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Old 09-24-2008, 04:13 PM   #1
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


I'm about to do another floor-tiling project, one that's a bit larger than the rooms I've done in the past.

I just got to thinking about whether or not there's a cheaper way of setting tiles than the >$10, 40lbs bags of "specialized" mortars typically recommended for the job.

What problems would one expect if just using mortar for laying tiles, and finishing with 'normal' tile grout? I cannot think of a reason it wouldn't work just fine, although surely there's a reason people pay 4X as much for the specialized formulas, right?

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Old 09-24-2008, 04:21 PM   #2
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


Thinset mortar is more flexible and stickier than regular portland mortar, and the best info for the minimum standards for tile & stone floors can be found at the TCNA website (Tile council of North America)

Use that as a basis for your tiling jobs & you will rarely if ever have any trouble

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Old 09-24-2008, 04:33 PM   #3
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


I wouldn't ever consider using anything but thinset for a tile floor application. You're just asking for trouble, all in the interest of saving a few bucks.
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Old 09-24-2008, 04:39 PM   #4
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


Boy,

You mean you used cheap $10 per bag thinset before, AND you think that's expensive? You're kiddin right?

Maybe a different line of work.........?

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Old 09-25-2008, 03:47 PM   #5
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
I wouldn't ever consider using anything but thinset for a tile floor application. You're just asking for trouble, all in the interest of saving a few bucks.
What trouble, specifically? I guess I'm just asking what the downfalls, specifically, would be here if I were to just use mortar for setting tiles.



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Originally Posted by JazMan View Post
Boy,

You mean you used cheap $10 per bag thinset before, AND you think that's expensive? You're kiddin right?
~$14.99 for a 40lbs bag of a modified cement product is expensive imo, so no, not kidding - that's clearly reasonable to you though, could you explain the differences from my original question, I'd like to know what the reason(s) would be to pay ~6X as much $$ for the modified cements - the only ones mentioned thus far have been flexibility and stick, and neither of those seem worthwhile enough to spend 6X as much for a modified cement?


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Maybe a different line of work.........?

Jaz
You have no clue what line of work I'm even in

You clearly seem to think my question is borderline retarded, yet you couldn't even explain why it'd be in my best interest to pay 6X as much for a modified mortar - do you know the reasons? Care to share them? I clearly don't know, but I do know that people overpay for stuff that they *perceive* to be better all the time, while many times it turns out they're overpaying for no reason. Hence this thread, a chance to answer why the 6X-more expensive, modified cements are worth the price increase
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Old 09-25-2008, 04:51 PM   #6
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


I'm not going to answer the question any further, because it would only provide potential justification for you to re-invent the wheel.

Thinset is a better product...The ONLY product for tiling a floor. If you use mortar, you'll find out soon enough why it isn't desirable. And no, I'm not a thinset salesman and I don't have a dog in this fight.

Professionals have given you very good advice and yet you want further justification, and even call into question JazMan's ability to explain himself. I guarantee he can, but he shouldn't have to.

Last edited by Termite; 09-25-2008 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:20 PM   #7
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


Years ago tile was set (into) Portland cement, it was pounded and nested into the mix. Thinset was invented as a step up and an improvement over the older method. Over the years thinset has been re-invented a million times and each time it has been improved. NO-ONE uses straight Portland anymore because thinset has proven to be much much better. It offers unique spreadability traits you will never find in simple Portland. Thinset offers bonding properties you will never find with Portland. Tiles MUST BE nested in Portland, not necessary with thinset. Thinset offers flexibility of lateral movement that rigid Portland can not offer. Thinset when used properly will not debond from the substrate or the tile product as Portland can. Thinset offers an ability to absorb temperature swings without decaying like Portland can.

Useing today's thinset products doesn't cost - IT PAYS. For a person with no knowledge to try to reinvent the methods would be foolharty.

If you think for a minute you will get any of the pros here to bless your activities you are badly mistaken. You have your answers and your approach doesn't really interest the pros and the subject isn't worth arguing over.

Please do as you wish.

END OF STORY.
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:38 PM   #8
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
I'm not going to answer the question any further, because it would only provide potential justification for you to re-invent the wheel.
Thinset is a better product...The ONLY product for tiling a floor. If you use mortar, you'll find out soon enough why it isn't desirable.
That's what I'm hearing from everyone - I'm simply trying to verify why this is the case, I'm honestly shocked at the resistance I'm getting for a simple explanation. I know that people overpay all the time for modified products, and just want to know what the modifications here do - why do you, or anyone else, find that troubling?


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
Professionals have given you very good advice and yet you want further justification,
This is an anonymous internet board, I have no way of knowing whether those behind certain screennames are pros, or hacks.

Further, I'm not looking for advice of any sort. I know that thinset works great. I also did a test run with stucco (closest to mortar I had on hand) and it came out just fine (I did 1 single tile to test for any obvious reasons why it wouldn't work before starting this thread). SOOooo, I simply setup this thread, figuring someone could tell me WHY I'm shooting myself in the foot if I simply use mortar instead of the 6X more expensive thinset.
Is that really something that nobody can/will answer for me? I'm trying to figure it out myself, I'm googling, I reviewed the website Steve recommended earlier in the thread, and still I cannot find any benefits except for the improved flex/stickyness, which are certainly not worth the price difference to me.

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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
and even call into question JazMan's ability to explain himself. I guarantee he can, but he shouldn't have to.
No, I did not call into question his ability to explain himself - I called on him to explain himself, there's a subtle, but huge, difference there. I'm sure that jazman (and you, as well) could very easily explain to me the difference between the two, the one I've been trying to find and couldn't, the one that had me ending up here as my last chance spot to find the info, only to be told "just use thinset".

I'll gladly do so - I just want to know WHY. I never meant to offend, or to be snide about anyone's professionalism. I just simply would like to know if anybody knows what the problem with using mortar is, that's all. I know that my test-tile went fine as far as I could see - the mortar dried fully, it was a bit crumbly but I'd imagine fine for a flooring app, but again I don't know which is why I'm here, hoping someone who does know can clue in a newbie
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:45 PM   #9
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


Have fun with your tile project. Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:22 PM   #10
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YOU are kind of a goofy character for some reason, just here to argue or what?!!! If you will read Post#7 the answers you require are there. Why do you keep drudging over the same ground? You have the answers you requested. Go for it and GOOD LUCK.

Others here can use our help and appreciate it while you just seem to have nothing else to do but waste everyones time.
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:49 PM   #11
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


No, I wasn't trying to argue, I was making sure that there's a reason for using thinset, and it's a valid reason (ie NOT a manufacturer's claim that it's "better").

I appreciated post#7, and if you'll look at the time stamps, I posted right after you had - your post was not up when I posted #8, so while it looks like I was trying to argue or keep it going, I was solely replying to the kctermite, I had not seen your post yet. Thanks for it, by the way - regardless of what you may think, it's thoroughly appreciated, you guys have helped me through more projects than you could imagine.
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Originally Posted by Bud Cline View Post
YOU are kind of a goofy character for some reason, just here to argue or what?!!! If you will read Post#7 the answers you require are there. Why do you keep drudging over the same ground? You have the answers you requested. Go for it and GOOD LUCK.

Others here can use our help and appreciate it while you just seem to have nothing else to do but waste everyones time.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:27 PM   #12
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


In the interest of not falling into the bottomless pit on this subject, I'll venture out to the edge, but I have tied myself off with a safety line first.
First there are standards in place for everything we do and consume in today's life style. These standards are called ANSI (American National Standards Institute) The tile industry falls under ANSI 108.01 thru 108.17 and ANSI 118.1 thru 118.12. In addition there is ANSI A136.1 and 137.1
These standards cover everything regarding ceramic tile, thinsets, epoxy's, organic adhesives, radiant heat as related to tile, and the list goes on. All the thinsets, epoxy's etc are required to be tested and have to meet a minimum shear bond, tensile etc strengths in order to be classified in one of three standards that thinsets fall into for classification. In today's market all thinset and adhesive manufacturers have approximately 30 or more different types available. They are not trying to remove your money from your wallet unwillingly, as these products are made to do a specific job. ( bond to certain substrates under certain flexing conditions etc.) Some of these products are as high as $50 per 50 pound bag and I can tell you with absolute certainty that if I needed that product because of certain criteria, that price is nothing in the total cost of a failure.

Now to your question of why you can't use mortar to set tiles:
First and foremost is that product does not have the shear bond or the tensile strength to meet the minimum requirements of today's standards.

Second the mortar will not bond in as thin a layer that is required for setting tile. Thinset is designed to have a minimum of 3/32" bond coat between the tile and substrate. I have seen many installations that have use thicker amounts of thinset. The thicker the thinset the more shrinkage occurs thus causing tiles to sink lower to the ones next to it. Also the thicker the thinset layer, the weaker the bond. Tile is a completely different material from brick, block etc. Most of the tiles in use today are made of porcelain. Since this is a extremely dense product with an absorption rate of <.5%. it does require a highly modified thinset and the substrate has to be taken into consideration also. Remember you not only have to bond to the tile, but also to the substrate. Not all thinsets are compatible to every substrate. straight mortar mix will not bond to wood, period.
I will tell you that this is a very technical industry and is becoming more so every day. I serve on the Board of Directors for the National Tile Contractors Association and we meet twice a year to just try and keep up with the new and changing things in the tile industry. As an example the ANSI A137.1 was 17 pages and the new one is in excess of 30 some pages. That's a big bunch of new stuff.
Anyway, I hope this answers your question as it is my belief that's all you really wanted. In their defense, I do understand from where they are coming from and hopefully you understand why you were given the advice. From my perspective, and I believe theirs also, we don't want to see any failures. That's rather hard coming from me when I make my living doing the forensics of why the installation failed.
One other note on failures, typically the cost of a failure is a minimal of three times the original cost. That doesn't take into consideration the additional cost of the lawyers and lets not forget me!!
Good luck in what ever you decide to do.




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Old 09-25-2008, 09:51 PM   #13
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


Don't ya just love people who with no experience in the field, think they can improve on products or substitue other products that have evolved over 40-50 years of proven use? There have been contant testing under real conditions, not by bonding one tile to a floor or wall. Yeck, any number of adhesives can do that.

Thinset mortar is the way it is because that is the way it should be. No other product can be applied in a thin form (3/32 1/8" beat in) and do the job. Regular mortar, like brick mortar, would have to be aplied probably 3/8-1/2" thick or more the work as it should. No one uses the "neat" cement method much, for good reason etc....

My comment was aimed at the complaint that thinset was too espensive. Ten bucks for a bag (usually 50 lb.) is not expensive and it is not 6x the cost of any alternative. I guess you'd be shocked, (as I was) if you bought a real high-end specialty thinset that can easily run well over $100 per 30 lb. bag. Actually about $140 retail I think?

Anyway,you need thinset mortar to install tile, and that's it.

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Old 09-26-2008, 12:45 PM   #14
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Anyway, I hope this answers your question as it is my belief that's all you really wanted.
You are right - and thanks a million, it is all I wanted, a simple explanation as to why, I'm just curious about what I use like that.

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In their defense, I do understand from where they are coming from and hopefully you understand why you were given the advice. From my perspective, and I believe theirs also, we don't want to see any failures.

I see that fully - however, I knew you're 'supposed' to use thinset, but figured there's gotta be a reason. I start this thread looking for a reason I'd actually pay that difference, and didn't get reasons, I simply got told to use thinset. That's less than reassuring IF I don't know who I'm getting advice from, which is the case here - an explanation (which is all I asked for in the first place anyways) on the other hand lets me know WHY, and from there I clearly know "use thinset".



Here's an example - I sold bodybuilding weightgainers for a loooong time in a store I worked in. ~$50 for a 5lbs bucket. Now, the stuff is nutritionally equivalent to ~$10 worth of generic products we had - but it had a name, a reputation. Now, there are boards online that would tell you all day long that the $50 stuff is worth it, the "results are better", but when pressed on specifics, they'll have nothing (because there are none).
Same here - I see a cement product costing 6X as much as normal crete and I get curious. I ask here, and I only get "use thinset" - that's where it turns into everyone thinking I'm second guessing them, which, I guess I am as I do not know them, and the lack of a simple explanation with the suggestion was worrying.

Either way, that explanation was great and everything I needed to know. Would definitely, definitely not use mortar here, and I know why . I really appreciate it.
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:53 PM   #15
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concrete/mortar instead of quickset for tiles?


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Don't ya just love people who with no experience in the field, think they can improve on products or substitue other products that have evolved over 40-50 years of proven use?
You're putting words in my mouth - I never said that. I was simply exploring whether that was the case, as the "premium" versions of products constantly tend to be barely, if at all, better than their basic/generic counterparts. I was simply seeing if this were the case here, not "trying to improve" or "substitute" if it were not a good idea, that's what I was here asking for.




Quote:
Originally Posted by JazMan View Post
My comment was aimed at the complaint that thinset was too espensive. Ten bucks for a bag (usually 50 lb.) is not expensive and it is not 6x the cost of any alternative. I guess you'd be shocked, (as I was) if you bought a real high-end specialty thinset that can easily run well over $100 per 30 lb. bag. Actually about $140 retail I think?
Alright I get it - then I'm definitely the goose here, being that I never swung a hammer until a year ago - yes, the $15 for 40lbs bags seemed outrageous compared to the $4 for 80lbs bags unmodified (that is 6X cost, btw, although I could be screwing up something and the thinset may've been 60lbs bags for all I remember from that job ). Now that I know this, I'll be able to see the humor the next time someone thinks $15 for 40lbs of crete is on the expensive end...

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