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Discussion Starter #1
I am wanting to lay marble floor tile in the foyer of a house we are renovating. I admit I have never laid floor tile before. I am relatively "handy," enjoy woodworking and working on cars, and have done several other jobs during our renovation. I am also a surgeon so have good attention to detail (ok....I'm a little obsessive-compulsive or anal) and am plenty intelligent to learn things. However, I have never laid tile.

I have 2 questions I would appreciate honest answers to:
1) Is it unreasonable for a person like myself to try to lay this tile? I have read about it and think it sounds like a job I can handle but I don't want to tackle it if laying tile is way too ambitious.
2) I will need to clip one corner of every tile. I know I need a wet saw to do this and that you can rent them. However, given the pace at which I will be working, random times, and the fact that for better or worse I hate renting and just like to buy things I would prefer to just buy the saw. What saw would you guys recommend? Any links to where I can buy them would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance for your help and advice!
 

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We walk a lot of first time tilers through the job----

Marble requires a very stiff floor--so you need to tell us about the floor structure--

Marble is set with a narrow grout line---so the floor must be flat--very flat----

As to saws---those are 12x12 so an overhead cutting saw would be the first choice--
But almost any saw --bridge saw or under mount saw will do if equipped with a marble blade.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much for the response! I'm always appreciative of people like you guys who are willing to lend your expertise in these chatrooms.

The floor is an issue that I wasn't going to bring up until I decided whether or not to tackle the job. Since it sounds like it is do-able for me, let me start. When we bought the house there was ceramic tile from the late 70's. I chipped that up along with the thinset. When we got down to the subfloor, it was plywood that some people told me was too thin so I'm currently ripping that up. Underneath that is heart pine hardwood, which is laid directly on the joists. My tentative plan was to rip up the plywood and get down to the heart pine. Over that I was going to do thinset, then ditra, then thinset, then marble tile. I am ripping up more subfloor today so I will keep you guys posted and add some pictures. I will know more about being level after the subfloor comes up. We may have some issues there as well.

As for the saws, I did some quick internet searching and it looks like the prices aren't unreasonable, but I'm still not sure what I am looking at or for. Can anyone elaborate more? I am familiar with saws for woodworking but am totally in the dark on cutting anything non-wood. If the overhead is the best, I would lean towards that. Just so I understand, I do need a wet saw regardless of which kind, right? I will say that while I don't want to spend an absurd amount, I do like buy quality, commercial grade items. I like having quality that will last and do a great job as long as it will not costs thousands or dollars.

Thanks so much once again!
 

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Tileguy
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DrDIYer,

That is not the way you'll want to proceed. You need some structural plywood over the planks. No Ditra or concrete board over planks.

I'm about to leave my desk so more details later. Meanwhile I'm sure someone will tell you more.

Jaz
 

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The floor structure---it must not flex----(deflection) so first we need :
The size of your floor joists
Grade or species--(Hemlock--fir--pine--other?)
Spacing--12"--16"--24"--???
Unsupported length---how far from the foundation to the beam?

Then we will address the sub floor---
 

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I have 2 questions I would appreciate honest answers to:
1) Is it unreasonable for a person like myself to try to lay this tile? I have read about it and think it sounds like a job I can handle but I don't want to tackle it if laying tile is way too ambitious.
2) I will need to clip one corner of every tile. I know I need a wet saw to do this and that you can rent them. However, given the pace at which I will be working, random times, and the fact that for better or worse I hate renting and just like to buy things I would prefer to just buy the saw. What saw would you guys recommend? Any links to where I can buy them would be appreciated!

Head to Lowes and buy a good, middle-end saw if you're going to be doing this a lot.

Head to Home Depot and buy a Ryobi porcelain/ceramic/stone cutting table if you're going to be doing this once or twice. Much lower end, but respectable and will do the job. Loan it to your friends. Just make sure the low-ender you buy handles stone and marble, and you get the right blade.

What you need is a surgeon's focus when handling the saw. Don't bull**** with people; wear safety goggles, watch the blade, be aware of what you're doing. That's all. Power tools are not dangerous until you look away and yammer at the hot bikini carwash babe and cut your hand off.

Other than that, building floors is easy. Just remember marble is very soft and vulnerable to acids. Ceramic is harder; porcelain is a very hard type of ceramic, highly stable. The most important part of any job is to do the right job and to do the job right. Marble is a respectable material, just be aware of its limitations--like using unfinished oak wood instead of alox-finished hickory, which is harder wood with a hard finish that resists staining and water. We can't make every floor and every furniture surface out of granite and expect it to look good.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I will work on more specifics on the floor for you guys so you can guide me. I misspoke before--the plan was to put subfloor back down then the thinset, ditra, thinset, tile. There was also a suggestion that I should pull up the heart pine planks and put subfloor directly over top that and forget the ditra. I've gotten many different opinions so far which I why I came here.

About the saw, I looked at Home Depot last night and they have a 7" Ridgid saw with stand for $469. I see there are a ton of portable saws you sit on the ground or a table for much less. I would probably draw the line around $700-$800 for a nice saw but am willing to spend that much because I'm saving 2-3x's that much doing this myself (so I feel justified in adding tools to the shop:yes:) Will 7" work well? Can I do it with the 4"? Or, do I need to go to 10"? Two things that are important to me are 1) making sure it does a great job on the tile and 2) that it is easy to make reliable cuts and is safe. I will have to clip the corner of every tile in a reliable manner so the easier it is to set it up and make the same cut over and over again the better.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I spent some time tonight ripping up plywood and wanted to give some specifics on floor structure in hopes a few of you can give me your opinions on how to proceed.

My floor joists are 2x8's. I believe they are mostly heart pine, although some of them are just pine. They are spaced 16 inches. Overtop the joists is pine tongue and groove planks. Furthermore, I do not have exact measurements yet but I am definitely going to have some leveling issues.

So, should I...
Option 1) Lay new subfloor, followed by thinset, then ditra, and lastly thinset and marble tile. And if so, at what stage do I level the floor and how? Or...
Option 2) Rip up the old pine planks, level the joists with shims, put down solid subfloor with or without ditra. Or...
Option 3) Shut up and listen to someone who knows what they are talking about and do something totally different.

The core of my house was built in 1850. There was total renovation and some additions in 1978. I think I have ripped out all the renovated materials at this point and everything left (the pine planks and joists) are the old house.
 

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You didn't give us the unsupported length of the joists---these doll floor joists--are they rough sawn 'true' 2x8s?

Post a couple of pictures if you can---antique houses tend to be unique and seldom fit into our span charts---

As to the subfloor? I suggest that you leave the pine 1x6 and overlay that with 1/2 or 3/4" bc plywood (exposure 1--exterior)

I'll leave the leveling and Ditra to Jaz--I am not experienced with it---

Your saw? The size of the table is the key----you are going to be making a bunch of clip corners---will a 12x12 tile sit on that table on a diagonal?

I would use my bridge saw for that---but the clip could be done on an over head saw if the table is large enough.
 

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I have used that saw you were looking at and yes it will work fine for what you want. Another thing about marble to be aware of is the color as this makes a diff. in what thin set you use.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the feedback. As for the unsupported length...forgive me for my ignorance, but I need a little more information on what information you need from me. I don't completely understand what I need to tell you.

I believe what I have would classify as "rough sawn" 2x8's. But, I'll post a few pictures...let me try to take some today. May be hard to do in the crawl space below but I'll try.

I agree leaving the pine planks sounds like a good idea but I just didn't know how to level it if we do that and still get the stability I need.

As for the saw, I'm going to start a new thread about as well as other tools that I need that so people can chime in but I'm leaning towards the 10" Dewalt...may be a bit overkill but I think it should do everything I need to do.

Thanks once again for the help. I really do appreciate you guys taking the time to lend a hand!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Also, we are using white carrara. Each tile with me cliped on the corner and there will be a black 2x2 tile placed in the middle of 4 clipped corners to form a black "dot." I know green marble is hard to deal with, let me know if there are any special considerations for white carrara.
 

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Tileguy
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DrDIYer,

The word span means the distance of the two objects that support the joists, usually one is the foundation wall, the other the center beam. Measure accurately, although since your house is very old our answer may not be as accurate as usual.

Your choice of Carrara Marble means the joists and subfloor need to be very stiff and very flat. It's also soft, requires lots of maintenance and is liable to stain and turn yellow under certain conditions.

So, give us the framing info, your plans for the subfloor and the new underlayment. I like Ditra better than CBU's. Any leveling with cementitious material is done before Ditra, but after CBU. (concrete backer unit).

Jaz
 

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DRDIYer,

what Mike is asking for I believe is the length of the floor joists from support to support (what supports the joists from below?). Marble tile typically requires only 1/2 of the deflection (sag) in a floor joist as allowed by most building codes. Typically marble tiles require a stronger floor than other finishes or you run the risk of cracking tiles (notice I said tiles and not grout).

do you have a full basement, or do you have a crawl space?

actually take a tape and measure the joists to the closets 1/8" (width, depth) and post that along with the length of the floor joists (from support to support). Based upon the wood species, dimension of the joists and the unsupported span of the joists the deflection (sag) limits can be calculated and determined if the deflection meets the tile requirements, or if additional joists must be added.

Make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I hear you loud and clear! Thanks for the clarification. My house does have a "cellar" but this portion of the house is built over crawl space. I will get down there and take some good measurements and let you guys know what I find. Thanks for your help!
 

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One question that probably has an obvious answer but I don't know it....besides size and cost (and I guess larger motors in general) what is the difference between a 10" saw and a 7" saw??? I was thinking about it like a sliding miter saw but I guess each would have the same "reach" unlike with miter saws. I was told by someone that the 10 inch blade will wobble more, which would make it LESS accurate, right? The other thing I was told was that 10" saws can be used to cut pavers. However, in another thread someone specifically said you wouldn't use a saw like (for example) the Dewalt 10" wet saw to cut pavers. I am confused....please help!
 

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Tileguy
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Hey Doc let's clear up a few things. You are moving kinda fast and getting your information from way too many sources.

First things first.
Your 2X8 floor joists could be problematic. A natural stone floor requires twice the structural support as what is required for a ceramic tile floor. You MUST eliminate any deflection. Ceramic tile requires 1/360 whereas stone tile requires 1/720.

Need to know (for sure) the exact size of the floor joists.
Are they 2X8 (1-1/2" X 7-1/4") or are they 2X8 (2" X 8")?
Are they (for sure) spaced 16" on center (14-1/4" between the joists)?
What is the unsupported span of the joists from one support to the next support?

To make matters worse you have chosen Carrerra marble. Carrerra is very popular but it is also the "artists choice" when doing stone carvings and sculptures like you see in art museums. It is very soft and that makes it tool-able, but in platen form it is very weak.

If you go by the book then you should have two layers of plywood. Since you already have a slatted subfloor then I would suggest you use nothing less than 3/4" exterior grade Exposure-1 plywood. Screw it only to the slats and intentionally miss the floor joists with your screws. Over the plywood the use of Schluter DITRA would be a good idea.

Whoever told you 10" saw blades wobble is inexperienced and I would stay away from taking advice from that person. Any saw blade can be made to wobble if it is abused. A good 10" blade will not wobble just because it is a 10" blade, that is nonsense.

My guess is you will be doing more tiling once you get over your case of nerves, so buy a good saw. I would suggest either a 10" saw or even an 8" saw. A rail saw will have a size-able table and will do a lot of things you can't do with a smaller saw. Especially if you are clipping a lot of corners in this case.

Do you have a Menard's Home Improvement store in your area?

By-the-way...I have several 10" tile saws and I have cut pavers with them for many years - so that too is nonsense.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Bud-That was an extremely informative and clear post...thank you very much! I love getting opinions but when you don't have your own opinion you can quickly become disoriented. I am appreciative of everyone's help...I just have to get up to speed.

With that said, let's start with some facts and decisions...

It inspired me to go crawl around the dark, scary crawl space and get some solid numbers...I had partially lied before as I was lied to by my contractor....here is the verdict:

2x10 floor joists (yes, 10, not 8 as my contractor told me, which I assume is good news). They are old but appear solid. Real life measurements ring in at 1-7/8"x9-3/4".

They are in fact spaced 16 inches apart reliably from center of one joist to center of the next.

The unsupported span is 11'2".

In light of the info you provided about saws, I lean strongly towards the Dewalt 10" wet saw. I'm sold on 10" and planning to spend somewhere in the $700-$800 range. I'm open to other options.

The last decision where I have gotten tons of varying opinions is whether I should proceed with marble or back out and use porcelain. Cost is not an issue, I don't mind the extra work to secure the floor, but I just wonder if marble is suitable for foyer that is the main path in and out of the house where several kids live. The opinions on that have been very mixed...I want to use marble, but just want to make sure it is a reasonable choice for the daily wear and tear.

I'm eager to hear opinions on any of that, especially how to proceed with the floor. The last unknown I probably need to provide is how level and flat the floor is. I know there is some slope, although the floor is flat. I can get specific measurements in order to help you guys help me.

Thanks again!
 

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Tileguy
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Okay Doc here's what you are up against.

Marble is a beautiful thing, Carrerra marble especially so in my opinion.

Unfortunately marble has some weaknesses. As previously mentioned it is soft and subject to scratching. With the type of shoes most all of us wear these days the shoe soles can collect rocks and debris and these foreign objects can scratch any floor. An "entry" is your homes first contact with the outside and therefore most vulnerable to scratching from foot-traffic.

The next thing is marble is also vulnerable to even the mildest of acids. If you are in a freeze zone then you can easily track-in ice melting products that could wreak havoc with a marble tile.

Another thing is that marble tile generally has a high gloss finish - - that in my opinion is asking for trouble.

My suggestion would be to look around at some "real tile shops" and find a good porcelain tile. Porcelain tile is made these days to mimic every stone imaginable. You won't find the vast-variety at a big box store usually.

Porcelain tile is the hardest of the hard tiles and if installed properly will out-live us all.

If you have access to a Menard's they have their own tile saw that is (for the money) the best tile saw on the market. A little over $400 will buy the Menard's saw. It is an 8" saw but it is also a bridge saw with a floating head and will take big tiles. The saw comes with it's own fold up stand and also has a laser light cutting guide. I own several saws of all sizes and this little Menard's saw is the best I have ever owned for the price.
 

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Tileguy
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By-the-way...

With the updated information your floor structure is fine for marble if that's what you decide to do.:thumbup:
 
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