Tiles, Cement, Milk

After 20 years, four of the wall tiles in my home kitchen were loose. Something needed to be done. The fastest way was to do it myself. But I had never DIY’d tiles before. And wall tiles were more challenging. My main worry – would the tiles stay fixed to the wall, 90 degrees vertical, defying gravity?

I did what I usually do in facing unknowns – search for information, as much as possible. Nowadays it is very easy. Information on the fingertips. All one needs is a data plan, or wifi.

After the search I felt more confident. At a neighborhood hardware shop I saw a bag of cement, not the normal portland cement but one more suitable for my job – Tile Fix. That was encouraging.

The shop assistant, noticing that I was intently reading instructions on the Tile Fix bag, offered me a tip – “Bang, untuk lebih lekat, campur ni dengan susu” (Bro, to make this more sticky, mix it with milk). Huh? Milk? No kidding! “Susu ni la, bang” (THIS milk, bro).

He showed be a bottle of the milk – Latex Admix. “A synthetic latex-based cement modifier admixer and bonding agent to improve cement hydration, adhesion, workability, durability, bonding strength, and reduces drying shrinkages and water permeability”. O, this was not a normal cow’s milk then, heheh.

Back home I started work. Removed the loose tiles. Chiseled out the cement underneath. Very hard, sweaty, noisy and dusty work. And cleaned the tiles many, many times. Then came the time to mix the Tile Fix cement with its milk and water. The first round, the mixture was horrible. Looked like a runny paste. Then I added more cement, and more, until the mix became thick and looked like it won’t flow down the wall.

Then using a makeshift trowel, I scooped a small amount of the mix and pasted it on the bare wall. Pressed and smoothed it. And surprise, the paste stuck to the wall and did not fall down! I covered the area for one tile with the paste, and then put the tile on. The online tutorials I read told me to tap the tile. I used a hard rubber mallet to tap the tile, making it even with its neighbors.

Then more tile cement paste for the other tiles.

Then it was done. The tutes said I needed to wait for 24 hours before grouting, i.e. filling the inter-tile spaces with white cement. But I could not wait.

After all was done, it looked alright. It is now nearly three days after the DIY. The tiles still looked OK.

Now I do not fear broken or loose tiles any more, hehe.

And now I know that tiles, cement and milk go well together 🙂

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