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IC Mark 07-03-2012 01:02 PM

Ceramic Tile Dilemma
First off, I am a new member, so Hello. I've read a lot on this site, but never posted.

I have been a handyman for a number of years, and I am seriously stuck for the first time. I am doing a flooring job and need advice/direction. The room in question is about 250 - 300 sq/ft and is in the basement of an old fraternity house. There was glued-down carpet on top, under that was VCT, under that was rotted, moldy 3/4" plywood screwed to the slab with Tapcons, under that is 12 x 12 peel and stick tiles, under that is 9 x 9 tiles (presumably containing asbestos), and under that is that black cutback adhesive, and under that is a red concrete slab, either dyed or possibly painted. I told the people in charge of the property that the right way to handle it is to call an asbestos-abatement place and have it stripped down bare, then I or someone else can install the tile. They said they'd rather just re-bury it and keep it cheap. Fair enough.

I already removed all the moldy plywood and all that is left are the two layers of composite tiles. My plan was to just screw cement board over the tiles, tape the seams, and off I go. I can't find anyone that thinks that is a good idea, so my plan B was to remove the top layer of peel and stick tiles and use a Ditra-type product over that. They say it can be used on clean, well-adhered tiles. But the top layer of tiles isn't coming up as easily as I expected and the bottom layer of tiles is pretty beat up and there will be a lot of gaps and voids. Also, all that scraping to get the top layer off will scrape the bottom layer, which would probably release the asbestos. Plan C is to remove everything down to the slab, but I don't even know if anything will stick to that slab. It seems shiny and almost greasy? The tiles that are there now are stuck really well, but who knows if I can get anything else to stick there. I have no idea what they colored the concrete red with, but it could be up to 100 years old. Even though no one recommends installing cement board over a slab, it really seems like the best option. It is a frat house basement, after all.

I'm open to any brilliant ideas at this point. Thanks in advance!


oh'mike 07-03-2012 01:25 PM

First--resize the picture if you can--

Next--skip the cement board idea.

Wet the area and remove all loose tiles.
water will keep any asbestos dust out of the air.

When dry---cover the black cutback and remaining tiles with
a self leveling compound.

I use Jifset mixed with Linewebers liquid latex for the first coat.

If additional coats are needed --water only is fine--

This will bond to cutback and tile and give you a good surface for ceramic tile.

IC Mark 07-03-2012 02:22 PM

Sorry about the photo size. I figured if I posted a smaller one, someone would complain about it being too small!

I appreciate the advice. So far, it's better than any of my ideas.

oh'mike 07-03-2012 02:38 PM

I've done this before.

What you cant remove--you encapsulate and level--

Standard practice.

Most self leveling compounds require a primer before application--Jifset mixed with latex does not.

Read the instructions--that stuff set up fast--tiling can start the minute the scl is hard.

IC Mark 07-03-2012 03:10 PM

I read up on that product, and it sounds like a dream come true! I love how it specifically states that it can be used to encapsulate asbestos tile. I really appreciate the recommendation. I haven't been able to find anyone that sells it around here though. All of the dealers listed are around Chicago which is 4 hours away. I probably don't want to know the shipping cost for 300 lbs of product. I will keep looking...

oh'mike 07-03-2012 03:22 PM

Menards has it--you have any of those stores around you?

IC Mark 07-03-2012 03:45 PM

I called, and ours does not. According to the list of dealers on the website, "Menard’s, All Locations in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Will (Ill.), Lake (In.)"

oh'mike 07-03-2012 03:51 PM

See what self leveling compounds are available locally---

I believe most will do what you want,however the directions will be different--

Henry--Latacrete,Mapei are all good companies with very helpful technical lines.
Call them if their products are stocked locally--they will help

oh'mike 07-03-2012 03:52 PM

Call Jifset and ask if anyone stocks it in your area

IC Mark 07-03-2012 04:33 PM

I found a few similar products that are carried by Menards and Lowe's, but they specify NOT to go over anything with asbestos. I can't see any practical reason for that. Why would the leveling compound care if a tile contains asbestos or not? Must be a lawsuit thing.

JohnFRWhipple 07-03-2012 08:54 PM


Originally Posted by IC Mark (Post 956993)
...I'm open to any brilliant ideas at this point. ...

Walk away. Or put aside enough money for the looming possibility that you might need to fix it right the second time.

There is no easy way. Your plan of getting back to original structure is the only path you should take.

If you plan on leaving it. Plan on incorporating a slip joint and a good deck mud layer. If you use a product like Mapei's Fast Setting Pre-Mix Screed Mortar your build up will be 1 3/8". Other mortar will require thicknesses of 1 1/2"-2". This will make you a new substrate to work off and over a large area you most likely will need expansion joints as well.

Can you know for sure the sub structure is sound? Can you measure for deflection in the structure?

I would defer to the TCNA specification guidelines for your own protection. This does not sound like an appealing project to undertake!

Good Luck.


IC Mark 07-03-2012 10:00 PM

I will not be doing it twice. They have been warned that they are sidestepping the preferred way in favor of saving money. I just want to do the best job I can do under the circumstances. I'm taking every job I can get my hands on these days.

Raising the floor more than 1/2" before tile is out of the question unless I want to raise a steel entry door. The products I was looking at earlier all said they could be used as thin as 1/8". That sounds great to me, but I am no tile pro. I've done a few jobs, but they were easy textbook stuff. As for the structure questions, I have no idea. It's a giant, stone 100-year-old building that looks like a castle. I doubt it's doing much moving, but I have no way of knowing. Luckily, any flaws will be covered in beer cans and fast food wrappers within a week. I think they would consider it lasting 5-years a success.

What is your fear with the leveler method? Cracking? Tiles popping up? I'm just trying to sort this all out. Thanks.

oh'mike 07-03-2012 10:03 PM

You will be fine---it's a proven method---

IC Mark 07-04-2012 01:28 PM

Reading through the manufacturer's instructions, it sounds like they designed that product just for me and this specific job. I'm feeling pretty confident that it should work after reading all the specs and instructions. They were closed when I called yesterday, so I sent an email about locating a dealer nearby. If I can get my hands on 10-12 bags of it, I'll be pouring on Monday. And I will definitely let you know how it goes. (And I might have to send you a fruit basket!)

oh'mike 07-04-2012 05:45 PM

I spotted it in the Home Depot this morning---you might get lucky and find it somewhere locally--

I used two bags this morning on a basement bath floor--

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