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Old 09-13-2013, 12:10 PM   #1
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tile on an outdoor, covered porch (first post!)


Hello there - been "lurking" for weeks but thought I would make my first post now

I'm working on my first home, and I have an enclosed (but not insulated!) back porch approximately 8' x 20' that I want to tile with some slate tiles. Currently the sub-floor is 3/4" plywood (new) over the older 2x3 decking that sit above the joists. There is an open-air space below my porch. The plywood was laid down before I purchased the place - the seller's plan was to put down some kind of flooring but they ran out of money before finishing, so I bought it unfinished (which means I get to put in what I want!)

The porch is a completely enclosed, 3-season type, which means that it will not get rained on, but it *will* experience some wild temperature changes. Did I mention I now live in Québec, Canada? -20ºF in the winter to 90ºF in the summer kind of changes.

My game-plan is to lay down 1/4" hardibacker (or maybe some other kind of cement board), then tile and grout and call it done, but I am getting conflicting advice from people (who are just casual DIYers) about whether the temp changes would cause the tiles to pop off, even with the backer.

My questions: Will I have any problems with the tiles staying stuck? I this porch is never going to rain or snowed on, am I ok not using a moisture barrier? Alternatively, how would you prep a plywood subfloor before applying slate tiles?

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Old 09-13-2013, 06:30 PM   #2
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tile on an outdoor, covered porch (first post!)


I see why this went unanswered for so long---

This is a risky installation---

First thing--how stable is the framing? What size joists /type of wood /unsupported span?

The 3/4" plywood---what kind? Is it exterior grade?

How good is the ventilation under that porch?

Your slate---is it a high quality dense slate or a low quality flaky slate that will soak up moisture,freeze and spall?

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Old 09-13-2013, 07:02 PM   #3
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What size are the joists?
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:19 PM   #4
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tile on an outdoor, covered porch (first post!)


Slate would be one of my last choices to tile anything with.
It's porous, so it stain easily, needs to be resealed often.
It's really brittle so you need a super strong floor system.
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:16 PM   #5
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I'd use Ditra.
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:14 PM   #6
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Concerning your deck, I don't see any problems. If you leave a coffee cup outside in the winter, does it break?

You shouldn't have any problem with that floor related to temperature change if it is dry.

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Old 09-13-2013, 11:47 PM   #7
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Are coffee cups made out of slate?

The funny thing about these comments like "slate is a natural stone, outdoors in its natural environment" is that slate is naturally so crumbly.
http://inspectapedia.com/roof/SlateSoftness014DJF.jpg
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Old 09-14-2013, 10:18 AM   #8
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I don't think his porch is going to get wet, right?

I had slate on a covered porch which got some snow blown and tracked in. It eventually got broken all to hell from dropping logs on it. But that wasn't the fault of the slate.

The deck above it was fine, but it was eventually covered in astroturf because it got so darn hot. Again, poor choice. It was laid on epoxy.

Now the hallway inside stayed in good shape. That was a better choice.

Slate is what it is. You can't expect to tile a floor with tortillas and have it last for very long.
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Old 09-14-2013, 12:39 PM   #9
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You can get slate in honed or non honed which makes a big difference in where you are installing it.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:04 PM   #10
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sorry for the delay - had a computer meltdown shortly after my first post. Normally I wouldn't post and then not follow up, but it was due to technical difficulties.
>>>>
To answer a few questions, the slate tile hasn't been purchased yet, but was what we were leaning towards because it would match our interior. I'm open to other suggestions but I like it to be either natural stone or ceramic.

The plywood is exterior grade, 3/4" and the porch (perhaps "sunroom" might be a better description) is **completely enclosed**. It does not get rain or snow on it, period. It just isn't insulated so the temperature swings were/are my primary concern with this project.

The floor joists are 2x10s with typically 16" spacing. Above the joists is decking that's 2x3. the 3/4" plywood sits on top of the 2x3. The space below the porch is where the trashcans are stored, and that is protected from the elements as well.

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Old 09-15-2013, 09:15 PM   #11
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In addition to real stone or slate, they make good looking ceramics that look like slate. Porcelain is a good choice for a ceramic that does well outdoors, because it's so dense that it absorbs almost no water. But since yours won't be getting wet, regular ceramic would be fine too.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:37 PM   #12
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I second Jeff's mention of porcelain tiles. There are quite a few that look indistinguishable from slate, or even wood. Bear in mind when you buy slate you're at the mercy of whatever random quality of tiles come in the box. We had about 15% that were either physically or visually unusable. Either way too ugly (damn near looked like radioactive waste) or had excessive cleft or other defects. Whereas with porcelain they're all going to be within the same consistent look.

Then there's weight, stone is

Then there's thickness, with real slate expect there's going to be quite a lot of difference between the thickness of the tiles. This makes for a more tedious job installing them. You have to put a lot more effort into adding/removing thinset in an attempt to get them all level with each other. Otherwise you end up with a lot of lippage. Which is bad for walking AND for chipping out the higher lipped edges.

Then there's weight, stone tends to weight a lot more than porcelain. But if you're only dealing with 8' spans of 2x10's then you're probably not going to have too much trouble there. But what's on the outside edges? Foundation or piers?
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post
I second Jeff's mention of porcelain tiles. There are quite a few that look indistinguishable from slate, or even wood.

...

Then there's weight, stone tends to weight a lot more than porcelain. But if you're only dealing with 8' spans of 2x10's then you're probably not going to have too much trouble there. But what's on the outside edges? Foundation or piers?
ok - y'all have convinced me to rethink the slate idea and revisit the porcelain (which we had looked at before we found boxes of discounted slate tiles). I definitely don't want to retile in a couple of years because they shattered due to lippage or just the "tortilla" effect.

But to go back to one of my original concerns - tile adhesion with temperature swings. given this an enclosed (no rain!) space am i fine with just using cement fiber board there? one person suggested Ditra underlayment - i was under the impression that was for wet areas.

wkearney99: they are 8' spans supported by 2x10 joists under 2x3 decking under 3/4" plywood. one side of the 8' span is connected to a masonry wall, the other (exterior) side is supported by piers spaced 4' apart. both ends on the long sides are masonry as well.

I tiled my previous kitchen floor, so I'm familiar with the process, it's just the temperature swings that give me pause on this space.
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleveman View Post
Concerning your deck, I don't see any problems. If you leave a coffee cup outside in the winter, does it break?
Um......
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Old 09-16-2013, 03:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by US expat View Post
one person suggested Ditra underlayment - i was under the impression that was for wet areas.
It does work well for wet areas, but the primary function of Ditra (as opposed to Kerdi) is to act as a decoupling material between the tile and the substrate. You can read their blurb about exterior tile applications here:
http://www.schluter.com/5357.aspx

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