Tile FAQ’s

The list below contains some of the most commonly asked questions I get about tile and installation methods. For each one I have included a (very) short answer.  I already have, or will have in the future, a post about every one of these. If that post already exists there will be a link at the end of the answer.

I will continue to add to this page as the questions come up. If you have a question just leave a comment at the bottom and I’ll include it on this page.

Just click on the question to view the answer.

Grout

What type of grout should I use for my tile?

It depends on the tile and the size of the grout lines. Read this: Using the correct type of grout

How large should my grout lines be?

It depends on the tile size and the look you want. Read this: How large should grout lines be?

Can I fill my cracking grout with more grout?

Maybe. Read this article for a more complete answer: Filling grout lines with more grout

Are there any “magic” products available to remove stains from your grout and tile?

No there are not. One of the closest things to magic that you can buy is oxygen bleach. It is not bleach! It's a slight misnomer. This is the main ingredient in products like oxyclean. It works very, very well to clean grout. More information: How to clean grout

Does grout help stabilize tile, hold them in place, or make them stick better?

No it does not. (Epoxy grout is different) Read this: Does grout stabilize tile?

Are tile, stone or grout waterproof?

No they are not. Read this: Is tile waterproof?

Can I install my tile without grout lines?

No, you should not. Read this: Tile with no grout

Miscellaneous

Can I install floor tiles on my shower walls?

Yes you can. Read this: Floor tiles on a wall

Sealers

Will sealing your tile and grout make it waterproof?

No! It absolutely will not.

Should I seal (or re-seal) my tile and grout?

If you would like it to be easier to clean then yes, you should.

Setting Materials

What should I use to set my tile?

It depends on where you are installing the tile. Read this: Proper setting materials for tile

Are mastic and pre-mixed “mortar” acceptable to install tile on a floor or in a shower?

No they are not. Read this: Proper setting materials for tile

Substrates

Does my floor have to be level before I install tile?

No it does not. Read this: Does my floor have to be level for tile?

Do I need a waterproof membrane for my shower walls?

Yes, a membrane of some sort is required. Read the article for the different types. Read this: Preparing a shower wall for tile

Can I simply stick tile to the drywall in my shower or the plywood on my floor?

You can but it won’t last – so no. Read this: Preparing a shower wall for tile or this: Installing backerboard for floor tile

Transitions

Should I use grout or caulk in the corners of my shower?

Technically? Caulk. Realistically? It depends. Read this: Caulk or grout in corners?

If you have any suggestions or questions please feel free to leave a comment.

Rod Nestor

Hi! I’m learning a lot from your website and e-books! Thanks for being such a great resource. I’ve received an email (1/14/17) about a sale on your e-book library products. I have already purchased the following:
* Liquid_Topical_Shower_Waterproofing
* Design
* TileTips2

I see the following (amongst others) – is it an update or am I covered with what I have:
* Liquid topical waterproofing for shower base and walls

Also, because I don’t like standing on the drain, I’m considering a Kerdi drain/Redgard combination located along the edge of my new shower utilizing a “trough” concept. The shower dimensions are 36″x45″ with the drain “trough” along one of the 36″ walls where the shower controls/head are located (the shower door is on a 45″ edge). I’m building up the pan (vs preformed). I was thinking that I could slope the entire pan one direction – toward the drain “trough” – and not have any other sloping. If what I’m saying makes sense, please provide your thoughts. Thanks!

Reply

Roger

Hi Rod,

It’s the same book, so you’re covered. Nothing in that one has changed.

That works just fine, that’s why linear drains are made, for a sloped, flat plane. The trough drain works in the same manner.

Reply

Sandra

Hi!
My son had tile placed throughout his home, and it is beautiful. The only problem wit it is that it weeps. What causes this? Was it installed incorrectly, or is this normal?

Reply

Roger

Hi Sandra,

I have no idea what that may mean? Care to clarify what ‘it weeps’ means? :)

Reply

Philip

Was wondering if this is a weep hole or shoddy work by the person who did the grout? Found some water damage in the wall just outside the shower which is how I found this hole in the grout. Any help you can give me would be appreciated.

Reply

Roger

Hi Philip,

Looks like shoddy work to me. A weep hole in that location would be ineffective.

Reply

Philip

Thank you

Reply

Diane

For the past week we have been hearing LOUD popping noises, of course in the middle of the night. The sounds range from something like the shutting of a door to someone throwing pebbles at the windows. Finally last night we determined it is coming from the tile floor, which is on a slab foundation. There are no cracks, surprisingly, but when you walk on certain spots it feels almost crumbly under your feet. The house is 10 years old. Help please!!!! I don’t even know who to call!! Thanks

Reply

Roger

Hi Diane,

Freaky, isn’t it? :D It is the thinset releasing because there is no perimeter joint, soft joint or either in your tile installation. The expansion and contraction of the structure as well as the tile builds up pressure. When there is no joint for that pressure to build into (perimeter and/or soft joint) it builds up and releases by ‘tenting’ the tile, normally the mortar will release from the foundation and the tile will pop up, ever so slightly, but it sounds like the house is coming down.

Call a professional tile contractor, they can likely help you out.

Reply

Anna

I am getting ready to tile my shower. I have purchased MAPEI aqua-defense. Do I need to tape the joints where the backer board meets and the niche? Or, can I just paint on the aqua defense and still be waterproof?

Thanks for your help!
Anna

Reply

Roger

Hi Anna,

It will still be waterproof, but if you don’t tape them the seam may expand and compromise the layer of AD. You need to tape all your seams before applying the Aquadefense.

Reply

Kevin

Roger, do you have any experience with the kbrs products

Reply

Roger

Hi Kevin,

I’ve installed two of their shower bases. They worked fine for what they were, I just rarely have showers any standard size so it’s difficult to use something like that on a regular basis.

Reply

Bruce

Roger, thanks for all the information you share, it’s a great site.

I’m considering doing the trendy “tub inside shower area” layout, with the tub about 4′ away from the showerheads (normal tile shower pan with drain in that space). I assume if I use a drop-in tub then I should angle the deck a bit to drain toward the shower, but am not sure how that would look, i.e. if I follow 1/4″ drop per 12″, then for a 36″ wide tub do I wind up with 3/4″ of caulk on the side facing the shower?

I’m considering just using an alcove tub with a tile flange instead of a drop-in so I can basically ignore the problem of waterproofing the tub deck (enough to waterproof without that), but would like to understand what the right solution is if my better half decides she prefers a drop-in tub.

Thanks,
Bruce

Reply

Roger

Hi Bruce,

The best looking option is to have the tub deck sloped the required 1/4″/foot and set the tub in there flush, in other words your tub will also tilt. It’s rarely noticeable and looks a hell of a lot better than 3/4″ of caulk.

Reply

Mikw

Hi Roger,
I am building a shower and am at the stage of applying the hydro ban. I lowered the floor to allow the use of the Laticrete linear drain along the back wall opposite the entrance. I followed Laticretes installation instructions to the letter. Set the drain from wall plate to wall plate with 1 1/2 inches of mud below the flange rising 3/4″ over 3 feet to the entrance creating a 1/4″ per ft slope with the mud bed. At the entrance I transition to ditraheat membrane for the rest of the bathroom floor. I then set the cbu sheets, holding them 1/8″ above the mud bed and drain flange and caulked the gaps at the floor wall and corner transitions. Next I taped (mesh) and thinsetted the vertical corners. I have 2 questions for you.

1. Should I tape and thinset the floor wall transition before applying the hydro ban or will the hydro ban and 6″ fabric be suitable to assure a long lasting seal? Laticrete seems to say you can do it either way, but if I can avoid additional build up in the corners without compromising this potential problem area I’m all for it.

2. How should I detail the transition between the deck mud and the ditra heat membrane at the shower entrance. The substrate is 2 layers of 3/4″ Advantech over 2 x 10 joists on 16″ centers for the floor and under the deck mud. Should I caulk the tile at that joint or will the grout be adequate.

Thanks in advance for your advice. As a fellow tradesman, it is refreshing to encounter someone as yourself, who has a genuine desire to “do it right” and not compromise quality work. I have learned a lot from reading your articles.

Reply

Roger

Hi Mike,

1. No, don’t tape and thinset it. The hydroban with the 6″ fabric will be sufficient.

2. If you use the 6″ fabric with the hydroban over that transition, grout will likely be sufficient.

Reply

Mark

Just wanted to THANK YOU for your efforts to provide all this great, free advice here. My wife and I had a plastic shower with a cracked floor pan and we decided to replace that with a poured pan and tiled shower. We read all of your web site and bravely went forward. It was a lot more work than we originally though it could be, but we kept coming back to your web site to refresh our memory on the step we were working on and we made it through!! It’s not the most beautiful shower in the land, but it is so much nicer than what was there before, we both are very happy with the results and I honestly don’t think it will leak for at least 50 years!

Reply

Roger

Way to go Mark! Glad it came out nicely for you.

Reply

mike

im installing tile on a slab ,just removed vct tile from floor what is best thin set to go over the existing glue on slab

Reply

Roger

Hi Mike,

There is no best thinset to go over glue. You’ll need to either remove the glue or prime over it in order to give the thinset a surface to bond to. Water and a scraper is easiest to remove it, I like Eco Primgrip by mapei to prime over.

Reply

Skip Tucker

Hi Roger,
I’m a remodeling contractor in Missoula, MT. In addition to general carpentry, I’ve been setting tile for about 10 years and really enjoy your site, purchased several of your handbooks and have gotten a lot of really good information. Thanks so much. I know the amount of work involved on top of doing your ‘day job’.
About 6 years ago I did a master bathroom/bedroom remodel part of which involved a subcontractor who installed a Milestone hybridized concrete floor in the shower. The substrate is 1/4″ Hardiebacker thinset & screwed over 3/4 plywood. Problem is it’s been de-laminating leaving patches like when paint blisters off of wood.
The original contractor isn’t interested in a repair and they asked me to install tile on the floor. My question is do you think it’s necessary to completely remove the Milestone finish or just abraid it enough to give the new thinset something to bite onto? I don’t want to just lay the tile with the possibility of having a bond breaker sitting under there waiting to screw me. I haven’t found any information anywhere on the internet-apparently no one in the world has ever had a problem with it (really?). I would appreciate any insight you might have on this.
Thanks again,
Skip Tucker

Reply

Roger

Hi Skip,

I’m not familiar with that product, but I’m of the same mindset. If the concrete is cleaving I would probably at least beat the hell out of it with a hammer to ensure there are no more loose pieces, then abraid it enough to allow the thinset to grip.

Is there enough room to just go over the existing floor with a 3/4″ deck mud base? I think that would probably be the ideal solution. Then if there are issues with that substrate further down the road it would be a hell of a lot less likely to transfer up through your tile installation.

Reply

Marc

Hey Floor Elf – Great site. wish I had found it before I tiled the bathrooms in my last house. Oh well. . .
Question: I found a great mosaic for my new bathroom renovation. I want to do a 6″ backsplash above the counter that continues into and around the walk-in shower (former fiberglass tub/shower). The continuous line makes the room look a bit larger & its small. . . But I digress. It has metal in it and while the catalog & their website say its OK, Upon questioning them regarding conflicting info, they said you should never put metal tile in a shower. My installer was going to use a coordinating metal edge around the shampoo niche and on top & bottom of border. My thinking was, if this border is made for this, you should be able to use a tile with metal in it!! I think their lawyers are being overly cautious? You are are the deciding one: can I or can’t I??

(Links removed)

Reply

Roger

Hi Marc,

Yes, you should be able to use those just fine in your shower.

Reply

Mike

Hi Roger,

I cannot seem to get my grout to come out a consistent color. No matter what I do, I get variations in the final, cured color. I use the PolyBlend stuff that HD sells. It can be sanded or un-sanded, but it always has several areas that vary enough for me to notice.

I’m wondering if it’s possible that I’m not getting enough material in those locations, so they tend to dry quicker? Or maybe that I’m using too wet of a sponge when cleaning the floors afterwards? Am I cleaning the grout joints too hard when wiping the floor?

I spend a lot of time getting my tile nearly perfect, then I stress because I’m worried that the grout will make the job look mediocre.

Do you have any suggestions for this problem?

Thanks,
Mike

Reply

Roger

Hi Mike,

Yes I do: Switch grout brands! Polyblend is, hands down, the worst product for consistency I’ve ever seen. It is so touchy that I absolutely REFUSE to use it. It could be any, or all, of the things you mentioned above. In this instance I would highly suggest trying another brand of grout to eliminate the issue. If you still have the problems we can narrow down a cause from there.

Reply

Mike

Just a follow-up…

For the last time ever, I used the HD Polyblend grout. I was so careful. I mixed my grout exactly as instructed, allowed it to slake, then applied it as quickly as possible. I cleaned it as per instructions.

I have so much variation in grout color. It is such a disappointment. I will never use it again. Instead, going forward, I will be using epoxy grout…namely, Laticrete Spectralock. I will report back on my next job.

I should have listened to you sooner. Thanks for all you do for us!

Reply

Josh Janisch

Morning, Closed cell spray foam for insulation, Cement backer board on shower walls. Is it ok to redguard backer board before tile or does this create 2 vapor barriers? Thanks

Reply

Roger

Hi Josh,

It is fine to redgard over that.

Reply

Pam

Greetings Floor Elf! I’ve got a little bit of a mess on my hands! Kitchen floor with engineered wood (1/2″ stuck extremely well) to the concrete floor (above grade). Can I put 1/2″ hardie backer board over it and then porcelain tile? If so, how do I fasten the hardie backer to the concrete floor – hammer/impact drill?
Thanks for any info!

Reply

Roger

Hi Pam,

No you can’t. Well, you can, but it’ll likely have more problems, so you shouldn’t. The hardwood needs to be removed.

I know that isn’t what you wanted to read – sorry.

Reply

Leave a Comment

;) :wtf: :wink: :whistle: :twisted: :suspect: :shades: :roll: :rockon: :oops: :lol: :lol2: :lol1: :idea: :guedo: :evilb: :evil: :eek: :dance: :cry: :corn: :cool: :censored: :bonk: :arrow: :D :?: :-| :-o :-P :-D :-? :) :( :!: 8)