Removing old ceramic tile to put in new

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Old 07-19-07, 02:43 PM
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Removing old ceramic tile to put in new

I have an entryway with very dated ceramic tile. I am just starting to remove the old tile. I am simply replacing with new tile.
Can I just remove the old tile, scrape away all the old grout and adhesive with a putty knife or something, and lay down the new tile? Or do I need to remove the old plywood and start all over?
Also - is plywood an okay substrate to install ceramic tile over? It's lasted in the entryway for 17 years, so I am assuming it's okay....?
Thanks,
Jon
 
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Old 07-19-07, 04:55 PM
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If you can get the majority of the old thinset off the subfloor, you could go right back over it with the new.

Some people will say you want a CBU or some sort of membrane on the subfloor, but as you can see, you don't need it and it will last a long time.

Did your old floor have any cracks in the grout or tile? This is often a sign of movement in the subfloor.
 
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Old 07-20-07, 07:55 AM
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That is the best news I've had all day!!!
I have been cold chiseling and using a hand scraper to get all the old thinset (if that's what it is) off the floor. It's coming up alright. Just a lot of elbow grease.
There was one crack in one tile, and it was on the border edge of tiles, next to the carpet. It came right up, so I don't think it was glued too great. By the looks of it, actually, I don't think it was done very well in the first place. A lot of the tiles came right up, and there is not tons of glue residue.... I have a feeling when I put these ones down, there will be no coming back up!
Thanks for your help.
Jon
 
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Old 07-20-07, 09:06 AM
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Well Jon,

The way you describe how the old tile that it was just coming up so easily is not a good sign. If the existing subfloor was secured enough to the joists you could could have probably gone over the plywood with a latex based thinset but since the tile was not adhered correctly it's not recommended you do this now.

Measure the thickness of your subfloor and we will go from there.
 
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Old 07-20-07, 08:09 PM
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Well, not ALL the tiles came up easily - really just some.... the thinset, or glue, was yellow under the tiles - does that mean it was glue, and not thinset? I can't measure the thickness of the subfloor, because it's... well... in the floor, and the only way I could measure it would be to rip it out.
There are some bumps and ruts in the plywood, though nothing major - nothing more than 1/16". Will this pose a problem when I put tile down over top of all this? I roughed off all the glue I could. Should I lay down a leveler, or some kind of base coat (there was a red something or other at the hardware store...)... I am just not sure, because I would think that the thinset would be thick enough that little ruts and bumps like that would be unnoticable. I laid the tiles down dry, and they laid flat. Didn't notice any wobbles because of unevenness, anywhere.
Thanks,
Jon
 
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Old 07-21-07, 09:49 AM
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Installing tile over that plywood subfloor is likely to end up a disaster. It sounds more like mastic that you are scraping up than thinset anyways. Setting tile over plywood is a high risk installation. TCNA requires 2 layers of plywood totalling 1 1/4" minimum. There are many other requirements as well. You really need to get off as much of that mastic as possible.

Tell us about the subfloor. It needs to be a minimum of 5/8" tongue and groove plywood. Then you need to install cement board over the subfloor. The cement board gets bedded in thinset, and that may make up for some of the mastic that you have left on the floor. If you dont clean the floor good though, some of those humps in the floor will telegraph through to the cement board and then the tile. Dont assume that youll be able to make up for all those ridges in the floor with thinset. It wont happen, and you will not be happy with the results.

I'm assuming your joist structure is satisfactory for a ceramic tile installation. We havent discussed that yet though. This could have also been a contributor to your cracked and loose tile. You dont say what kind of tile you are installing. If its natural stone, thats a whole other ballgame.

Do not under any circumstances ever install tile directly to one layer of plywood. It will never ever last. While your current tile may have been installed this way, as you can see it did not hold up. If you install over a single layer of ply and diretly to the ply, youll be back here or on another board asking why it failed. A properly installed tile floor will last for 50 year or more.
 
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Old 07-21-07, 09:54 AM
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I don't have any idea about the subfloor. I just moved into this house 6 months ago, and I just pulled up the old tile. There might be cement board under the plywood - it's anyone's guess. Everything seems very sturdy, as I go around pounding on the floor. I did only have one cracked tile, near the edge - so I am not sure that I understand why I would have to pull up all the existing boards when it worked fine the first time. I don't understand why I couldn't just sand this board down, and if it worked fine the first time, it will work well the second time......?
 
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Old 07-21-07, 10:01 AM
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Im not telling you to pull up the subfloor. Also cement board would be on top of the plywood, never underneath. I am telling you that you need something more than a single layer of plywood for a tile installation. I dont make these rules, I just follow them. Utimately its your house so its your call as to what you do. Im trying to steer you in the right direction cause Id like to see you do the job right the first time. Tile needs a good solid base. Any movement in the floor will cause cracked tile and grout. It is unlike any other flooring material. All the others can stand some movement. Tile cant.
 
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Old 07-21-07, 01:47 PM
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Okay okay - my apologies - I think I am getting my terminology all mixed up here....

I didn't mean remove the subfloor, I meant remove the substrate (?).... the floor is not a single sheet of plywood, there is an adequate joist system (I stuck my head up in the ceiling of the basement)... and there is plywood, and then a 1/4" board (which looks like plywood, but maybe it's not) on top of that.... which is what the tiles were adhered to.

I really don't want to remove THAT. I want to try to avoid that. It looks like a hard job, and I was going into this thinking I wouldn't have to tear off that part as well. I was looking at Wonderboard... and that would work, as it's 1/4".... just not sure I have to do that. There is residue on the board, but like I said it's no higher than 1/32-1/16 of an inch.... can I use something like Redgard - a cleavage membrane? Or is that not a good solution, either?

I do want to do this right. I guess I am just frustrated because I started this project as a surprise for my wife... and was thinking it'd be one day for demolition and prep and one day to lie the tile down.... and boy has it gotten to be more than that....

SO... those are my questions, I guess. I can't go much higher on the board that is there now, due to my kitchen floor having to be the same height, and the trim around the entryway is all just at the right height........

Thanks... very much. I appreciate your help!!!

Struggling... in PA...
Jon
 
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Old 07-21-07, 05:08 PM
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Ok gotcha. Its important to know how thick a plywood the subfloor is. Also as to whatever is over the subfloor if its 1/4" anything it has to go. If its 3/8" thick plywood or thicker then its ok and can stay. Do you know if the original tile was put down with thinset or mastic? If its mastic, you can try wetting it and scraping it somemore. Keep in mind that if you go over the old adhesive that you are relying on that bond for your new tile. If its mastic the moisture from the thinset might soften it and you wont have a good bond. My opinion here and the way Id go is to remove whatever is over the subfloor and use 1/4" cement board over the subfloor. Youll probably be at about the same height you are now. You can set your saw blade to the depth of the old underlayment, cut it into sections and pry it up.
 
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Old 07-21-07, 05:13 PM
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I don't think that whatever is over the subfloor is 3/8" plywood. My guess is 1/4" plywood. I don't know what the tile originally went down with. Someone earlier said that it sounded like mastic. It is yellow, and it was installed in 1990, if that gives any hints.
I will try and wet the mastic to see what happens. But I think I am heading down the road of putting cement board down. It doesn't seem like a whole heck of a lot of work - but it sounds like it'll really help. Along those lines, I was reading about cement board, and it said you had to put thinset and fiberglass tape and more thinset over the seams - but this Wonderboard said you didn't have to do that. Do you know anything about this stuff? Also - how much gap should I put between the seams of both... or should I just butt them up right against each other, and leave 1/4" around the edges along the wall?
Thanks,
Jon
 
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Old 07-21-07, 05:31 PM
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ONE more question... this is the thinset I bought for putting the tile down:

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100162542&N=10000003+90106+501908+522&marketID=106&locStoreNum=4139

Can I also use this to attach the cementboard to the wood underneath?

Thanks!
 
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Old 07-21-07, 09:30 PM
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Now you're in good hands. Johhny has, as do I, many years under his belt as a pro in this field. What he's telling you is right on. Never install tile directly to wood. I didn't notice an explanation as to why, so it may help you deal with the necessity if you understand the physics. The concrete board is not there to provide strength to the floor. It's there as a medium between the tile and wood to compensate for expansion and contraction differences between the two materials. Wood, being less dense than tile, expands and contracts at a much greater rate than tile. Consequently, with the wood expanding and contracting a lot and the tile expanding and contracting a little, it is highly unlikely they will stay adhered. There are two schools of thought as to what happens to the bond between the concrete board and wood. One school believes it will eventually loose the bond due to the process described. This is called the uncoupling theory. But, because the concrete board is in large sheets as compared to the tile and has been bedded with thinset so as to eliminate any voids under it so it won't flex, the floor will move as one huge sheet rather than many small parts of the whole. The tile and concrete board expand and contract at the same rate so they remain bonded and move as one large sheet. The tiles you pulled up that had very little adhesive residue left on the floor had been just laying there for who knows how long due to this process. The tile that cracked was probably not properly bedded and had room under it to flex, so it cracked from traffic. Over the years, I've replaced many floors that were installed directly to wood and all of them were showing the same things your floor has exhibited. The adhesive you describe finding under the tile is most likely wall mastic and should never be used on a floor installation.
 
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Old 07-22-07, 06:40 AM
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Ive used lots of wonderboard. Good stuff. I think you may not be reading the right section of their install manual though. It does require bedding in modified thinset. Use a 1/4" notched trowel for this. By the way 1/4" wonderboard is all you need, no need for the 1/2". Screw the board every 6" at the seams and every 8" in the field. Use the square drive screws that are made for backerboard. They are easier to set flush with the top of the board than the phillips heads. The screws come with the bit you need. Wonderboard is wrapped in a mesh so I think that they tell you that you dont need to tape seams that have mesh on each side. I tape them anyway even though they say its not required. Thats your call. It doesnt take much time or materials and its a little added insurance. Gap the sheets about 1/8". The mesh tape is different than drywall tape. Its an alkalai resistant tape that will hold up to the thinset. Youll find it in the same area you find the wonderboard at hd in the tile department.

I pasted your link and it didnt work. It just took me to home depot but no product. HD sells custom building products thinsets. Its good stuff. You can use Custom's Versabond thinset under the wonderboard and to set the tile.
 
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Old 07-23-07, 05:57 PM
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Thanks Smokey for the explanation - that helped me explain to my wife (and myself) why we need to tear the plywood out.
When I screw the board down, do I need to make sure I go into joists?
I did buy the Versabond, so I'm glad that's good stuff.
I checked the plywood, and it seems like it's 3/16". I can only set my circular saw to go to a 1/4" depth, minimum. If I go into the board below, 1/16", is that going to screw me up? Or should I figure something else out?
My goal was to get the plywood out tonight, but it looks like I may have to do it tomorrow - I wanted to ask you about that, first.
Also, when laying the wonderboard down, should I leave it 1/4" away from the walls? Or just 1/8"?
Thanks, many times over,
Jon
 
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Old 07-23-07, 08:20 PM
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I'm not convinced the sixteenth inch scar on the plywood subfloor will be an issue, but Johnny will know for sure. As to fastening the Wonderboard, I normally use roofing nails rather than screws. I use them because, A) they don't rust and B) they have big fat heads. The fasteners have a two fold purpose. They hold the board in place and they function as a tool to distribute the thinset bedding material. I'll start in a corner of the board and install a nail every four inches along one side of the board. I then go back to the starting point and install nails every four inches along the second edge from this corner, I then go back to the starting point and install nails every six inches in the field in a fanning out pattern from the starting corner into the corner diagonally opposite the starting corner. I then install nails ever four inches on the remaining two perimeters. I pound the nails in until the head just dimples the surface of the board without actually damaging the fiberglass mesh on the surface of the board. This method uses the nails to apply pressure to the thinset. Because the heads are large, they are less likely to break through the mesh of the board and release the tension on the thin set. As I work my way along, the nails are applying pressure in a pattern that is causing it to ooze into all the little voids, whoopdy dos and flaws in the subfloor and fill them in. This is the bedding process that, when the thin set hardens, will bed the board and make it very solid. I don't use nails long enough to go through the concrete board and subfloor, into the joists. You don't want to do that anyhow. I/8 gap will be fine, but you're going to cover the edge with base board so 1/4 will work also.
 
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Old 07-24-07, 05:35 AM
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No problem with the 1/16" and no problem with the roofing nails either. For some larger jobs I often use a roofing nailer myself. It does a good job and speeds up the process.
 
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Old 07-25-07, 06:10 AM
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Just an update, if you guys are curious...
Last night, I got the old plywood up. That was a chore - though not as bad as I thought it would be. My circular saw was throwing up some sparks as it hit the old mastic (I think???).... that was interesting. I saw all the nails, and I didn't hit any of those, so I can't figure what else it might have been.
Went to HD and got some Wonderboard and some 1" roofing nails. Gonna clean up the area tonight and start cutting the Wonderboard down. Will probably adhere it tomorrow night, if all goes well.
I'll keep you posted, if you'd like. I can send a few pictures as well... if you're interested!
Thanks again for all the help.
Jon
 
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Old 07-25-07, 06:16 AM
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3/4" ply and 1/4" wonderboard, thinset - Id use 1 1/4" roofers. Keep us posted on your progress and yes absolutely with the pictures.

One more thing. Wonderboard recommends modified thinset under it. Most folks are recommending unmodified thinset these days under cement board. Ive used both no problems with either. If your concerned about Customs warranty then you should use the modified.
 

Last edited by HeresJohnny; 07-25-07 at 06:18 AM. Reason: added the thinset comment
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Old 07-25-07, 08:02 AM
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I was planning on using Versabond thinset - and to be honest, I don't know whether it's modified or not. I am not completely worried about the warranty - it's nice that they can offer that, but I am hoping to never use it. Besides, what would they do for me? Buy me new sheets of Wonderboard?
1 1/4" roofing nails, eh? Guess I'm making yet another trip to HD.
Jon
 
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Old 07-26-07, 06:12 AM
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Okay, I've come up with another question.
Now that I have my Wonderboard down (going to adhere it tonight)... my tile will not slide under my trim anymore, since the plywood was a little bit thinner. Can I just run the tile right up to the trim? Or should I leave a gap, and then grout along the base board? (Trim/baseboard... same thing)... I can't really pull that baseboard off without tearing it out from the entire hallway and part of the kitchen... which I really want to avoid. The old tiling went up to the wood beside the doors, with a 1/4" gap that was grouted....
Also, do I need to do anything to set the pieces of Wonderboard down in? Or will nailing accomplish that for me? I am thinking hitting it with a rubber mallet and a piece of 2x4 or something.....
Can I walk on this Wonderboard, aftter it's all down? It seems awfully brittle.
Thanks yet again.... almost done!
Jon
 
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Old 07-26-07, 06:45 AM
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Jon

If you cant remove the baseboard, tile to within a 1/8" or so and then caulk the gap between the tile and the base. You could also leave the gap uncaulked and use base shoe. Dont grout that joint, as tile needs that space for expansion (yes it does move some).

As to the wonderboard, keep in mind its not structural so yeah it seams flimsy but once its down it'll be solid. Spread the thinset with a 1/4" notch trowel. Wiggle the sheet into place to knock down the thinset ridges and then nail it as Smokey described. Thats all you need to do. It wont hurt to walk on in afterwards.
 
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Old 07-27-07, 05:22 AM
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Wonderboard is down! In some places, where two pieces meet, there is a bump... I am assuming/hoping that is not going to be an issue. It's just where the fiberglass wraps around the end, it kind of lips up a little bit.
Anyhow - taking tonight off, the tile will be down this weekend!
Thanks again!
Jon
 
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Old 07-27-07, 06:53 AM
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Are the bumps there because you taped and mudded the joints?
 
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Old 07-27-07, 07:55 AM
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No, I have not taped and mudded the joints yet - I was going to wait to do that for when I lie the tile down. There are just bumps because one side of the wonderboard raises up a little bit. I'm not talking much at all - maybe 1/16"-1/8".
The floor was definitely flat - I nailed the sides down, and it really seemed to help push the board down... Went through a pound and a half of roofing nails for 42 square feet. I think I put enough down!
 
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Old 07-27-07, 03:19 PM
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Yeah tape and mud the joints when you set the tile. Im not understanding why the edges of the wonderboard are sitting proud of the rest of the surface. Did you leave 1/8" or so gap between each sheet?
 
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Old 07-29-07, 06:40 AM
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The tile is down! I can't get over how beautiful it looks, and how happy I am with what is underneath!

One small thing that I'm not too happy with - there are some tiles that three of the corners are flush and level with all the other tiles, and then it's fourth corner drops down, but then all the other tiles are that corner are flush with all the other tiles.... I have no idea what happened there. There was enough thin set underneath, and the floor was level, as far as I could tell. The only thing I thought of after the fact was that I didn't use any leveling fluid.... I probably should have, eh? Or should I be fine as long as I used the Wonderboard? I figured the floor was level, and with the Wonderboard I'd be golden. The thought of checking it for level, and using a fluid never even crossed my mind. Please reassure me that I'll be okay!!!!

We taped and thinsetted the seams, and I think that helped. I went through and pounded down that lip I was talking about - I don't know how else to explain it other than it was just along the edge of the Wonderboard where the fiberglass wrapped around to the bottom of the board. It just lipped up. So I pounded it down with a rubber mallet, and that seemed to work.

So there are a couple spots that the tiles drop down, as I explained above... but other than that, I think it looks great. I would have liked to go under the trim, but I think it will look great once I get some caulk around there.
I am a constant worry now - did I push down hard enough? Why are some tiles off from the rest? Will the seams screw me up? And I figure, it's down, I did the best I could (with the best advice I could hope for)... I can't imagine any tiles cracking...... right??? Ack!

We didn't finish up until just after midnight last night, so we are going to wait to grout until tomorrow. We used almost 1000 spacers!! Sheesh. Then after the grout comes the sealer (which I haven't looked much into yet)... and then the caulk, and then I'm done. I'll post pictures once the grout is in.

Thank you so much for your help!! I could not have done this without you.... well, I could have, but I sure would have been disappointed!!!!!!
 
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Old 07-30-07, 10:39 AM
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Starting with a flat flaw is the key to a nice flat no lippage finished tile floor. How low are the corners you are talking about. If its 1/16" or less it should be almost unnoticeable once grouted. If its more than that, now is the time to replace them if your not happy with the results. A tile thats a little high or low generally is not going to be a problem as far as cracking etc., just may be a tripper if its way off. Wheres the pictures?
 
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Old 08-08-07, 06:43 AM
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Here are the pictures!!! Sorry it took me so long to get them up - had some camera technicalities.

http://www.kovacharts.com/tile1.jpg
http://www.kovacharts.com/tile2.jpg
http://www.kovacharts.com/tile3.jpg
http://www.kovacharts.com/tile4.jpg

The grout is down and sealed. The caulk is around the edge, and the wood strips are in the doorways. I'm all done!
Thank you very, very much for your help HJ and Smokey. I needed it!!!
Thanks again! Hope you like the pictures!
Jon
 
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Old 08-08-07, 07:17 AM
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Hey Jon

It turned out awesome. Congratulations. I like the layout too. Great job.
 
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