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Old 12-06-2011, 10:36 AM   #16
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


You can add pea-gravel to SLC to bulk-up the product and save a few bucks, but still costly. One fifty pound bag of SLC will yield fifty square feet at 1/8" thick...that gets pricey quick.

I think what I would do instead is to go right back with an old fashion "mud-job" like you had before. A whole lot cheaper, a little more work, but easily do-able. The use of the word "easily" in this case is relative.

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Old 12-06-2011, 10:44 AM   #17
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


Makes sense, what should be used as the mud nowadays? Is the process to lay down paper, then mesh over the ply and use a screed to level the mud across the whole floor? Do you then just set directly into the mud? Thanks bud-
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:55 AM   #18
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Makes sense, what should be used as the mud nowadays? Is the process to lay down paper, then mesh over the ply and use a screed to level the mud across the whole floor?
Correct.

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Do you then just set directly into the mud?
No, don't even think about that. What a pain that is. Once the screed has set plan on using thinset to install the tiles.

I always tried to work in "paths" of about 48 to 60 inches wide between my screeds. This doesn't mean the whole thing can't be done monolithically however which is the best way to do it. I use 1" rigid electrical conduit for screed-guides then drag with a sharp straightedge.

The mix is typically 4 or 5 sand to 1 Portland. It is mixed very dry so that you can squeeze a clump in your hand. The parallel screeds are elevated to level using the mud and then the additional mud is tossed in place and compacted by hand, I use a mag float. Once compacted slightly above the screeds I drag & shave with the sharp straightedge. Once flat, the pipe screeds can be removed and the voids filled, this time dragging off of the newly placed flat cement surface also using a straightedge.

The truth is any bagged sandmix can also be used but it is generally mixed 3:1 in the bag. A little sharp-sand can be added to bring-up the recipe but it isn't necessary.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:11 AM   #19
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


What would be the minimum thickness for the mud at the high points in the floor? Our old floor was minimum 3/4", but set on top or paper and mesh on the diagonal plank subfloor.

Should I still do the 3/4" ply under the mud job?

This mud job idea is interesting - the old floor was absolutely solid.

Assuming that the thinset could be directly applied to the set mud or would backer be needed?
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:12 AM   #20
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


One more question - what's a typical set time for the mud before tiling?
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:20 AM   #21
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


This is the way all tile floors were done years ago. The typical recommendation for thickness is a minimum of 1-1/4" but a true-minimum of 3/4" works if you don't spend too much time crawling around on it to install the tile. If there is any flex in the substrate the thinner (3/4") mud could break up from your weight being on it while setting the tiles. In (the old days) the tile was set/pounded directly into the fresh mud screed but (trust me) you don't want to deal with that bag-o-worms.

Those floors were solid for sure and this is still the best way to do a tile floor but the technique has gone by the wayside as new products have been developed.

No additional backer of any kind is required.

If you were to add 3/4" plywood that would serve to stabilize the (untrustworthy) slats, but this would reduce your ability to add the mud screed. You could add the plywood and then use SLC. This way the SLC could theoretically be feathered as needed at the high spots. If you did that you wouldn't be able to add pea gravel.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:25 AM   #22
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


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One more question - what's a typical set time for the mud before tiling?
That depends on a few things. The longer you allow the mud-bed to cure the better. It isn't unusual to be able to get back on it in twenty-four hours but not always. Atmospherics has a little to do with how the cement cures. If it is still "green" you wouldn't want to get on it. Forty-eight hours should do the trick however. This is something an installer develops a "feel for" over time but in your case you don't have that luxury. For you this will be baptism by fire but not to worry. It is easy enough to do.

The key is to get the mud flat and plane the first time around so you aren't having to do patching later. It is surprisingly easy to get the floor flat with a good sharp straightedge. In fact it's kind of fun.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:35 PM   #23
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


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If you were to add 3/4" plywood that would serve to stabilize the (untrustworthy) slats, but this would reduce your ability to add the mud screed.
Could 1/4 or 1/2" ply be used instead of the 3/4"? Seems like those could conform nicely to the existing planks while giving some more space for mud depth. Not opposed to taking back the 3/4, just more of a pain than anything else.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:42 PM   #24
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


The use of 1/4" is never a recommendation based on lab testing by The Tile Council of North America. Plywood of 3/8" thickness would be the absolute minimum and it should be exterior grade Exposure 1 underlayment based on industry recommendations.

The use of SLC would be the most convenient in that case but you pay for that convenience in the cost of the products.
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Old 12-06-2011, 02:58 PM   #25
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


Right - was just thinking of the plywood as a way to stabilize/backup plan for the slats if any are iffy. I'm concerned about the mud bed over the 3/4" plywood - if the 3/4" is too stiff to match the existing subfloor and there are even small gaps in areas, it seems like eventually that would sag down and potentially cause issues with the mud bed and tile.

Just unsure of if a layer of ply should be used under the mud bed - maybe 1/2" ply would be best?
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:13 PM   #26
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


Okay let's keep going.

Subfloors made of wood slats are common in vintage houses. They are fine for a lot of floor coverings with the exception of tile. The slats have a tendency to move in all directions as a part of their routine expansion and contraction, this is what makes them unstable from that standpoint.

The slats must be addressed in some manner prior to a tile installation. Typically the slats are tamed by the addition of plywood. In cases such as yours the old concrete "mud job" served to stabilize the tile installation because the concrete served as an isolating member of the installation. You can use either method. My biggest fear is if only the mud job is installed and installed too thin this could disrupt the tile installation. In your case you already know it didn't do so in the past so no reason to believe it would in the future. Roofing felt to serve as a slip-sheet and mesh to help stabilize the mud would work. The mud job would be the most cost-effective means of bring the floor surface back to a level condition.

However the more modern version would be to use plywood and then SLC on top, also bringing the floor back to a level condition. Less cost but more labor.
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:08 PM   #27
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


It seems like you could use pieces of ", " and " plywood firmly attached (glued and screwed) basically as shims to bring the lowest areas up close to the required height. Then you could use SLC to complete the leveling. The plywood would drastically reduce how much SLC would be required.
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:13 PM   #28
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


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It seems like you could use pieces of ", " and " plywood firmly attached (glued and screwed) basically as shims to bring the lowest areas up close to the required height. Then you could use SLC to complete the leveling. The plywood would drastically reduce how much SLC would be required.
And maybe send-out fissures and fractures and faults in various directions to further decorate the floor.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:54 AM   #29
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


Well, we went the mud bed route and it is working great! My husband did all of the mixing and heavy lifting and I did the troweling and leveling. We did have to do two pours as Bud thought so there is a little patching needed at some spots where the two join. Not bad overall and was actually pretty fun. Although my husband may kill me if we ever need to move and mix 30 bags of 80lb concrete again

Floor is solid, flat and level again. I'm especially proud of the mud stairs!!

Here's a few pics:
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:04 AM   #30
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Remove floor tile set in 3/4" concrete


Looks excellent!

Stairs? I don't remember talking about stairs. Those stairs may not serve you well over time.

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