You've laid new tile flooring in your kitchen, and it's looking great, but you want to get back to actually using your kitchen as a kitchen. You'll need to return a number of items to your kitchen, and the heaviest and potentially the most problematic for your new tile floor is likely the refrigerator. Placing a heavy refrigerator on a new tile floor could damage it or make it uneven if you don't wait long enough. So, how long is long enough, and when can a refrigerator be placed on a new tile floor?
To be safe, wait 72 hours after laying a tile floor before placing a refrigerator or other heavy items on top of it.
How Tiles Are Fixed to the Floor
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Thinset mortar is made from a combination of cement, fine sand, and an alkyl derivative of cellulose (a water-retaining agent). Although it has mortar in its name, thinset mortar is actually an adhesive rather than just a binder.
Once tiles have been laid, thinset mortar needs to dry for at least 24 hours before you grout the joints between the tiles. Grout then takes about 12 to 24 hours to dry. Different types may have different recommended drying times, so always check your particular brand.
Not all tiles are hard. If you're using vinyl or linoleum tiles, the process will be different, as they are secured with an adhesive glue. They'll either be peel-and-stick tiles with the adhesive already prepared, or you might have to add extra adhesive.
How Long Should You Wait?
For hard tiles, since thinset mortar takes around 24 hours to dry and the grout another 24, you're looking at 48 hours of waiting time in total from laying the tiles to being able to put heavy items on them.
Once the grout is dry, you can safely walk on your new tile flooring and even move heavy items, like a refrigerator, back onto the floor. Leave it longer if you can. If you can be out of the house for an extra day, do so. If you're in a hurry to begin using your kitchen again, you can move the refrigerator back 24 hours after the grout has been applied.
For vinyl or linoleum tiles, unless your particular brand of adhesive tile or glue states otherwise, give the tiles around 72 hours to dry before placing heavy objects, like refrigerators, on top of them.
Moving the Refrigerator
Many refrigerators have wheels, in which case moving them is easy. Take it slow so you don't scratch your new tiles. Rolling it onto a large piece of cardboard, such as an opened-up cardboard box, can reduce the risk of damaging the tile surface.
If your refrigerator doesn't have wheels and is too heavy to lift (like if it's not a bar refrigerator), use furniture sliders or furniture dollies to move it. Furniture sliders are round or long pieces of plastic with felt on the underside. Heavy items, like refrigerators, can be slid across the floor and put into position on top of the skids. The skids can then be removed.
Alternatively, you can use a furniture dolly, which is a low trolley on wheels. Move the refrigerator onto this and move it into position. This will usually be a two-person job depending on the size of your refrigerator.