Floor Tiles Skirting

Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019

Floor tile skirting is a short wall tile to protect wall from water and to give the walls a nice finishing. The main function of floor tile skirt is to protect the wall from water during floor cleaning. Furniture against the walls will scratch and damage it, tile skirting keep a small distance between wall and furniture. Also tile skirting keep a nice appearance of the connection between tiles and walls. Floor tiles skirting can be made from different materials according to the space function.

skirt is protect the wall from furniture scratching, Gaza 2020
skirt is protect the wall from furniture scratching, Gaza 2020

Tile Skirting Height

Since tile skirting function is to protect the wall from water, several centimeters height are enough. The tiles skirting nice height is 7 cm, I have tried shorter and higher skirt but wasn’t nice as 7 cm in height. Keep in mind that for some special cases, like when the wall has marble cladding one or two centimeters are enough. Select skirting material with low water absorbing to protect marble from water. Select a black granite skirting it will look as a nice shadow line detail.

For tile cladding wall there is no need to install tile skirting. Another special case when there is a wall in less than 15 cm height, like what is used for handrail balcony or curtain wall detail. I prefer to avoid few cm painting wall over the skirting, therefore skirting could be higher or from the same material as sill to appear as a block of marble.

Balcony with low parapet height that need emperador sill full height
Balcony with low parapet height that need emperador sill full height. Gaza Alhelou petrol station 2018

Skirting Cutting Problem

Many companies produce tile skirting in a certain size, these skirts have a straight edges.  Other times, craftsmen cut tiles in certain heights to make the tile’s skirting. There are several methods to cut a porcelain or ceramic tiles either by manual tile cutter, grinder or a saw machine. Cutting tiles using manual tile cutter or grinder won’t have a straight edges. Craftsman will install bad cut edge at the bottom, to avoid it appear to the human eye. Then cement grout used to fill the bad cut edge connection. This cut method can be used if there is much tile pieces that have at least one straight edge. The best tile cut method is saw machine to have straight edges. Not all tiles contractors have in-site saw machine, therefore sometimes they send it to marble workshop to cut them.

skirting cutting problems, show that low edge has bad cut and filled with cement grout that has problems too. Gaza 2020
skirting cutting problems, show that low edge has bad cut and filled with cement grout that has problems too. Gaza 2020

Skirting Round Edges

At the British International School in Gaza project, it required a recognition from the UK. One of the main requirements to get the recognition was student safety, therefore they asked to round skirting edges. The marble flooring and skirting disassembled, then send them to marble factory to round the top edge. Full-body porcelain can round it edge, while full-color porcelain the round edge will have similar color to the edge and won’t look nice. However, can’t round ceramic or veneer tiles because the bisque layer is weak and have a different color.

Skirting round edge from Omani marble, Gaza 2016
Skirting round edge from Omani marble, Gaza 2016
Marble skirt in lathe profile for wall wood cladding
Marble skirt in lathe profile for wall wood cladding, Gaza 2011

Skirting Corners

It’s important to notice that skirting require a 45 degree cut as shown in the following photo. It can’t install over each other to avoid tiles bisque layer to appear. Half on half and other detailed connection doesn’t suite the skirting scale. Also 45 degree corner connection suite when the skirt has a top round edge.

Granite round edge skirting and 45 degree corners, Gaza 2020
Granite round edge skirting and 45 degree corners, Gaza 2020

Plaster Paint  and Tile Skirting Details

As tile skirting role to have a nice wall floor appearance, the wall-skirt detail is important. Most walls have plaster and painting finish and sometimes a wallpaper finish is used. 

For plaster craftsmen like to end their work 15 cm from the top of concrete. 10 cm is the finish floor level, then tile skirt require 7 cm. This means tiles craftsman have two choices either to lay skirting tiles over plaster works or to remove the plaster then lay the skirt. I prefer to remove the plaster then to lay tile skirt to have less thickness skirt. Another finish alternative, when plaster craftsman leave 20 cm from the top of concrete instead of 15 cm. This way they need to finish the 3 cm plaster after the tiles work finish and before tile joint grout begins. 

For painting works, the most important to make a sharp edge between painting and tile skirt, and it’s better to make a round edge to have a nice finish. Also for wallpaper it’s important to know where to end the wallpaper.

Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019
Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019
Thick Porcelain tiles skirting that have over lap bad connection filled with cement grout, Gaza 2019
Thick Porcelain tiles skirting that have over lap bad connection filled with cement grout, Gaza 2019

Tiles Expansion Joint

For high temperature countries like Arab Gulf, tiles expansion joint is important. In outdoor and large spaces expansion joint can be installed each 4 meters in both directions. Another expansion joint at room boundaries and in the connection between wall and floor. A centimeter that doesn’t have either tiles or a mortar, then it’s filled with rubber material like SikaFlex or other products. Then the tiles skirt will cover the expansion joint and won’t appear for the human eyes.

Tiles Skirting Connection with Doors

The connection between door and tiles skirting is a sensitive detail. Where door frame install after tiles works and sometimes after the painting works to keep it clean. So site engineering has to give the tiles craftsman where the tile skirting ends. So when the door frame installed they have a nice finish together. Sometimes interior designers make a door frame base to avoid bad connection with tile skirt.

Bad skirting connection with door. Gaza 2020
Bad skirting connection with door. Gaza 2020
How to make curved walls skirting ?

Well, tiles and natural stone materials can’t bend according to the wall curve. Therefore the best solution is to divide the skirt into smaller width size according to the wall curvature. Dividing the skirt width will give a not bad solution that will have a bad appearance.Curved wall skirt using small width species, Gaza 2016

Skirt mortar problem, notice that the tile that doesn’t fill with mortar have echo sound. Gaza 2020

Porcelain Stairs Design

Development of outdoor stairs tiles, Before and after
Before and after installing stairs tiles for ORIGIN DESIGN office entrance. Gaza 2019

This project is stairs porcelain tiles as application for Using Tiles for stairs, the project is outdoor stairs for ORIGIN DESIGN office entrance. The old situation as shown in the before and after photo is black tiles and four steps of Rosa Beta granite. We have redesigned the stairs and garden to have four steps each in size of 120*150 cm. Beside the steps, will add grass in sloped level to enhancing stairs beauty, this beside rearrange and developing the landscape. Through this topic we will discuss stairs building stages from drawings, selecting tiles, building blocks, tiling and finishing.

Prepare Drawings and Selecting tiles

Stairs drawings designed according to available tiles at the market, usually designers have knowledge about tiles sizes at the market. The process after choosing the tiles size, is to select the proper tiles texture and color. In this project, I have selected parquet in size of 15*120 cm to fill area of 90*120 cm. Unfortunately, choices were limited in this size, and I haven’t like tiles texture and color for this size. As an alternative I have found 120*20 cm parquet tiles in color I like, but this size doesn’t fit the drawings. 4 tiles pieces will cover area of 120*80 cm, in addition to cut a piece to 120*10 cm, but it won’t look professional.

Drawings for stairs tiles using 15*90cm parquet and white matt tiles in surrounding
Drawings for stairs tiles using 15*90cm parquet and white matt tiles in surrounding. GAZA 2019

Another alternative in the market was a Spanish parquet tiles from UNDEFASA in size of 15*90 cm. This mean we can rearrange tiles where 8 tiles will cover area of 90*120 cm perfectly. For border tiles and risers, we selected light gray 120*60 cm Italian tiles from ABK in thickness of 7 mm. Both tiles color and texture match, and they add to stairs design beauty. 120×60 tiles need to be cut in size of 15*120 cm and few in size of 30*120 cm. In order to have a clear edge cut, we sent the tiles to marble factor to cut tiles using saw machine. Now tiles are ready for the next stage.

Building the Stairs

After ordering building materials from cement blocks, cement, lime and sand. And demolishing the old steps, in order to prepare the site for building as shown in the drawings. The block walls top-level built to be lower than tiles level by 5 to 10 cm. This due to block dimensions and to allow craftsman adapting the steps levels. Then to fill sand between steps walls, and top 10 cm was mix between sand and cement. The mixture between sand and cement will enhance the ground strength, If there is a water leakage it will become a concrete surface. After finishing these works, now we are ready for tiling stage.

Building large step oudoor stairs
Building large step oudoor stairs. Gaza 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes for ORIGIN DESIGN office

Stair’s Tiles

Usually craftsmen begin to install stairs from first step at the bottom then going upward. in this case, it’s more convenient to use downward method by installing step tread then the riser. Another advantage of building upper level going downward because there is a certain upper level and flexible lower level. 

Tilling stairs tile going and rizer using cement mortar
Tilling stairs tile going and rizer using cement mortar. Gaza Palestine 2019. at ORIGIN DESIGN office

First of all craftsman arrange tiles at straight level, matching parquet colors together making area of 120*90 cm. Then add gray tiles around them, we face a problem where the gray tiles are 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm. Also parquet make area of 121×90 cm, we planned to install parquet without grout, but still there is a millimeter between each. The solution was to cut a 1.5 cm from a parquet tile to have area of 120*90 cm. Together with the light gray tiles it made an area of 150*120 cm. 

Installing cement grout, Vitra CG1 in light grey color
Installing cement grout, Vitra CG1 in light grey color. Gaza Palestine 2019. at ORIGIN DESIGN office

After installing the step tread, for the riser we use regular connection, where tread will lay over the riser gives straight angle. Also risers between each other will gather using 45 degrees method, to appear as one mass. 

Tiles Finishing

Finishing showing the beauty, especially for tile edges details. Grout is important, we used Vitra Cement grout CG1 white color for the stairs. Using liquid colors to give it a color similar to tiles, The parquet color is mixed using black, brown and mustard color. For the gray color we mixed to the black and a little brown color to the white cement grout. Notice that to have a well bond cement grout to the tile, you need to clean cement and sand between tiles. Then to fill the grout probably and leave to setting well. Then using metal sponge, clean the rest of the grout, you need to clean tiles well because they are rough.  

outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles
outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles. Gaza 2019 by ORIGIN DESIGN.
Why tile size is 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm ?

This is related to shipping and size of shipping container. Tiles pack by cardboard to reach 120 cm, then it could fit the wooden plate. These few millimeters will save a lot of money. And sometimes this happens during cutting tiles at factory, Saw cutting will have the blade thickness around 3 mm. Therefore i prefer laser cutting tiles where it’s more accurate and thinner during cutting. 

Why not using a tile adhesive for the grout?

Tile adhesive will crack when sun rays reach it, so it doesn’t fit outdoor applications. Another reason not to use tile adhesive, that tile adhesive has fast setting, and it couldn’t clean the rest of the grout by metal sponge. It need to grind the material, this fit marble but tiles can’t be grinding.