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Old 03-19-2018, 05:55 PM   #1
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Kitchen tiling questions


I am going to have to tile a kitchen with a floor shaped like a dead lizard. My nephew usually does my tile work (excellently) but he died, so I'll need to finish this one up. He had put some Hardibacker down and I have finished that. So that's where we're starting from right now. I'll probably ask a lot of questions in this post. If I don't get answers, I'll re-ask in separate post(s).

The tile will be a pattern of 13 and 20 inch tiles. The tiles are purchased and it has to be compatible with other tile already down in the hallway, so that cannot be changed. I will be using the Raimondi leveling system.

First question: Hardi suggests taping the Hardibacker seams and I have the tape. Do I just stick it down and mud over/through it, or do I set it into mud then trowel off the excess?

2. It's unlikely that the floor is level. A Custom Products video I found says it has to be level to within 1/16" for 20" tiles. They obviously sell a self-leveling compound. It seems like even if the floor were perfectly level, the taped seams would be 1/16" thick. Any suggestions on actually using the leveling compound? What do I do around the walls where it will run off of the edge of the Hardibacker?

3. I have a 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 inch square notched trowel. Most videos I've seen of people laying larger tiles have shown them using a round notched trowel. Is that necessary? What does the roundness do that the square one doesn't?

4. I think I've worked out how to lay the tile in this weird shaped floor without having to work on top of the fresh ones. But it requires working on more than one day. How do I deal with tile leveling system on the edges of tiles that will be left overnight? Can I just stick the little tabs in and clean up around them and leave them? Do I need to put down a scrap piece and level it up, then take up the scrap and cleanup? Something else?

4a. I saw another video where they dumped out some leveling compound and waded around in it wearing strap-on cleats while spreading. I do not have strap-on cleats. Can I just do it in sections or is it too runny for that?

5. I have seen suggestions to do the entire layout dry, first, then pick them up and mortar them down. How do you keep them all straight when you do this?

Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2018, 02:08 PM   #2
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Re: Kitchen tiling questions


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Originally Posted by FatBear View Post
I am going to have to tile a kitchen with a floor shaped like a dead lizard. My nephew usually does my tile work (excellently) but he died, so I'll need to finish this one up. He had put some Hardibacker down and I have finished that. So that's where we're starting from right now. I'll probably ask a lot of questions in this post. If I don't get answers, I'll re-ask in separate post(s).

Thanks!

I'll try to answer the questions I know the answer to... but just wanted to confirm, you are laying tile on hardybacker that sits above a wood substrate, correct? Meaning, you do not have a concrete slab below?

Assuming this is correct, best thing to do first is that the wood joints substrate and the hardybacker joints overlap as much as possible. You don't want two joints near eachother as that can cause cracking to the tile you end up laying on it.

1 - Yes... you can lay the tape first and then push the thin-set compound over it. But if you're like me, you tend to go overboard. I typically take the thinset, put it into the crack first, and then lay the tape, and THEN lay more with a larger trowel to make sure I don't have any gaps.

2 - Depending on the overall size of the floor that you're tiling you may just be better off using extra thin set, and leveling the tiles as you install them. Either way, if you use self-leveling compound (which is basically thin liquid concrete), it will find every cavity and fill it in... so you will want to plug all the holes. If you're concerned, you can always tack trim around to the floor, pour it, and simply replace that voided area with thin set when you lay the tile (after removing the trim you tacked down).

3 - I use square notch, but I can see where a rounded notch might be more useful... giving slightly more play when you press the tile down to adjust for placement and height. Honestly though, the tooth size is more important than the shape of the tooth. 1/2"x1/2" teeth are good for larger tile... something in the neighborhood of 12" or larger. If you're laying 6"x(whatever) tile... like wood-look tile... you'd want to go with a 1/4" tooth or less.

4 - I've used those leveling systems before... with the white tabs and the red shims (there are others). I've found them to be more frustrating than useful. I did an entire 2,000 square foot floor with those, and while it did make it mostly level, I found that after leveling the tile with the shims, in many cases it created voids that I wouldn't have otherwise seen, and that left a few tiles hollow sounding. This is not something that ever happened to me before when laying tiles the old-fashioned way. I'd recommend just not using them at all... and use a rubber mallet instead to adjust the height of the tile from one to the next. use the "+" spacers. The more thinset you use below, the more adjustment you can make.

4a - You cannot do self-leveling compound (concrete) in sections. The problem is that the concrete will typically not adhere to the next batch that you pour. I remember a while back when I was pouring a new slab for my master bathroom, I would mix some self-leveling concrete in a bucket, then take it inside, pour it, then take the bucket back out, mix another batch, and pour that in, etc. I did this 5 times, with maybe 5-6 minutes in between each pour. Ultimately, I didn't seal my drain properly and poured concrete down the drain. Anyway... as I jack hammered up my slab to replace the trap (haha), I discovered that the self-leveling concrete I poured, literally had solidified in layers, and as I broke it up, it came apart like shale. So, don't do this.

5 - There's a number of different ways you can do this, but the most critical thing is to ensure that your starting location is straight, otherwise, everything else will be messed up. Since you said that you are continuing from tile that already exists, my recommendation is that you start THERE. Assuming that tile is straight. Can I ask what separation are you using (size of grout line)? With the use of 1/8" spacers (common), you'll pretty much ensure that any tiles from that point on are going to be as straight as the ones they are riding up against. Am I making sense here?

With regard to laying it... you DO want to "butter" the tile, which is to put thin set on the underside of the tile ALSO... before laying it down. Typically what I do first is spread thin set across a large area that I know I can manage and reach... larger than what I plan to lay tile in that instant. I then have tile next to me, pick each piece up, "butter" the underside, and then place them on the floor (or wall) where there is also already thinset. I then place my "+" spacers, and adjust accordingly.

I've never been a fan of cutting everything first, though I do usually do that in smaller spaces, especially where I know the edges are going to be covered by baseboard.

Otherwise... you can always just cut the tiles individually when you need them... that would only be needed where it hits walls or cabinets.


Hope any of this helps...!
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Old 03-20-2018, 06:55 PM   #3
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Re: Kitchen tiling questions


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Originally Posted by Todd82TA View Post
I'll try to answer the questions I know the answer to... but just wanted to confirm, you are laying tile on hardybacker that sits above a wood substrate, correct? Meaning, you do not have a concrete slab below?
Yes, that is the case.

Thank you very much for your thorough answers!

I am not going to use the leveling cement. There are some spots where I might smear a bit of thinset first just to bring it up closer to level (flat, really - probably not geographically level.)

Quote:
5 - There's a number of different ways you can do this, but the most critical thing is to ensure that your starting location is straight, otherwise, everything else will be messed up. Since you said that you are continuing from tile that already exists, my recommendation is that you start THERE.
I actually spent a couple of hours today measuring and figuring and then did some dry layout to get an idea how accurate my measurements were. No cuts, just layed out whole tiles in the correct pattern. We did start with that existing tile. It is travertine, the new tile is porcelain, but matches it very closely. I suggested some sort of threshhold to delineate them, but that idea was vetoed. It does look fine just abutting directly, but I'll have to take special care to match the heights because there is also a bathroom door immediately next to the tile which seems to be at a slightly different level. I do have permission to use some sort of transition tiles there and can save that for later.

Quote:
Assuming that tile is straight. Can I ask what separation are you using (size of grout line)? With the use of 1/8" spacers (common), you'll pretty much ensure that any tiles from that point on are going to be as straight as the ones they are riding up against. Am I making sense here?
Yes. We are using 3/16" spacers. We are avoiding aligning it with any existing grout lines. The new tile sizes and pattern are slightly different (not my choice) and so it would be impossible to match and I don't want it to look like I tried to match and failed. :-)

Quote:
With regard to laying it... you DO want to "butter" the tile, which is to put thin set on the underside of the tile ALSO... before laying it down.
I have seen some videos where they use the notched trowel on the floor and put a smooth layer of mortar on the back of the tile so it will adhere well. Is that what you are talking about? Or are you suggesting using the notched trowel on both the floor and the tile? That would be a lot of mortar and would probably raise the floor higher than the existing tile that I am abutting.

Thanks again.
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Old 03-20-2018, 07:04 PM   #4
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Re: Kitchen tiling questions


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Yes, that is the case.

I have seen some videos where they use the notched trowel on the floor and put a smooth layer of mortar on the back of the tile so it will adhere well. Is that what you are talking about?

Thanks again.

Yes! I apologize if I wasn't totally clear there. That's exactly what I do.

I use the toothed edge for the floor, and then I used the flat edge on the underside of the tile. The flat edge of the trowel is just to, as you say... put a very thin layer of thinset. I actually scrape it... I really just want it in all the cracks so like you said, it has something to adhere to. Absolutely correct!
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Old 03-20-2018, 07:54 PM   #5
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Re: Kitchen tiling questions


Got it then. (So far as I know to ask.) If everything goes well I should start laying tile tomorrow.

Thanks again.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:29 PM   #6
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Re: Kitchen tiling questions


OK, well I didn't start laying the tile as I said I would. Questions came up and so on and my wife is now re-thinking what she wants on the floor. I'll be posting a separate question (or more) in a bit. Stand by because the tile may still be our choice. Thanks for your patience in this further episode of Chaotic Living.
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