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.

charlie

hi mr elf,
do i need concrete backer board on the ceiling of the shower?
thanks,
charlie

Reply

Roger

Hi Charlie,

You don’t need it, but it’s always a better option. You can go over drywall up there if you want to, provided your shower doesn’t have a header across the entrance.

Reply

Kevin

Hi Floor Elf
I purchased your liquid waterproofing guide and it’s been a real lifesaver.. many thanks. I have run into a bit of a problem in building my 3′ by 3′ stall shower however and need your advice. Despite my instructions to the contrary, my drywall contractor finished the transition seams between my hardibacker and his drywall with fiberglass mesh tape (fortunately it’s the correct alkaline resistant variety) and floated plaster skim coat. The seam is filled with plaster and then it’s feathered in onto the hardibacker 3-4 inches. My question is – do I need to remove all this plaster and finish those seams with thinset or will it be ok to apply my Redguard right over this. The seams are horizontal at 7 feet and then vertically right above where the curb will end on the outside of the shower.

Reply

Roger

Hi Kevin,

You should sand it off anywhere it is inside the shower and replace it with thinset. The seam itself will be fine, but you don’t want that behind your redgard in a wet area.

Reply

chris

Roger,

If I have a minor dip in the floor while installing 2″ marble mosaic tile, can I build up that area slightly with thinset and not tamp down the tile all the way where needed using a straight edge as a guide?

Reply

Roger

Hi Chris,

Yes, provided you still get complete coverage.

Reply

chris

you mean enough thinset contact area on bottom of tile?

Reply

Roger

Yes.

Reply

Alex T

Rodger
Hey !
I’ve learned a lot on your site (thank you for that!)

I think I want to go with the topical waterproofing on the walls and because of size and shape (octagonal corner) on the shower pan over cement, will be better off using deck mud also topically waterproofed which will produce a lower curb and shower lip (by using only one level of deck mud.
Also will want to use bricks for the curb and have a free standing open shower wall about 5 ft tall on one side

Will purchasing your topical waterproofing book and also tile tips cover these aspects ?

Thank you for the help!
Alex T.

Reply

Roger

Hi Alex,

Yes, it will. And I am always available for questions on anything that is unclear.

Reply

Luke

I’m confused…Reading your book….Creating a Traditionally Waterproofed Shower…it is explained on page 21…Your finished floor (after your liner and top mud bed are installed) needs to be at least 1 ½” thick at the drain. I usually split the total thickness between the two slopes – the preslope
and top slope. So, if we make the pre-slope ¾” thick at the drain it needs to be a total of 1 ½” thick at all your walls.
If my bottom drain flange (the one that is glued to the drain pipe) is flush with the concrete floor, why do I need 3/4″ height of mud at the drain? Wouldn’t that pull the liner too far down onto the flange with the locking ring? Shouldn’t the mud be trowed to meet flush with the drain flange or maybe a little higher than the drain…no thicker than the locking flange?

Reply

Roger

Hi Luke,

Yes, ideally the preslope should be 3/4″ thick at the drain. That, however, is when the drain flange is NOT flush with the substrate. When it is just go a bit above the lower flange height. You should still have a minimum 1 1/2″, but it’s not imperative. As with any standard in the book they all apply to the ideal situation – those which we are rarely in. :D So you can have 3/8″ at the drain for the preslope and 3/4″ at the drain for the top deck for a total of 1 1/8″, no biggie.

Reply

Luke

AWESOME…THANKS…U DA MAN…well…i presume u r a man…lol

Reply

Kay

Now that Spectralock isn’t available at Lowe’s — are any of the TEC grouts that they stock good stuff?
Thanks, Kay

Reply

Roger

Hi Kay,

Kerapoxy is their epoxy grout, it’s good but much more difficult to work with than the spectralock. The acrylic pre-mixed grout is actually a good product.

Reply

Ryan

Well i noticed that the grout under the tile edges going to the drain on my shower floor is chipping off. Can i just put grout to it? My house is just a year old so i do not know if this is because of dodgy workmanship. Really need some help. The tiles are not moving much but if you step on it, water is coming out from underneath the tiles. Is that normal that water gets underneath the tiles on your shower floor? Thank you.

Reply

Roger

Hi Ryan,

If water is coming out when you step on it then your shower floor is not draining, the weep holes are plugged or something. If there is ANY movement in the tile something is incorrectly built.

Reply

Ramon

Roger..I need your help..AGAIN..I decided to use Kerdi membrane on my shower walls over drywall. I went with Mapei uncoupling membrane thinset. It wasn’t until I was mixing my last batch that I noticed that the only substrate that it is NOT suitable to use on was…wait fir it…..DRYWALL !! I am scared to death that my new subway tiled walls are just going to peel off the wall with the Kerdi. Have I screwed up bad or is there hope?? also my shower is a 2 wall corner style.. should I set all my bullnose up the wall and work into the inside corner with my tiles? both walls at the same time ?
Thanks so much for your feedback!!
Ramon :rockon:

Reply

Roger

Hi Ramon,

It’s fine over drywall. Really. :D

Start with a straight line from the outside corner of your shower straight up and place your field tile against that and work into the corner. I normally put the bullnose on after the field tile is in. If you can actually do both walls at the SAME time – come to Colorado, I’ll hire you. :D Short of that, just do one wall at a time.

Reply

chris

Roger, should I thinset over counter sunk screw heads in Durock before Redgard application?

Reply

Roger

Hi Chris,

You can if you want to, it’s not necessary, though.

Reply

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