_MAT XT is 5/16″ (8mm) thick. I’m using San Juan Azul Porcelain tile from Floor and Decor. It is 10mm thick which is 1mm thicker than the 3-9mm which is what LATICRETE recommends in order to install tile flush with hardwood floors. 1 mm is a very small difference so I went with it.I worked in sections; spreading mortar and then setting tile. That gave me time to make cuts and get all the tile set before the mortar would start to skim over.
I started tiling at the entrance to the room because that was the most important area. Even though it meant working myself into a corner and having to be a gymnast to get out.
To get to the back corner of the room, I set a piece of MDF on top of the tiles I had already put down. This distributed my weight over a large section of tiles and prevented them from moving much.
After finishing the back of the room, I removed the board and adjusted a few tiles that had moved slightly. I let the mortar set overnight and grouted the next day. I grouted right up to the hardwood. As the wood moves, that grout will start chipping away. In a couple years (or when it bugs me enough), I’ll use a sanded caulk that is color matched to the grout to fill the voids.