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Old 05-25-2014, 12:02 PM   #1
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Newb Thinset Questions


Getting ready to install ceramic tile throughout my house. My house is 15 years old and has a post-tension slab with only minor, hairline, horizontal cracks here and there. All of the house is currently carpeted with the exception of the kitchen and bathrooms which have vinyl flooring.

1. Although I'm not thrilled about the additional cost, I'm leaning toward using a polymer-based thinset for 2 reasons: 1) I get the impression polymer-based thinsets "stick" better to all surfaces (see question 2 and 3 below), and 2) are also more forgiving in the event of small, horizontal cracks in the foundation. True? False?

2. I've already removed the vinyl flooring in one bathroom. I used an oscillating tool for removal. Although the floor feels glass-smooth to the touch, the glue is still visible. Will a polymer-based thinset adhere in this situation? Or, do I really need to sand down to the concrete with a sander?

3. Removed some of the carpet. I've noticed there is a good bit of paint overspray on the concrete, around all the baseboard areas. Will a polymer-based thinset adhere to this paint overspray if I "rough" it up with a sander beforehand? Or, does the overspray need to be removed by sanding down to the concrete?

Thank you!

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Old 05-25-2014, 04:15 PM   #2
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Newb Thinset Questions


Yes, you want to use a modified thinset--a good quality one will bond to paint and the glue residue---

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Old 05-25-2014, 04:18 PM   #3
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Yes, you want to use a modified thinset--a good quality one will bond to paint and the glue residue---
Hm-m-m-m-m! Interesting!
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:31 PM   #4
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From: CTIOA REPORT (10/15/2002)

"The success of any installation over a concrete slab, where tiles are directly bonded in a thin-set application, begins with identifying potential bond breakers or contaminants and successfully removing them. Curing compounds, sealers, coatings, paint, existing adhesives, remaining residue from previous floor coverings, grease, oil, dead cement, surface laitance¹, dust, dirt, etc. should all be viewed as potential bond breakers. Even clean, potable water on a clean concrete slab could be considered a bond breaker if there is too much of it. Surface contaminants can also react with the bonding mortar or adhesive, which could have a detrimental effect on the success of the installation. Finishing techniques along with the use of some types of concrete additives can also affect the ability of a mortar to form a good bond. Steel or rotary troweled concrete produces a slick, shiny, dense, glass-like surface making it difficult for a mortar to develop a mechanical or adhesive bond. Concrete additives along with finishing techniques can also produce a very dense concrete surface."
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Old 05-25-2014, 09:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Bud Cline View Post
From: CTIOA REPORT (10/15/2002)

"The success of any installation over a concrete slab, where tiles are directly bonded in a thin-set application, begins with identifying potential bond breakers or contaminants and successfully removing them. Curing compounds, sealers, coatings, paint, existing adhesives, remaining residue from previous floor coverings, grease, oil, dead cement, surface laitance¹, dust, dirt, etc. should all be viewed as potential bond breakers. Even clean, potable water on a clean concrete slab could be considered a bond breaker if there is too much of it. Surface contaminants can also react with the bonding mortar or adhesive, which could have a detrimental effect on the success of the installation. Finishing techniques along with the use of some types of concrete additives can also affect the ability of a mortar to form a good bond. Steel or rotary troweled concrete produces a slick, shiny, dense, glass-like surface making it difficult for a mortar to develop a mechanical or adhesive bond. Concrete additives along with finishing techniques can also produce a very dense concrete surface."
Thanks for the info.

So, given a choice of using regular, run-of-the-mill thinset in an ideal environment or a polymer-based thinset in a less than ideal installation environment, is the additional cost of the polymer thinset (in my location $6 vs. $25) worth the additional cost? Or, put another way, is it better of use of my time and money to use the cheaper thinset and some sandpaper to remove all the glue and paint vs. using the more expensive polymer-based thinset with the glue and paint as-is? Thanks!
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Old 05-25-2014, 09:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HomeGuy2 View Post
Thanks for the info.

So, given a choice of using regular, run-of-the-mill thinset in an ideal environment or a polymer-based thinset in a less than ideal installation environment, is the additional cost of the polymer thinset (in my location $6 vs. $25) worth the additional cost? Or, put another way, is it better of use of my time and money to use the cheaper thinset and some sandpaper to remove all the glue and paint vs. using the more expensive polymer-based thinset with the glue and paint as-is? Thanks!

You aren't gettin' it man.
The unmodified thinset isn't "run-of-the-mill" thinset. It is made for a reason. In your case you should be using the modified thinset for your project. I can't imagine why anyone would invest in a tile installation and then cheap-out on the purchase of the setting-materials.

"Is it worth the additional cost"?
You can bet your project, it is.

Sandpaper isn't going to remove the paint and adhesive.
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Old 05-25-2014, 10:13 PM   #7
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You aren't gettin' it man.
The unmodified thinset isn't "run-of-the-mill" thinset. It is made for a reason. In your case you should be using the modified thinset for your project. I can't imagine why anyone would invest in a tile installation and then cheap-out on the purchase of the setting-materials.

"Is it worth the additional cost"?
You can bet your project, it is.

Sandpaper isn't going to remove the paint and adhesive.
I'm not sure who's not getting what.

oh'mike says modified/polymer thinset will work in my situation. That's helpful info.

You reply to his post by simply saying "interesting", then quote a long list of surfaces/things that thinset will *not* work with.

In your last post, you now appear to agree with oh'mike that modified/polymer thinset *will* work in my situation.

I said nothing about going on the cheap. If I wanted to go on the cheap I would have never posted my question in the first place. Again, it was a choice of spending many hours trying to remove the glue and paint then using a much cheaper NON-polymer/modified thinset, or saving time and sandpaper and using the much more expensive modified/polymer thinset. Neither solution is my idea of going on the cheap.

Last edited by HomeGuy2; 05-25-2014 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 05-25-2014, 11:52 PM   #8
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HomeGuy,

You misunderstood what Bud is saying. He says not to tile over all those possible bond breakers and use modified thin set too. Will the job fail if you tile over some of those situations? Probably not, but the chances for failure is much higher in most cases. In other cases it's almost certain.

The $6.00 stuff is something we don't recommend even with soft bodied ceramic tiles. Most tiles used these days are porcelain, which require modified mortar. Tell us what you're using.

You don't have to spend $25, (although that's not a lot), you can find decent stuff for around $15. There are specialized mortars that run well over $125 and you get #40 not 50 lbs.

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Old 05-26-2014, 09:53 AM   #9
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In most cases, if something is strongly bonded to the substrate (e.g. adhesive to concrete in your case), it's usually sufficient to abrade (sand, etc.) it. This gives it micro nooks and crannies for the thinset to grab on to. It's more important to have a slightly rough surface, than to necessarily get down to bare concrete. For example, I'd rather put thinset on a rough surface that has some adhesive left over, then on top of bare, smooth, shiny concrete. The same would be true if painting or putting epoxy on your garage floor - that is why they use acid etching or diamond abrading. Acid etching is not practical indoors, but abrading with a diamond grinder is.

I'd prefer to take off a vinyl floor covering, for example, but even that can be simply abraded if it's strongly adhered to the concrete. Many tile jobs work perfectly well in this situation if the correct thinset is used.

The problem with the $6 thinset is not so much that it's unmodified (which has its uses), but that it's just cheap thinset. A good bag of unmodified thinset (I use Mapei Kerabond) is going to cost at least double that. At $6 you're probably looking at something like Custom Building Products CustomBlend from Home Depot. I wouldn't use that for any application really. So the issue with $6 vs. $25 thinset is not that you should "upgrade" to modified, but that you shouldn't consider really cheap thinset period.

So now that you're considering good quality thinset, it might only be $5 more for modified (which you should be using, I'm sure.)

Lowe's carries Mapei, but not the Kerabond (at least in my area). They carry the Keraset, which is not as good as Kerabond, and Keraflor, which is even worse.


Last edited by jeffnc; 05-26-2014 at 10:02 AM.
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