Tile Tips (of the Rich and Famous!)

by Roger

Free TileTips Newsletter from the FloorElf

You can now purchase Tile Tips all at once rather than waiting over six months for them! Just scroll down below the form and get it all now!

Over the past seventeen (almost eighteen it’s over twenty now! – damn I’m gettin’ old) years in the tile trade I have learned a couple of things:

1) People sometimes do not appreciate my sense of humor

2) I oftentimes think I’m funnier than I actually am

3) I sometimes end sentences with inappropriate auxiliary verbs (see above) or start them with a conjunction (see below)

4) And I’ve learned a thing or two about tile

Since the first three on the list are highly unlikely to change or help you I’d like to concentrate on the last – Tile Tips. Since you’re reading this I’m assuming one of two things: either you are interested in learning about tile or you enjoy really bad humor.

You’re in luck! I making both available in one little handy email format. Just sign up below with your name and email and whenever I sober up about twice a week you will receive a handy little tip, trick, or secret about tile installation. I’ll wrap these little tidbits up in really bad humor and shoot them right to your email so you can start your day off with either a chuckle and a helpful tip or one more person to hate.

These things help speed up your installation, make the installation easier and less stressful and help put professional touches on all the little things you may overlook. Things like how to eliminate grout haze, how to get dead-level and flat walls and how to eliminate hollow spots beneath your tile. I also include all the really important stuff that drives me absolutely insane(r) like how to keep your 5 gallon buckets from sticking together and how not to electrocute yourself with a drill while using your hole saw. Fun for the whole family!

This isn’t just for the DIY’ers out there, either. If you are a professional tile contractor it would absolutely benefit you to learn some of these little tricks that you may have just never run across. It’ll help keep your customers happy – that’s what we want, right? You can sign up too, I won’t give you any shit.  Well, I might…

So how much is all this delicious jackassery?

It’s free.  ‘Cause I’m just super-cool like that. 8) Unless you want to buy them in the form of an ebook, if so just scroll down below the form. These will only be sent out once – not recycled like spam (the unwanted email – not the delicious breakfast pseudo-meat) so get yours now before I sober up long enough take enough time off work to make an ebook out of them and actually start charging people for stuff. Which I will do. Seriously. Get it now while it’s free.


First Name:
Your Email Address:

I WANT IT NOW!!!

Buy it all now!

If you would prefer to simply purchase an ebook with 50 tile tips in it you’re in luck! You can do that now. Rather than waiting over six months for all this useless information you can now purchase all this useless information at once!

You can receive an immediate download link for a 90 page ebook in pdf format with 50 Tile Tips in it. You can get the same tips free, but they will be delivered to your email over the course of 6 months.

Entirely your choice.

Anyone who regularly reads my blog, my facebook, my twitter, or any of the other hundred places I’m lurking online, knows that I am an adamant supporter of Homes For Our Troops. So this is your chance to help out as well…

You can get all these tips for free – however, for every TileTips ebook purchased I will donate a portion of the sale to Homes For Our Troops!

Read all the details and go get it right here: Tile Tips of the Rich and Famous

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Nick

Hi Roger!

Not real sure where to post this question, I suppose here looks good… What are your thoughts on tiling stairs?? I have a two stair entry way that I would like to tile so it matches the main floor in the adjacent room. I planned to finish the vertical/horizontal transition with Schluter Rondec (is it necessary to use “roncec-step”). Any dos or don’ts when it comes to tiling stairs?

Reply

Roger

Hey Nick,

They can be done, but you need to make sure they are built well. I prefer to have ditra on the treads, it helps. Yes, you can use the rondec. Rondec step is not necessary.

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myles

we had two new showers installed, and the grout lines on the shower base turn dark when wet, is this normal? the tile guy insists that he sealed the grout.
thanks in advance!

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Roger

Hi Myles,

Yes, it’s completely normal. Sealer does not waterproof your grout.

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Arnold

Hi Roger,
I found out there are molds behind our bath tub shower wall – only on the long side of the bath tub (the shower/faucet side and it’s opposite side of the shower wall looks like are dry and not affected). The affected side (longer side) of shower wall is on the external wall side and is constructed with the following layers: shower tile–>1/2″ greenboard–>1/2″ sheetrock–>2×4 stud(with R-13 insulation)–>sheet of felt–>OSB (ie., it ).
I already removed the affected first bottom 8 rows of tiles including the layer of greenboard and sheetrock behind them as they have traces of mold and are damp.
The next row of tiles above the 8th row looks like not affected by mold and are dry.

After reading your blog posts and articles, I am planning to use 0.42″ hardiebacker as substrate and then Redguard it before putting in the tiles.

Is my approach to leave intact the top rows of tiles and their corresponding layers of substrate (greenboard+sheetrock) and just replace the affected bottom portion with hardiebacker/redguard, a sound approach?

If no, I would like to hear your suggestions.
If yes, to level with the top remaining unaffected rows of tiles, I need to compensate for the difference (due to replacement of 0.5″ greenboard and 0.5″ sheetrock with just a 0.42″ hardiebacker). Is it ok to put a stud shimy on over the existing stud?

Thanks in advance for your advise.
Arnold

Reply

Roger

Hi Arnold,

While I prefer to have the ENTIRE shower waterproofed, your fix will work just fine for a fix. Yes, you can shim over the existing studs to bump out the substrate for the new tile.

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LaNell

It’s coming along. The shower that is. Quick question… Without buying the incredible hulk of grinders, what would round off porcelain tile corners, bullnose.
In reference to your comment above another being funny, you are a scream. Keep it up and we all appreciate.

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Roger

A $150 bullnose blade for a wet saw. Any tools used to create bullnose are expensive.

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Leigh Prieto

I had Mexican travertine installed. the grout between the tile varies from being 1/2 way up to 3/4 up the side. my question is how high should grout be placed in between the tiles.

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Roger

Hi Leigh,

It should be nearly flush with the face of the tile on that type of tile.

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Jim

Hi Roger. Great site! I have a 2nd floor shower with fiberglass (acrylic?) base that is somewhat spongy and has about a 3 or 4 inch long crack. I plan to renovate the bathroom when my current occupants move out, but need a better solution than duck tape until then. The area below the shower is accessible through an A/C return in the ceiling below, and there are no signs of water damage, so hopefully the shower pan / drain is intact. Most contractors are suggesting removing several rows of tile, pulling up current base, re-doing water-proofing, and then a new shower base, new tiles. As an alternative, I’ve seen one site that recommended drilling holes in the shower floor, injecting “foam”, repairing the crack, and then placing a new “skin” on the floor. This should be much less costly. Have you heard of this approach, is it worthwhile, and do you know how I can find out more about this of product / approach? Thanks!

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Roger

Hi Jim,

I am in the camp with the replacement. I’ve heard of that method (drilling and foam) but have never actually talked to anyone who has done it. I’m guessing because it didn’t work or last, although I’m not positive about that. There is also no real ‘skin’ you can put over the existing floor. If there were why not just do that by itself without the drilling and foam? :D

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Thres

Hi there, my hubby is doing a demo in our bathroom and we’re having a kerdi system installed. He’s removed all drywall and is putting up new dry wall on top half of wall and bead board on the bottom half. Question is, unless we can find 1/2″ beadboard there will be a transition between the top and bottom that is not even. What happens when the layer of tile from the shower overlaps onto the wall and it’s not uneven

Reply

Roger

Hi Thres,

You’ll have a gap at the lower part. You can shim the beadboard away from the studs so it is even with the drywall.

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Steve

I have some layout questions – that’s a good thing, because it means I might actually get done with this bathroom before the baby comes.

1. Our bathroom doorway has a small “passageway” due to a built in bookshelf in the adjacent room. What that means is that there is short run before the bathroom opens up. I’m using 12″ tile on the floor. If I put a full tile in the doorway/threshold, it means that the tile leading to the toilet (perpendicular to the door) will be 2 full tiles and two 5″ cuts on either side. I’m concerned that it won’t look great (small cut tiles and the centered grout line) and that it might be hard to get the grout line perfectly centered on the toilet. The only option that I have come up with is putting a cut tile in the doorway (about 7″). Installing diagonally or staggered sort of addresses the issue, but I’m not sure it would work aesthetically otherwise. It seems like a tradeoff between getting a full tile in the doorway or an ideal toilet layout. Thoughts?

2. How to terminate Ogee (chair rail) on top of wainscoting? The wainscoting is 4×8 subways that “runs into” the shower tile (also 4×8 subways, but without the ogee and obviously taller on the wall). The other place is behind the vanity (3 wall backsplash) where the ogee and tile stops at the edge of a shallow wall (even with the vanity top). Should I just end it with the flat edge exposed ( it is marble, so not an unfinished edge)? Should I treat it like crown molding and do a mitered return? Round over the corner? Something else?

3. 4″ Kerdi drain in 1.5″ square mosaics. I can center the drain in 3×3 array of tiles and end up with a large (1/4″ + grout line) or I can tuck the drain in the corner of the 3×3 section, and end up with narrow tile slivers on two sides of the drain. Thoughts?

Reply

Roger

Hi Steve,

1. Center it in the doorway. There is no need at all to center a grout line on the toilet.

2. Either a mitered return or cut the face of it at a 45 toward the back of it.

3. With that I normally tuck it in the corner of the sheet.

Reply

Steve

Roger,

I think I did a bad job of explaining the situation in question #1. Here are some bad drawings to attempt to convey it visually:

http://duckisabird.smugmug.com/Gaylord/Tile-layout/37124078_q8WvzX#!i=3081973947&k=N7qZfdH

The doorway in question is at the bottom left of the image – the adjacent room is not tiled. The tile in the doorway will be centered either way. I think the rest of the layout works better if the tile in the doorway is not a full sized piece(second picture), but in the tile tips book you make a strong point about using a full sized tile in the doorway (first picture).

What would Roger do?

As always, many many thanks.

Reply

Roger

I would do it the first way. HOWEVER, if you think the second way looks better then that’s the right way to do it. There are no hard and fast rules, as I’ve said, I just prefer full tiles in the doorway.

Reply

Robert Gray

where is the best place to by Ditra. I need 4000+ sq/ft.

Reply

Roger

Hi Robert,

At whichever retailer is in your area. Schluter has MAP pricing, which means dealers are limited to specific regions in which they can sell the product. You may want to look into Laticrete Strata-mat instead. Call StoneTooling and tell them I sent you, you should be able to get a break on the pricing with that much product.

Reply

Nick

Elf:

I’ve got my Ditra installed over OSB with a modified thinset. Now I’m going to install my natural stone using unmodified thinset. Can I fill all the cavities, wait a day, and come back, snap lines, and install the natural stone with more unmodified?

Reply

Roger

Hi Nick,

Yes.

Reply

Fritz McDonald

thanks for the help

Reply

Margo

Hi. We are trying to figure out how to cut a diamond shape into the middle of a porcelain tile.Also how do you keep the tile from chipping when you cut them?

Thank You for any help

Reply

Roger

Hi Margo,

The easiest way to do it is with a grinder and a diamond tile wheel on it. You can normally minimize chipping by cutting slower. Don’t force the blade, let the blade cut through it.

Reply

Stil

hahahaha. Thats funny

Reply

Dennis

I have a very out of the ordinary substrate outdoors that needs to be tiled. Modified vs unmodified. Ditra vs Prova Flex. Picking the correct products for a good end result is key and I am not sure anyone has the 100 % correct answer for my specific job, but would love to talk with you briefly with any suggestions. Ask 10 people and get 20 different answers. However, I would love to hear yours so I could make my final choice and roll the dice….

Reply

Roger

Hi Dennis,

Sorry for the delay, been out of town at the new Schluter facility all week.

I would love to help you choose the correct substrate and products to install tile over your out of the ordinary substrate!

You need to let me know, though, what this out of the ordinary substrate is. :D

Reply

Linda

Hi Roger,
I am grouting my porcelain tile floor with Hydroment/Bostic sanded grout. The bag says when mixed with water, which is what I plan to use, the grout should be wiped with a damp sponge several times a day for 3 days after grouting. The guy at the tile store didn’t seem familiar with this, so I was wondering if you ever do this or feel it is necessary.
Thanks for your help!

Reply

Roger

Hi Linda,

It’s not necessary if you clean it correctly and get all the haze removed when doing so. I think they do that to ensure that people get the haze removed before it becomes permanent and requires chemicals to remove. Just do a couple good wipe downs – the first when the grout firms up, the second when the tile hazes over (1/2 hour later or so), then when it hazes over again (it should be really light haze) use a micro-fiber towel to do a final wipe down. That should get all the haze off of your tile. Keep an eye out for random renegade areas and wipe them down again if needed, but no need to do it for three days. Hell, I’d never get any jobs done if I had to do that. :D

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Linda

Thanks for the info! When I looked up the data sheet for the grout this is what it said: “When mixed with water, damp cure for 3 days by
wiping joints with a clean, damp sponge several times per day, or by covering joints with non-staining craft paper. Improper curing may result
in light color and weak joints”.
I’ve heard of people doing this for cement jobs (spraying water on the cement so it would dry slower), so maybe it is the same idea?

Reply

Roger

Damp curing is completely different from what sounded like recleaning it for three days. Damp curing assists with consistent and better finish, but wiping it with a sponge is not how to do it correctly – covering it while it cures is the right way to do it.

Reply

Jim King

Hi Roger,
I’m retiling my shower from a house that is about 60 years old.
I found out the hard way about the mud thing. Wow, this shower could have been a fricking tornado shelter. I never knew they did this before. Anyway, I got all the walls tore out, wire mesh and all and I see that the ceiling tiles were done the same way. No way I’m going to tear down that shit and have 18″ of blown in cellulose come down. The existing ceiling is 4″ ceramic tile in excellent shape, no cracks or anything. Im going to use your burn method, but should I take a sander to the tile first? I was also thinking of drilling angled holes in the grout lines every 6″ for the thinset to hold into. (is the angled hole thing overkill)
Lastely…do I let the burned thinset completely dry (on old and new tile) before I put notched thinset onto my new tile.
Lasetly Lastely…Any comments on how to get the bottom of the shower tile out easy. I’m sure this is done the same way. Do I need a jack hammer.
I appreciate any info you can give. This is very generous of you.
Thanks,
Jim

Reply

Roger

Hi Jim,

Yes, you should rough up the existing tile first. Holes aren’t necessary, but don’t hurt. You can let it cure first or do it at the same time you set the tile. A jackhammer works very well. I have a bosch bulldog (it’s like a mini jackhammer) that I use for that stuff, works extremely well.

Reply

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