Need help with tile work in new home...


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Old 08-09-05, 10:36 AM
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Need help with tile work in new home...

Hey All,

Well this is a magnificent website and I am most certainly glad I found it because I am definitely the “do-it-yourselfer.” I have a current issue (small) with the tile work I have done in my current residence and want to make sure I avoid this issue in my home that is currently being built.

First, in my master bath (on the second floor of which sub flooring was plywood), I put 18X18 inch marble tiles down for the flooring. Now, being my first time laying tile on sub flooring that was not slab, I did some things correctly and some things incorrectly. I did put down backer-board before laying the tile…which is the correct thing to do. What I didn’t do was put thin-set under this backer-board which seems to be something that is recommended.?.?.?. Also, I nailed the backer-board to the plywood rather than screwing it down. Again, something I did not learn or think of until after the fact.

ISSUES: The first issue was that the grout I used began to crack and fall down into the tiny crevasses between the tiles. This in itself wasn’t a big problem as I ended up scrapping up the grout and put down an adhesive type grout to allow for flexibility and movement. This definitely corrected this issue, but now a new one has arisen. When I walk on the tile, I sometimes can hear the tile scrapping along the side of the tile next to it (as you all know with marble tile that there is very little to no space in between them).

Now, the house has been sold so I don’t care much to fix it (although I will if the new owner finds it to be an issue in the future because that is just the type of person that I am), but I definitely want to make sure that this does not occur on the house I am currently having built for me. In the new master bath I am closing without flooring and the sub flooring will again be plywood. I am looking to put down 18X18 inch travertine tiles for this flooring. Please advise on what I need to keep in mind and look for before I tile and what tricks I can utilize to assure that there is no movement.

Thanks in advance.
JCOLE
 

Last edited by JCOLE78; 08-09-05 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 08-09-05, 08:44 PM
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Thinset is always required under the cement board, nails to hold it down are ok as long as they are galvanized roofing nails, preferably hop dipped, screws are better but not necessary. That crunching soumd may be the tile coming loose and scraping on the thinset under them. If they are , it is most likely from the lack of thinset under the cement board.
For the new house put a 3/4" BC grade plywood down first, screw it into the joists every 6 to 8", then put 1/2" BC over that but only screwed into the first board and NOT the joists. This is to isolate movement in the joists and keep it from transferring up to the tile causing them to crack. Finally put 1/4" cement board in a layer of thinset and anchor with the nails or screws also at 6 to 8" intervals. Check with the builder to make sure that the joists will meet the L/720 criteria for stone, not the L/360 for ceramic. He should know this or consult the architect.
 
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Old 08-11-05, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Tileguybob
Thinset is always required under the cement board, nails to hold it down are ok as long as they are galvanized roofing nails, preferably hop dipped, screws are better but not necessary. That crunching soumd may be the tile coming loose and scraping on the thinset under them. If they are , it is most likely from the lack of thinset under the cement board.
For the new house put a 3/4" BC grade plywood down first, screw it into the joists every 6 to 8", then put 1/2" BC over that but only screwed into the first board and NOT the joists. This is to isolate movement in the joists and keep it from transferring up to the tile causing them to crack. Finally put 1/4" cement board in a layer of thinset and anchor with the nails or screws also at 6 to 8" intervals. Check with the builder to make sure that the joists will meet the L/720 criteria for stone, not the L/360 for ceramic. He should know this or consult the architect.
Thanks TGB. Although I definitely made some errors in my application, I think my biggest error was not knowing what to look for in the sub flooring and structure of the home. For instance, the plywood used for the sub flooring was definitely not 3/4"...but in the new place it is.

A couple of questions that arise from your response. First, using 18X18 inch travertine tile will inherently make the thickness of the actual tile 1/2" at minimum (correct me if I am wrong), but putting down 1/2" BC on top of the already laid 3/4" plywood sub flooring, and then 1/4 " cement board on top of that (using thinset under), plus 1/2" tile on thinset again, etc, etc, is going to raise the level of the bathroom flooring considerably (1.5-2 inches). My concern is that there will be a huge lip from the carpet to this flooring...the transition I used in my current residence was the traditional marble thresholds...would there be a better alternative for transition? Maybe cutting and angling a 3 inch-ish threshold with the travertine tile? Or should I maybe consider using 12X12 inch granite or travertine tiles instead (something that would be thinner)?

My second concern/question is regarding the thinset below the cement board. What would be a good approach to do this? My thoughts were to cut the board to fit the flooring first. Once that is done, put down the least amount of thinset using a level to make sure the entire floor is covered and lay all the boarding down and begin to screw away. Any advice on a way of tackling this?

Thanks again all.
 
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Old 08-11-05, 06:08 PM
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If you are having granite countertops installed talk to the fabrication shop about them making up a saddle to fit in the doorway, get one with a hollywood bevel, they will know what that is. The carpeting can be shimmed up to take away some of the height differential at the doorway, the rug guys have tricks to make this happen. Stick with the 18's. The height thing may not be eye appealing but less so than cracked tile from an under prepared subfloor.

The thinset under the cement board should be spread with a 1/4" square notch trowel, it can be the cheap stuff with no additives built in to the bag. Dry lay the boards and outline each row with a pencil, pull the row up and spread the thinset and reseat the boards an d hit them with the screws, then move on to the next row. I'm not sure if I answered your question, post back if more info is needed.
 
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Old 08-12-05, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Tileguybob
If you are having granite countertops installed talk to the fabrication shop about them making up a saddle to fit in the doorway, get one with a hollywood bevel, they will know what that is. The carpeting can be shimmed up to take away some of the height differential at the doorway, the rug guys have tricks to make this happen. Stick with the 18's. The height thing may not be eye appealing but less so than cracked tile from an under prepared subfloor.

The thinset under the cement board should be spread with a 1/4" square notch trowel, it can be the cheap stuff with no additives built in to the bag. Dry lay the boards and outline each row with a pencil, pull the row up and spread the thinset and reseat the boards an d hit them with the screws, then move on to the next row. I'm not sure if I answered your question, post back if more info is needed.
Unfortunately we are not having granite counter tops in the upstairs bathrooms...in the kitchen and powder bath will be granite, but in these baths we will be having corian. Disclaimer: This was my girl's decision as I only like natural stones/woods/etc. But, the hollywood bevel you mentioned was more or less what I was talking about in a previous post ("cutting and angling a 3 inch-ish threshold with the travertine tile"). I would just have to build up the angle with more thinset under the side edging up to the tile. I had done this in my current residence in the transition from my dinning room to family room and it worked great...with the assistance of the rug guys building up the carpeting (as you mentioned).

And your suggestion regarding the thinset under the cement boards makes perfect sense.

Another couple of questions that arise:
1) The final issue I see with the height of the bathroom floor actually ties into the countertops. We are closing without flooring, but the rest of the bathroom will be completed (cabinets, countertops, etc). As I had done in my current place, I was planning on taking up the toilet (obviously) but tiling around the cabinets as I dont want to damage them, nor have I ever dealt with installing/un-installing corian counter tops, cabinets, etc.. Do you think that is would throw off the floor-to-counter ratio too much?...making me feel like the counters were at knee level?
2) For laying travertine tile (18X18") (whether on cement board upstairs or slab downstairs), is it best to use a 1/4" trowel to spread the thinset? I was taught to use the 5 point method with large natural stone (hit the middle of the tile and the 4 corners of the tile)...I have a feeling that that is the "easy way" of doing it rather than the best. I only had one tile break that didnt have enough on a corner, but I still feel that there is a better way.

Thanks again TGB. You have really helped me get a handle on these upcoming projects. It means a lot.
 
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Old 08-12-05, 02:43 PM
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1.) Can you put down the ply first before putting the cabinets in, and even the cement board?

2.) For setting the 18s use a 3/8" square notch trowel, and spread the thinset on the floor, set the tile in it. Pull up a tile every so often to make sure you are getting close to 100% coverage on the back of the tile. The 5 spot method might be ok for a wall install but no good for a floor that needs full support under it.
 
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Old 08-12-05, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Tileguybob
1.) Can you put down the ply first before putting the cabinets in, and even the cement board?

2.) For setting the 18s use a 3/8" square notch trowel, and spread the thinset on the floor, set the tile in it. Pull up a tile every so often to make sure you are getting close to 100% coverage on the back of the tile. The 5 spot method might be ok for a wall install but no good for a floor that needs full support under it.
1) I can see what they will allow, although I am guessing "no." You know how builders can be when you try to deviate from the cookie cutter routine they are so accustom to. I had a difficult enough time getting them to put down vinyl (just using light glue at the edging) as it was considered to be "below standard" for the development. Based on your response I am guessing that up-routing the counters and sink is no easy feat...

2) That is pretty much what I figured. When I was told that I was a little skeptical.

BTW, you enjoying that heat up there or what? Yikes. Might as well be down here in Florida. Thanks again TGB and have a good weekend.
 
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Old 08-12-05, 04:48 PM
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Builders can be a PITA, especially when they are not getting their cut on the tile work. I've done some new home work independent from the builder and it seems they try to throw roadblocks up as a punishment I guess. I just tell the homeowner to make sure the builder does not get any credit for my work.

Heat and humidity are about as bad as I can remember but I'll take it over those cold January days.
 
 

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