I'm a first-time home tiler, and after doing a bunch of reading on the internet, it seems like there are a million ways to tile a floor. my plan is to place plywood over my existing subfloor (it supported about a quarter ton of mortar and tile and some sort of chicken wire material before, but it has holes, and i figure it can use some shoring up). on top of that, i planned to use mastic, and then to apply hardie board that i would then nail in. After that i figured I could use the appropriate thinset and place my tiles on top of that. Am i missing anything critical? I've read in several places that i need to leave a space between the hardie board and the walls for potential expansion.Is this so? Also, i've read about ditra on here several times, but i'm not sure what it is and if i need to use it? Thanks so much for your help!
Don't use mastic, USE THINSET. Thinset is the proper product to use and it is much less expensive than mastic. All tile backers have instructions and not a single one wants you to use mastic, only thinset is used.
I've read in several places that i need to leave a space between the hardie board and the walls
Correct! An expansion gap is required at all perimeters, 1/4" is the way to go.
The backer boards should also be gapped 1/8" then alkali resistant mesh tape is used to cover and fill the 1/8" gaps. It is easiest to apply the tape when installing the tile. Don't do it in advance.
i've read about ditra on here several times, but i'm not sure what it is
DITRA (if used) would be used in place of any other tile backer board. DITRA is a polyethylene isolation membrane used in place of backer boards and frankly it is the better choice. Look it up at: