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I am currently redoing the kitchen floor in my condo and laying 13x20 porcelain tile on the condo's second floor concrete slab. I purchased a 50lb bag of Custom Building self-leveling cement and a 50lb bag of Custom Building porcelain/large-tile mortar from Home Depot. Ideally i would like to mix a smaller portion of each bag to practice with an do a trial run before committing to an entire 50lb bag's worth of product that would then have to be used in a 10-30min span.

I called Custom Building about their cement and they said that their bags can't be mixed in less than 50lb increments because the powder isn't even all the way through and i might get uneven results. I didn't ask about the mortar but since the directions are the same i am assuming that they are going to give me the same answer. So my question is if this is just a sales tactic on their part and i can in fact mix smaller portions or if i will really would have to mix the entire 50lb bag on my first try and hope everything goes smoothly? Any one have experience with mixing either of these two products in smaller portions?
 

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I am currently redoing the kitchen floor in my condo and laying 13x20 porcelain tile on the condo's second floor concrete slab. I purchased a 50lb bag of Custom Building self-leveling cement and a 50lb bag of Custom Building porcelain/large-tile mortar from Home Depot. Ideally i would like to mix a smaller portion of each bag to practice with an do a trial run before committing to an entire 50lb bag's worth of product that would then have to be used in a 10-30min span.

I called Custom Building about their cement and they said that their bags can't be mixed in less than 50lb increments because the powder isn't even all the way through and i might get uneven results. I didn't ask about the mortar but since the directions are the same i am assuming that they are going to give me the same answer. So my question is if this is just a sales tactic on their part and i can in fact mix smaller portions or if i will really would have to mix the entire 50lb bag on my first try and hope everything goes smoothly? Any one have experience with mixing either of these two products in smaller portions?
I don't think its a sales tactic..listen to them they would know best its their product...:yes::yes: oh and by the way follow the instruction on the bag its not that hard to do ..
 

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I don't think its a sales tactic..listen to them they would know best its their product...:yes::yes: oh and by the way follow the instruction on the bag its not that hard to do ..
Alright Ben let's go over this again, I fully understand the instructions on the bag, but being in condo I do not NEED 50lbs of product at any given time nor would i be able to USE that much before it dried even if i did have the need for it. What i need is about 10lbs worth, but it doesn't come in those size bags. Perhaps you should reread my post again, as you said, it's not that hard :wink:
 

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Understanding what the manufacture said;

The individual components of the mix may not be thoroughly mixed within the bag.

To counter that you would have to empty the entire bag into a large enough vessel so as to be able to thouroughly mix the components.


Then, if you do any baking you will understand the following;

There is not always a direct ratio of reduction or increase when reducing or increasing a recipe. Especially when dealing with wet components being added to dry components you can get a situation where a same ratio reduction results in a mix that is too thin or too thick. It has to do with the absorbtion properties of the dry materials. You could end up with the same issue with mixing a partial bag of the products you have. An experienced person can often adjust the ratios "by eye" but being inexperienced you would not have that history of using the material to be able to adjust the consistency accurately. It may not cause a problem but then again, it might create a problem you don't even realize is a problem until years down the road when the product fails prematurely.


Personally I would give it a shot (reduced quantity) but then again I have worked with people that have absolutely no common sense when reading directions, especially those that might speak to resulting consistancy of the mixed product.


Btw; there is actually a scientific theory to explain the "not mixed" statemebt. It also explains why mixed nuts will stratify and become "unmixed" nuts. Particles in a mix will settle based on size and weight so as to result in an unmixed condition.
 

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@nap - thanks, that is actually what i am getting prepared to do, dump the leveling cement into a 5gal bucket, slap a lid on it and roll it around for a while. Then measure out a quart of the powder and weigh it. Due that several times and i should get a consistent weight within a several grams if the powder is mixed thoroughly. I can then use it to calculate my ratio. And as you mentioned with baking, there are key ratios with baking but even when followed they won't always turn out right because of all the environmental factors involved. Same here, there are so many problems that could occur if i mixed the full 50lb bag anyway, at least this way there won't be as much to scrape/ grind up if it goes horribly wrong. Plus at $50 per bag im going to have to come up with another solution if it can't be mixed in small quantities anyway as i am trying to fill a bunch of small depressions not float the entire floor.
 

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Alright Ben let's go over this again, I fully understand the instructions on the bag, but being in condo I do not NEED 50lbs of product at any given time nor would i be able to USE that much before it dried even if i did have the need for it. What i need is about 10lbs worth, but it doesn't come in those size bags. Perhaps you should reread my post again, as you said, it's not that hard :wink:
then next time say you don't the whole bag....you said ideally i would like to mix small portions to practice with 1st before commiting to a bag....as you said ...go practice before you start giving the people who want to help you an attitude... I KNOW HOW TO MIX AND DON't NEED ANY PRACTICE..good luck
 

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Tileguy
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Okay benw301,

Before you barge ahead without knowing what you are doing let's see if we can help a little.

First of all if you are working with a second floor condo floor you are working with existing light-weight concrete, probably a product called Gypcrete. You cannot install tile directly to Gypcrete without first preparing the Gypcrete. Tile mortar will not stick to Gypcrete.

Next thing is you probably don't want to use Self Leveling Compound (SLC). SLC is (almost) never the correct product for a job such as this if the existing is light-weight concrete. So why don't you try to explain what it is you are doing?

You cannot mix SLC in small amounts with any success. A Portland-based cement patching compound is the correct choice, not SLC.

Tile thinset can be mixed in any portion you desire. I have been in the tile installation business for almost forty years and I have never once mixed a full bag of thinset to do a job. I don't know why that genius at Custom would even tell you that. No one in the trade mixes thinset fifty pounds at a time. You have more than thirty minutes to work with what you mix, probably an easy four hours if you need it.


So why don't you help us to help you?

Give up some of your secret information.
 

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How big are these areas you're trying to get flat with the SLC? Shallow areas can be floated with thinset.

I don't mix full bags of mortar, unless I have a large field of full tile to set. I've never had problems with making small batches. Mix mortar at a slow speed for the recommended amount of time, let it sit as directed, and then mix again. That will greatly increase the pot life of the material, and extend its consistency.
 

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Of course some larger tile installations mix full bags, but most guys working by themselves mix smaller. Personally I never mix a full bucket, even if only for the fact that mixing a full bucket simply puts too much torque on the bucket and I can't even hold it still with my feet and I'm not sure my drill could handle it.

While technically it might be true that some contents shift around in a bag, I think the stuff is more or less homogenized. I understand the larger particle theory with nuts etc, but I really don't think you need to worry about that here. If you have a concern, then just mix the powder around in a bucket for awhile, then take a small quantity of it into another bucket to mix.

It's a good idea to use the formula on the package the first time or 2, so you know about what the texture of thinset mix should be, but after that, I don't know anyone who measures water into the powder. Each person mixes it the way they like it. Stir, add a couple ounces water more, stir, add a bit of powder more, etc. There are times I might want it a little thinner or thicker depending on weather, how I'm applying, etc. When installing Ditra/Kerdi, it's always mixed a little thinner. You are probably better off Googling for how thinset should look and feel rather than relying on the formula anyway.
 

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This is a really interesting thread as I had so much trouble finding the sweet spot when mixing mortar for my large format tile. I sometimes had a partly left over bag and used that first before opening a new one. I wonder if that's why I had vastly different consistencies even when I measured things out with a measuring cup and electronic scale.
 

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Tileguy
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Beej,

Which mortar did you use for your large tiles? I don't see how you could have
had vastly different consistencies
even though you went to the unnecessary steps of using a
measuring cup and electronic scale.
It's true there can be a slight variation in the amount of liquid required when mixing mortar and grout due to ambient differences when it's done on different days. But not "vastly".

Are you saying you used up the partial bag only, then opened another bag and mixed a different batch, or did you add the new to the open one?

I believe the only way the contents of these products can get separated (sand from pigment), is if they're transported a long distance AND the bags are standing instead of laying flat. Even then the bag would have to have been re-shaped so it was loose around the contents. This is why some bags tell you to dry-mix before using.

Measuring cup and electronic scale.............. You're wasting lots of time, that's not necessary. But I get why, are you past that stage?

Jaz
 

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The reason that I used the measuring cup and electronic scale is because I couldn't seem to get the right consistency using their ratios. It seemed impossible to get that much dry mortar in with the water that is in the formula. It was almost stalling my 1/2" drill as it was getting so thick. I ended up calling the Proline number and they said it was ok to add a little bit of water after the initial mix (which goes against what is written on the bag.)

It's amazing how much you realize what you don't know once you come up against something new. ;^)
 

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Tileguy
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The reason that I used the measuring cup and electronic scale is because I couldn't seem to get the right consistency using their ratios. It seemed impossible to get that much dry mortar in with the water that is in the formula. It was almost stalling my 1/2" drill as it was getting so thick. I ended up calling the Proline number and they said it was ok to add a little bit of water after the initial mix (which goes against what is written on the bag.)

It's amazing how much you realize what you don't know once you come up against something new. ;^)
Jheeezh Beej, you are making way too much of this. Start with clean water in a clean bucket, maybe about 48 ounces of water then start adding your powder as you mix. You can't go wrong. If you are bogging down your mixer you are probably mixing backwards. Good way to ruin a mixer in short-order! Start with the water, throw away any recipes you might have conjured up. I measure my water with a sixteen ounce coffee cup from McDonald's.
 

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Just to stress what Bud just said; Always add da powder to da water, not 'backwards' as we suspect.

I think you're worried to make sure you don't add anything after the initial mix and are getting gray hairs to figure out the right formula. The 'initial' mix starts once you finish mixing to start the "slake" period. You should not add water or powder after the slake, but tweaking while still mixing is ok.

Bud; you actually measure water? I always eye-ball it.

Jaz
 
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I've tried mixing some CBP mortars with the recommended ratios, and found it way to dry, and heavy.

Jaz is a pro, and really can see what the consistency should be, without measuring. You'll be close yourself with some experience.

Add water before slaking. Avoid adding any water afterwards. That can dramatically reduce the bonding strength of the mortar. If you work slow, and your bucket of material has started to light off, toss the contents and mix a new batch. Depending on how much tile you intend to lay, and how fast you install, will determine how much you mix. It takes practice, and with enough of it you'll waste less, and your mortar will always be consistent, and predictable.
 

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Bud; you actually measure water? I always eye-ball it.
Jaz

Oh hell no I don't measure it! I also am no longer interested in hefting a thirty or forty pound bucket of water either. I always have a McDonald's cup so I dip water with that. I also no longer lift fifty pound bags of thinset. I use a scoop.

My reference to the forty-eight ounces of water was simply because I know three cups of water will get the guy started when he brings it up to par with the powder. It actually takes six or seven cups to yield a half bucket (3-1/2 gal) of mixed thinset. I have never measured water or powder when mixing thinset.

Now SLC is an entirely different thing, I always measure that accurately, but that isn't what we are talking about.

I'd say just mix some thinset to a near-correct consistency and be done with it. Thinset can be very forgiving if you don't get too anal about it.
 

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Thinset is a little more forgiving if you mix it a bit on the wet side, but if you mix on the dry side, you can get very poor tile adhesion, partly because it isn't gooey enough to stick to the tile well, and partly because you won't compress the ridges as well. I have literally been able to lift tiles off by hand when the tile was installed over dry-ish thinset. Granted, they probably left the combed thinset sit too long before tiling, as well.
 
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