Who's got tips for a first time tiler?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
Some of you may remember my thread about flooring in my basement. Well, we decided to go with the ceramic tile. I am going to be putting it directly on the basement floor which is concrete, so I shouldn't need any kind of backer or anything. I know I need to check and make sure it is level, but what if it is not? What are my options?

My bro and some buddies who have tiled before are coming over to help, and I know that it is rather easy to do, but HBT has a wide variety of very skilled people and I know that it never hurts to ask these kinds of questions around here. So, anything I should know?
 

bradsul

Flyfisherman/brewer
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Messages
4,889
Reaction score
42
Location
Ontario, Canada
Your thinset (or whatever you choose to use) most likely won't be able to stick to the concrete as it most likely has a smooth (troweled) finish. Plus if your floor gets at all cold that will be directly relayed through the tiles and will be unbearable. Lay down at least a 3/4" (tongue and groove) plywood sub-floor, this will also allow you to level the floor if you need to.

The tile floor shouldn't be directly tied to the concrete because as the concrete cracks (and it will) it will break the tiles as well. A sub-floor product specifically for tiling (ditra is great) is also recommended.
 

Soulive

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Messages
4,266
Reaction score
27
Location
The Middle of NJ
I know its obvious, but don't skip the dry run. I have tiled 3 times now and they've all looked so good because I always to the dry run. Its easier to find layout issues when things aren't permanent...
 
OP
cubbies

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
Yeah, I definitely intend to do that. What I was going to do is get that snap marker or whatever it is called and mark the center going in each direction (the area I am doing is more or less rectangular so no overly weird cuts. Then go to each wall in each direction.

This whole sub floor thing is throwing me a curve now though, I am not sure what to do about that.
 

bradsul

Flyfisherman/brewer
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Messages
4,889
Reaction score
42
Location
Ontario, Canada
The plywood sub-floor just floats and the ditra gets thinset to the plywood. The idea is to isolate the tiles from the underlying structure so that when it moves, the tiles don't break.
 

Soulive

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Messages
4,266
Reaction score
27
Location
The Middle of NJ
bradsul said:
The plywood sub-floor just floats and the ditra gets thinset to the plywood. The idea is to isolate the tiles from the underlying structure so that when it moves, the tiles don't break.
Brad, wouldn't he want some kind of vapor barrier as well? I've never done basement tiling so I'm not sure...
 

bradsul

Flyfisherman/brewer
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Messages
4,889
Reaction score
42
Location
Ontario, Canada
If he has any water issues it's certainly a good idea. A waterproof membrame is the best bet but will add some costs as they aren't that cheap.

If you want to really do it right you would put down a layer of 2" extruded insulation (the same stuff used to make the son of fermentation chiller) with sealant on all the joints (including tuck tape). 3/4" T&G plywood on top of that, then the ditra and then your tiles. That will give you a floor with a complete temperature and water break between your feet and the concrete.
 

zoebisch01

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
5,180
Reaction score
13
Location
Central PA
Yeah definitely put down a skin of some sort on top of the concrete is a good idea.
Like bradsul mentions, something like Ditra. Although I'd be concerned about plywood warp if you have the chance of water infiltration.

When you apply your grout, make sure the consistency is thin enough to fully infill your gap, you want it thick but not so dry that it isn't fluid enough. Otherwise you'll develop voids later on. And make sure you force it in well with your Grout Float. And make sure that once it is ready to be wiped that you get it ALL. You want the grout level to be slighlty below that of the tile but not too deep. This is especially apparent with textured tile.
 
OP
cubbies

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
I just did some off the cuff research and watched a video on Ditra. It certainly does make sense that I would need something like that.

One thing that concerns me is that in the video the guy had to put "brace" type things around the edges. This is not going to be possible for me because I have trip. How important do you think those braces are?

Also, as far as I can tell Lowe's and Home Depot dont carry it (at least I couldnt find it on their website), where do you get the stuff?
 

zoebisch01

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
5,180
Reaction score
13
Location
Central PA
Oh and buy the good quality (corner four way) spacers. It'll save you lots of headaches.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,357
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Redding Ca
go to your local tile store and ask about hardy backer it (in my opinion 15 years doing tile and natural stone for my own projects) is the best stuff on the market and at 1/4 " thick your not going to add depth you WILL NEED a vapor barrier of some sort going over concrete and any good tile store will have some self sticking barrier that you can lay down directly over concrete and nothing else is needed after that.
Good Luck
oh and 3rd that a GOOD set of knee pads
JJ
 

zoebisch01

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
5,180
Reaction score
13
Location
Central PA
Jaybird said:
go to your local tile store and ask about hardy backer it (in my opinion 15 years doing tile and natural stone for my own projects) is the best stuff on the market and at 1/4 " thick your not going to add depth you WILL NEED a vapor barrier of some sort going over concrete and any good tile store will have some self sticking barrier that you can lay down directly over concrete and nothing else is needed after that.
Good Luck
oh and 3rd that a GOOD set of knee pads
JJ
My only thought on the Hardibacker (good stuff I agree) is that how do you mount it to the concrete? Does Hilti make a fastener? Or do you have to pilot drill every hole with a Masonry bit?
 
OP
cubbies

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
zoebisch01 said:
My only thought on the Hardibacker (good stuff I agree) is that how do you mount it to the concrete? Does Hilti make a fastener? Or do you have to pilot drill every hole with a Masonry bit?
According to their installation guide, it should always be attached to wood. This is not going to be an option in my circumstance I don't think.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,297
Reaction score
4,302
Location
Whitehouse Station
I've been thinking about this a bit. Would you say your bare slab is cold now? If not, I'd just go Ditra, then tile. My slab is actually pretty warm and I think it's because they insulated under the slab. I could be wrong but it's a 1991 construction. You might pick up an R .5 from the membrane and at the very least it's decoupled from potential moisture from the slab which would feel colder on the feet.

http://www.schluter.com/6_1_ditra.aspx

If you're concerned about not having a cold floor and still want tile, radient heating is the only way. Otherwise, I'd go 1" rigid foam, subfloor, then carpet.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
153
Location
Twin Cities, MN
Just a comment from the land of poured concrete floors (no basements out here). All of my tile is set directly on cement. As are new construction homes. Maybe it's not troweled quite as smooth as my shiny Milwaukee basement was :) but me think's you can go directly onto the basement floor.

Could always grab 4 tiles, some thinset, a trowel, some spacers and lay em down and see how they hold. Chisel em off to prove/disprove.

I'd also consider buying your own wet tile cutter over renting. Not that expensive at least out here at home-d. You'll use it again someday. Don't remember the price I paid but I may be able to hunt it down for you.
 
OP
cubbies

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
Well, my floor is not so cold that I am going to insulate it, I can tell you that much. On top of that, I already have my trim in place. I don't know how much of a gap I have, but there was carpet there before so it is a little bit. Still though, I don't think there is enough room to insulate, and it is certainly not so cold to the point where I would insulate it. It has been 20 degrees give or take for a couple of weeks and I was sitting on the floor patching a piece of drywall and I hardly noticed it. Really, I am mostly concerned about moisture and cracking; ditra appears to solve that problem. Adds a few hundred to the budget, but what is a DIY project without a surprise couple of hundy? :mug:
 

srm775

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2007
Messages
1,370
Reaction score
4
Location
IL
You could use roofing felt as a fairly cheap alternative to the expensive vapor barriers you buy at lowes or home depot. If you're doing a basement and it's a fairly large area, then use larger tiles (at least 13 x 13).
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,968
Reaction score
597
Location
Adams, MA
DesertBrew said:
Just a comment from the land of poured concrete floors (no basements out here). All of my tile is set directly on cement. As are new construction homes. Maybe it's not troweled quite as smooth as my shiny Milwaukee basement was :) but me think's you can go directly onto the basement floor.

Could always grab 4 tiles, some thinset, a trowel, some spacers and lay em down and see how they hold. Chisel em off to prove/disprove.

I'd also consider buying your own wet tile cutter over renting. Not that expensive at least out here at home-d. You'll use it again someday. Don't remember the price I paid but I may be able to hunt it down for you.
Well, IIRC, Arizona tends to be a bit warmer and a bit drier than most of the rest of the country, eh? Gotta have an impact on the need to keep the tile separate from the 'crete.

Cheap wet saws, I think, are around $80 - $100 at The Depot. I'd Craigslist for one, too, seems like I see a fair number of them for sale.
 

bradsul

Flyfisherman/brewer
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Messages
4,889
Reaction score
42
Location
Ontario, Canada
You will not be able to adhere ditra to the concrete for the same reason the tiles will not adhere. The t&g gives the thinset something to grab on to. Also if you want a clean job when complete you will need to carefully remove your baseboards and re-install them when you're finished laying and grouting the tile.
 
OP
cubbies

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
Well, I talked to a buddy of mine last night who is in the flooring business and I am going to take a few steps back here. He told me that if I am really concerned about the tile being cold, that the only way to achieve that is to use ditra, which is expensive ($85 for 5 square meters). A) that is more money than I planned on spending B) my floor is not that cold. I checked it out last night when I got home. I walked on the bare concrete in socks and I couldn't even feel it. Will it be a little cool on bare feet? Yeah, most likely. Is that enough of a problem for me to warrant $400 on ditra? No, not by a long shot.

So, what he suggested, and he couldn't remember the exact name of the stuff, is this tar, glue kind of stuff that acts as your moisture barrier and gives the thinset/tiles something to adhere to. He said using this stuff, the chances of cracking are still there, but very minimal. However, moisture will be taken care of. Plus the price is right. He said most likely he will have enough left over from his job this week and I can have it for free.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,297
Reaction score
4,302
Location
Whitehouse Station
I know many many people who thinsetted their tiles directly to the slab with no problems with cracking or adhesion. Their biggest complaint is that it's cold. In my opinion, the biggest flaw in that is vapor management. I really don't think $400 is a big price to pay for the benefit.

I do agree with bradsul in that you really should pull that baseboard molding. No good tile man works around it.

If you don't have any difficult cuts like curves or notches, I wouldn't buy a saw just for the job. Straight cuts are best made using the score and snap tool which is like $25. The home center will make a few specialty cuts for you if you mark them all out with a sharpie.
 

Cookiebaggs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2007
Messages
538
Reaction score
7
Location
Oak Creek, WI
DesertBrew said:
Just a comment from the land of poured concrete floors (no basements out here). All of my tile is set directly on cement. As are new construction homes. Maybe it's not troweled quite as smooth as my shiny Milwaukee basement was :) but me think's you can go directly onto the basement floor.

That's what I did.

I layed a 13 x 13 square area in my basement for the bar. I went right over the concrete with the thinset. After 5 years, I've had no cracking or moisture problems. There was a vapor barrier installed under the concrete before it was poured.

I also put in a tile floor in the basement bathroom on concrete with no problems. it can get cold but that's why I wear slippers and use throw rugs. :D

I would strongly suggest using a floor leveler. That concrete floor may look level but trust me, it is not. Trying to build up the thinset to try and raise the tiles in a certain area is a PITA. Much easier to start with a level floor!
 

CrazyToad

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2007
Messages
55
Reaction score
0
Location
Buffalo, NY
Okay, I feel like I should chime in here...

About the subfloor thing, do NOT try and use wood, especially in a basement. Tile and grout cracks when there is movement in the subfloor. When the wood swells and shrinks with the seasons, it will force your tile to go with it, therefore cracking it. Ditra will help eliminate this, and Ditra is designed to take the movement away from the tile, and help avoid breaking. You cannot use hardi-backer, or any other cement underlay on concrete because it needs to be screwed down. If you are going to use an underlay, Ditra is the way to go. it is a better product, and much easier to use. It is actually the only product I will tile with now.

With that said, if your concrete is in good shape (flat, no cracks), you can tile directly on it. There is absolutly nothing wrong with that. If you are worried about adhesion, you can buy a modified thin-set (thin-set with bonding additives) for about $12 a bag. It is good stuf, and you will see how tacky it is right away.

If you decide to use Ditra, make sure that you use a modified thin-set to lay down the Ditra, and an unmodified thin-set to set the tile on it. There is an instruction video on the Schluter Systems website for Ditra.

I hope this answers a few questions for you. Good luck. :rockin:
 

Cookiebaggs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2007
Messages
538
Reaction score
7
Location
Oak Creek, WI
DesertBrew said:
Just a comment from the land of poured concrete floors (no basements out here). All of my tile is set directly on cement. As are new construction homes. Maybe it's not troweled quite as smooth as my shiny Milwaukee basement was :) but me think's you can go directly onto the basement floor.

That's what I did.

I layed a 13 x 13 square area in my basement for the bar. I went right over the concrete with the thinset. After 5 years, I've had no cracking or moisture problems. There was a vapor barrier installed under the concrete before it was poured.

I also put in a tile floor in the basement bathroom on concrete with no problems. It can get cold but that's why I wear slippers and use throw rugs. :D

I would strongly suggest using a floor leveler. That concrete floor may look level but trust me, it is not. Trying to build up the thinset to raise the tiles in a certain area is a PITA. Much easier to start with a level floor!



 

CrazyToad

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2007
Messages
55
Reaction score
0
Location
Buffalo, NY
Sorry, one more thing :cross:

If you are really worried about a vapor barried, you can purchase a liquid vapor barrier at the depot or lowe's. The depot sells stuff called Red Gaurd. It is like slime when you roll it on (just use a paint roller), and it will dry like laytex. You can tile ontop of that too. Use 2 coats. Either way, it is not necessary.

For the wet saw, yes, they can be useful, and you will need one for certain cuts, but for straight cuts and inside corners, a score cutter is so much faster and easier. You can pick one up for $13 on the cheap side. Only use this if your cut edge will be hidden by trim.
 

bradsul

Flyfisherman/brewer
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Messages
4,889
Reaction score
42
Location
Ontario, Canada
Just for completeness I thought I'd post the method that is used here in our cold climate for a basement floor for tile. Most tile companies won't push for this much material because of labour and material costs, but in the higher end construction of which I've been involved this is standard practice. For the record I don't recommend wood on concrete at any time (indeed our local building codes don't allow it, you will want to consult your own no matter what you do).

- 2" extruded insulation (R10) adhered directly to concrete and sealed at the seams with adhesive and tuck tape
- 3/4" T&G floating sub-floor
- * ditra
- * in-floor heating
- tile

* depending on the product these may be reversed

This gives a complete thermal and moisture break from the concrete. If you really want a warm basement, use the R10 on the walls and tuck tape and adhere all those joints as well (including those that join to the floor R10).

This is definitely not the cheapest way but it will give you a floor that will last forever (or at least until the SWMBO gets tired of the colour anyway :D).
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,297
Reaction score
4,302
Location
Whitehouse Station
I really wish I had the head room to accomplish that Brad because I think radient heating is awesome. I plan to do this in my family room (only room in the house on a slab) to make it more comfortable in the winter. It's got 2 outside walls and one touching an uninsulated garage (whole other project) and I think it's the answer to the winter chill in there.
 
OP
cubbies

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
Well my floor appears to be level. I am not just using my eyes. I layed a level on it in several different spots and all were perfectly level. Plus, the stuff I am using for the moisture will be applied level, so that should not be a problem. The only possible issues are A) some cracking, which is unlikely because of the product I am using and the age of the house and B)cold floor, which is not a problem, the concrete itself is not even that cold, I cant imagine the tile will be. Essentially this product is a commercial membrane that is sort of like tar that goes between the concrete and the tile. My buddy says they use it in buildings all the time.
 

homebrewer_99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
19,580
Reaction score
1,202
Location
I-80, Exit 27 (near the Quad Cities)
DesertBrew said:
Just a comment from the land of poured concrete floors (no basements out here). All of my tile is set directly on cement. As are new construction homes. Maybe it's not troweled quite as smooth as my shiny Milwaukee basement was :) but me think's you can go directly onto the basement floor...
I've tiled directly to the cement floors also without any problems.

How does one put a vapor barrier (usually plastic sheeting) between concrete and thinset and tile? I'd like to be enlightened even if I am wrong, but at the moment it doesn't make any sense to me. :D
 
OP
cubbies

cubbies

Tastes like butterdirt
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
11
Location
St Louis MO
Well, I havent seen the product yet, but from the way my buddy describes it, it is not a plastic sheeting it is kind of like a tar or a glue that you spread with a flat trowel and let cure overnight.
 

zoebisch01

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
5,180
Reaction score
13
Location
Central PA
You can thinset to concrete, but if it is a glossy smooth finish you should rough the surface somehow to ensure good adhesion. You won't need the expensive thinset either with the flexative.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
153
Location
Twin Cities, MN
Still believe everyone's overthinking the moisture issue. I tiled my shower walls with 18" tiles using your basic gray thinset and regular grout. Doesn't get much more damp than that :).
 
Top