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Old 12-04-2012, 01:24 AM   #1
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


I had a professional tiler install ceramic tile in a couple of bathrooms in a condo unit I rent out. The old adage "You get what you pay for" applies in this situation. The guy was in a hurry (he had another job to go to), and so the tiles have varying degrees of lippage. Since it's a rental, I can live with most of it, except for a couple of tiles where the lippage is too much.

The floor consists of 10" joists, which have been variously reinforced with 2x12s laid flush between them (too much history to relate, but the result is pretty solid). Over this is a 1/2" subfloor (I know, it should have been 5/8" -- another long story). Over the subfloor is a second layer of 1/2" plywood (screwed in per JazMan's terrific instructions -- thanks JazMan!). Over this is Ditra. Ditra was used to put the finished floor right below the bottom of the toilet flange and to provide a measure of waterproofing (only the floor, not the walls, because a door provides plenty of exit for water should there be a significant tub overflow). Since the tile area is roughly 5'x5', Kerdi band was used where the two sheets of Ditra met.

I don't think the tiler was used to installing over Ditra. In any event, the Kerdi band appears to have been what caused the significant lippage.

I took up the two most offending tiles. I now am faced with a layer of thinset over the Ditra.

It's been suggest that I take up the Ditra that was under the tiles. I don't want to do this, as it'd require buying a whole new roll of Ditra (yep, it came out pretty exactly right with the one roll). Also, I'm concerned about maintaining the waterproofing provided by the Ditra; if I replace the Ditra, I've got more seams.

Another person suggested just scrapping off what I could, and then using the thinnest layer of thinset needed to set the tiles. Will this work? If I use this approach, do I have to use the same brand of thinset (Mapei), or can I use another as long as it too is unmodified thinset (e.g., CBP - Custom Building Products carried by Home Depot)?

Another person said to use an adhesive remover like Sentinel's 747 Plus or a similar product from Henry's to remove all the thinset, and then lay new tile. Thoughts?

Lastly, there's the old mechanical approach (pound the thinset with a hammer to break it up, and use a putty knife to pry the thinset out of Ditra's rectangular holes). I'm not sure what effect this have. Will it damage the thinset under the Ditra which was used when the Ditra was laid down? Do I risk damaging the installation of the surrounding ceramic tiles? Other concerns?

Also, I have some small tears in the Ditra from when I was removing the tiles. Should I just cut the loose stuff away? Should I glue it back down with something like SikaBond? Other suggestions?

Finally, do I have to go back with thinset, or could I use a glue like SikaBond to install the new tiles? Yeah, unmodified thinset is cheap (6$ / 25 lb. bag), but I've never mixed any up, and while "it's easy", the less I have to screw up the better, especially since these tiles are smack dab in the middle of the floor.

Your help is greatly appreciated!

Richard


Last edited by RichardZ; 12-04-2012 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:59 AM   #2
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


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If I use this approach, do I have to use the same brand of thinset (Mapei), or can I use another as long as it too is unmodified thinset (e.g., CBP - Custom Building Products carried by Home Depot)?
JazMan will be able to answer your technical questions best, but I would recommend not using CustomBlend. The Schluter guys I talked to call this bagged dirt.

For unmodified thinset, I shop Lowes (it's usually Mapei or Megabond, depending on your area). For latex modified, I shop Home Depot. So for DITRA, I find myself going to both big box stores.

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Old 12-05-2012, 03:28 PM   #3
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


Richard,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard
#1 It's been suggest that I take up the Ditra that was under the tiles. I don't want to do this, as it'd require buying a whole new roll of Ditra (yep, it came out pretty exactly right with the one roll). Also, I'm concerned about maintaining the waterproofing provided by the Ditra; if I replace the Ditra, I've got more seams.

#2 Another person suggested just scrapping off what I could, and then using the thinnest layer of thinset needed to set the tiles. Will this work? If I use this approach, do I have to use the same brand of thinset (Mapei), or can I use another as long as it too is unmodified thinset (e.g., CBP - Custom Building Products carried by Home Depot)?
I'd prefer to do #1 if you can get your hands on a little scrap. I wouldn't be concerned about waterproofing since you can't make the room waterproof unless you flash the walls and curb the doorway. Floors are not required to be waterproof.

Your #2 method will work too being careful to remove all the thinset down to the Ditra. Use the same or any brand/type (even modified), of thinset except the cheapo Custom Blend you referred to. Do not buy any cheapo $6 stuff and do not use anything pre-mixed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zakany
CustomBlend. The Schluter guys I talked to call this bagged dirt.
That's a bit tough Zakany. It's actually one notch above dirt.


Remove the thinset with a tool like this. http://www.google.com/imgres?q=craft...30&tx=59&ty=52

Quote:
Another person said to use an adhesive remover like Sentinel's 747 Plus or a similar product from Henry's to remove all the thinset, and then lay new tile. Thoughts?
This person has no clue.

Leave the small tears alone, they will not affect the uncoupling aspect.

Jaz
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Last edited by JazMan; 12-05-2012 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:57 PM   #4
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


Those weren't my words! At the time, I had never tiled anything. I was talking to a group of Schluter representatives at a home improvement show, learning, and they made sure to tell me to not use CustomBlend. (Engineers like me research the crap out of things before getting our hands dirty.) The only time I ever used CustomBlend was in a tiling class (again, before I was to tackle my first tile job at home). Learning with that stuff made the actual job with better materials that much easier.

A good homeowner selection for a modified thinset is Versabond (from HD) because, again hearsay, it's not that modified.

Adhesive remover might remove thinset if that thinset was the premixed stuff, which isn't thinset but is, instead, adhesive. Unfortunately (or, actually fortunately) Mapei isn't adhesive.

Oh, for mixing, here's what I do. Get a little bucket, clean but disposable. Pour some thinset powder in (you don't have to use the whole bag and you don't have to measure). No more than 1/4 full! Then pour in an insufficient amount of water and stir with a trowel. Then add water and stir a little at a time and what you're going for is something like pancake batter. Scoop some up on your trowel and hold it sideways. It should droop and stick, but come off if flicked into the bucket. If you mess up and add too much water, add more powder.

For such a small batch, I wouldn't bother with a drill motor and mixing paddle.

Yes, you will end up with an almost full bag of thinset left over from this job. It does have a useful shelf life, so it won't be much good several years down the road. Even better is a buddy with some leftover thinset. Free thinset is the best thinset.

For tears and loose patches of DITRA, I'd probably just ignore them. It's not going to matter if you get thinset beneath them as well as on top - that's how it's installed.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:01 PM   #5
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


Oh, when it comes time to grout, you'll use even less but you don't want pancake batter - you want peanut butter or cookie dough. You want to be able to make a ball of the stuff.

Again, I didn't measure. Just pour and stir, pour and stir until I got it right.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:02 PM   #6
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


JazMan,

As always, your help is a life saver.

Unfortunately, my Ditra scraps are just that: scraps.

I think I'm going to try for option #2. Thanks for the link to the Sears MultiTool. I've had my eye on getting one for a while, as they seem quite versatile. BTW, do you have any experience using different versions of these tools? Since I'm pretty much always near an electrical outlet, I'm thinking of getting a corded one, just to have the max power available. I've seen the Sears one, as well one's from Dremel, Rigid, and Porter Cable. Any experience/thoughts on these or any other ones you've used?

Regarding the Ditra tears, they are kind of sticking up. Should I just push them down and mud over them, or cut away the parts that are sticking up?

In terms of thinset, Lowes carries Mapei, which is what the installer used. They have KeraFlor ($6) and KeraSet ($21). Any preference? I have only two tiles, so $6 looks a lot better than $21. On the other hand, I might be retiling the bathroom in my house. If the KeraSet is a lot better and it'll keep fine in a cool dry place, I'll get the KeraSet.

Finally, I noticed that you didn't say anything regarding the last option of hammering away. When I used a hammer in getting the two tiles out, did I possibly damage the integrity of the floor?

Thanks for your help!

Richard
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:53 PM   #7
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


As far a Ditra goes probably if you ask a couple tile guys in your area they will give you a piece that big.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:20 PM   #8
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


Richard,

Sorry you don't have much Ditra left. But you know you can use small pieces, makes no difference for a small repair. Otherwise I can bring you some in a year or two.

I recommend the corded version of those tools for most people. The best is probably the Fein Multitool, but $400-500. I bought the Craftsman and happy with it so far, (2-3 years). If you want a real cheapo, Harbor Freight has one for under $20, and on sale sometimes for $9.99.

I can't imagine KeraSet would cost $21, are you sure?

Quote:
Finally, I noticed that you didn't say anything regarding the last option of hammering away. When I used a hammer in getting the two tiles out, did I possibly damage the integrity of the floor?
I don't know how violent you got.

Jaz
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:04 AM   #9
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


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Richard,

Sorry you don't have much Ditra left. But you know you can use small pieces, makes no difference for a small repair. Otherwise I can bring you some in a year or two.

I recommend the corded version of those tools for most people. The best is probably the Fein Multitool, but $400-500. I bought the Craftsman and happy with it so far, (2-3 years). If you want a real cheapo, Harbor Freight has one for under $20, and on sale sometimes for $9.99.

I can't imagine KeraSet would cost $21, are you sure?

I don't know how violent you got.

Jaz
I have a fein and it is great! They are only 200.00 now if you get on that only comes with a few attachments.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:00 AM   #10
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


Remember that you may not be limited to big box store selections for thinset. You may be able to find Laticrete or Bostik products in your area from other retailers.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:35 PM   #11
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


JazMan,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you.

Regarding the tears in the Ditra that are sticking up, should I cut them flush or glue them down?

Regarding the Mapei thinset prices, they came from Lowes.com. From your question, I called my local Lowes, and they said $11 for KeraSet -- much better. I take it that I should go with the KeraSet, unless you recommend another type/brand.

I did whale at the tile a bit. I guess I'll just have to live with whatever resulted. I'll say this, the Ditra sure appeared resilient -- hopefully, it did its isolation thing well.

I'm looking at the various multi-tools out there. I'm glad to hear that your Craftsman has held you in good stead. I'll look into it ...

Looking forward to hearing your advice on the Ditra tears ...

And, thanks!

Richard
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:38 PM   #12
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


MSaeger,

Thanks for the heads up on Fein. Sears carries it, and I'll at least be able to take a look at it (altho the web may have better prices ...).

Richard
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:48 PM   #13
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


Richard,

Quote:
Regarding the tears in the Ditra that are sticking up, should I cut them flush or glue them down?
Yes you should. No need to glue small tears, just push them down or cut them off. It's still bonded right?

Use whatever thinset you can get. Makes no difference really.

Jaz
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:11 AM   #14
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


JazMan,

Got it -- I'll take care of the tears.

BTW, any advice on actually installing the two tiles? The other tiles are kinda all over the place in terms if heights. Should I back butter the tiles? Add some extra at each of the four corners? Something else?

Thanks!

Richard
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:45 PM   #15
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Replacing 2 ceramic tiles over Ditra


Quote:
BTW, any advice on actually installing the two tiles? The other tiles are kinda all over the place in terms if heights. Should I back butter the tiles? Add some extra at each of the four corners? Something else?
That's not so good. Spread thinset like before, yes back-butter.

Jaz

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