- Run a hot hair-dryer over the damaged plastic tile
- Slide a putty knife under the tile and lift
- Scrape off the softened old adhesive underneath
- Apply fresh adhesive to the now clean floor
- Place the new tile on the fresh adhesive
- Smooth out air bubbles
- Put a heavy book on top for 24 hours and voilà, flooring repaired
No mention of what you do if, in lifting the damaged tile, half the floor underneath comes up as well. Or how to cope if the plastic tiles are so old and brittle that the adjacent one starts to crack and lift. Still, Steve, our builder, did a couple for us - mixing self-levelling compound that would even out the lumps and bumps under the tile and letting it flow slowly across the floor, placing the new tile on top and gently pressing it down into the concrete so it was at the same height as the neighbouring tiles.
Well it didn't look too difficult.
So the next evening, after Tod had left, I had a go with replacing the tiles we lifted in the kitchen. Mixing the grey self-levelling compound in the small bucket took forever. It just seemed too runny. So I'd beat out all the lumpy bits, stir and stir, add more powder, beat out the fresh lumps, stir,.add more powder. And then, suddenly, it wasn't runny any longer, it had gone like thick porridge. That was the moment I should have thrown it away and started again, but after all that time mixing it seemed a shame to waste it.
So I plonked it on the floor in dollops and tried to smooth it out. Far from self-levelling, it determinedly formed a small mountain. So I scraped most of it off, thought it looked reasonably level and then realised that, as it was now hard rather than runny, the tiles might not stick to it, so the addition of tile adhesive might be a good idea. I squidged the new tiles onto this mess and reached for a heavy tub of paint to rest on top of a block of wood to keep the tiles flat, when I realised that the tile adhesive had tipped over and formed a small white lake behind me (where I wouldn't notice what was happening). The pack warned me that while the adhesive was white I could clean it up, once clear (after about ten minutes) it became like super-glue. I grabbed a roll of kitchen towel and mopped as fast as I could.
Twenty minutes later, I was still scraping a nasty mixture of self-levelling compound and tile adhesive off the floor that Tod had so carefully cleaned a couple of days previously. I was also conscious that my hands were becoming increasingly sticky and it was difficult to separate my fingers. I padded into the bathroom, leaving a trail of sticky concrete footprints along the (recently cleaned by Tod) corridor floor and lathered my fingers alternately with white spirit, soap and Nivea cream. They still felt tacky.
As I drove away later, I wondered whether I would be able to prise my fingers off the steering wheel when I reached my destination.
It was only as I was driving in the following morning it occurred to me I might not be able to unstick the block of wood with the paint tub on top from off the newly laid tiles.
It's at moments like this that the only thing I can do is sing Gerry Rafferty..... I hope he's right.