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Old 03-22-2008, 04:48 PM   #1
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Entry foyer tile job - Need Help!


Hi all,
Let me preface by saying that I am new to the forum, new to any type of "chatting" AND new to ripping up my entry foyer, so please bear with me if I use improper terms, etc.

OK, so I had the bright idea to replace the tile in the front hall. It's that 1930s-style pink and black basketweave pattern (same as in my bathroom). I went into this not knowing exactly what I would find or how long it would actually take to complete the project (especially since it's an old house). I thought I would be able to remove the tiles, sor tof "pop them off" if I used the tool on kind of a horizontal angle, then possibly use a leveling compound and re-tile.

Not so fast... of course, when I started taking up the tiles there was no way to get them up without putting gouges into the concrete below. There was also one area where the tile had a long crack running horizontally across the hallway (that's why I didn't just go over top - that and the fact that I'm crazy and the hallway being higher than the living room would have driven me nuts).

Once realizing it was hopeless to do it that way, I just went for it... and took up all of the cement that was under it too (1-1/2 - 2 inches I would estimate). Now I am at a point where it seems to be a mortar bed... which is of course uneven.

Do I stop removing stuff at this point and just reapply cement??? At the point that I'm at, it looks to me like I could just stick with the mortar bed and add back up. Or I could take that out too but I have no idea what is under it. As it is right now I can see the tops of the wood pieces (joists?) positioned every 14 inches or so apart.

I've gone this far so I really want to do it right... Help?!?

Here a two pics to hopefully help you help me!
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Old 03-22-2008, 07:33 PM   #2
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Entry foyer tile job - Need Help!


You are most likely going to have to remove the cement as you have to a point that the floor joists are showing everywhere and get things looking the same.

Then go back with a new mudbed overall as there was before.

In this case you may also require an isolation membrane on top of the new mudbed. This would be a daunting task for a lot of people but it really isn't that difficult to do.

You could also pour a Self Levelling Compound but that could get expensive.


How much more concrete is there remaining between the floor joists? And, is what's there now all crumbled?

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Old 03-22-2008, 07:44 PM   #3
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Entry foyer tile job - Need Help!


Right now the whole thing is seeming a bit daunting. Right now you can see about 3/4 inch of the top of the joists on all of them... there is a lot of loose stuff on top right now (mostly all concrete and tile pieces that I still need to clean up). The underlayer of concrete (i guess it's concrete - it's not the same as what I already removed... seems more like really compacted dirt), is solid to walk around on but definitely not an even surface.

I have no idea how far down it goes... I've never done anything remotely like this before.
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Old 03-22-2008, 08:00 PM   #4
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Without further investigation it's hard to know what was done there.

Typically (in those days) one would go to the trouble of boxing in between the joists with plywood, but how far down the joists they went is anybodies guess. They would then fill-in between the joists and above with concrete and bring it up to the desired surface level. At which time the tile would be applied. In some cases the tile was tamped into place in that same wet mixture of concrete. In other cases the concrete was allowed to dry and then the tile was installed later using a Portland cement tile adhesive of some description.

What you have remaining may not go too deep and if crumbled wouldn't be worth leaving in place. Since you have a considerable distance to go to raise the floor back to it's original elevation you may be able to leave the concrete there for fill if it isn't all crumbles.

Another option may be to remove all the concrete to get rid of the weight, then install some plywood on top of the joists and go from there. This is IF they haven't used a hatchet to carve away at the top edges of the floor joists, which was also a method used years ago to keep the wood joists from transmitting cracks through to the surface.
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Old 03-22-2008, 08:12 PM   #5
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Entry foyer tile job - Need Help!


I believe the tile was probably tamped into place as you call it... when I was removing the tiles you could totally see the imprints of each individual tile in the very top of the cement.

It looks as if the top of each joist is an inverted V-shape... like it points up (sort of like a picket fence). I believe they probably did whatever was standard for the day as overall the house is solid and it doesn't seem like whoever built it was into cutting corners.

So it would be acceptable to leave what is there once I get rid of the crumbly top layer? If I go that route what would be my next step? Just fill with regular cement?
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Old 03-22-2008, 08:26 PM   #6
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Entry foyer tile job - Need Help!


They used to use a hatchet to butcher the corners of the floor joists. I'm sure it's a mess.

See how deep the remaining concrete goes, and if it appears to be solid or is all crumbles.
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Old 03-22-2008, 08:43 PM   #7
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Entry foyer tile job - Need Help!


I'll have to try to clean it up better and see if there's any way I can tell how deep it is. Hopefully if I dig it all out there is plywood under there as you describe. I'll report back after I explore a bit more... Thanks Bud.
Lisa
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:49 AM   #8
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Entry foyer tile job - Need Help!


OK... I actually wound up taking out the entire mortar bed. It went down a couple more inches... so all together I removed the 1930s tile, the approx. 2" of cement and the mortar bed. I shop vac'd it all out and am ready for the next step. Problem is I'm not sure what the next step is...

Now I have just joist tops and plywood (i guess it's plywood) in between the joists. I'm at about 4-3/4" below where the top of the new floor should sit. I recently spoke to a GC and he said that what they do is add boards to both sides of each joist to create a new level "top" and then add 3/4" plywood to create a new sub-floor... then hearty board and tile it.

Or I could do a new mortar bed...? Not sure what to do next... any advice on either method? Thank you!! Lisa
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Old 03-30-2008, 12:33 PM   #9
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If the condition of the existing joists will not receive plywood then the advice of the contractor is the way I would go too.
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Old 03-30-2008, 12:48 PM   #10
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It's just that the tops of the joists are not flat... they are "inverted v's" sort of like a shallow picket fence. Hatcheted I have learned... so I'm bot sure if it would be level.
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Old 03-30-2008, 01:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
It's just that the tops of the joists are not flat... they are "inverted v's" sort of like a shallow picket fence.
I understand...I've seen it many many many times over the years. You can sister the joists as suggested and eliminate the problem.
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Old 03-30-2008, 10:38 PM   #12
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OK Bud, enlighten me please. What was the point of hatching the joist?
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:33 AM   #13
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I think the theory was to help to soften the effects of expansion of the joists. Obviously wood and cement have varying rates of expansion. The sharp-cornered three sides of the joists have the ability to move and disrupt the concrete causing cracks to be transmitted to the surface. Pointing the tops of the joists would reduce this potential for damage.

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