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RE: Grout issues in new bathroom (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: mongoct on 10.14.2012 at 10:39 am in Bathrooms Forum

It's difficult to advise you on how to proceed with repairs when I don't know the methods used in the existing failed construction. Regardless, grab a cup...okay, maybe a pot...of coffee. Here we go:

If he did a conventional CPE or CPVC sheet membraned shower, this link to Harry Dunbar's site shows how it should be built.

Things to note in Harry's pictorial:

1) A sloped deck mud bed (the "preslope") was placed UNDER the membrane. This now causes the membrane to slope to the drain. Any moisture that does get under the tile and into the upper mud bed will eventually get to the sloped membrane. Due to the slope it will flow to the drain and go through the secondary weep holes in the drain and then go down the drain.

2) Note his details about using tile spacers around the weep holes in the drain. A small handful of pea stone could be used too. Regardless of what is used, the voids created by the spacers help residual water easily flow through the weep holes.

Weep holes can be difficult to understand. Different drains have different methods. But the goal is to not seal them up. Do not pack deck mud tightly against them or in them.

I'll show a couple of clamping drains:

In the photo above, the weep holes are the ring of small holes that surround the threaded part of this drain.

In the photo below, there are weep holes like above, plus you can see the channel in the edge as well:

There's sometimes a little weep hole drainage gap or slot inside the recess for the bolt as well.

In this next series (also from Harry's site), note how the membrane was cut at the drain. The membrane gets clamped between the two halves of the drain, thus the name of the drain: a two-part clamping drain.

In the photo below, it looks all nice and neat in terms of how cleanly the bolts come through the membrane, doesn't it? Such wonderfully meticulous and clean work!

The problem is the membrane is so tight to the threaded bolts that the membrane itself will seal the weep holes closed when the drain is clamped. With the upper part of the drain now bolted on, you can't see the weep holes. And neither can water:

In the previous example, the "nice and neat work" resulted in the membrane actually sealing the weep holes closed. Water that gets into the mud bed will be held there, resulting in a saturated bed that can grow some absolutely awful stuff. Creature From the Black Lagoon stuff. Even if this is what happened with your shower, your shower isn't terribly old, so you may be better off regarding the funky stuff.

In the next photo you can see the membrane is cut in a "U" shape around the bolts, exposing the weep holes next to the bolts. The holes are tough to see:

Now when the clamping ring gets installed, the weep holes are open. It's tough to see in those photos, but you can see a dark spot (weep hole) in the bolt recess:

Here's an example of clogged weep holes. Mud packed into each and every crevice of the drain:

Again, I don't know how your shower was built. So the preceding could be a part of your problem. Or it may not be. But it's a bit of a primer on why the membrane needs to be sloped, clamping drains, and weep holes.

"I now see that the mold growing up the wall grout (It seemed awfully soon for so much mold! Ick) could be related."

That's usually a sign of a saturated mud bed, and that your tile guy buried the bottom edge of the cement board in the mud bed, or "pinched" the cement board between the mud bed and the wall studs. The bed is saturated. Because the bottom edge of the cement board is buried in the deck mud, water can wick up the cement board on the walls via capillary action, saturating the grout from behind. The high moisture level in the mud bed results in perpetually moist grout on the lower part of the walls.

"We need to be certain that the pan (or liner?) isn't damaged by the tearout?"

I hate to say this, but I never advise reusing a salvaged membrane. The membrane is your last resort in terms of protecting your house's structure from water damage. During demo there will be...demo...going on. Violent demolition. Or gentle demolition. It's still demolition. Even though a salvaged membrane may look fine? Replace it. That's my advice. You simply have to chalk it up as a cost of failed construction.

"Could any of the floor or wall tile be salvagable?"

It could. You may need to grind any thinset off the back of the tile so it can be cleanly reset. Any cured thinset globs or blobs or smears will essentially create a tile with uneven thickness. That could result in lippage issues when reused. So it's an "it depends" answer. They could be reused. But there could be issues with reusing them.

Now one last thing: there are ways to repair clogged weep holes. But your floor is "squishy", and a squishy floor means movement. That's usually the death knell for a shower floor in terms of a repair versus a replacement. Movement usually means replacement.

Best, Mongo


Shower how to .. MUST read
clipped on: 10.15.2012 at 09:09 pm    last updated on: 10.15.2012 at 09:10 pm

Bill V, Mongo, & other tile experts - tiled windowsill questions

posted by: janealexa on 11.17.2011 at 10:42 am in Bathrooms Forum

Hello! I originally posted this in kitchens a while ago, but I am reposting here...

I am considering doing a tumbled stone (travertine or marble) 2x4 kitchen backplash which will wrap into the window sill area like kitchenaddict's sill (KA, hope you don't mind me
referring to your beautiful kitchen!)

Crema Marfil Tumbled Marble Backsplash

In general, do you recommend caulking any part of the sill area? Should there be caulk at any plane changes (@ sides of sill or back of sill where horizontal and vertical surfaces meet)?

On the flat horizontal surface of the sill, can I do caulk (same color as grout) instead of grout so it is easy to keep clean?

Is there a product that will seal the stone and grout at the same time?

Thank you in advance!


love the sink
clipped on: 11.20.2011 at 05:23 pm    last updated on: 11.20.2011 at 05:23 pm

RE: Treatment to Make Glass Less Green? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: zinnah on 03.24.2011 at 12:14 pm in Bathrooms Forum

We have a half inch Starfire glass panel that looks completely clear with no green tint. We also have a diamond fusion coating to resist spotting. One of my great fears was having to squeegee after each use since I am inherently neatness challenged. No need, a cleaning every 2 weeks suffices. Great stuff.


clipped on: 09.16.2011 at 12:38 am    last updated on: 09.16.2011 at 12:38 am

How to properly vent a bathroom fan

posted by: oklahomagreg on 01.30.2011 at 09:33 am in Bathrooms Forum

During my home inspection the inspector noticed that the builder (years ago) had vented the bathroom fans into the attic but not out the top of the roof. It looks like just regular dryer type venting, not insulated. So, I need to know how to properly vent it. I find conflicting advice on the net. I've seen things that say that if it's a short distance from ceiling to roof vent hole that I can use the uninsulated pipe but that if its a longer distance then I should use insulated pipe. But, aren't vents supposed to be on the upper 1/3 of the roof (why is this)? I've also seen one place that recommended it be vented out the soffit. There is no problem currently with any condensation dripping back into the house and I don't want to create one.


clipped on: 08.21.2011 at 01:35 pm    last updated on: 08.21.2011 at 01:36 pm

Kitchen Islands - Lets See Your Pics

posted by: cookpr on 12.31.2008 at 08:19 pm in Kitchens Forum

Searched and could not find a massive thread devoted to ALL islands, any shape, color, size or form.

Planning a kitchen for a new construction and want to see what all you creative people came up with.

Lets see those islands!! The more pics, the better!!


clipped on: 08.15.2011 at 02:43 pm    last updated on: 08.15.2011 at 02:43 pm

Question About Shower Tile Edge - for tile gurus? [with pics]

posted by: ladoladi on 05.17.2011 at 08:39 am in Bathrooms Forum


I'm hoping someone can help me out with a problem in my newly tiled master bath shower. I'm not quite sure what the problem is or what the fix is; I just know when I look at it, it looks wrong. Please excuse the mess in these pictures. We're still in the midst of painting and the Silestone ledge still has to be installed.

This is the bottom edge of the outer shower wall where it meets a pony wall. Aside from the primer that leaked through under the blue painter's tape and the little bit of thinset?/"mud" edge that is visible, it seems alright.

However, as you move up the same edge, the thinset?/mud grows thicker and more visible.

Now, our tile setter explained this was going to happen to some degree. He told us our wall wasn't even/flat/plumb and that he was going to have to "float it out" (his words). What we didn't expect was that it was going to look so UNFINISHED, especially once the paint was on and the thinset?/"mud" edge was no longer blending into the fresh plaster.

Is there a fix? A cover-up? Did our tile guy mess up? Is this just something people live with when renovating old houses with crazy walls? Do I just paint over that thinset?/"mud" edge and cross my fingers?

On the bright side, it's in the far corner of the bathroom and very few people will see it...except me when I sit at the makeup counter, where it will torment for days, and months, and years without end. =P


wall tiles flush with sheetrock
clipped on: 08.07.2011 at 07:39 pm    last updated on: 08.07.2011 at 07:39 pm

my bathroom. I'll post from start to finish

posted by: folkman on 06.05.2008 at 11:01 am in Bathrooms Forum

I really enjoy the forum and starting my own bathroom so I thought I would post my progress through the whole process.

Some background. The house dates from 1969 and only had one previous owner. I have done some cosmetic work so far-ripping out all the old flower wallpaper, painting the walls and changing the wall sconces. Even took down and refinished the medicine cabinet. So its actually a nice size (11 x 8) and something my boys and I can live with. Its a small house and I am saving to add a second floor so I am trying to do any changes that I can not only do myself but won't be affected by the later edition. (right now I share a bedroom with my youngest son and that will only go so far).

Right now this is the master bath (and the only full bath). When the upstairs is completed this will be a full bath for the one bedroom still on the first floor.

I am planning on doing most of the work myself. My girlfriend and I have been shopping for bargains. We bought all the tile at Home Depot. A 13 x 13 porcelin tile for the floor and 4/4 tumbled marble for the shower. Bought some nice accent pieces for a strip and bought a niche online for the tile guy to use (I'll take shots of these and post later).

After a long debate with myself I decided to have a tile person do all that work. If it was just the floor, I think I could tackle it but I was nervous about the shower area and especially the pan (don't want any leaks). The price was good I think, just over $2,000 to do it all. That takes a bite out of the budget but in the long run I think it will be better.

In the pictures you can see the room is surrounded by tile. I'll be gutting the room (in 2 weeks!). I'll replace the bottom half of the walls with PVC beadboard and a chair rail. I am trying to keep the upper walls as is with little to no damage (I hope). The tub will stay. I bought a new toilet, a TOTO brand that has had great reviews. The room has a bidet and although I did try it (once) I will remove it.

I do woodworking as a hobby and never really build furniture (mostly sheds and outbuildings) I am building the vanity and linen tower (with great frustration but still fun). I have an image of the vanity (if you notice the drawers look a bit crooked it must be the photo ;).

We found this great expresso brown paint at Home Depot and I am happy with the color (the floor and shower tiles are a nice beige). The tiles on the vanity I found from a tile maker whose work I always loved ( I was thinking of using her tile in the kitchen someday as accent tiles on the backsplash and may still but I thought they would look good on the vanity.

I was just going to keep the medicine cabinet but I prefered a build in unit with doors rather than the old sliding mirrors. I was going to attempt building it myself but I found a guy on Ebay who will build them to your size at a fair price so I had him make one. I'll post a picture of that soon. His "expresso" didn't match what I was using so I am refinishing the brand new piece with the same color of the vanity (kind of anal but it would always bother me).

We found a great granite remnant place that had small and some large pieces and we found a great piece for the vanity top. I hate to keep saying "beige" but I'll post a picture of it (the tiles and counter top are all earthly colors). It will have a white pedestal sink I found online on top with wall mounted faucets. We went to a faucet showroom to pick the fixtures out but thought the prices were high (all Grohe and they are never cheap but well made). So we went home and found them all online for $400 less (even with shipping)! Well we called the showroom we had gone to and they matched the price! So it pays to look around.

I do have a friend who will do the plumbing but I am not really moving any fixtures so I hope its not too expensive.

I start in 2 weeks since my kids will be on vacation with their mother and I didn't want to inconvienence all of us. But I know it will be several weeks/a month to get it back together. Luckily we have a 1/2 bath also in the house. I have been in touch with both plumber and tile guy to work out the schedules (plumber in as soon as we gut the room, then tile guy, then plumber again). We'll see if it works out.

So this is just the start. I'll post images after June 22 when the room is gutted (as gutted as needed I should say). But I'll post more images tomorrow of tile, medicine cabinet, etc.

I'll keep you all up to date as it moves on with all the ups and downs!







clipped on: 07.27.2011 at 09:21 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2011 at 09:22 pm

RE: Curious about text in messages (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: buehl on 01.23.2008 at 05:33 pm in Kitchens Forum

LOL! It took me a while to figure it out as 13-yo son told me how.

You user HTML codes surrounded by angle brackets (< and >)

You put a "beginning" code where you want the format (Underline, etc.) to start and an "ending" code where you want it to end. The "ending code is the same as the beginning code except you precede it by a slash (/)

Some Codes are:

Bold: strong
Underline: u
Italic: i
Superscript: sup

The following are included in the "font" code:
Color: color = "name of the color, e.g., red, blue, etc.
Font: face = "name of the font e.g., arial"
Size: size = "how much smaller/bigger than normal e.g, -1, +2"

Some examples. Note: take out the space between the bracket and the code. I had to put them in so it would show up instead of using the code!

< strong>Bold< /strong> you...Bold
< u>Underline< /u> you...Underline
< i>Italic< /i> you...Italic
< font color = "blue">Blue< /font> you...Blue
< font face = "arial">Arial< /font> you...Arial
< font size = "+2">Larger< /font> you...Larger
< font color = "red" face = "arial">Arial in red< /font> you...Arial in red

I hope this isn't too "tech-y".....


fonts in messages
clipped on: 07.26.2011 at 07:45 pm    last updated on: 07.26.2011 at 07:45 pm

RE: List of stuff in kitchens? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: buehl on 07.18.2008 at 12:13 am in Kitchens Forum

To indirectly answer your question, here's the storage planning "guide" I came up should help you figure out what you want to store in the kitchen and where.

Once you've finalized your basic design, it's time to analyze your storage needs in each zone. The results of that analysis will drive the size/configuration of your cabinets and drawers. (The following is a general write-up I've come up with...)

  1. First, make a list of everything you plan to store in your new kitchen, regardless of where it's stored, basement, dining room, etc.

  2. Next, take the list and group the items according to function. Will they be used during prep? cooking? baking? cleanup? Some items, like pot holders, may belong in two different zones (in this case, cooking & baking). You can either find storage between the two zones or have duplicates and store one in each zone.

  3. Now, determine where each of your zones will be (prep, cleanup, cooking, baking, storage, etc.)

  4. The next step depends on the stage you are in the design/order process...

  5. If you've already ordered your cabinets, then you will have to work with what you have. So...

    • Identify the storage potential in each zone and list them on a piece of paper with a section for each cabinet (base & upper) and one line per drawer or shelf in that cabinet. This includes your pantry for your "storage" zone.

    • Take the two lists and, while imagining yourself working in each zone, put the dishes, tools, etc. that you will be using in cabinets in that zone. Fill in the lines in the cabinet list with these items.

    If you are still in the design phase, you will have the opportunity to plan your storage to meet your needs in each zone.

    • Take your list and imagine yourself working in each zone.

    • Go through the motions to determine the best locations for each item that will be used and stored in that zone (don't forget that you will probably have both upper and lower cabinets).

    • Now that you know where to put the items, determine what the best way is to store those items (drawer, shelf, etc.) and what size (e.g., pots & pans work best in 30" or 36" drawers)

    • Lastly, transfer what you've done to your design & tweak as necessary.

You should now have a well-thought out and highly functional kitchen!

This not only helps you to "see" how things will fit, but it also will help when you move back into the won't have to think about it, you'll be able to just put things away. It will also be a handy "map" for everyone to help find things the first few weeks w/o having to open every drawer or door!

Oh, and don't forget the Junk Drawer! Most people end up with one, so you may as well plan for it so you at least have control over where it's located!

Common Zones, Appliances In That Zone, and Suggestions For What To Store There:

  • Storage--pantry & refrigerator--tupperware, food, wraps & plastic bags

  • Preparation--sink & trash--utensils, measuring cups/spoons, mixing bowls, colander, jello molds, cutting boards, knives, cook books, paper towels

  • Cooking--cooktop/range & MW--utensils, pot holders, trivets, pots & pans, serving dishes (platters, bowls, etc.), paper towels

  • Baking--ovens/range--utensils, pot holders, trivets, pots & pans, casserole dishes, roasting rack, cooling racks, cookie sheets, foils, rolling pin, cookie cutters, pizza stone, muffin tins, paper towels

  • Cleanup--sink & DW & trash--detergents, linens, dishes & glasses, flatware

  • Eating--island/peninsula/table/nook/DR--table linens, placemats, napkins, dishes & glasses, flatware

  • Utility--broom, dustpan, swifter, mop, cleaning supplies, cloths, flashlights, batteries, extension cords

  • Message Center--phones, charging station, directories/phone books, calendar, desk supplies, dry erase board or chalkboard

Less Common Zones:

  • Tea/Coffee Bar--coffeemaker--mugs, teas/coffees, sugar, teapot

  • Pet Zone--feeding area--food, snacks

Commonly Used Items: pots & pans, utensils, small appliances, linens, pot holders, trivets, dish detergents, "Tupperware", knives, pitchers, water bottles, vases, picnic supplies, cook books, etc.

Foods: Spices, Breads, Flours/Sugars, Teas/Coffees, Potatoes, Onions, Canned Goods, Dry Goods (rice, pasta, etc.), Cereals, Snacks

Small Appliances: Toaster, Stand and/or Hand Mixer, Blender, Breadmaker, Toaster Oven, Food Processor, Crockpot, Waffle Iron, Electric Skillet, Coffeemaker, Coffee Grinder, Ricer, Steamer

NOTE: If your ceiling or one or more of your walls is coming down, consider wiring for speakers, TV, Computer, etc.


Kitchen planning
clipped on: 07.26.2011 at 07:32 pm    last updated on: 07.26.2011 at 07:32 pm

RE: Fantech vs. Panasonic Exhaust Fans (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: susanelewis on 09.22.2010 at 11:28 am in Bathrooms Forum

I suggest adding a timer to the switch for the exhaust. We did and it could only run maximum an hour before it shuts off. FanTech has its own control I believe, or you can get any number of different timers on the market, including the sleek Lutron line.


clipped on: 07.19.2011 at 03:36 pm    last updated on: 07.19.2011 at 03:36 pm

Dumb question: spreading thinset...

posted by: msavold on 09.18.2010 at 12:14 am in Bathrooms Forum

I hope I can describe the problem I seem to be having adequately... when I look at pictures of spread thinset, the 'ridges' are all nice and even and, more importantly, the area between the ridges has a nice even layer of thinset over it. (E.g.: the Kerdi installation handbook pictures.)

Me? I either get (almost) bare substrate between the ridges or, if I ease up the pressure on the trowel, I get an uneven thickness of thinset.

Is it a pressure, thinset mixture, or trowel angle issue - or a bunch of those? For that matter, is it something I should be worrying about?! (BTW, this is for floor tiles)

Thanks folks!


spreading thinset
clipped on: 07.19.2011 at 11:51 am    last updated on: 07.19.2011 at 11:51 am

RE: Heated floor HELP- Bill V or other tile experts (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: davidro1 on 09.15.2010 at 09:40 am in Bathrooms Forum

Perfect thermal isolation is an idealization; there is always some "thermal contact".
The study of heat conduction between solids is thermal contact conductance (or thermal contact resistance).
Thermal contact does not imply direct physical contact.

= TWO factors that combine.

Heat moves in a solid touching other solid matter.
Slab to Tile.
Tile to Slab.




The more general case :


The whole subject can be studied from the opposite point of view.

Placing heat cables on a slab, under tile, means that you are heating the slab and the tile. More about this later.


clipped on: 07.18.2011 at 01:30 pm    last updated on: 07.18.2011 at 01:30 pm

RE: Master Bath Finished (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: qt314b on 07.13.2011 at 02:13 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I love your bathroom - love all the choices you made - stunning. You noted that your bathtub is a Kohler Archer, all the Kohler archers I see online have a ledge around it I guess as kind of an armrest, your bathtub doesn't seem to have it - is it an older model? I definitely like your tub better


Here is a link that might be useful: Archer Tub


clipped on: 07.14.2011 at 09:05 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2011 at 09:05 pm

bathroom tile FAQ's

posted by: bill_vincent on 07.01.2008 at 09:31 pm in Bathrooms Forum

This is going to take me a while, so I'll post as many as I can each night until it gets done. To start, here's the first set of questions and answers:

Okay, here we go. These questions come from the thread on the discussions side where I solicited questions from everyone for this thread. These are in the order they were asked:

Q) What are the different types of tiles you can use in a bathroom and what are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

A) There are several types of tile available. They fall into two general groups: ceramic and natural stone. I'll take these one at a time:

Ceramic tile-- For purposes of this discussion, there's glazed conventional, unglazed porcelain, and glazed porcelain. All three are good tiles for bathroom use, but the porcelain is a better choice only because of its density and lack of water absorbsion, which makes upkeep and cleaning easier. Also, with reference to steam showers, you DO NOT want to use natural stone, being that the steam would tend to permeate into the stone even more readily than liquid water, and could end up giving you algae problems, as well as mold and mildew problems, unless you don't mind being tied down to your bathroom.

Natural Stone-- There are several types of stone that are used in bathrooms. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're all GOOD IDEAS for bathrooms, expecially the softer (and more absorbant) stones, such as slate or limestone. Now, I know I'm going to get a world of flack about this from epople who have bathrooms finished in these materials. I know they CAN be used.... so long as you're aware of the extra upkeep involved. But if you're someone who doesn't like to keep after things, you may want to pick an easier material to maintain. Generally speaking, the softer the stone, the more the upkeep. Limestone being the softer of the stones, and that would include travertine, next would be many slates (although some would actually be harder than even most marbles, such as brazilian and british slates), then marbles, with quartzite and granite rounding off the list as the harder and more dense stones that you could use.

Q) What should I be sure to look for when choosing tile for a bathroom?

A) Short answer-- something that you like! The bathroom is the one place that just about anything the showroom has can be used. The only limitations are basically the upkeep you want to put in, and slip resistance on the floors of your bathroom and shower. Now, although ceramic tile is basically maintenence free, you don't want to use something with a texture to it that will catch all kinds of junk in the shower, making it more difficult to keep clean. At the same time, you don't want to use a polished stone or bright glazed ceramic tile for the shower floor, either. These both CAN be used, but again, it comes down to upkeep for textured wall tile, and doing something to rectify the slippery floor.

Q) Where should I use tile and where not?

A) Tile can be used on every single surface in the bathroom, if that's what you like. This is all a matter of taste... for the most part. About the only place where there's a requirement is any place there's a showerhead involved. If tile is to be used either in a shower or a tub/ shower combo, The tile MUST go up to a minimum of 72" off the floor. Past that, it's up to the disgression of the owner.

Q) What size tile and what layout patterns to use in various areas?

A) Again, this is a subjective question that can really only be answered by the owner. The ONLY place where there's a recommendation for mechaincal reasons is on a shower floor. TCNA recommends that mothing bigger than 6" be used on shower floors due to the cone shape of the floor's pitch. In addition, most installers will request no bigger than 4", and prefer a 2x2 tile to work with on the shower floor. This is also advantageous to the homeowner who'll be showering in there, because the added grout joints will add more traction to the floor.

Now, I've heard many times that you shouldn't use large format tiles in a small area like a powder room floor, and if you have a wide open bathroom, you don't want to use real small tiles. My response to both is the same-- HORSEHOCKEY. I've done bathrooms both ways-- 24x24 diagonal in a 3' wide powder room, and 1" hex ceramic mosaics in an open 100 sq. ft. bathroom floor. The rule of thumb is if you like it, it's right!

Q) How do I find/choose someone to install the tile?

A) Many people will tell you to get names from the showroom you get your tile from. This is no good, unless the showroom is willing to take responsibility for the installer by either having them on payrool, or as a subcontract. Then they have something to lose if they give you a bad installer. Many people will also tell you to get references and to actually check them out. This ALSO doesn't work. I've been in this work for just under 30 years now, and I've yet to find a single installer who ever gave the name of someone they had a problem with. They say even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while. The same can be said for "fly-by-nights" and good work.

So if you can't trust recommendations, and checking references is a lost cause, what do you do? REVERSE THE PROCESS!! Instead of finding an installer and getting references, get references, and thru them, find your installer!! No matter where you live, if you drive around, you'll find constructions sites and developements. Stop and ask who the GC uses. Get a name and phone number. Sooner or later, after asking around enough, you're going to find that the same names will begin to show up time and time again. THESE are the guys you want to use. But don't expect a bargain price, and be prepared to wait, because these guys will be in high demand, even in the worst of times, and they may demand a bit higher price, but they'll be worth every penny, if for no other reason, just because of the peace of mind they'll give you in knowing you're getting a good quality installation. Ask anyone who's gone through this experience, good or bad-- that alone is worth its weight in gold.

Q) What are the proper underlayments for tile?

A) There are several, and I'll take them one at a time:

CBU (cementitious Backer Units)-- This is the term that generally covers all cement boards (such as Wonderboard or Durock) or cement fiber boards (such as Hardibacker). This is the most common used tile underlayment. Generally speaking, it comes in two thicknesses-- 1/2" and 1/4"-- and each has its use. !/2" must be used for wall installations, due to the fact that the 1/4" is way too flimsy with nothing to back it up, and would flex too much to last. Besides, the 1/2" CBU will usually match up nicely to most sheetrocks. The 1/4" is used for floor installations, unless the added height of the 1/2" is needed to match up to other floorings. Being that neither has very much structural strength, so long as the subfloor is 3/4" or more, the 1/4" CBU is all that's needed. Keep in mind that even though it's basically fiberglass reinforced concrete, the only thing it adds to the floor is a stable bonding surface, so the 1/4" will do just fine. One place where alot of contractors will try and shortcut is by using greenboard instead of CBU for shower walls. This is expressly forbidden in the IRC (International Residential Code) by the following code:

IRC Greenboard Code:
The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) states in
Section R702.4.2 that "Cement, fiber-cement or glass mat
gypsum backers in compliance with ASTM C1288, C1325
or C1178 and installed in accordance with manufacturers
recommendations shall be used as backers for wall tile in
tub and shower areas and wall panels in shower areas."

The 2006 IRC also states in Section R702.3.8.1 that
"Water-resistant gypsum backing board [Greenboard] shall
not be used where there will be direct exposure to water."

Membranes-- There are several around that work well over many different surfaces. Most of them are what's called "Crack Isolation Membranes". Just about every manufacturer has one, from trowel ons or roll ons, such as Hydroment's Ultraset or Laticrete's 9235 or Hydroban, to sheet membranes such as Noble's CIS membrane. All will give the tile a little more protection against movement than just going over CBU. However, there's another class of membranes called "uncoupling membranes" of which the most popular by far is Schluter's Ditra, that are made from bonding two layers together, usually a fabric fleece backing and a plastic sheeting with dovetailed waffling to "lock" the thinset in place ( as opposed to accepting a thinset BOND). These membranes will, as their name implies, uncouple their two layers in case of movement, to save the floor, and for thinset floors, it's the most protection you can give your tile floor.

Plywood-- This is one where I get the most flack. I'm one of a dying breed that still believes in tiling directly over plywood. However, I can very well understand the reluctance of the industry to embrace this installation method, even though the TCNA DOES approve of its use for interior installations (Those with a handbook can check Method F-149). The reason I say that is it's a very "tempermental installation method. You need to be very familiar with what you're doing, or you risk failure. There are even many pros I wouldn't trust to tile using this method. Everything you do is important, from the species of plywood used, to the direction the grain is laid with relation to the joists, to how it's gapped, and a host of other specs, as well-- many of which won't be found in the handbook, and if you miss just one of them, you're flirtin with disaster. All in all, when people ask me about it, I tell them that with the membranes available, there's no need to go directly over plywood. There are other methods that will give you just as long lasting a floor, and aren't NEARLY as sensitive.

Mudset-- This is the oldest, and still, after THOUSANDS of years of use, the strongest installation method available. In a mudset installation, a minimum of 1 1/4" of mortar called "drypack" (mixed to the consistancy of damp sand) is either bonded to a concrete slab, or laid down over tarpaper or 6 mil poly with wire reinforcement, packed, and then screaded off to flat level (or pitched) subfloor. This is what most people see when tiling a shower pan. Initially, the mud will be a somewhat soft subfloor. But over time, if mixed properly, it'll be stronger than concrete.

Q) What are the proper tile setting compounds?

A) This is one where I could write a book. It all depends on what kind fo tile you're installing, and what the underlayment is that you're going over. I'll give a generalized list:

Polymer/ latex modified thinset: For all intents and purposes, this is the "cure-all". For almost any installation the modified thinset, which is basically portland cement, silica sand, and chemical polymers added for strength, will work. There are some that are specialized, such as the lightweight non-sag thinsets (such as Laticrete's 255 or Mapei's Ultralite), or the high latex content thinsets (like Latictrete's 254 Platinum or Hydroment's Reflex), but with the exception of going over some membranes, there's a modified thinset for every installation.

Unmodified thinset: This is the same as above, but with no polymers added. It's usually used in conjunction with a liquid latex additive, but will also be used mixed with water for going over some membranes. It's also used as a bedding for all CBU's.

Medium Bed Mortars-- This is a relatively new class of setting mortars, used mainly for large format tiles, where the normal notched trowels just don't put down enough material, and with thinset, it would be too much, causing too much shrinkage as it dries, causing voids under, and poor bond to, the tile, but at the same time, there's not enoough room for a mudset installation. This mortar is usually used with either a 1/2x1/2" or 1/2x3/4" notched trowel.

Mastics and Premixed Thinsets: THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! Let me say that again-- THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! They work well for vertical installations, where the tile used is 8x8 or less, and it's not a wet area. ALL THREE of those conditions must be met!! I know just about every pail of type 1 mastic says it can be used in showers except for the floor. DON'T BELIEVE IT!! Also, both mastic and premixed thinset (which is just mastic with a fine sand mixed in to give it bulk) claim they can be used for floor installations. Unfortunately, for the amount of material needed under virtually all floor tiles to bond to the subfloor, neither of these will fully harden. I had a personal experience where I helped a sister in law across country, telling her husband exactly how to do his main floor, what to use, and how to use it. Unfortunately, he went to the big box store to get his tile and materials, and they talked him into using premixed thinset. I didn't hear about it until SIX MONTHS LATER when his tile and grout joints started showing cracks all over the floor. When he called me I asked him what he used for thinset, and sure enough, this is when he told me. I told him to pull one of the tiles, and SIX MONTHS LATER, IT WAS STILL SOFT!!! DOn't let them talk you into it!! Use the proper thinset, and don't try and shortcut your installation. You're spending alot of money for it to be "just practice"!!

Q) How do you deal with different thicknesses of tile?

A) Whatever it takes. I've used membranes, built up the amount of thinset being used, I've even doubled up tiles when it worked out that way. Whatever it takes to get the two tiles to be flush toeach other.

Q) What are the typical tools required to lay tile?

A) Generally speaking, this is a list for just about all installations. Some may require specialized tools, but this would be for all:

Proper sized notched trowel
measuring tape
chalk line
margin trowel
high amp low speed drill and mixing paddle (best would be 6 amp or better and less than 400 rpm)
several buckets
score and snap cutter for straight ceramic cuts
4 1/2" grinder with a continuous rim dry diamond blade for ceramic, anything other than straight cuts
wet saw (can be used for ALL cuts, ceramic or stone)
grout float
hydra grout sponges (2-- once for grouting, one for cleaning)
24" and 48" levels (for vertical work)
heavy duty extension cords
screwgun or nailgun (where CBU will be used)

Q) What about tile spacing and tpes of grout?

A) According to Dave Gobis from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in Pendleton, South Carolina, there will finally be a new standard for ceramic tile next year. The tolerances are shrinking. There will also be a standard for rectified tile. Along with that, there will be a revision to the installation standards that will specifically recommend a grout joint no less than 3 times the variation of the tile. For rectified tile the minimum grout joint width will be .075 or just over a 1/16".

As for grout, there's only one thing that determines whether you use sanded or unsanded grout, and that's the size of the grout joint. Anything less than 1/8" you use unsanded grout. 1/8" or larger, you need to use sanded grout. The reason is that the main ingredient in grout is porland cement, which tends to shrink as it dries. In joints 1/8" or larger, the grout will shrink way too much and end up cracking ans shrinking into the joint. The sand give the grout bulk, and the sanded grout won't shrink nearly as much and therefore, can be used in the larger joints.


clipped on: 07.14.2011 at 08:59 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2011 at 08:59 pm

Kerdi Shower Part Deux

posted by: mongoct on 12.17.2009 at 12:22 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Here's Part Deux. The original Kerdi Shower thread lost virtually all of the photo links when the forum they were on changed their software and dumped the links. That forum's administrator doesn't know if they're recoverable, so I did a little editing and here's Part Deux. I may ask Gardenweb to delete the original thread.

This thread is to show a few techniques for working with Kerdi membrane.

Shower is a walk-in, about 5' by 7'. Door is at a 45 degree angle in one of the corners.

Walk in to the shower and on the short wall to the immediate right are two supply valves, the lower one supplies the wall mounted handheld, the upper supplies an overhead 12" rainshower head.

Moving counterclockwise from that wall, the long wall to the left of the valve wall is an exterior wall and will get nothing but tile.

To the left of that long exterior wall is the shower's short back wall, it gets a 2-shelf niche. The niche is about 36" wide and 30" tall. The lower niche space is 15" high, the shelf itself is 4" thick, the upper niche space is 11" high.

To the left of the short niche wall is another long wall, this wall has the wall-mounted hand-held. If I recall, the sliding bar is 40" tall.

In the ceiling is a 12" rain shower head. Also four can lights for illimination and a fan for ventilation. Ceiling will be tiled.

The wall construction? Kerdi is a vapor barrier, so no barrier is needed on these walls. Tile backer? With Kerdi you can use drywall. I prefer cement board on the walls. Wonderboard or Durock. I used Wonderboard on these walls. The ceiling and niche is done in Hardie, which is a fiber-cement board. Hardie is less brittle, so for me it's easier to cut into narrow strips to trim out the niche, and not as prone to snapping when installing full sheets overhead. I work solo 95% of the time, so it's not uncommon to hold the sheet up with one hand and have the screw gun in the other.

ABOVE: Valve wall

ABOVE: Niche wall, and on the left you can see the stub out for the hand held

ABOVE: Shows the Wonderboard walls and the Hardie ceiling.

ABOVE: With Kerdi, you don't have to mesh tape and thinset the seams. You can fill the seams with thinset as you hang the Kerdi on the walls. No need for tape as the Kerdi will bridge the joint for you. Just make sure your walls are smooth. If you have any thinset blots or chunks of cement that mushroomed when you drove a screw, knock them down so the walls are smooth. Here I'm striking a pose with a carborundum stone.

ABOVE: Setting a plumb line to hang the first sheet. Just like hanging wall paper. I hold the first sheet about an inch from the inside corner. Sheet is about 39-1/2" wide. I want the thinset to extend about 1" past the edge of the sheet. So I drop a plumb line about 41-1/2" or so from the inside corner, and mark the line vertically every foot or so with a tick mark using a sharpie.

ABOVE: Thinset. This is a little thicker than I want. I want it stiff enough so I can flat trowel it on the wall without it dripping all over or running down the wall, as well as it being able to hold a ridge after it's combed out. Not too stiff, though as you don't want it skinning over before you hang the sheet.


clipped on: 07.14.2011 at 03:02 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2011 at 03:02 pm

RE: How much would radiant flooring cost? Mat vs. coil? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: davidro1 on 02.12.2009 at 11:23 am in Bathrooms Forum

A low-cost install is possible.

Since you have the time, you'll get a roll of loose cable and place it yourself. Consider doing this: place lines of cable closer to each other near the outer wall of the bathroom. The effect is to have a heater near the cold wall.

I'd remove the radiator and be ready to try out the following three options:
a. replace it as is
b. replace it and lower its incoming HW flow to a dribble so it is useable as a bench / counter / tabletop surface.
c. not replacing it

Intensifying the heat where your incoming cold is greatest is what all heaters do anyway. This is not meant to open a cold tile / warm tile discussion.

What heat insulation do you currently have in your walls? in your floor? Now is a great time to open it all up to see, and to feel the cold coming in so you will know where to foam leaks closed.

There is no physical reason why not to run heat cables up the wall a bit, into a tile baseboard for example. Why this is not done routinely has a lot to do with numskull-proofing the average person's house during standard construction. Some people will drill holes into floors even if they know there is radiant heat in it: the risk of this happening in walls is several orders of magnitude greater.

With no thermostat, it'll be hot during gentle cold and not hot enough during extreme cold. With a smart thermostat you can oversize it a bit and have gentle heat at any temperature, counteracting the heat loss during winter which can vary by a factor of ten depending on how cold it is and how strong winds are.

Many buildings, well insulated, are heated with electric radiant floor heat only.



clipped on: 07.13.2011 at 09:08 pm    last updated on: 07.13.2011 at 09:08 pm

Master Bath Finished

posted by: bethpen on 05.11.2011 at 06:44 pm in Bathrooms Forum

In 1989 my husband and I built our house on a super low budget. The shower he built lasted until about 1995 or so, when we ripped it out with hopes of a remodel. One thing led to another and we just didn't get it done until now. Luckily we had two other showers to use as well as an outside shower that he loves and uses from May until October.

Here are some before photos..

We are usually DIY'ers, but we just couldn't wrap our heads around what to do. We met with a couple of different designers who were also General Contractors. One of them stood out and we really liked her design ideas. It was a real treat to have someone else do all the work, though it was expensive.


And the Elfa Closet!! My clothes are not worthy!

Beth P.


clipped on: 07.13.2011 at 02:13 pm    last updated on: 07.13.2011 at 02:13 pm

RE: Bathroom # 4 Guest Bath (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: qt314b on 07.12.2011 at 02:05 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I really like your tiles and wonder if they are the same tiles I chose for my guest/ kids bath. I chose Bambu Dark - is it the same? If so, do you have any other pics you can share of the bathrrom , I am struggling with how to arrange the tile and accent tiles - also I'd love to see more of the tile to see the overall affect in the bathroom.

Thanks, Rachel


clipped on: 07.12.2011 at 02:07 pm    last updated on: 07.12.2011 at 02:07 pm

DIY Concealed Medicine Cabinet

posted by: worldiknow on 01.23.2009 at 04:12 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I am familiar with the innovators brand that hides the cabinet behind a picture frame. I love it but don't love the $250+ price tag. I searched the forum here for information on a concealed medicine cabinet and noticed a few mentions of someone on the forum who posted their own DIY version. Can anyone direct me to this thread?

Thank you!


clipped on: 07.07.2011 at 09:57 pm    last updated on: 07.07.2011 at 09:57 pm

Work in Progress Pictures - Bathroom Renovations

posted by: johnfrwhipple on 07.12.2010 at 11:34 am in Bathrooms Forum


Here is a picture of our current job in Yale Town. This bathroom measures 5' x 8' and is loaded with features. Installed the slate baseboard pieces on Saturday and moved out our gear.

There was a great "African Music Party" at the Round House a block away and the live tunes where welcome on a blistering Hot Vancouver day.

Lets see your job sites people.

John Whipple


clipped on: 07.06.2011 at 06:11 pm    last updated on: 07.06.2011 at 06:11 pm

What was your best bathroom remodeling decision?

posted by: ashlander on 02.19.2007 at 12:40 am in Bathrooms Forum

We're having a difficult time making decisions for our bathroom remodel: choice of shower stall, toilet, flooring, counter, and perhaps even a fireplace. This will be the first and only remodel for our bathroom, so we hate to mess up.
Would appreciate any words of wisdom or advice.
What do you regret? What would you change? What was your best decision concerning the bathroom?


clipped on: 06.15.2011 at 03:25 pm    last updated on: 06.15.2011 at 03:35 pm