In by Christmas

In by Christmas

Not us, but our books and furniture are coming out of storage and up to Easterdown. Why? Because we are finished with the floors!


Ooh! Don’t those floors look amazing!

And also I’m VERY pleased with the wonderful paint I found from Auro. It is a breathable paint that is also washable. Luckily one of their premixed colours was almost exactly the green I wanted to replicate from the recycled glass in our earth plaster!

Wooden floorboards you say? No, we haven’t put a wood floor over underfloor heating!

No. I found a tile that really looks like wood. Very happy with these from Mandarin Stone. And Ken Malins (Tanglewood Tiling) did an excellent job on the tiling. Great ideas about tile layout – widthways vs lengthways – appropriate layouts and staggering intervals. A perfectionist master of symmetry with an excellent eye.

But the place where he really went above and beyond was tiling onto the Lithotherm Underfloor heating system tiles.


The last thing we thought we would have any difficulties with was tiling over the Lithotherm. But every tiler who saw Easterdown was pretty unhappy about tiling over the grooves in the Lithotherm. Only two of the eleven who saw Easterdown would even contemplate following Chris Brookman’s instructions. And Ken was head and shoulders above the other guy.

However, he was not going to simply ‘have a go’. He is thorough and did a lot of research. Talked to Chris Brookman of Back to Earth and also asked the company who supplies his adhesives to double check by talking to Chris as well.

Besides admiring Ken’s craftsmanship, we really admire that he installed the special extra layer over the Lithotherm with Chris’ guidance despite having a lot of reservations about it. This gave us tremendous confidence in him and in the process, because he asked every possible question about how this could work, especially as it contradicts all received wisdom about tiling onto a surface if there are holes and gaps underneath!

In theory it should be pretty simple. See below. You don’t fill the Lithotherm’s grooves and make it like it’s a screed. You put a glass fibre mesh on top that then binds the Lithotherm together.

You then trowel on flexible tile adhesive. 3mm, that’s all.

Then you trowel it flat and let it dry.

24 hours later it is dry and completely solid. The floor feels locked down now.


See Ken’s own words on the subject at the end*.

But now it is all done and dry – so we spent today getting our books, furniture and clothes out of storage!

Probably won’t be opening any boxes until the New Year, especially as we don’t have a staircase yet. But that is all in hand and will be PRETTY SPECIAL!. Watch this space!


*In Ken’s own words –

“After following the procedure supplied by Back to Earth, it become apparent as to how simple it is to tile onto this UF system.¬†Firstly I laid the mesh onto the surface of the thermal tiles, then spread a layer of adhesive over the mesh ensuring the adhesive is pushed through the mesh to create a solid bond leaving a layer over the mesh of approx 3 mm.
This was done over the whole floor.¬†Once this had dried I could then tile using a porcelain tile following the correct procedure re expansion joints etc”


3 Responses »

  1. Hi
    We are planning a to refurbish our Victorian terrace house in Bristol and have spoken to Chris at Back to Earth regarding the Lithotherm UFH.

    Has your experience with the system been a positive one? Are you using a conventional boiler to supply or something else?

    Kind regards
    Steve + Sarah Parsons

    • We LOVE the Lithotherm. We put conventional, screed based UFH in a house we refurbished in Northamptonshire and we know that by comparison, Lithotherm is a million times better. It is very quick and responsive compared to conventional UFH in a screed. It also holds the heat much better. Chris is also really supportive and spent a lot of time coaching our tiler who was reluctant to tile onto it, but eventually embraced the process. The fibreglass matting makes for a very solid floor. I don’t think the boiler makes any difference as long as it has enough hot water flowing out of it into the manifolds. Our boiler is not specifically designed for UFH, it could heat conventional radiators or supply direct hot water, so in that sense, I suppose it could be thought of as conventional. You may have to tell me a bit more about why the boiler type might be a concern to you. But I cannot recommend Lithotherm highly enough. Especially as you don’t need to wait weeks and weeks after it is installed before you can tile onto it and heat it up like you have to if you install screed based UFH.

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