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! I’ve searched your site and can’t find the answer. Maybe I’m using the wrong terms so here’s my project: I have existing 13″ porcelain floor tiles laid on the diagonal over 1/2″ cement board. I need to cut a line from one wall to another – maybe 10′ – parallel to the back wall (think large rectangle). I can’t cut on a grout line because of the diagonal lay. Once cut, this whole area of tile and subfloor will be removed so that piping for a shower and a separate tub can be installed between the two walls. The plan is to install everything up to the cut line and then grout it (or use sanded caulk) to finish it off. What is the best way to make the cut? Thank you!

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Kevin

Hi

I am tiling my shower right now i am near completion of applying onto wall I used to kerdi edging on the outside edges of the walls but I was wondering what I should use on the tile edges where they meet at 90 degrees for my shower niche? I seen that there is the plastic edging that I could have used but the problem is i already have the tiles mortored on! could i glue something to the edges or something? i could send you pictures if you don’t understand! Thank

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Ben

Hi. I installed a Kerdi Shower system and the installation went great and followed the manufactures instructions closely. My question is can I apply redguard to my seams for an extra level of protection or not. I have the seen the kerdi and redguard used together before and I am aware that Schluter does not recoment this anymore. I know that Ardex 8+9 can be used with kerdi but I have some redgurad and was hoping to use it up.

Thanks for any advice.

Ben

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Paul

Hi Roger,

I’m back with even more thinset questions. The last time I had asked about Laticrete 254 & Ultraflex 3 and you mentioned that they would both be excellent choices for the bathroom floor. Having gone off and researched a bit more on both products and the price :( I’m wondering if this may be a bit of overkill for the application.

To repeat novice tile DIYer. Small bathroom cement floor in good shape.
Tile is 12X24 porcelain. I don’t want something that sets too fast. What about the following class of thinsets? UltraFlex 2, Versabond, Laticrete 253 Gold and Laticrete Sure Set? I know you’re a Laticrete guy and I’ve had good luck with it too. I’ll spend the money for premium thinsets if there is a reasonable reason to do so but if there are alternatives I’d be interested.

Thanks in advance for your patience with my many questions.

Paul

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Richard Dokas

Roger
I would like to try SpectraLOCK from Laticrete on my shower. But I am concerned about the enivable haze that forms on the surface of tiles I have always seen when I tile. It wipes off easily when I have used conventional grout but I am concerned that it will be another matter when using epoxy grout.
There is a product that removes the haze but it sounds like a real chore using it and there is the danger of softening the grout. What do you think about trying to wipe down the tile surface with this stuff before it dries? Would that prevent the haze? How do you deal with it?

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Roger

Hi Richard,

I have no idea whether or not that would have a negative chemical reaction with uncured epoxy. I would not do it. What I would do is use the epoxy, take my time, pay attention to the cleaning/wiping times that come in the directions with the grout. If you do that you WILL NOT have haze. When used properly this is not a problem, it is only a problem when installed improperly, as with any tile product.

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Dan

Hello Roger,
I am deep into a complete bathroom remodel and need some advice. Room is currently gutted to the studs and newly replaced subfloor. Going to be using an acrylic tub with tile shower surround and tile on the floor also. I have no previous tile experience but consider myself to be an experienced d.i.y. guy who wants to do it right and am willing to take the time to learn how to do it right. Have just downloaded your shower waterproofing manual and am planning on purchasing the appropriate installation manual(s) from you once a clear direction on method of construction is decided. That is where your advice is needed right now. In reading through the waterproofing manual it appears you prefer the Kerdi membrane system over drywall or cement board. Would this be better than using Kerdi board as the wall substrate/waterproofing material. Harder to install, more or less expensive than Kerdi membrane etc.? Have watched the Schluter video on using the Kerdi board to build the surround and it looks pretty slick. Need your opinion and unless cost gets too far out there will follow your direction.
As a side note I plan on using Ditra on the floor under the tile.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give on this and thanks for a great all around site that has already been a great help to me!

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Roger

Hi Dan,

Use the kerdi-board. It is more expensive, but much faster and easier. It’s how I build about 90% of my showers now.

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bert ehling

I’ve done several indoor tiling jobs over the years and always used Hardiebacker, so I did the same when it came to our front porch. NOW I read that Hardiebacker is only for indoors, and I’m paying the price for my mistake. The job was done seven years ago. Actually most of the porch is fine, where it’s under roof, but I had to redo the lowest step three years ago and will now have to redo the second step. (The Hardiebacker has turned to mush and all the tiles are moveable) The substrate is either treated wood or outdoor plywood or both, I honestly can’t remember.
There’s so much conflicting advice out there I’m no longer sure how to proceed. My questions are: 1) Should I use PermBase with modified/unmodified mud? 2) Should I use Ditra instead? 3) Should I possibly use both? 4) Since I have to reuse about 14 tiles, what’s the best way to remove the mud on the back, without buying a grinder?
Climate-wise, we live in mid-Missouri. Would appreciate any specific advice . I’m pushing 70, with a bad back, so go easy on me! Thanks a million.

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Roger

Hi Bert,

Ditra would be your best bet – water doesn’t affect it at all. There is no easy way to get thinset off the back without a grinder. A hammer and chisel is the easiest, unfortunately.

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dave

Roger,

Where do you purchase your thin set in the Fort Collins area? Having a hard time finding unmodified locally. Thanks.

Dave

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Roger

Hi Dave,

Florida tile has TEC unmodified and uncoupling, lowes has ditra set, and I get laticrete 317 in Denver.

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Ann

I am building a large walk in shower in my basement, and I have a few questions. The shower is on cement and I have built the walls around it. I plan to use the concrete backerboard and paint on water proofing. However, the plumber I hired already place a standard drain. I’m unsure how to handle this. Is there anyway to still do the paint on water proofing with the standard drain? Or do I have to replace the drain completely? If so, how hard is that? I am very set on doing the paint on because we are doing a shower bench, and I feel the paint on will be the best choice.
Speaking of the bench, this is another issue we have. As I said, we are on a cement floor. I read on your site that I should use cinder blocks/bricks to form the bench and not wood. However, we are building the bench to hide a vent pipe, so I can’t use blocks. How can I build the bench out of wood and make it right? thanks

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Roger

Hi Ann,

Yes, you can still use liquid with a regular drain. Google ‘divot method for drain’ and it’ll show you how. (I haven’t gotten around to posting that yet)

You can use wood as long as you have a slip-sheet between it and the concrete. Just get some roofing felt and lay it over the concrete where your wood will be and build the bench on top of it. As long as that is between the concrete and wood you won’t have any problems.

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Mooch

Hello…
I need some advice on the “repair” of a small shower stall (32 X 32) that leaks at the base of the walls (1″ glass tiles) with a plastic shower pan. The knuckleheads who installed the shower tile 10 years ago,left a one inch gap between the green board ( I know…first mistake) and the rim of the shower base. They thought it would be OK to fill this space in with thinset. The glass tiles were floating in thinset and when the show was used…you guessed it a tile base filled with one inch glass tiles. The “owner” came back and put up some 3 X 6 subway tile and caulked, but it has leaked and looked like crap for years.

What I plan on doing is to completely remove the lower three feet of tile and green board, and put up cement board and red guard. then but up 3 x 6 subway tile with a 1X 6 transition border tile (rope).

My questions are …. should I cover the rim of the shower base or how close to the base?

If I stop the cement board 1/8 – 1/4 from the rim of the base…What do you attached the lowest row of tile to? IF the answer is the cement board, do you then caulk between the tie and shower base as a last step?

Sorry for the long question.

I look forward to your reply.

Mooch

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Roger

Hi Mooch,

The backer needs to be shimmed out so you can get it within 1/8″ of the horizontal portion of the shower base. Once that’s up silicone between the backer and base, then install your redgard. The tile goes to within 1/16″ – 1/8″ then a silicone bead around the bottom (with weep holes).

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Paul

Hello Roger,

I want to thank you for all the help you have given me on my shower / bathroom remodel to date. I’m happy to report that the water test on my Schluter shower system passed (so I can sleep a bit better at night). Before I tile the shower, I plan to tile the bathroom floor. The shower floor next,niche followed by the curb and the shower wall last.

Your tutorial on unmodified thinset mortars was very helpful and the Latricrete 317 worked well with the Kerdie. I’ll also use the Latricrete 317 to tile the shower walls and floor. My question which you may have already answered somewhere on your site. What would you recommend for the bathroom floor. The tiles is 12X24 travertine brushed. I think I read where you liked the Laticrete 254 or Ultraflex 3 ?? The list you provided for the unmodified thinsets what very helpful, so I was looking for something similar for the modified thinsets. I may not be looking in the right place on your site.

As always, any help you can provide is very much appreciated.

Cheers, Paul

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Roger

Hi Paul,

Either of those two mortars will work well. I would probably use the laticrete just because I use a LOT of it, but the ultraflex is excellent as well. I don’t have a post on modified mortars because there are SO MANY of them and all used for different types of installation.

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Dave

I have an outside corner which has bullnose tile on one face (Durock underneath) and drywall on the other. Do I put a corner bead on the transition from the Durock to the drywall? How would one go about attaching a corner bead to Durock? Just screw it in and thinset over the top?

Dave.

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Roger

Hi Dave,

Yes, you should use a plastic corner bead there. It is better to use an adhesive like liquid nails for the bead, screwing that close to the edge will normally bust the edge of the backer off.

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Wayne

Hi,
I installed Kerdi on shower walls, shower floor, curb and Ditra for the bathroom floor. Where Ditra met Kerdi curb, I used 100% silicone sealer.

I’m now grouting inside corner formed between tile on curb and tile on floor. I’m wondering if anything more is needed to provide a decent seal and also provide nice aesthetics (floor is mosaic tile with grey grout, curb is black tile with white grout?
Thanks!

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Roger

Hi Wayne,

You need to silicone that transition (not for waterproofing purposes), it is a change of plane. Grout will likely end up cracking in the future. Other than that you’re good to go.

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Diana

Dear Roger,

A couple of years ago, I found your site, and learned how to do a niche for a shower. We did a bathroom redo, and everyone was in awe of the truly awesome result, and I suspect it will probably help in resale of this place this spring.

We are now going to be building from scratch, and have an interest in a walk-in, curbless shower, because we are getting older by the second. I have 2 questions:

1. I am hoping that there is a way I can use small mosaic tiles to do a shower without horizontal intersections at the walls and floor, via a gradual curve at the vertical corner (or no corner at all, but sort of a pass-through that is open at each end), and a cove with a 6 or 7-inch radius at the wall-floor junction. My logic here is that the water will drain faster, rather than collect in the change of plane, and that mildew will be less of a problem. Plus, if I drop the soap, it will act as a ski jump! I am thinking that I could do the cove with the deck mud.

2. If this is not psychotic (and I am wondering if it is, as I have never seen it done, even in the fancy places on Houzz or magazines), how would I handle a soft joint in there, assuming I tiled from the ceiling down the floor and up the opposite side of the opposite parallel wall?

Thanks for your advice; I was so happy to see that you are still going strong!

Diana

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Roger

Hi Diana,

1. Yes, you can do that with deck mud. I LOVE the ski-jump analogy! :D
2. No soft joint, but you wouldn’t need one because there is no direct pressure from opposite directions, as there would be in a 90 degree corner. If you WANT a soft joint (I don’t think you need one really) you can put one right at the top of the cove on each side, that would be the most logical place to me.

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Terry

Hi Roger

I have 3X16″ ledgestone look tiles that I plan to use for a backsplash. How do you handle the electric outlets since an outlet cover obviously wouldn’t sit flat on the uneven surface of the tiles? Thanks.

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Roger

Hi Terry,

Bump the outlet out to the average face of the tile, install your cover and cut the stone to the cover. That’s the best you’ll get it to look. You could also get something like a travertine and cut the outlet out of it, and use it as a ‘frame’ of sorts, then cut the stone to it. That, actually, is the best you’ll get it to look. :D

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Wayne

Roger,

My question pertains to tile saws. What constitutes a good [enough] tile saw. I am looking at the sliding types. I am just a DIYer and can’t justify the cost of a MK Diamond or the likes. Harbor Freight sells an off brand (Chicago Electric) and Lowes sells the Kobalt. They all look the same to me. No matter which saw I get, I plan to put a Zipper Pro porcelain blade on it as you have suggested in another post. I plan to tile 1000 sqft of floor with porcelain and do some bathroom work later.

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Roger

Hey Wayne,

Don’t tell anyone, but I used one of the old harbor freight saws for three years when I first started. Thing weighed about 7000 pounds, screamed like a banshee and couldn’t cut straight to save my life. But it cut everything I put through it and lasted a hell of a lot longer than I ever thought it would. I’m still amazed at that damn thing. I think you’d be just fine getting one of those. And if it craps out on you before you finish just take it back and they’ll give you another. Really. :D

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