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Old 01-24-2010, 09:06 AM   #1
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


In the last few years I've done quite a few DIY things around the house and I had several problems and would like to avoid those problems when I redo the kitchen and the master bathroom. . . but am unsure of *why* I had these problems to begin with. On some of these I have a 'solution' but I don't want to have more experiments going on, I want a solid direction of what will and what won't work.

Problem 1: Grout.

In the kid's bathroom I tiled floor to ceiling and used a black grout. I thought it would save a bit of money to mix my own grout, but it turned out to be gritty, not smooth.

Will a pre-mixed grout be smooth? Or did I mix the grout the wrong way (not enough water, maybe?) - but, I also remember it being very gloppy, it didn't stay up well, if I added more water I don't see how it would have stayed up at all.

Problem 2: Sealer cleanup.

I was rather sloppy with my sealer in their bathroom and cleaning it up was a very time consuming venture (I used all ceramic tiles, if I used stone or something different then I would have purchased a sealer for grout *and* stone). I actually tried a few different cleaners and they didn't actually work. I ended up using a pumice stone (made for cleaning) to clean up all.
Other than being more careful with my sealer application - how can I avoid this problem with ceramic tiles? Or is a tidy application and a vigorous cleanup the only method? . . . If it is the only fix then I'll just be sure to have the pumice stone ready to go, rather than trying different cleaners to no avail (the pumice stone was a last ditch effort)

Problem 3: scratched up the new tub

It took me about 9 months to actually finish the tile in their bathroom because of several other problems I caused for myself, not to mention chooseing 4x4 tile for a floor-ceiling tile project (for one, I didn't smooth down the grout before it dried - I had to go back and scrape out all the excess so it had a "dip" in it all. That sucked.)
In that entire time, eventhough I tried to keep the tub clean, a lot of the gloppy grout fell under the covering and scratched it all up.

How can I avoid this next time? Should I buy a fabric cover (like a canvas drop cloth) and then duct tape it to the tub next time?

Or not install the tub until I have 1/2 the tile done above the tub area? (check for fit, first, then remove and tile down to it, add in tub, finish tile).

Problem 4: Drywall mud and tape:

In our livingroom we had planned to do a heavy-texture wall. That worked out great, actually. However, we also did a heavy-texture ceiling. We taped and mudded the corners (before applying the heavier texture) and the tape either sagged while the mud was wet or the mud cracked after it dried.
On the walls I had a slight sagging problem but no cracking.

I have no ideas on this one - all I know is that in the kitchen I'll be removing the popcorn ceiling, too, and doing a smooth ceiling - so I have to figure out the mud/tape thing somehow.

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Old 01-24-2010, 10:24 AM   #2
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


Problem 3: scratched up the new tub

During a recent major house remodel, I had several items to protect. So I bought padded furniture moving blankets (online via Northern Tool). When it came time to protect a tub I sealed up the tub with plastic and tape, then added a couple layers of the padded blankets. This provided good protection throughout the construction activities.

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Old 01-24-2010, 11:06 AM   #3
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


Fill the tub with a few pieces of insulation and place a sheet of plywood over it to protect it.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:35 AM   #4
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


"Snav"- -I don't have the answer(s) to your problems with these projects, but I'm sure of one thing: You are persistent in doing them and finding solutions. That's good, and this forum will eventually give you more answers. As far as protecting the tub, those were two good answers, and I've seen both techniques work. Those padded blankets from NT are really cheap, sometimes $5.00 or less on sale. I use them for many reasons. Good Luck, David
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:06 PM   #5
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


When you are applying the DW tape, remember that is NOT the time to throw on a layer of mud.

NO mud should be on top of the tape until after the tape bedding has thoroughly dried. THEN, and only then, do you start applying mud on top of the tape.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:09 PM   #6
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Oh wonderful!

I'll do both this time to protect the tub - sounds very efficient, fabric for protection and plywood for a sturdy surface to work on.

Thanks Willie T - You're absolutely right! Before I did put on the mud/tape/mud all at the same time!
I'll be certain to let the first layer + tape dry before mudding over it!

Thanks, Thurman - I didn't use to really care about getting things right the first time - and then I spent 9 months on their bathroom and that was a nightmare. Every little thing about it was aweful. From the removal of the old plumbing to cutting the ceiling for an airvent.
UGH!

No more repeats - one tiny room gone awry is enough for me! I've definitely learned that doing things *right* even if it seems to take forever is better than doing things *wrong* and then having to redo it - again and again.

Booo, though - or yeah. Two weeks before demolition and rebuild the plumbing to the master-sink busted. I just finished fixing it.
After all this work it actually took me only 5 minutes to find the items I needed at home depot - I didn't even have to ask for help.

See, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Where would I be without pex pipe and sharkbites?
In the hole - waaaay in the hole. This house is so poorly plumbed I'm actually quite happy that we decided to be DIYers. I don't think I could have afforded to pay for someone to come in every single time something went wrong.

One thing I learned, today, by getting friendly with the underside of my bathroom sink is that God made teflon tape for a reason! And when you intall your plumbing your shut-off valve should be low and/or out of the way. The plumbing under the sink ruptured below the shut-off valve, not above it. In part because they used a bizarre Z configuration with several elbows (I have no idea why they felt they had to do it this way) and the Z stuck out and was damaged by something being thrown under the sink - maybe my hairdryer :D

*edit*
Ok - what I will do about the DW mud/tape and the tile is do a practice project.
I have supplies leftover from before and since it'll be a few weeks before I get to that point I'll practice and see if I can get things to be 'right'

Especially wit hthe DW tape/mud - we got away with it because the walls are heavily textured without a pattern. When it sagged and cracked I just patched it up and smoothed it out, you can't tell. but I'm not oging to texture all of my walls in the hole house so I need to get good at that and make some progress for a more 'done right' look.

Last edited by Snav; 01-24-2010 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:08 PM   #7
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


Here are a couple of tips that will help with the DW taping.

First of all use PAPER tape. Don't even look at that mesh screen.

Make your mud for tape bedding sloppier (wetter) than usual.

Apply plenty of mud on the joint... PLENTY!

Cut the length of tape you are going to need.

Wrap it loosely around your hand.

Dip your hand (the one with the tape wrapped around it) into a bucket of water for about one second.

Start applying your tape a foot or so from the beginning end (with enough tape sticking out TOWARD the beginning end to make it all the way there).

Using a 6" knife (trowel shaped like a paint brush) wipe back toward the beginning end as you hold the rest of the tape steady with your free hand.

Now that you have the first foot of the beginning end of your tape 'bedded', it should be solidly anchored there and stay put with little problem while you begin wiping the tape toward the other end.

Keep your knife wet all the while you are taping by dipping it into the bucket of water.

Hold the knife almost perpendicular to the wall surface. Lean the handle forward (toward the untaped run) about 15 degrees. Push down firmly (but just firmly) as you wipe the tape. Your object right now is to force all the mud you can back out from under the tape. If you hold the knife parallel with the wall (flat with the wall), it will have a tendency to 'float' along and leave too much mud behind, under the tape. This is NOT what you want to happen. You want to force all the excess mud out from under the tape that you can.

Keep scraping all the excess mud that collects on the knife back into the pan. Keep your knife clean and keep it wet.

That's pretty much it.

Let it dry, and you will see that because you only allowed a thin coat to remain under the tape, it will shrink into the joint, sucking the tape with it. You probably won't have to sand this coat at all if you were careful to work cleanly.
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Last edited by Willie T; 01-25-2010 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:10 PM   #8
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Excellent! Thanks!

I'll definitely print that out and put it in my book!
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:27 PM   #9
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


Gritty grout? Did you buy sanded or unsanded? Do you know when to use each?
Many of the issues seem to be due to not thoroughly understanding the various components of the project. Lack of understanding will bite you in the hind quarters on a regular basis.
Lack of competant execution will do the same.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:37 PM   #10
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Good question!
Was it sanded or unsanded? I have no idea what I used before, it's been years.
However! I do have a book about tiling. I completely forgot about it and obviously I need to do some reading, not just foruming

This brings to mind something I need to do - keep a list of detailed info on the materials and tools I use. Since my DIY work has been strung out over years - I can't remember what I used before in order to figure out what to avoid or use again in the future.
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Last edited by Snav; 01-25-2010 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:45 PM   #11
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


Forgot to explain why you wet the tape.

Drywall compound is mostly limestone. Lime is one of the ingredients in masonry mortar, the stuff that holds bricks and blocks together. Makes good plaster and stucco, too. It is a strong 'bonding' agent. That's sorta like cement (glue) for concrete products.

But.......... if what it is supposed to bond together is too dry (in this case the drywall and the tape) the immediate surface moisture of the layer of mud is absorbed into the board or the tape far too quickly for the necessary chemical reactions (which occur during the curing, or drying, process) to be allowed to fully join (bond) the two dry surfaces together. This is part of the reason you often see sections of tape loose and just sitting on the board.

By the way, all blocks and bricks should also be lightly misted (like your one-second tape soak) before they are laid into a wall. Yep, for the same reasons. A good bond cannot occur if there is not enough moisture content present to let the curing progress as it needs to.

"But, I'm only wetting the tape, and not the wall.", you say. Ah ha, not so. Remember that I asked you to make the mud wetter than usual..... and to apply PLENTY of it to the joint? All this time you have been messing around with the tape, the board has been increasing in moisture content (getting soaked a little). And as you push down on the knife, you are introducing even more fresh, wet mud by the pressure of forcing that mud toward the wall board.

By the time you get around to wiping all the tape down, some of the top surface of the mud base that has been directly exposed to the air has begun to dry. The wet tape helps in 'reactivating' (or slopping back up) that drying layer of mud. Getting it back into the game of 'bonding.'

All this seems trivial when taken a piece at a time.... mud, tape, wipe, push, yak yak. But you are creating something that is used all through all phases of construction. You are constructing, or assembling, a 'system'. This means you combine various substances and materials to make a stronger and more effective combination than any of the individual parts.
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:01 PM   #12
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It actualy makes perfect sense!
Thank you
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:17 PM   #13
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Ok - it took some digging but i did actually find a box of grout from the bathroom application.

It's this:
http://www.custombuildingproducts.co...er=arc&lang=en

A Polyblend sanded grout for 1/8" - 1/2" grout joints, which is what I have (mine were between 1/8" and 1/4" actually).

So I used the proper grout, so that's not the problem.

After reading some more on grout I came across several mentionings of *not* using hard water.
Well, that's probably the problem then - our water is hard and so I will be sure to purchase jugs of destilled water to use for next time. (I've dealt with this as a solution to many problems. It's surprising how much of a difference some junk in your water makes - everything from fallen homemade yorkshire pudding to fish tank water issues).

After more reading I think that maybe I actually overmixed the grout and added in too much water.

I'll give it a good carefully measured go of destilled water for a practice run of this exact batch (it's leftover from before and if it works out this time then I'll know exactly what went wrong).
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:26 PM   #14
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What did I do wrong the first time - I don't want repeats


By the way, your grout may stay on the wall better if you develop the technique of pushing in on the float as you wipe DIAGONALLY upward. This means you don't go along the tile joints, nor do you wipe across them, straight on.

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