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02-13-2008, 09:20 AM
Job is to lay quarry tile about 1200sqft in a commercial space for a pizza/sub shop.
1. The whole place needs a new subfloor- is it ok to lay quarry tile over plywood?
2. What is the best product to use to lay quarry tile?
3. Grouting quarry tile - Do I have to use epoxy based grout for commercial applications? What epoxy grout should I use if so? How do you keep the quarry tile clean when using epoxy grout? Heard some different things like wax coated quarry tile and other things, just want to do it right.
4. Would really appreciate a step by step on doing a job like this.
5. How much should I charge per square foot? The job is in Baltimore, the layout is not bad basically a big "L" with a seperate prep room. There is a lot of equipment in there that will have to be moved around. I know prices are all over the board on things like this. Being I have never really worked with quarry tile I do not want to burn myself.

I have been doing property management and renovating houses for almost 20 years. This is just one of those things I have not had to deal with before. We lay lots of tile and would love to take the job as we have the renovating work. Would just hate to pass on it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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02-13-2008, 10:20 AM
Sounds like you're a pro or gonna be by the end of this project. I moved you over here where the other pro's hangout to get you , er, professional help.

02-13-2008, 10:21 AM
if you need a step by step walk through, help with pricing and material to use I would seriously reconsider doing this work. you could lose your ass and get in over your head.

commercial jobs are pretty fast paced and aren't for the new or weak at heart.

and to answer your questions.

#1) no you cant set quarry tile in a commercial kitchen on plywood.
#2) thin set, depending on your substrate you lay on, you'll need cement board or better yet a wet bed to make sure water flows to drains.
#3) epoxy grouts are great and last a long time and are used on commercial kitchens, but being your first time I would consider a regular sanded grout.
#4) I would advise on having prior tile setting experience before taking on a job like this.
#5) your labor pricing is up to you, other's cant determine what you should charge and make, so I revert back to my #4 answer.

02-13-2008, 10:40 AM
Thanks for the help so far. We lay lots of ceramic tile in houses. This is just totally new. Not sure how complicated it is. What is so different about quarry tile as opposed to ceramic? We lay ceramic floors for about 5 a square foot with grout and mastic on jobs of this size. Just wondering the difference if quarry is more or less in pricing.

02-13-2008, 10:44 AM
We lay ceramic floors for about 5 a square foot with grout and mastic on jobs of this sizemastic on a floor?....ohh boy !

there are so many factors in setting tile correctly this thread could be miles long.
if you set tile already the right way and have success, use your same pricing you are comfortable with and go for it.

02-13-2008, 11:40 AM
Ok here we go now I guess I wil get wrecked for terminology. Look I don't claim to be a master tiler by any means. My jobs turn out great and have stood test of time and use. Do I get into crazy complicated work no, I just wanted to know how to lay quarry tile. I can't believe it is that complicated or is it does it require specialized expensive equipment? I am not "Jonny home owner", I was just looking for some help would rather avoid being belittled.

02-13-2008, 11:54 AM
Torn, most of the questions were answered in the first response. Commercial jobs, especially commercial kitchens are a different animal than normal residential installs.

typically there are going to be floor drains involved. This usually requires the use of a mortar bed so that you can have positive pitch towards those drains for the water. With that, the a waterproofing membrane is also neccessary. And the use of an epoxy grout in a commercial kitchen is a must if you want it to last any length of time.

If all you are looking to do is stick tile down and get paid you can do that with any number of mortars available at any big box store or local tile center over plywood or backerboard.

what we try to do here is give good advice for long lasting tile installations that adhere to industry standards. If that is what you are looking for, please give us more details and we will be happy to assist.

02-13-2008, 12:07 PM

don't forget about waterproofing the floor with 9235 or HydroBan ;)

02-13-2008, 12:22 PM
Thanks I appreciate that. There are no drains. There is actually a basement below the store. No matter who does the tile the owner wants a plywood subfloor laid over the old floor whick is a mess of vinyl. This part is no problem lot of experience with laying subfloors. So imagine you walk into a 1200 sqft space with a new plywood subfloor that is solid and free of "wavy gravy"(i believe that is a technical term) and the owner says he wants 6x6 quarry tile throughout. Where would you go from here? What products would you use? Tell me please

Tileman Packerfan
02-13-2008, 04:19 PM
So let me get this straight, you're going to lay plywood over layers of vinyl which is on a concrete slab, because you did say basement right?

Going top need more info to give installing advise.

Like others have said, epoxy grout is a must for a commercial kitchen, but if you've never done it before, get ready for a very unpleasant experience. Especially with 1200 sq. ft. of quarry. It's like working with sticky snot, actually sticky snot would be much easier to work with. :)

02-13-2008, 04:49 PM
I start a 2800 s/f Quarry Job in the morning as part of a Huge project.

Laying the tile is the easy part.........Understanding the mechanics of Why we do things the way we do them is not something I can teach in a single post, nor would i want to try.

Seriously, Based on the little bit of information you have provided I have made these assessments

#1 - Somebody somewhere along your career path neglected to give you some proper mechanical training and because of this we NEED to start you from scratch.

This is not meant to belittle you, its meant to keep you from hurting your good business name......IF you are willing to Begin to learn proper methods for installing We can HELP...If you are not or do not have the time for this I would reccomend that you pass on this job.

What type of a time frame are we working with here?
Do we know HOW the substructure is built? You say it is a basement so is this a Slab or is it an old style Joist sytem laid on bare ground with cement poured between the joist?

How many layers are we dealing with?

Is this potential client in the market for a proper tile job or is he looking for a SLAM DUNK BOTTOM DOLLAR Installation?
( we do not do those here, SORRY!! )

Your willingness to take the time to LEARN will be in the same proportions WE will be willing to TEACH............We on the same page here?

02-13-2008, 05:00 PM
Torn Again
Got a first name?
You will get some good help here. If you can not take it personal but take the suggestions in the spirit of brotherhood (sisters too) you can learn a lot. I've done this for a long time and still learn stuff here.
My suggestion is that you shoud look at the Schluter Ditra matting. It might save you a little grief in the long run. To much to explain in this post but if you do a little work you will find all you can read about it, here and on the Schluter web site. Or call the local rep and have him walk you through it. Todd addressed the mechanics of an installation and this product can help with that part.

Tile guy Todd, I am always impressed by the quality of you answers. I think others would do well to listen to you.

02-13-2008, 05:03 PM
ok actually the store is on the 1st floor and there is a basement below it. The building is old the joists are 2.5 x 9 white pine spaced approx 16 oc - the origional pine hardwood is on top of the joists it s about 3/4 then it appears there is a layer of 1/2' plywood over the hardwood and then a fiberboard over that followed by old vinyl tile. The owner is not in the worlds biggest rush to get this done, he has had the building for a while and is getting the place together bit by bit. I am sure he is not trying to spend a fortune either. Where do we go from here I am all ears?

02-13-2008, 05:07 PM
Thanks for the ditra heads up. My name is Gene - nice to meet everyone. I really would just like to learn to be able to do some of these things the right way. Not trying to be a jack of all trades just want to be able to do it.

02-13-2008, 07:32 PM
Gene, now we are getting Somewhere........1 step at a time

Next thing we need to know is the Longest unsupported span of those joists.

NOW I am going to tell you WHY we need this in Laymans terms.

Floors are designed to handle a specific amount of weight. In handling the weight they are designed for as the load Increases the floor flexes to absorb the load........In the Tile trades We call this Deflection.
Picture a flat floor as a straight line........In the center of the floor you add 2000 lbs.........that weight is distributed over several joists. The shorter the joists are between supports, The less the floor will Deflect Or in other words sink slightly under the weightload.
The longer the distance the Larger the joists must be.........Some spans are simply too long for ANY conventional joist System and requirements for a Tile installation are very specific. There is a formula but Lets not get into that, lets just say..too much SPAN equals FAILED FLOOR, No IFS, No ANDS, and NO BUTS........IT WILL FAIL and That failure in a remodel situation is Squarely YOUR responsibility, In other words, get it wrong and YOU will eat the job....EVEN if it fails PAST your states required warranty period........WHY? Because a warranty only covers that which was installed properly to begin with..............So now, Instead of Owning the job for a year or two years you own it for the life of the building because it was not done RIGHT to begin with............

Are you beginning to understand WHY we dont simply throw you a couple of quick answers and let you go out there blindly??

There is a reason why This forum is considered the Best the industry has to offer and the best on the web.........You will learn to appreciate our candor and our Integrity when it comes to what we do...........The guys who hang out right here in the Pro hangout are THE BEST OF THE BEST!!!


So, take those measurements and cmon back......(while you are measuring those joists, Look to see if you have any scissor bridging placed between the Joists either from Wood or Metal)

One ofthe guys here will help you out If i cant get to you right away......I'm on a Convention Center/Motel/Waterpark at present so My time is at a premium currently.
Best of Luck to you and I will look in on this thread!! :tup1:

02-14-2008, 04:00 AM
Good Morning Gene........While we are waiting on those measurements I thought I would take a Moment to discuss another point or 2.

In your opening statement you mentioned youve done tile before but Ceramic tile not quarry tile. Also that you have been renovating Houses for around 20 years......This is excellent, it tells me you have a decent working knowledge of getting around a jobsite.
One thing to remember here though is that Tile is a very specialized trade and while the big gun DIY stores that say you can do it we can help may make it sound a piece of cake, they will not be taking any responsibility NOR coming out to the jobsite to give you solutions to special problems.

You dont want to be belittled and I dont blame you, nobody wants that and maybe it was simply a terminalogy thing but lets look at this statement you made
What is so different about quarry tile as opposed to ceramic? We lay ceramic floors for about 5 a square foot with grout and mastic on jobs of this size.
MASTIC is a Premixed GLUE and while it may say Floor & wall on the bucket, believe me when I say there are very few area's where it makes any sense to use it for several reasons, but in particular lets take your floor situation.
Mastic Used with large Tile will NEVER dry......It will dry enough around each edge to hold it in place yes, BUT once its dried inwards an inch or so no more air can reach it and it will remain just like it came out of the bucket for over 50-60% of the tile. Now since any Floor tile to be installed correctly should have a Bonded coverage of aproximately 90% minimum, an installation of Mastic will likely only meet this if the tiles are 4" and under in size......even then the mastic has far less compressive strength than a portland cement thinset product so Using it in traffic area's makes No sense at all.

Real Tile Guys can get a bit indignant when they hear the word mastic and almost unruly when they hear Mastic and FLOOR in the same sentance LOL......Its nothing personal, Its simply an Automatic Response ;)

OK back to your Quarry tile.... Have you ever heard of DRY PACK or DECK MUD??
Basically this describes a Mix we use to Float floors. A product you are familiar with more than likely is called Quickcrete and while they have several different mixes, Their Sand Topping Mix is what we are interested in here.

We in the trades Generally mix our own cement & sand but lets just make this one easy for you and say toEvery 60# bag of Quickcrete add a couple #2 shovels of sand .....Mix with a little water until it can be picked up in your hand and formed into a Ball that feels kinda dry yet holds its shape.

THIS is called Dry pack and makes the Best substrate for Quarry tile over a Wood subfloor.......Do you think you can Mix mud and pack and screed a floor flat & Level at a Nominal 1 1/4" thick???

If so...........I (or someone else) Will continue............If Not, We will need to choose an alternative that will suit your situation. :)

02-14-2008, 05:57 AM
As always Todd a nice informative answer. :)

02-15-2008, 04:39 PM
ok. Below the space to be tiled the joists span about 13.5 feet and are spaced about 16 oc. The building is old and the joists are actuallly 2.5" x 9" or 10" white pine. There is a 3/4 pine hardwood floor, a mdf type underlayment and 12" vinyl tiles. The floor is a pretty big mess and attempting to remove all the old flooring is just not fiesable. Hope this helps with the deflection issue.

02-15-2008, 04:42 PM
We have never worked with the deck mud before. Not really sure if the doors could accomidate all that underlayment. This is getting interesting I think I am actually learning here. Thanks

02-15-2008, 06:07 PM
If you don't want to take up all that crap after the 3/4' pine then you better get yourself a good lawyer to defend you when you get sued by the cheap owner :lol1: :deadhorse

02-16-2008, 06:52 AM
I'd honestly turn this job down. If the owner doesn't want to do it right, it's still your rear end. Tell him to tear it up and do it right, or you have other jobs that need taken care of.

Dave Gobis
02-16-2008, 07:29 AM
Are you sure those are 2 1/2" wide floor joist? Base on whats been said so far, I would walk this one if I were you unless they are willing to tear it out and build it back up. Before that, you need to figure out exactly what that floor joist system is. If they are standard 1.5 joist, they are NOT going to support the quarry floor, equipment, and customers. Unless I am mistaken the deflectometer is set for residential floors, not commercial. This sounds like one of those jobs where you have to pay to work, not get paid for work. I would rather sit home and watch TV than pay to work.

02-16-2008, 08:43 AM
I am certian of the width of the joists and the type of wood, white pine. I could possible tear up the vinyl and the underlayment but in hese buildings the hardwood was the subfloor. You believe that this is goingto be too much weight for the floor to handle without flexing too much? It is possible to support the spans in the basement if it necessary. I am not a structural engineer nor do I pretend to be but I know that these joists exceed loads of a standard 2 x 12 yellow pine joist. I don't want to get involved with somethingthat will continue to bite me in the ass down the line, more importantly I would not want to install something that could cause some type of catestrophic failure in the floor. That being said, I would still like to know about laying and grouting quarry tile.

02-16-2008, 09:06 AM
Specifically addressing only your question about quarry tile.
There's not much difference between quarry and regular tile.
Best tool= a rack. You have to know the actual size of your tile though. A 6" tile isn't necessarily 6". There's 2-4 different racks for 6" quarry. Also don't forget the joint width. Normally a 1/4"
You use regular old thinset with a 1/4" notch.
Biggest problem= quarry has little burrs(?) on the edges that can make it more fun to install when using the aforementioned rack.
You can use regular old sanded grout with quarry. Usually black or grey, but I did use platinum by Custom(?) once on grey quarry and it looked kinda nifty. Commercial kitchens really should have epoxy in them though. Used Laticrete's industrial stuff one time on mosaics and it was nice to work with. But your joints had better be perfectly clean before you start or you'll really hate yourself.
Some quarry tiles are easier to clean than others. The plain stuff is real easy, the abrasive surface stuff sucks, and the one with the toolbox tread looking surface really really sucks. You could get fancy with wax, peanut oil or grout release, but in the end they are still things that can contaminate your grout. I don't think they're necessary for sanded grout, and I alwys claim I've never done epoxy so I can get away with not doing it. So I never worry about any grout releases on quarry.
When placing the tile, give it a light pop with a rubber mallet to set the tile. Then fix them because now they've moved.
And I would still walk away from this job unless the owner is going to agree to pay you to do it right.
BTW, your not the owner are you?

Dave Gobis
02-16-2008, 09:46 AM
None of us are there, and although there is an engineer or 2 lurking around, none of us has seen this structure and something is not adding up for me. Someone else may want to take a swing at the structure issue but it is too speculative for me. That being said, on a separate issue, the flooring sandwich currently above the joist with quarry tile still spells trouble to me.

02-17-2008, 08:02 AM
I have no idea what a rack system is. All I know is I used epoxy grout a long time ago doing repairs in a restaurant and it way a big pain in the ass. I really believe I can do this just need a little knowledge.

Tileman Packerfan
02-17-2008, 08:14 AM
A rack system, is really just a a welded steel rack that has around {depending on the rack} 32 square holes, one for each tile. You buy the rack for the size tile you're using. You can also get cheap plastic racks, but I think they're generally crap because the flex too much.

The way I used to do it when I did commercial work {quit several years ago, way more money in residential IMO} I got my layout done, snapped my starting lines, spread the thin-set, set the rack against the straight edge, and start setting tiles in rack using the same corner for placement. After your first row is in, start over again setting rack against set row.

02-17-2008, 10:45 AM
Tile racks are basically what Rob said. A bunch of thin metal pieces welded together to form a perfectly square grid like a checkerboard. Usually about 2'x4'. Pop 2 square lines. Spread thinset. Place rack against your line. Fill in the holes placing the tiles in one corner. Pick up the rack and move it to the next space. Fill holes. Etc... untill your done. They're perfect for 6" or 8" quarry. You can also get them for 4"x8" brick pavers in a herringbone, running bond, or basketweave patterns. They do have them for 12" also but I'm not confident those are worth it. The smaller racks are though.

02-17-2008, 12:05 PM
or you can do like the contractors do when they do fast food restaraunts, skip the rack and toss the quarry tiles out like you are dealing cards. (I have personally seen them where none are perfectly straight) :D

Scottish Tile and Stone
02-17-2008, 05:27 PM
Its hard to keep quarry tile straight when the edges have a flair to them. They all look crooked

Dan Kramer
02-17-2008, 06:11 PM
Its hard to keep quarry tile straight when the edges have a flair to them. They all look crooked

How very true!

02-17-2008, 09:29 PM
Racks are slow..........Set control lines & use a 10,12 and 16' Straightedge
Snap a Line every 18-19" aprox (18 3/4" for our current AO spec'd tile)
By doing this you always have a Line and an edge to set to....its faster than a rack, Cleaner setting than a rack and racks have other issues I'm not going to get into here...

I'm with Dave on this one....Dont walk away, RUN!!!!

Were I(we) to spend the time teaching you how and you opted to do this job and it failed like i believe it will, I dont think I'd feel very good about that and likely most others wouldnt either!!

I recall Dave G's story about a freind of his owned a restaurant.....The guy wanted a quick bang bang job....What was it you did Dave.......said something like this??? ..Here, Why dont I just give you 500.00 now and me and you will stay freinds and you can Hire somebody else :D :D :D

Brad Denny
02-17-2008, 09:55 PM
Lines are THE way to go. Also allows you to make cuts before you get to 'em. Big plus.

02-17-2008, 10:58 PM
3500 sq. ft. + 4 installers with no rack= 6 days.
2000 sq. ft. + 2 installers with a rack= 2 days.
6000 sq. ft. + 2 installers with a rack= 5 days.

Ya'll need to quit drinking up north. It's making your brain foggy. :loaded:

Any sizable quarry job is always better racked. Looks better and goes quicker and straighter. You just need to be used to doing it.

02-18-2008, 05:17 AM
2600 s/f Plus 460 l/f Base 3 installers 1.75 days......( and 1 of those setters is 65 years old)........not a rack In site .

And Quarry tile is Quarry tile......Racks will not improve the appearance of any Modern day quarry tile floor...Sorry, Aint going to happen. Todays Quarry tile by comparison is Junk and If you dont know that you havent been in this trade long enough .

If you like doing it with racks, Great........Have at it but you wont sell me..Been there done that!!!

Youve never set tile alongside me or the crews I work with so youve alot of brass saying your racked tile looks Better & straighter Dont you think......Or are you telling me that YOU cant make it look good & straight without a rack??

One more thing, Ive seen alot of Florida Tilework..............I couldnt get paid for most of it!!

I'll betcha Money my tenders do alot less Cussing too!! :D

Tileman Packerfan
02-18-2008, 06:19 AM
I previously posted the basics on how to use racks. However, I hated them, they're a mess to work with, they really don't keep the quarry straight, and they're slow like others have mentioned.

Dave Gobis
02-18-2008, 06:57 AM
We used to rack, cut in, and base 1500-2000 s/f a day with 3 guys. One more day to grout and give it a final clean the third day most of the time. I can still remember the bid and material package for a lot of fast food joints. We did over 50 KFC's, series 90's Medium plus a lot of other Pepsico (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell) units. Ah, the good old days, then everyone started getting married and having babies and we had to stay local.

02-18-2008, 02:08 PM
I'm with Dave,

anybody who has done anything in commercial kitchens knows a rack is the fastest. I have tiled about every fast food restaurant out there in the early 90's to late and haven't found a setter Union or non union that can beat a rack freehand with lines.

not one contractor on a commercial job doesn't use a rack if they are just that.....a commercial tile contractor. you can fiddle around on small commercial jobs and set quarry fast by hand for sure, but to buy a rack for $140 to double the sq.ft. is the way to go.

racks are so much faster and straighter then setting by hand. you don't have to fiddle around with all the inside tile trying to keep them straight. you still run spread lines and drop the quarry to the bottom left of right of the rack to keep them straight. the rack locks in to the last row and it's so easy to run quarry. spray them with 556, WD40 or rub them with oil at days start and cleanup is easy at days end.

I had a rack for every type of quarry out there, along with saltillo 4x8 for Chili's to summitville 4x8 for herringbone and basket weave patterns for Burger Kings, TGIF's or any other tile used on a restaurant job. even had an 8x8 rack made for the guys when we did Taco Bell's.

anybody else wanna talk about using a rack........K_Tile ?

02-18-2008, 04:33 PM
I've used them in the past....stopped using them because it's too difficult to keep up with the piss-poor sizing of today's calibration of tile. We grid everything out, and by using a grid we can tighten the grid for certain applications like epoxy grout. Nothing worse than trying to grout epoxy with a huge joint and abrasive tile.

We do still have racks, but they sit in our warehouse. I think it's just as fast to grid and go.

02-18-2008, 06:21 PM
anybody else wanna talk about using a rack........K_Tile ?

I like racks on my woman, my deer, and my quarry tile. :lol1:

I cant argue about what is faster. Its the Ford vs Dodge vs Chevy diesel arguments...I'd rather be Cummins than Strokin' or You have to be Hard like a Rock before you can be Strokin or Cummins. I'm just glad no one is arguing about using Tavy spacers:)

We always carry racks and use them when possible. You just have to bring an arsenal because you never know what Daltile will deliver.

To the original poster...Tell the kitchen owner to take his quarry and do this.....

Brad Denny
02-18-2008, 06:32 PM
See, this is why we need Tile Man Olympics. A place where feats of strength and skill can be tested, and testosterone can flow freely. A mud slinging competition only rivaled by presidential campaigns.

Dan Kramer
02-18-2008, 06:58 PM
I tried googling a commercial tile rack and quarry tile rack and didn't come up with anything. Anyone have a pic? My curiosity is up.

02-18-2008, 07:29 PM

02-18-2008, 08:08 PM
Youve never set tile alongside me or the crews I work with so youve alot of brass saying your racked tile looks Better & straighter Dont you think......Or are you telling me that YOU cant make it look good & straight without a rack??

I didn't say my stuff looks better than yours Todd. Remember; I'm looking at Florida installations. That job I mentioned without a rack was a wide open restaurant kitchen and the guys I was working with weren't even popping lines good, let alone trying to lay fast. They were even working 14 hour days and still couldn't keep up. And by the way; they put the base in the day before I showed up; so we weren't even making cuts. They were done already. Never dealt with old quarry but I agree; those burrs are pretty annoying. But Summitville makes some nice stuff.
From my view though; racking tile is faster and keeps stuff straighter.
And yes, I could even make tile from China look good and straight.
One last note; the guy I worked with was in his late 50's and still racking 1000 ft. a day( 8 hours) without breaking a sweat. I'm not as fast as he was but I can still rack purty darn quick.

Brad Denny
02-18-2008, 08:42 PM
You don't line up the base when you rack? Had to be a perfectly square room with no offsets if so. When using a rack, do you pop any lines, mark any lines, or measure at all? Do you just start inna corner and go? It is hard to believe that one could be as straight with a rack as a layout. Sure you save the time of the initial layout, but you have to spend time moving and cleaning the rack. Those seconds have to add up.

02-18-2008, 09:05 PM
hey Brad,

moving the rack takes 2 seconds to pick it up and lock it into the last row you just set on that row.

yes, you do snap a line and place the rack on the line and lock to top of the rack into the row ahead.
the line snapped is the same as you would do if setting any tile.

yes you should snap a square line. in most commercial kitchens using quarry tile its full tile off the long wall and cuts fall where they land. base should line up, some dont care.

and cleaning the rack only happens before lunch and end of day, the racks are stainless steel, have legs or pins to hold them off the thinset and you spray them with wd40 or oil to stop any thinset from sticking.

as fast as a helper can spread a row a mechanic should set as fast using a rack. :)

now this is slow !

Brad Denny
02-18-2008, 09:34 PM
I agree full tiles off the long wall, I mean, why make extra cuts? :) I may not have put in as many s/f of "commercial" qt as some of you have, but what I have, lining up the base wasn't an option. Though it is a dirty nasty kitchen, there are still standards in the spec books to adhere to. Seems like if the installation was done correctly there'd be times where a wait was necessary for the cuts to be made. :shrug:

02-18-2008, 10:07 PM
in most commercial kitchens using quarry tile its full tile off the long wall and cuts fall where they land. base should line up, some dont care.

Brian, Try that with the architects up here and You'll eat that Job!!

ALL of You can Read it in your handbook........All cuts More than 1/2 Tile.. Cmon guys this is tile 101..basic stuff but it does require actually Laying out a floor and then Adjusting the layout as needed to meet the requirements.

If you are not doing it keep in mind that an Architect CAN fail your installation.......And You'd better believe it because Ive seen it happen!!

The architects up here KNOW the TCA Handbook and they make you set accordingly..........No full tile long walls with a 1/3 tile cut on the other end......not without Prior approval ( Generally from the Owner via the architect) and you had best have a good reason for this or the architect will simply say NO DICE!!

02-18-2008, 10:57 PM
And by the way; they put the base in the day before I showed up; so we weren't even making cuts. They were done already.

I guess I need to clarify.
This crew, that uses no rack, Popped a semi grid. Big squares; 4-5 ft. Then they came in and ran all the base, and made all the cuts + the first couple rows next to the walls before I got there. Yes the base was lined up. So me, three(?) other installers and some helpers were only running full tile through an Outback Steakhouse. Large typical commercial kitchen.

You do two square lines and then what Brian said about the rack barely touching, spray with WD40, etc..

I layout a commercial job just like I would any job. Best layout possible. No architect will ever be able to fail any job I do for two reasons.
1.They spec it a certain way and it's done that way or they're told why it ain't gonna happen. (e.g. they think 18" tile is actually 18" when the piece they chose was 17 5/8")
2. They don't spec it and we revert to my contract that says I, my company, decides all layouts. Period. I've always got a good reason if there's an apparently stupid cut. I don't tell them how to be architects, and they don't tell me how to lay tile.

02-18-2008, 11:25 PM

I respect your views,.....but, C'mon !

"Try that with the architects up here"......architects draw the plans and most of them NEVER make it out to a restaurant project. corporate restaurant chains use 1 architect and build mostly the same style restaurant in ever state. so an architect drawing a job up there is the same all over the place.

up there, over here, out there, its all the same, walk into any restaurant kitchen and you'll see.

its get it done yesterday. theres no way you can layout a 6x6 quarry tile kitchen for 1/2 cuts all over the place in multiple rooms in the kitchen.....not going to happen.

that said I have done about 150 restaurants in the 10 years of doing commercial restaurants from 91' to 01' as a union and non union shop. from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, Boston to Miami. made it into the American Olean tile catalog for my 25 Boston Markets we did. worked for all of the big chain restaurants, Darden, Marriott, Yum! Brands Inc. etc. and not one job will fail if the work its straight, clean and properly done full tile or not.

not one of the architect or restaurant area rep's will fail a kitchen that looks good full tile, 1/2 tile or whatever ends at the wall in the back's just that, a quarry tile kitchen, not the front entrance or a marble waiting area.

I'm sure we all layout public area's for esthetic's and I know I do.

you either work commercial or you do custom either rack or not.


Brad Denny
02-18-2008, 11:36 PM
So schools, hospitals, retirement centers, and churches with quarry tile kitchens do not qualify as commercial and are custom homes because they are looked over by an architect and are not run by corporate restaurant chains. :uhh: Not all kitchens are slammed out with racks, and not all commercial installers use racks. Blanket statements kill me.

02-18-2008, 11:42 PM
Glad I don't do commercial work.

02-18-2008, 11:49 PM
your right Brad, not all kitchens are the same, not all kitchens are slammed out and not all installers use racks.

same thing with schools, hospitals, retirement centers, etc. your not going to lay out a multiple room 6x6 quarry tile job to hit full or 1/2 tile on every wall.

if you guys do, your the man ! :bow:

02-19-2008, 03:36 AM
What gets me is that you do all that nice work and most of it gets covered up with equipment .

02-19-2008, 05:28 AM
I didn't see anyone make a blanket statement. Brian said you either rack or you don't. That's all there is to it. If you guys can whip out that much tile by hand as fast as we rack; then I'm happy for you. You saved $150. But I don't see how a rack can be inferior than a straightedge. They both get flex on them and they both are butted up to the burrs on the edge of quarry. A rack is just a multi pocketed straightedge that does 3-4 rows at a time, instead of one. And the only time I see an architect is when we tell them to come to the job because they specced something that won't work. I have yet to see one fail a job. They spec something you do it. Maybe some people think it's o.k. to ignore specs, but not the installers I know.

I have no idea what got everyone's knickers in a twist. I was suggesting the original guy get a rack because he had a 1200 sq. ft. floor. Then we had to explain what a rack was to him. Then everyone got conflaggerated. You guys don't seem to freak out if I suggest somebody use TEC products. So why are you against racks? Do you feel it's a communist plot or something? It was just a tool reccomendation.

02-19-2008, 05:50 AM
theres no way you can layout a 6x6 quarry tile kitchen for 1/2 cuts all over the place in multiple rooms in the kitchen.....not going to happen.

Well......Actually Ive seen it happen But you are correct Brian in that it is a rare occurance BUT, Its also generally a minimal thing where you hit Small pieces Under half simply due to the rule of 4.......( unless of course you have Carpenters who cant read a Blueprint which is getting to be more and more common it seems ;) )

Brian, I did not say they WOULD I said they CAN ( big difference)
I also said Ive seen it happen!!!

A rack is just a multi pocketed straightedge that does 3-4 rows at a time, instead of one.

Perhaps you misunderstood HOW we are using a straightedge?

We set 3 rows at a time using the straight edge on the front row.
Consider then that your 4th row was already SET with a straightedge so the 3rd row is being set to a Perfectly straight Row and the First to a straightedge.......The Midddle row then has just to be set in place.

The straightedge is Line marked for your grout joint Plus has 2 control points that line up with your Vertical control lines. Its really quite a simple system but if you are used to racks and it works for you, Cool........A Good straightedge 12 or 16 feet long costs more than a rack anyways.......BUT, it does have a BIT more versatility I'm sure you will agree!! :)

Tileguys........geez........ :lol1: we sure do get set in our ways dont we :D :D :D

Brad Denny
02-19-2008, 06:20 AM
In my limited experience in full time commercial work (12 years) in and around the Middle Tennessee area, the guys who have shown up on the job with a rack lack the ability to layout a room. My mentor has the same opinion from his experience (55 years) in the business. Sounds like corporate restaurant work is a run and gun deal where you have to be really competitive with your price as well as your speed. If that is what it takes to git 'er done, then I'm glad you have the experience using that system with speed and accuracy. I just don't see that as a standard. We're here to explain to the original poster how to correctly lay a quarry tile kitchen, and I don't see that using a rack in this instance is necessary. The state of my knickers resulted from...
you either work commercial or you do custom either rack or not.
I fight the "commercial installers are hacks" mentality due to the sloppy work out there from people who throw in jobs without care. I'm not suggesting anyone here falls into that category, but saying that a person who doesn't throw it in isn't "commercial" seems to push us in that direction.

John Bridge
02-19-2008, 06:39 AM
I like that pizza oven. I've thought about trying that for years. Never got around to it. I've got some old quarry laying out alongside the house that might just work, though. :)

I haven't done commercial in a long time, but back in the day nobody around here cared about the size of red quarry cuts in a restaurant kitchen. As has been stated, most of the walls are covered with equipment, and the owners are interested in one thing- getting the place open and making money. Ask a McDonalds franchisee about making cuts larger than half a tile, and he'll look at you like you're from outer space. Ask him when he's going to open for business, and he'll tell you as soon as you and the other workers get your ass out of the way. :D

02-19-2008, 07:13 AM
Way back when I did a lot of quarry tile work mostly AO.We used the grid system. I can't even remember spacers being around back then, even if they were around we didn't know about them.

We bought a rack. We loved the rack, we worshipped the rack, if you wanted to take the rack you'd have a fight on your hands. Racks are good.

I like racks on my woman, my deer, and my quarry tile.

You forgot racks of beer :)

Tileman Packerfan
02-19-2008, 07:23 AM
Everybody has there way of doing things, for us we thought using a long straight edge and a square was faster then the rack.

Rack bad....Straight edge good ! :D :lol1:

david bassler
02-19-2008, 07:37 AM
What ever happen to the guy that wanted to quarry tile the restaurant?


I hope he didn't limp away.

02-19-2008, 02:45 PM
Ok wow lots of talk about racks and such. I never rthought this was such a big deal laying quarry tile. So when it comes to the grouting the epoxy grouting what is the scoop with that stuff.

02-19-2008, 05:23 PM
So when it comes to the grouting the epoxy grouting what is the scoop with that stuff.

:sick: :crazy: :lol1:

We were worried about a rack!

I cant wait to tell you how to epoxy grout double abrasive quarry tile.

02-19-2008, 05:54 PM
has been stated, most of the walls are covered with equipment, and the owners are interested in one thing- getting the place open and making money. Ask a McDonalds franchisee about making cuts larger than half a tile, and he'll look at you like you're from outer space. Ask him when he's going to open for business, and he'll tell you as soon as you and the other workers get your ass out of the way.


there are different types of quarry work, don't get me wrong. but those who don't and haven't done it cant turn up the speed to get the project done. thats why residential is so relaxing.

02-19-2008, 05:56 PM
ohhh boy, 3 pages of how each does Epoxy grouting.

you know I'm all ears Kevin......since I like epoxy so much :tongue:

John Bridge
02-19-2008, 06:11 PM
I, fortunately, never did epoxy any quarry. Therefore, I get to sit back and watch you masters duke it out. :D

02-19-2008, 06:32 PM
Ding, ding.... :corn: :yeah:

02-19-2008, 06:56 PM
Ok wow lots of talk about racks and such. I never rthought this was such a big deal laying quarry tile. So when it comes to the grouting the epoxy grouting what is the scoop with that stuff.

Torn....just a question here...................are you sure you did all them tile jobs you told us about earlier? :uhh:

02-19-2008, 07:59 PM
We always use an exterior wall to set our lines and rack the floor. I haven't found many partition walls that are straight or square. So if we do our job I can careless if the framers didn't do theirs. I'm not paid to make other peoples work look good. Our work isn't sloppy or unprofessional either we never break joints between rooms or use those stupid triangle or diamond tile threshold things.

Commercial quarry layout IMO is based on what will be seen. If it is covered hide it! If it is seen make it look great. My biggest pet peeve is sloppy drain cuts. I tell my guys that I dont care if it takes 30minutes per drain but it better look like it took 30min per drain. Doesn't matter if your are in the trade or not anyone can tell an oval cut around a round drain and qualify that has poor craftsmanship.

02-19-2008, 10:12 PM
So when it comes to the grouting the epoxy grouting what is the scoop with that stuff.

Your trying to start a fight here ain't ya. :suspect:

Just kiddin'.

First; cut the foam out of your couch. These make great epoxy sponges.

But before that; go to user CP above and edit signature and stuff so we always got a name to call you. Was it Gene?

Anyways, you never did answer my question. Are you just trying to do your own tile? We'll still help even if you are. We're just always going to tell you to do it right.

02-19-2008, 10:31 PM
the guys who have shown up on the job with a rack lack the ability to layout a room.

Don't know about Tenn. but down here we have to layout multiple room, entire houses. So residential or commercial can be a braintwister. I've seen commercial guys rag on Residential guys and vice versa. I do both and they both have their things you know? Don't really care for hearing people talk about others. Just worry about your own stuff. We have people on both sides who haven't learned basic stuff like layouts.

.......BUT, it does have a BIT more versatility I'm sure you will agree!!

I agree. I would never try to pull mud with a rack. It's all in what you learned with. I'm apparently the last person around that still uses a superior cutter. It's what I learned with. I know good installers who can't use one though because they were taught on clinkers. I learned to rack, others learned with a straightedge.
I think I know what your saying how yiou use the straight edge Mr. Todd. You put the edge on the chalk line of your grid and the middle tiles are freehand lined up with the previous tile and the ones hitting the edge. But my point was, they're still touching the edge. The burrs are there. You still have to adjust them when a burr holds a tile out of line funky like. My tiles are just all touching straight edges.

02-20-2008, 03:12 AM
Kevin, You are right about cutting around drains. It kills me when I see a drain ,that looks like a rat chewed the tile.

Brad Denny
02-20-2008, 05:56 AM
Royce, I ain't not puttin' a blanket statement over no body. :D Just reporting what I've seen. A rack can be used as a handicap rather than an advantage. I'll cut down the heat a bit and admit I've been thinking about the whole system and can see your points as being valid for restaurant work. I also acknowledge that you probably get a great installation out of it because you wouldn't be here if you didn't. I apologize if I came off as I jerk on his high horse. For a while now, one of my duties has been culling out the practices that don't line up with ours when a new guy comes on board. If you can't lay out the floor, you can't use the rack. We've had no one to be able to do both. I guess I kinda "protect" the system that has worked for our company over the years. Not just this issue, but many other areas as well. We get paid and our contractors like it. I might even use a rack in the future, but I still think it's important to learn how to lay out a room before the rack is bought. Thank you guys for shedding a little light on something I've had passion against, and you have passion for. :tup2:

02-20-2008, 08:19 AM
that's what made this a good few page debate...."our passion" for tile and each of us has a different trick or method to do something.

from hiring union labor for my work throughout the 90's I have seen and learned many different ways, from grids, straight edges, racks and you name it. all good if the mechanic can set a floor properly and up to standards.

02-20-2008, 10:35 PM
You didn't come off as a jerk.
You've apparently just had bad experiences with some folks.
I know what you mean about making people show they can do stuff before they get to use the next thing.
I always piss my helpers off because I explain to them they're not allowed to learn or touch any cutting device (cutter, wetsaw, grinder) until they know how to grout. If you don't want to learn how to grout right, apparently to me you don't want to learn this trade. So keep carrying stuff and never get a raise for all I care.

Dave Gobis
02-21-2008, 05:59 AM
I agree on the grout Royce! I had a helper of a few years that never could seem to grout. We had a job with a bunch of leftovers, a few hundred feet, he wanted for a side job. Told him it was his if he could finish with full joints no mottling. He never did get the tile. Buy the way, I still use my Superior, your not alone.

02-21-2008, 09:06 AM
I thought I should let everyone know that I passed on the quarry tile job!!!!!!!!!!! It just seemed like a big mess and no one here felt like it was a good idea to do. I do appreciate all the help everyone gave me here it really was nice. Although I still have no idea what is entailed in using epoxy grout to get that nice clean look without any haze on the tile or difference in shading in the grout.
Yes I have done all the jobs I talked about earlier, I just don't lay tile every day. All I do are small residential jobs. We do a house we have 3 bathrooms to tile, maybe a basement or a kitchen floor or a granite tile counter. I do not get to work under ideal text book conditions every day, but I can't imagine you all get to either. When I go to the tile supply house to get the tile (no I never buy material from any of the home centers), I generally ask the guys there what to use for installation. They are usually really helpful. Am I a hack of sorts, sure, but I still stand behind my work.
This site is really helpful, I thank everyone for taking the time to assist me.

02-21-2008, 08:59 PM

Sometimes you just make more money by staying home!

02-21-2008, 09:01 PM
Gene ,,lack of knowledge does not make you a hack, otherwise everyone at this forum has been or is now a hack. There is no one here that knows it all. A hack is someone that doesnt care. Obviously if you didnt care,,you wouldnt have invested your time at this forum.

Some people get this "IM better than you cause I know more than you", or "Im a pro and your not",,,well I got news for them,,theres always someone else that knows more or is bigger, badder and better. So dont let the comments of a few discourage. NO ONE was born with a golden trowel in their hand :)

Thanks for poppin in :nod:

02-22-2008, 06:33 AM
BEST Statement Ive Heard This Year!!!

from hiring union labor for my work throughout the 90's I have seen and learned many different ways, from grids, straight edges, racks and you name it. all good if the mechanic can set a floor properly and up to standards.

Thanks For that Brian!!! ( I promise, i will write 100 times in the gypcrete dust.." I will not pick on Florida setters anymore" ;) )

02-22-2008, 06:41 AM
:yipee: :tup2: