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.

Ken

Hi Roger,
Another question just came to mind. I think I remember you saying that when the glass inserts are not thick enough to be flush with the tile to put the inserts on ditra and then install the ditra. Will the ditra adhere to the kerdi board.
Thanks

Ken

Reply

Corey

I am undertaking my first bathroom remodel and your books have been very helpful.
When I water test the liner for my shower pan and I let the drain out their is a low spot that doesn’t drain. This seems to happen because the shower liner is higher than the preslope when you put it on top of the lower drain flange. Is this normal or do I have to tear my liner up and add some more deck mud where the water is “pooling”

Reply

Ken

Hi Roger,
Two questions
Found a 12 x 24 porcelin tile for the shower walls, but there is no bulnose. For an outside corner can just create an L with the two tiles and grout it on a 45 degree angle ?
When I cut the tiles down for the bulnose what do you normally do for the the exposed end ?

Thanks,

Ken

Reply

charlie 5

Hi
i installed 3×6 subway tiles in my bathroom today but as i got a little into it i realized i had some misalignment and a bit of lippage.
I removed the tiles and planned on starting again. The area was about 4′ by 2′.
The substrate is part redgard (where the shower is) and part green board (outside the shower)
whats the best way to remove the thinset that was there? i got all the big stuff off, i hadn’t cured yet.
Can i scrape off the rest once its dry and sand back to a level substrate?
thanks for any help

Reply

Quentin

Hi Roger,

Sorry to bug you again, but I had two other questions.

1) how do you get the Backer-On screws flush with HardieBoard. I always get a slight “lip”. Do you countersink first? It doesn’t matter whether I drive fast or slow. It always “skips” at the very end.
2) Do you need to stagger the HardieBoard on walls the same as you do on floors?

Again, thanks for all your help!

Reply

Quentin

Hi, Roger

Just a couple of questions.

1) Should regular drywall or green board be used for a shower ceiling? Is there a special primer and paint that needs to be used?
2) For shower walls, should 1/4″ or 1/2″ HardieBoard be used?
3) Since 1/2″ Hardieboard is actually .42″, and green board is 1/2″, how do you transition? Shim the studs behind the HardieBoard?

Thanks in advance for all your help. Your books are GREAT!!

Reply

sandy

We just finishing tiling our bathtub shower wall and got the polyblend grout from HD. Which sealant do I need to use when I mix the grout for the walls in the bathtub? Thank you elf. the 511 impreg? the stain blocker additive from Custom build? Or which one should we be using?

Reply

Ryan

How much do you charge to supply and install Ditra ?

And

Why dos my dog continues to burst into flames
How much a wall weighs
Fun facts about unicorns
A little tidbit about the lawyer in my pocket
How much beer will it take

Reply

Dave

Roger
I have followed your advice on other tile projects with good results, Thank You.
I am considering tiling stairs going to my basement. They are wood stairs with 1.5 inch thick 36 inch wide 10 deep solid wood treads, and a 8 inch solid wood riser. I was planning to bring the riser out flush to the tread with wood and use Ditra on the tread and riser. In addition I plan to use Schluter stair nose profile on the tread.
I saw a video on line where the tiler used Ditra on the treads and concrete board on the risers. Why not use Ditra on the riser as well?

Any thoughts or opinions on tiling stairs?

Thanks
Dave

Reply

Wayne

Hi Elf,
Should I make my grout line’s match throughout the whole house? I don,t want to end up cutting a half inch line of tile all down one side of the hall-way for example.
OR
Should I finish each room at each doorway and then start with the best fitout for that room???

cheers,

Wayne.

Reply

Roger

Hi Wayne,

I prefer matching throughout the house, but I usually take at least a full day just for the layout to avoid things like that. And you rarely can do that without any slivers anywhere, just try to locate them where they are less noticeable. You can also transition at the doorways, but I think that looks weird. Again, though, purely a personal choice.

Reply

Wayne

Thanks for that Roger, I do agree, just needed a second opinion.

Reply

Ken

Hi Roger,
I’m going to be tiling a neo angle shower. The base is one piece and already set. The house is new construction and I installed the kerdi board before the dry wall was installed. My problem is that when the corner bead was installed it sticks out from between 3/16 to a 1/4 of an inch from the kerdi board on the outside corners. Would you recommend that I fill in the gap with thinset to get a straight wall and let it set up before I begin to tile, or should I remove the corner bead and make a square corner out of thinset and let it set before I begin to tile.
Thanks in advance for your help.

Ken

Reply

Roger

Hi Ken,

You can fill it with thinset, let it cure, then set the tile.

Reply

chiefy

Mr floor elf,

I am remodeling my bathroom floor and it was installed with ditra. Now that I have all the tile removed and the orange ditra up, there is still a “fuzzy” layer with thinset that bonded the ditra to the wood subfloor. Does that need to be scraped bare to the wood subfloor or can I install hardy board over it with thinset? I am 50-50 on this issue. Thanks!

Reply

Roger

Hi Chiefy,

Nope, you can go right over that, won’t hurt anything at all.

Reply

Charles

I am helping my mother remodel our family’s first home which dates to the early 1900’s. It is a simple one bedroom one bath and has old growth pine floors throughout the house. I would like it to keep its older character.

The house will be rented so I am trying to build in toughness/lower maintenance items when I can.

I bought your ebooks to help with tiling the tub/shower. This is all new to me and I will probably hire out the work but I wanted to make sure it is done correctly.

I am planning to use hardibacker with redgard topical coating.

I was thinking of installing white subway tile (3″x6″) with an accent row of some sort and also tiling the ceiling of the tub to avoid drywall water problems up there. Is it common to have subway tile on the ceiling above a tub?

I am also leaning to putting the tile on the bathroom walls also.

I see that subway tile can cost $1.75/sq.ft. or up to $10.00/sq.ft. for tile made like the old New York subway tile. Do you have a brand/style you would recommend?

I have a source of very reasonably priced Carrera marble subway tile that I would have liked to put in the bathroom but your manual and many people I talk to think that it is crazy to consider due to maintenance. The stuff lasts for hundreds of years in in Europe so I don’t understand why people dismiss it.

Also, the pine wood floor in the bathroom had a glued on flooring but I would like to just finish the pine and let it be the flooring. If I need to tile the floor in the future, should I remove the flooring down to the subfloor, or put the tile on the pine and have a small step up into the bathroom?

Thank you for all the help with the manuals. They make a lot of sense and have given me a roadmap to a proper job.

Cheers,

Charles

Reply

Roger

Hi Charles,

Tile on the ceiling is not uncommon, purely a personal choice. I do it quite a bit. I like the Florida tile brand subways, but most are comparable. Price is indicative of quality, for the most part. I have absolutely no problem with marble in showers – at all. I don’t understand it either. The step up is also a personal choice. I prefer flush floors, but nothing at all wrong with a small step up when needed.

Reply

Mia

Hi
I needed to fix a tile that was damaged and when removing the tile, the redgard got pulled with the tile-thinset layer leaving the redgard punctured/compromised showing the hardie underneath.
Is this hopeless and do I now need to fully demo and re-tile?

Reply

Roger

Hi Mia,

No, you can simply install more redgard, let it cure, and replace your tile.

Reply

Sandi

I have 4 holes in my shower white subway tile where screws were removed to relocate glass panel. What is the BEST way to cover these holes???? Grout, silicone caulk or a ceramic repair kit??????

Reply

Roger

Hi Sandi,

A ceramic repair kit would work, but they have mixed results in my experience. Silicone would be the next best thing.

Reply

Paul

Tile inlay on entertainment center counter top. I’m building a large entertainment center for our family room. Its 85 inches long with two bookshelves on either side (each 48 inches long). I’d like to do a slate inlay with a wood or molding boarder. The middle span is 85 inches new construction, 3/4 inch finished plywood and the two side bookshelves are also 3/4 inch in good condition. Question, what do I need to do to “prep” the plywood top to the cabinet span? This is not a wet area, so I had planned to just put thinset on top of the plywood and start tiling? Any help you could offer would be appreciated.

Reply

Patrick

I am thinking about using stone ledger panels on a fireplace surround and kitchen bar wall. It currently has ceramic tile over dry wall. Does it require concerte backer board? They sell 90 degree pieces for the corners. Unfortunately, I have corners that are more than 90 degrees. How would you handle it? Do you make a mitered corner? Thanks.

Reply

Roger

Hi Patrick,

The need for backer is determined by your local building codes. As far as the stone is concerned it doesn’t need to be backer – drywall is fine. I would miter the corners or make the walls 90 degrees.

Reply

Marc

Roger,

I am re-doing a shower floor. I have run into a couple of possible issues:
1. The mortar bed came out fairly well, but the surface seemed awfully sandy and seemed to come up in a couple spots with the thinset not sticking to it while laying the tiles. I believe I may have slightly over wet my mix. Should I re-do it?
2. I used 1″ x 2″ mosaic tiles, 1/8″ grout lines. Most seem pretty solid, but a few individual tiles did not stick. They are still joined together by the mosaic square. Is it okay to grout or do I need to re-do the entire job from the mortar bed up? (I am using the fusion pro single component grout). Thanks,

Marc

Reply

Roger

Hi Marc,

No need to redo it, but you can skim-coat it with thinset first if you want. That will help.

You need to remove the loose tiles and reset them. The grout will not hold them in place and will eventually begin to crack.

Reply

Philip Bryant

Roger,
I’m building a traditional shower floor over concrete. I completed the mud pre-slope and allowing it to ‘set’. However, I noticed a hollow-like sound when tapping on the pre-slope over approx. 1/4 of the surface. This just didn’t ‘sound’ right, didn’t sound solid. I then realized I forgot to apply the thin-set layer between the concrete floor and the pre-slope (duh!!). I have bashed up this suspect area of the floor and cleaned away all debris.
Question: Would you recommend bashing up the rest of the pre-slope and starting over again using the thin-set layer or….can I apply a concrete bonding adhesive (or thin-set) to the exposed concrete floor and the edges of the current solid pre-slope area and re-mud this section to finish the pre-slope? How critical is the bonding of this pre-slope mud bed to the original concrete floor? The floor in solidly framed on 3 sides with a concrete curb.
Thanks for your advise and giving me the the courage to tackle this in the first place.
-Phil

Reply

Roger

Hi Philip,

Ideally I would remove the entire preslope and redo it with thinset to bond it to the concrete. You can just do the spot repair as you’ve mentioned, but it would be much better to redo the entire thing.

Sorry, I know that sucks. :D

Reply

Kymv

Your site and handbooks have successfully guided me through 4 bathroom tile jobs over the past few years. Now on to a new challenge! I have a 1920s house with the typical covered columned front porch. My contractor replaced the porch floor with a water resistant osb and suggested I tile over durarock. There is about a 5 degree slope. I was thinking about coating the subfloor with redgard or should I lay down plastic? I live in atlanta and do not know if redgard is suitable for a outdoor application. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Reply

Roger

Hi KYMV,

Redgard is a perfect solution. I would put down durarock, the cover with redgard and tile away.

Reply

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