Installing tile hasn’t been as formidable a project since products like Snapstone and Daltile came along, letting you install tiles bonded to interlocking resin frames for a do-it-yourself floating installation. But one drawback of both lines is that you’re limited to their selection of colors and textures. Replacing tiles is another issue. A new product line, announced in time for this week’s International Builders’ Show, lets you lay 12-inch-square tiles of your choice into a series of interlocking trays. Lay down adhesive, drop in the tile, grout, and you’re done.
The EZ Tool System, from Bullet Tools, is claimed to work on any hard floor—no prepping or underlayment needed—and the plastic trays conform to slight irregularities in the surface. The grout, once hardened, remains flexible to accommodate the usual flexing of a floating floor. And the trays leave space as necessary for airflow to hinder moisture buildup.
To install the system, the process is easy: You lock together trays, squeeze out adhesive in a ring where indicated, lay down tiles, and fill the spaces with the grout. If the flooring is less than 12x12-inch square, the company says you can cut down trays using utility scissors with no ill effect on the tray’s integrity or performance. While the product was initially intended for indoor use, the grout’s waterproof properties allow for outdoor installation as well.
Should you crack a tile, Bullet Tools’ solution is less challenging than other floating-tile products we’ve tested. With the Daltile product, replacing a tile meant pulling up an entire row, putting in a new tile (bonded to its plastic frame), and easing two adjacent rows back down. With Snapstone, you could take out a single broken tile, but you have to snap off the connecting tabs around the replacement tile’s frame, drop the frame in, and grout around the tile. The EZ Tile System lets you instead chip out a cracked tile while leaving the tray in place. You apply more adhesive to the tray, lay down the tile, and grout.
Bullet Tools hopes to sell the EZ Tile System through big box chains, large flooring retailers, and other sellers. In the meantime, you can contact the company at email@example.com or 800-406-8998. The expected price is $2 per tray, $8 per tube of adhesive, and $9 for a tube of grout—the ratio is three tubes of adhesive and a tube of grout for 30 trays. According to the company, a 120-square-foot job should cost about $372 plus the cost of the tile you’ve purchased.
Floating options are increasing for a number of products in our flooring Ratings. Before shopping, though, familiarize yourself with the types of flooring, and what’s new in the market, using our buying guide.