I’ve just received another question in the comments section asking how to cut larger holes in tile. Holes for things like the controls in the shower, shower lights, toilet flanges, etc.

My normal smart ass answer is: Mark the circle and remove everything that is not a tile with a hole in it.

The short answer is with a grinder and a diamond wheel.

The slightly longer answer is to draw your circle, take the grinder and plunge it into the tile,, straight down, inside the markings of the circle. Continue this around the entire circle until the large piece is out. Then go back around the circle at about a 45 degree angle and take out the rest of the circle just around the markings.

See, difficult to visualize, isn’t it? (I understood it perfectly well…)

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If you want a little something unusual in your shower installation you can always put glass mosaics in the back of your niche. It looks cool. The problem, however, is that when you buy a sheet of mosaic tile it may be one square foot of tile, but it has all those funny mismatched edges that aren’t straight. Every row of glass is offset.

This is done in order to not have grout lines in the installation line up (it’s supposed to look random) and to allow each sheet to interlock with the one next to it. In other words the left side of the sheet interlocks with the right side of the one next to it.

But if you only need one or two square sheets, like for the back of a niche, it won’t really fit in there in the stock sheet form. A reader asked me a while back if she had to order three or four of those sheets to do her one foot by two foot niche. Like the one on the right there.

(You can click on any of the photos for a larger version.)

Because the sheet is actually more than one foot wide (each row is offset) but there is no way you can cut one or both sides off and end up with a 12″ wide mosaic she thought she would need to order more to fill in the missing pieces. You actually only need two pieces, it fills itself in.

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Glass wall tile

NOT just an accent

Glass! Awesome! (I like glass tile…)

It is, however, fairly spendy. It is also a highly specialized installation when used for the whole installation. You need to understand the type of glass (there are three different manufacturing processes), acceptable processes, proper installation procedures and what type of glass can be used where.

It’s a lot.

So when you’ve found that perfect glass tile that would look great in your shower three things will happen:

 

  1. You will look at the price and multiply that by the square footage of your shower
  2. You will immediately go into shock
  3. You will decide that maybe a porcelain shower will look okay after all…

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72 hours.

That’s the answer to your question. 72 hours. Three days.

Your question, by the way, is ‘Now that I have my linear drain in and my shower deck fabricated how long do I have to wait before installing my Laticrete HydroBan to waterproof everything?’

That’s a great question!

72 hours.

If you don’t yet have your linear drain installed and your mud deck fabricated – you’re in luck! You have time to do that. Go read this first: Installing a Laticrete linear drain (part 1)

Then you can go on that three day bender vacation.

‘Why 72 hours?’, you may ask. Also a great question. Negative hydrostatic pressure.

‘What is that?’, you may ask.

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laticrete_linear_drainThe wonderful folks at Laticrete sent me a linear drain to play with. And you know me – I bastardized it until it was virtually unrecognizable, ran it through the paces and did things you really shouldn’t do with nice, high-end products like this.

And it survived. Word on the street is that they read my blog, probably for comic relief and to instruct people what NOT to do with their products. So I’m sure they knew this when they sent it… I mean honestly, I soaked their grout in cherry Kool-aid for a week, how could they NOT know?

I did, however, put it to good use in a very cool shower. This is a brief overview of the installation of that drain.

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Proper Expectations and Applications

Not seal -Sealer - Seal-E-R!

Not seal -Sealer – Seal-E-R!

In Tile and Stone Sealers Part 1 I explained how sealers work. If you haven’t yet read that please do so. It will give you a base understanding of how they get into your tile and what they protect against. It will help you understand what you’re looking for and also help decode some of the terms you may find here.

When choosing a sealer the first decision you should make is what you are trying to protect against. Silicone-based sealers protect against water-based stains – coffee, tea, beer Pepsi, stuff like that. Fluoropolymer-based sealers protect against oil-based stains – cooking oil, body oil, shampoo, stuff like that.

Easy enough so far?

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Seal of approval

Not that kind of seal!

How they work

Sealers, I’ve discovered since starting this site, are one of the most misunderstood products used for tile and stone. There are so many different brands, types and uses that it’s difficult to figure out what you actually need for your particular installation. So I’m gonna try to clear some of that up for you.

This will only cover a very small portion of the entire market for this type of product. I’m going to explain the different basic types of sealers and how they work, as well as the proper use for most common installations. This is NOT an all-encompassing article and will not include every scenario and installation. It is only a basic instruction on different types and uses.

Be sure to research any specific product you choose to utilize and always – ALWAYS – test the product first on a spare piece of your tile or stone to ensure you will not run into any incompatibility issues.

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One of the problems with waterproofing a shower is the fact that you NEED to have holes in it. The cutouts for the shower head, shower or bath controls and any other fancy stuff you saw in that magazine. The problem with holes in a waterproof shower is that they make it not so waterproof.

So how do you waterproof a hole? (Please DO NOT email me with the punchline to that joke!)

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Ever get tired of trying to scrub that ‘white’ (it started life as white, anyway) acrylic or fiberglass shower base? Ever try to take one out? It’s stuck, isn’t it? Ever get tired of rhetorical questions?

In order to create a shower floor for tile you must first remove that big, ugly base which seemingly attracts dirt from some unknown aspect of the magnetic force of the universe. It’s not really the magnetic force – it just feels like it. It’s actually the rubber force – as in the rubber gasket around the drain pipe.

Rather than attempting to pry the base out of there until you’re almost ready to fire up the propane torch and see if it will actually melt (it will), you can simply pry the ring from around the drain pipe and  lift it out. Really.

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In my previous post about thinsets I explained what modified thinsets are and how they came about. That post actually started out as this post, I tend to get sidetracked by beer my dog.

Unmodified thinsets, in one form or another, have been around forever. With the expanded use of modified thinsets, the unmodified version had nearly gone by the wayside with everyone except us hard-headed setters who bought unmodified thinsets and added liquid admixes to them – to create modified thinsets. I no longer do this for my modified thinsets, but it was a hard habit to kick. :D

The reemergence (I know – doesn’t even look like a word) of unmodified thinsets came about in November of 2001. At an NTCA / Schluter workshop the statement was made that the preferred method of installation over ditra is the use of an unmodified thinset.

Mass confusion ensued.

This has continued to this day with even seasoned professionals questioning if unmodified should be used, and if so – why and which unmodified to use. This problem is compounded for do-it-yourselfers who don’t have nearly the understanding nor material and product access that we do. It’s difficult to find and purchase. If it helps, it’s sometimes difficult for us as well.

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Laticrete 3701What is the difference between modified and unmodified thinsets?

Which unmodified thinset is better?

What makes a modified thinset modified?

Why do you drink so much beer?

These are questions I get asked a lot, along with ‘why is my dog on fire’ (because you used the incorrect product for a specific installation).

Unmodified thinset is simply a thinset which does not have any latex polymers or other products added to it. It is essentially portland cement, silica (sand) and lime. Recipes vary, but those are the basics.

History (pay attention – there may be a quiz…)

To understand modified and unmodified you should understand why modified exists. Way back in the 1940’s Henry M. Rothberg was a chemical engineer. Back then the standard installation procedure for floor tile was the full bed method. This was a 2″-3″ deck of portland cement and sand upon which tile was installed. The need for the thickness is at the heart of the development of modified thinsets.

It needed to be that thick in order to retain enough moisture for the cement to fully cure.

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In the first part of this tutorial I showed you how to frame up your access panel and get the magnetic latches on it and all lined up. So right now you should have an access panel in the side of your fancy-pants tub and a box of tile just sitting there and laughing at you. If you don’t have that check out the link above. I’ll wait. :whistle:

That post is the meat and potatoes of building your access panel. This one simply describes the basics of installing your tile as well as placing an insert, if need be, into the access panel.

The biggest thing you’ll need to pay attention to as you install your tile is the perimeter of your access panel. You don’t want to get thinset into it or otherwise block it. If you do – it simply becomes a wall with a lot of pieces.

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