Between a Rock and a Hard Spot. [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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06-07-2010, 05:57 PM
I have found myself in a very undesirable position. A flooring store has contacted me about a travertine install on a job that is ready to go next week. I have never worked for this store before as the owner and his sons usually install their tile. He's running behind and needs to pass this one on. Here's the catch. The tile to be installed is 1200 sq.ft. on the main floor of the house. Mostly through the foyer, great room, and kitchen. (All connected) The flooring system is 3/4" OSB over a 3 1/2" Floor truss system that is spaced 16" on center. The span is about 10 to 12 ft between supporting beams. The GC and the homeowner both went to the tile distributer's showroom to pick out the tile. The owner of the flooring store went as well. The salesman at the distributer assured the group that they would be fine to just use Ditra installed directly over the OSB since they were concerned about the transitions to other flooring. The travertine is 1/2" thick brushed and chiseled with a 4 size pattern, the biggest is 16x24.

Unless I'm really missing something this sounds like a big mistake. Am I correctly reading the Ditra instructions that require an extra 3/8" layer of plywood to be added? The flooring store says go ahead and lay it, and they will sign off. I'm not too comfortable with that idea, but I need the work but not a lawsuit. WHAT DO YOU DO???:shrug: Should I run?

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06-07-2010, 06:02 PM
put it in writting eric. that you are not held responsable

06-07-2010, 07:01 PM
I think Bill Vincent made the point that getting a document "signed off" is basically saying that "yes I will install in a manner that I know is not correct as long as your ok with it" and that in court this can be used as an argument against you....just saying.

Brian in San Diego
06-07-2010, 07:01 PM
Not sure that gets you off the hook in a court of law. As the installing contractor of record I believe you are on the hook if you deviate from "acceptable industry standards". I can't see any way you can not be named if a lawsuit was filed. Is the truss system rated at L/720 or better? Check out page 14-D-3 Detail 6 of this manual ( It clearly states double layer of plywood under the uncoupling membrane. Schluter If I am not mistaken somewhere else in my reading I read that the thickness had to be a minimum of 1 1/8".

06-07-2010, 07:15 PM
Explain to them about the industry standards and if they won't do it right, walk away from it. I might would chance it on a small bath floor but not a 1200 ft job.

Houston Remodeler
06-07-2010, 07:16 PM
Being legally responsible or not, why would you want to be part of a substandard installation?

Stick to your guns. Insist on more plywood, installed properly or you'll walk.

06-07-2010, 07:20 PM
++++++1 on what Davy said

explain that it doesn't even come close to TCNA guidelines or even ANSI specs or Schluter specs

double check your joist size - they sound way to small

sucks ya need the work but you do not want to buy the job

1200 FT/2 gets mucho expensive for a do over.

06-07-2010, 07:43 PM
Thanks for all the input guys! It's helpful. As far as the floor joist system it is a truss system made with 2x4's so it is actually 3 1/2" wide and 12 or 14" tall.

I don't think the risk is worth it either unless we can do it right. I don't think the failure of the floor could be separated from me in the customer's mind. Bad future advertising!

06-07-2010, 07:43 PM
When times are tough, there's a name for a job like that...

The last nail in the coffin

It sucks, put your reasons in writing, referencing the specs for stone installation and fax it to the tile store and maybe the builder .


06-07-2010, 07:48 PM

ok now it makes more sense.

joist deflection - if ya can't get manufacturer specs for the L rating on your web trusses - do the jump test with a glass of water

but ya still need 2 layers of ply for a stone install - irregardless of the ditra

06-07-2010, 07:52 PM

I've not tried the glass of water trick. Do you mind explaining the technique?

06-07-2010, 07:53 PM
some claim that ditra xl can be used without the other layer of ply...

06-07-2010, 07:56 PM
The guys have already laid porcelain tile on regular ditra on the main floor that will meet up to the travertine in one doorway. Isn't the ditra xl a little thicker? I have not used it yet.

06-07-2010, 08:01 PM
If the guy who owns the flooring store specs it in his contract to you and you and your contract says you don't provide any warranty whether written or implied on materials you don't supply you might be off the hook for a failure.

I just wouldn't put it in my contract that you have advised them differently. If a failure occurs it should fall back on the guy you are subbing it through.

How long do you give a warranty for normally?

If you are following the specs from the store and stating you do not provide a warranty I'm just not sure. Depends on your state laws.

I would insist on the correct method but not in writing. If you put it in writing that it is wrong from the start then you will definitely eat that floor if it fails.

All depends if you need to put food on the table or not if you ask me. Check out the floor again IMO and see if it isn't good to go or not. Maybe give them a break on installing more ply just to get the job if you need it that bad.

If you do it whatever you do, don't tell the H.O. Your contract is with the store not them.

06-07-2010, 08:09 PM
This year hasn't been too good, but right now I do have other work. The wide open spaces of this job make it look tempting since the majority is all in one big connected room, however, the more I think of the bad situations that could arise I just may pass and be happy in my showers and bath floors.

Somewhere is The Golden Job. I Just Can't Find It!

06-07-2010, 08:12 PM

the jump test is by no means law here:

get a small glass of water filled about an 1/8" below the rim put it in the middle of the floor then stand next to it and raise up on your toes and slam your heels down on the floor - if any water spills it is a no go .

06-07-2010, 08:17 PM
Thanks Tim!

Do you use that for stone only or ceramic also?

06-07-2010, 08:23 PM
I always use industry specs -
BUT when I know something is close or I can't get specs I use that test (lots of web trusses up here) and all the manufacturers say they meet L360 which they might but if the floor feels spongy.

Like I said not law but a pretty good indicator of the floor structure stiffness.

for stone installs I jump about a foot in the air - sounds dumb but it does work.

06-07-2010, 08:30 PM
Eric, almost two weeks back I looked at a travertine install, about 350 sq ft. Not as big as yours but it was to be installed on a 45, some dots, some border, an intricate install and alotta labor. Well a tile guy had gotten there before I was ever called in and had advised the HO on installation specs

1. joists, not deflection rated

2. single sheet of 3/4 plywood, not tongue and groove

3 1/2 in hardi installed direct to plywood, no mortar

4 Dismal

Thats what I walked into, I could use the work too but I had to take a pass, too much liability. The HO was a super nice guy too.

He's running behind and needs to pass this one on.

No wonder, I would too Eric. Tell the store owner the job is too big for you right now and that instead, you'll handle the other smaller jobs that he's doing so that he'll have enough time to install that big ole gravy 1200 footer :)

06-07-2010, 10:39 PM
Travertine is very soft and in such a big area it is too risky.. Ditra IS NOT a cure all as people seem to think..I have seen ditra with travertine with single layer subfloor fail..the threat is real...Like Davy said..maybe a bathroom but a big area is just too risky. Now you are tileing over main support beams in between the rooms and that is where you can have issues.

Then again your deflection specs seem to be pretty good with span and your in between joist is not 14.5 inches as with normal 16 oc but 12.5 inches..that helps. Is it enough with ditra..who really knows?..its a gamble.

But you already must realize that because you posted.

Did you talk money with the store? experience is that stores that keep in house guys don't really like to pay much money...also retail stores sometimes don't really want to pay much more money for doing stone..some even pay guys ceramic rates. Also I have not met very many in house installers that are very good..(why work hourly when you have enough skill to make twice the money) perhaps the store is scared to let his guys do this job....I would be scared too.

Would I do the job? Probably not without insisting on more plywood to get it closer to specs....a store may not listen to reason (thats why I don't work for them) but too a customer direct if you tell them that thay have to have a higher transition in the doorways or their tile will crack..they are more apt to accept the plywood.

Square pusher
06-07-2010, 11:21 PM
Already sounds like your not the only one, that doesn't want to touch it.