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:


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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Leave a Comment


    Trent here,
    I’ve been installing tile for years, and I used to always end up with flat floors. But lately, I install the floor and it is level when I leave for the day. But, When I come back the next day, it is no longer level. Dude, what am I doing wrong? Have they changed the thinset formula? It gets me so pissed!!!!!!!

    Love the humor!!!!!! When in this line of work, I always need something something to make me smile and laugh. When tiles are not laying flat, it is generally foul language coming out of my mouth. And then another 12 pack.

    • Roger

      Hi Trent,

      It could be a number of reasons. Tiles keep getting bigger, I’m sure you’re aware of that. With the larger tile we need to use a medium-bed more often (currently known as LFT mortar – large format tile). It just has more sand in it, this prevents it from shrinking as much as it cures. That is normally the biggest issue. It can be flat as hell when set, then it cures and shrinks unevenly, pulling tiles all over the place as it does so. Thinset has changed, but not significantly so. It’s more an issue of the tile.

  • Mike Robinson

    I have a 4″ wide half height wall next to the entrance to my shower. My bull nose tile is only 3″ wide. Is it ok to rip tiles to 2″ wide and run a grout line down the center of the 4″ width. Seamless glass will me installed on top of it and to the entrance edge.

    • Roger

      Hi Mike,

      Yes, perfectly acceptable.

  • Mike Robinson

    Me again! Sorry, I have a dog my wife cares for very much and I don’t want him to burst into flames because I made a mistake doing this bathroom! It’d be bad.
    My tile for shower, floor and tub surround is all porcelain. Grout is all unsanded and all grout lines are 1/8″ or smaller. Do I need to seal anything? (No kids or Kool-Aid)

    • Roger

      Hi Mike,

      Nope, not really. Can if you want, but not necessary.

  • Mike Robinson

    My shower pan is a pre-formed custom size with bench made by Ange Tile-EZ. They recommend using Mapai’s Ultra Flex 2 thin-set for the tiles. I cannot find this in my area. Is there another thin-set that would compare to Ultra Flex 2?
    The Ditra-Set you recommended for Kerdi-Board is great. Much easier to handle than the All Set. Thank you.

    • Roger

      Hi Rich,

      Negative hydrostatic pressure. The pressure of the water behind the wall is always exactly that – pressure. It will always win when pulled down by gravity against a force that is not under pressure (the inside of the shower). Also, if the shower is properly waterproofed – as it should be – you can take a hose and place it right up to that hole, turn the water on full blast and water will STILL not get into your wall cavity. To ‘pour’ through a hole that size there would have to be absolutely nothing on the other side of it, space for the water to go. That doesn’t exist.

      If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. But it works and it’s necessary. :)

    • Roger

      Hi Mike,

      Laticrete 253 or 254, Tec 3-n-1 are comparable. Versabond would likely be just fine as well.

  • Mike Robinson

    Thank you for all of your past advise and tips. I am about to start tiling shower walls built with Kerdi-Board. I’m using Ditra-Set. I previous tiled a tub surround built with Kerdi-Board, but used Schluter’s All Set. I had issues with the thin-set not wanting to stay on the board as I applied it. I don’t want to have the same issues using the Ditra-Set. Does moistening the surface of the Kerdi-Board help eliminate this issue? Are there any other tips you could suggest trying. I mixed the thin-set according to instructions on bag. Also tried more and less water in the mix.

    • Roger

      Hi Mike,

      The ditra-set is a bit ‘stickier’ than the all-set, but not much. I mix it a little loose (a bit more water), but that’s about the best you can do. Wetting the surface does not help, but burning it into the kerdi-board (force a layer of thinset into the board with the flat side of the trowel, like backbuttering a tile) before spreading it helps a lot.

      • Mike Robinson

        Thank you. I read your advise on backbuttering the other day. Have one question. How thick or thin is the layer of thin-set you spread apply to the tile? Seems to me it should just be a thin layer. Just enough to fill the pattern and voids on the back of tile. Correct? I used 12 x 24 tiles on floor and tub surround. I backbuttered all of those tile. But used 1/2 x 1/2 notch to help reduce lift. Shower is 12 x 12 tile and I don’t want as much thin-set behind the tiles on the shower walls.

        • Roger

          Hi Mike,

          Yes, it’s just a layer thick enough to fill everything on the back of the tile.

  • Dan Lavoie

    I would just like to thank you so much for indirectly helping me with waterproofing and installing tile in my bathroom (two) walls and floors. Without your insight and guidance, I do not think I would have been able to do as good of a job. It may not be 100% perfect, but my experience with installing tile has only been with these two bathrooms. I have the deepest appreciate and respect for you. Once again, thank you!

  • Bob Lundy

    Hi Roger,
    Have read quite a bit on your site as I am in the midst of redoing our bathroom. I have removed the old tile and and gotten down to the cement subfloor. I have 12 x 24 porcelain floor tiles that I will lay with a 1/8″ grout line after reading your advice. My question is that throughout the main floor, which is mostly original floor tile in our 15 yr old house, there are a great many cracks and some run quite a length. We have cement floor on all levels with in floor radiant heating. My assumption is that these cracks are from not laying the tiles right over the in-floor heating system at the right temperature. Is that correct? Do you have any advice before I start as to whether the heat should be turned up so that the expansion is at its most or if the floor should be cool to allow for contraction. Perhaps the wrong thinset was used (modified vs non-modified)? All i know is that the crack are too numerous and I do not want the same happening when I lay my new tile. Any advise is appreciated.

    • Roger

      Hi Bob,

      The reason you mention is but one of several things that it could be. Your best bet is to use a membrane like ditra which will separate the tile from any micro-movement in the slab, such as expansion and contraction due to the radiant heating. You want the heat off when you set the floor, and for a minimum of 14 days afterward. As far as the highest temperature, if you use a proper membrane you’ll not affect the tile no matter how high you crank it up.

  • Len

    Hello Roger,
    Thanks for all the information and guidance you provide on your website and discussions. I’ve been slowly raising the master bath in my 90 year old house from the dead. I am at the point of setting the mud over the vinyl liner that was installed by a plumber 2 years ago. I had to pull the liner corners and reinstall them properly because the plumber did an incorrect installation. I am now concerned that the plumber installed the preslope incorrectly. The plumber also installed a foam pre-slope under the vinyl liner. The drain assembly and its marriage to the liner are definitely watertight. Very grateful for that. I do have one concern though. When I pour water onto the liner and allow it to drain, the water doesn’t drain completely. The flange of the drain assembly sits atop the liner so that I get a solid 3” wide perimeter of water pooled around the flange. Is that normal? It makes me think that any water which seeps under my 1 ½” mud bed will just sit there forever and create a situation where mold / mildew will grow. Do I need to pull up the liner and raise up the pre-slope so the flange will be lower?

    • Roger

      Hi Len,

      It actually is normal. It will drain through the weep holes. If you look closely around the perimeter of the flange there should be little spaces shaped like rectangles on the bottom. Those are the weep holes.

      • Len

        Thanks Roger,
        I’ll check to see if the weep holes are clogged. I’ve done quite a bit of carpentry and all of the drywall / sanding etc. since the installation of the liner and drain system. I tried to keep all that debris out of the shower tray, but maybe I didn’t do such a perfect job. Maybe those weep holes are just clogged?
        Again, thanks.

  • Jim

    We are remodeling our shower, tiling all walls, and the ceiling. We’re using 12 X 24
    tiles in a 3.5 X 6.0 foot shower. The wall orientation of the tiles is “portrait”, not “landscape”. We are at loggerheads as to the orientation of those same tiles on the ceiling. If we line up the grout lines with the back wall, they don’t match the side walls, and vis-a-versa. Visually, would it work to cut the 12 X 24 tiles to 12 X 12 ? Which orientation would you suggest? Thank you.

    • Roger

      Hi Jim,

      12×12 will work, but I prefer to have the orientation the same as the back wall. So it would be oriented from the front to back. You can line up all the grout lines on the back wall and every other grout line on the side walls if you have consistent grout lines.



    • Roger

      Hey GDH,

      It’s likely not enough coverage in those areas. Not a big enough trowel, mortar too dry, etc. Remove one of those tiles and see if there is any mortar on the back of it. If not your problem will likely be solved simply by replacing them with a larger trowel and properly mixed mortar.

      • COL GDH

        ….and roger acknowledge all, Foxtrot Echo. TANKs! for your support in this matter…

  • Helen

    After reading your info I am planning on building a shower with the topical barrier method with a liquid membrane.
    The only product available in my area is aquadefense (Mapei)
    Is this also suitable for waterproofing the floor ,together with the tape?
    I am also in the process of lowering my subfloor and would like to keep the height of the showerfloor as low as possible.
    What is the minimal thickness of deckmud at the drain?
    With the floor out it would be relatively easy to just preslope the subfloor to a linear drain.
    Would I make it easier on myself if I did that?
    Thanks in advance

  • freddie

    :rockon: :bonk: :bonk: :bonk: :bonk: :bonk: :bonk: :bonk: learn alot from your post looking more for great information

  • freddie

    always like to inform myself when it comes down to home projects especially when the wife wants it done from a pro. I like to ask questions and known whats taking place I do have some construction background certify welder concrete landscape etc etc :rockon:

  • Kristi

    I know next to nothing about tile and I’m hoping you can give me some advice. Our bathroom shower was professionally renovated approx. 3 yrs. ago with porcelain tiles. I’m not thrilled with the variation in the width of the grout lines around the base of the shower. In some areas it’s normal and in many other areas the wall tile is almost butted up against the floor tiles with almost no grout line, which I’m guessing would have made it difficult to get grout into thoroughly in the first place.
    With foundation shifts, the grout has crumbled at the base of the shower and I can see that water is seeping in there and not drying. I realize that adding grout on top of the existing likely wouldn’t be a good solution. Can you tell me if there is anything besides re-grouting that needs to happen, or anything else we should be considering? Thank you in advance.