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Old 01-05-2012, 01:55 PM   #1
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


I will be laying tile onto an existing 1929 plank floor with plywood patches. It is in good shape and very level, on 16" on center floor joists. My added complication is that we are installing a Nuheat Electric radiant heat pad under the tile and our tiles are large format (12x24) so I'm concerned about cracking.

I was considering using 1/4" cement board over the existing subfloor, then thin-setting in the Nuheat pad and thinsetting the tile over that, as per the manufacturer's instructions. After reading another thread about cement board backer attachment, however, I'm inclined to use the suggested 3/8" plywood instead of the cement board for more rigidity. I hesitate to go much thicker because I don't want to raise the floor too high.

I'm also wondering if an isolation membrane between the Nuheat and tile is advisable due to the size of the tiles?

Thanks!

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Old 01-05-2012, 02:17 PM   #2
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


Here's my suggestion.

Stabilize the floor with 3/8" plywood throughout.

Install the heat.
Install Self Levelling Compound over the heat.
Install the tile.

The floor heat requires a thermal-mass for it to work properly.
This would be the Self Leveller.

The tile requires a suitable tooth in the underlayment you use.
This would be the Self leveller.

It takes a minimum of 3/8" of Self Leveller to cover the typical floor heat system.

With the tile you will be raising the installation approximately one inch on top of the original wood menagerie of repairs that exists.

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Old 01-05-2012, 02:24 PM   #3
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


I like it.
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:31 PM   #4
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


That plan will provide you with everything you need. SLC's are miracle drugs these days. Don't forget to use the companion primer. If you are quick you can install the primer first. Then you have twenty-four hours to install the heat system and pour the SLC. This way priming is much easier and it gets everywhere it needs to be.

Here's a two part guide to using SLC's.
Part One:
http://www.diychatroom.com/blogs/ins...t-one-two-177/

Part Two:
http://www.diychatroom.com/blogs/ins...t-two-two-178/
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Old 01-05-2012, 03:22 PM   #5
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


Thank you again! Great info.
So, just to be clear...you'd apply the primer over the 3/8" plywood subfloor and put the nuheat right over the primer before pouring the SLC?

Another thought: What about priming the 3/8" subfloor, applying the SLC and then thincoating the nuheat to the SLC and the tile to the nuheat per manufacturer installation suggestions? You'll still get the thermal mass that way, just under the pad as opposed to over it.

I'm afraid that going the way you're suggesting, the nuheat won't get the adhesion it needs without the thincoat, just putting it over the primer, and the SLC won't get the adhesion it needs through the nuheat, without direct contact to the primer? Unless I'm misunderstanding. Thoughts?

Thanks again.
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Old 01-05-2012, 03:39 PM   #6
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


Quote:
Thank you again! Great info.
So, just to be clear...you'd apply the primer over the 3/8" plywood subfloor and put the nuheat right over the primer before pouring the SLC?
Correct.

Quote:
Another thought: What about priming the 3/8" subfloor, applying the SLC and then thincoating the nuheat to the SLC and the tile to the nuheat per manufacturer installation suggestions? You'll still get the thermal mass that way, just under the pad as opposed to over it.
TRUST ME! You do not want to do that! You do not want to try to trowel over the heat systems with thinset.

I'll tell you a short story.
I have only tried to trowel-over a heat system one time. I couldn't imagine that being a good idea but I tried it. Always willing to learn something new. Don't do it.

I later attended a floor heat installation class and brought up troweling thinset over the heat system and how ridiculous I thought it was. During the class the instructor defended the concept. So at lunch break I got him aside to discuss it further. He told me that that method is recommended by the heat makers simply because using SLC's is costly and they didn't want their sales to be thwarted when a customer found out how expensive SLC's could be. He agreed with me that SLC's was the way to go. Trowelling thinset is less expensive in the short term...until a person tries to plane the tile doing it that way.

Quote:
I'm afraid that going the way you're suggesting, the nuheat won't get the adhesion it needs without the thincoat, just putting it over the primer, and the SLC won't get the adhesion it needs through the nuheat, without direct contact to the primer? Unless I'm misunderstanding. Thoughts?
You are mistaken dear sir/madam.

You install the mats with hot glue. Give the primer a few hours to dry and the hot-glue works perfectly. This is not to say that once you have the mats installed that you can then gallop horses around the room. You have to be careful but I have never had an issue.

When you begin to pour your SLC, you start deep into the room and back your way out, pouring as you go. I always put down a piece of plywood (path) or something to walk on to get deep into the room, not a big deal.
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:00 PM   #7
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


Ok! I'm convinced! I'll try it your way - I like the idea of installing the tile right onto the SLC. That just makes sense to me.

I may run this install by the Nuheat guys just to make sure I won't be voiding some warantee - in case we have an unrelated problem with the mat, i don't want them to use this as an excuse to not fix it. I'll let you know what they say.

Again, thank you very much for the help!
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:33 PM   #8
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


In reference to using the thinset method:

I'll continue by saying that you certainly don't want to crawl around on top of the installed mat any more than is necessary. This would include while installing the tile if you were to use the thinset method. YOU WILL crawl around alot.

The next thing is using the metal trowel to spread the thinset over the mat. Holy crap !!! That scares me.

Speaking of which...they sell a little gizmo called a "Loudmouth". This device is temporarily hooked up to your power leads and stays in place as you make your installation. If you screw up a wire the Loudmouth sounds an alarm so know your world is ending and you can stop right then and you will know where you caused whatever damage it is that has set off the alarm. I would recommend you buy a Loudmouth, they don't cost much.

Also you can staple the mats if you want to.

I would also make another important suggestion. I think you already read it in the Blog but it's worth repeating. The wires will float in the SLC. Not only will they float they will rise above the surface. You don't want that to happen. So I hot-glue the wires about every six inches along their entire path. If one should get away from you while pouring the SLC, just leave it alone. You won't be pushing it back down and it won't stay, so don't be tempted to get out onto the fresh SLC. After everything set up if you have a proud wire you can grind a small channel in the back of the related tile and fill any groove with thinset when you set the tile. Been there done that any number of times.

None of this is as complicated as it sounds when reading it.

When these heat systems first came on the market I tried them all but finally settled on the Suntouch System. Same thing you are using. Suntouch has proven to be a quality system and I have never had a single problem with the brand.

Here's another little-known secret, well maybe I better PM you with this one.
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:35 PM   #9
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Well crap!!!

You only have eight posts and I can't PM you right now.

I think you have to have twenty posts before you are eligible to use the PM's.

Why don't you make another dozen quick posts to qualify?
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:57 PM   #10
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Ha! Don't worry - at the pace I'm going, I'll be at 20 posts before the end of the day! This site has been a godsend as I've been ruminating over the best ways of working with this ol' house. Having guys like you give me tried and true advice is priceless.
Again, many thanks!
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Old 01-05-2012, 05:43 PM   #11
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This time of year we always have cows about thirty yards away from the house and I still had to go to the dictionary to look up "ruminating"!
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Old 01-05-2012, 06:29 PM   #12
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Old 01-05-2012, 06:30 PM   #13
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


Bud/Testarossa - my name is Wally and I'm the Product Manager here at Nuheat. I came across this post and thought I should offer up some clarification.

Suntouch - is a mesh system where the heating wire is interwoven into an orange plastic mesh. You can prime the subfloor first and then staple/hot glue the heat roll onto the subfloor or you can staple/hot glue the heat roll onto the subfloor and then apply the primer on top. Either way, with Suntouch, you can still physically see the subfloor after you secure the heat roll onto the product. I agree with Bud in that using the thinset method on top Suntouch is difficult. The holes in the plastic mesh will catch your trowel and it is a difficult thing to do. The plastic mesh is also wavy and does not sit perfectly flat to the subfloor.

Nuheat - is a pre-made mat product. The heating wire is sandwiched in between two semi-porous polyester sheets. You would trowel latex-modified thinset onto the subfloor and press the mat into the thinset (the thinset actually soaks into and partially through the mat). However, unlike Suntouch or any other mesh system, you cannot physically see the subfloor after you put the Nuheat mat on top. Contractors typically wait a day for that thinset/mat layer to harden, then they come back and you can tile on top of the Nuheat Mat using latex-modified thinset. Using the thinset method on top of the Nuheat Mat is absolutely possible.

Our official installation instructions do not require SLU usage. However, we do know that people use it in trade all the time with Nuheat. One method is to self-level the floor first, then install Nuheat using thinset, then tile using thinset. Another method is to install Nuheat onto the subfloor using thinset, pour the primer and SLU on top of the Nuheat, then tile. Personally, if you need it an ABSOLUTELY level surface to tile on top of, I would recommend installing Nuheat, put a thin scratchcoat of thinset over top of the mat using the flat side of the trowel, then prime and SLU on top of that.

Either way, it's important that you understand the difference between the different systems. If you have any questions, by all means, please call our Customer Care Team at 1-800-778-9276 and feel free to ask for me directly.

Thanks guys,

Wally

Last edited by Wally Lo; 01-05-2012 at 06:44 PM. Reason: additional info
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:16 AM   #14
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


CAN NOT imagine a DIY'er or someone not familiar with the process using thinset over the top of the systems. It is made to sound easy but in reality, not so easy I wouldn't think. Hell it's difficult enough for some DIY's to get tile on a flat floor and have it come out okay.

Not only that...
what of the areas of the same room where there is no heat mat? Do you then also trowel thinset on the floor and allow it to dry so as to keep the floor flat and level beyond anywhere the mat was installed? And if so how so? How ya gonna do that and keep it flat?

No sir, the manufacturers can talk about using thinset in that manner all they want but it just isn't a practical thing to do. Especially in the hands of a first-timer.
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:37 AM   #15
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Proper installation of large format tiles over NuHeat?


Hey fair enough Bud and like I said, many contractors do pour an SLU coat on top of the Nuheat Mats before tiling because they want a perfectly flat surface to tile on top of. I also want to make sure that people know the differences between mesh systems and the Nuheat Mat system. The Nuheat Mats are not hot glued or stapled to the subfloor. They are pressed into a layer of thinset. I also think you'd be surprised with how thin the mats are compared to the mesh systems therefore reducing the floor height buildup.

Thanks for the feedback Bud

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