Schicksal's Bathroom Thread [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-22-2010, 08:42 PM
I'm redoing everything in the master bathroom at my house, and right now I'm in the planning stages. About the room and the house - the house is 18 and is built on a concrete slab. The bathroom is on the first floor, and the floor of the shower is at a level a few inches below the rest of the slab. It was remodeled about 11 years ago. No leaks or problems with the shower; it's just that the people in 1999 made some interesting decorating choices.

That said, I had an idea for the shower pan since it's all in good shape and sits a few inches below the level of the rest of the foundation and I was wondering if it might work. I was thinking about removing the existing tile on the wall and the floor of the shower, smoothing it out, putting a waterproof membrane (Kerdi?) like I've seen used on a lot of projects here over that and building on top of that.

I'm hoping that the idea would work, because something tells me it'd be a real nightmare breaking all the way down to the original lower level of the foundation to start over. And there aren't any leaks right now anyway. Thanks in advance.

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02-22-2010, 09:02 PM
Not always but usually it is easier to take down the walls all in one. That means the tile and CBU together. The shower floor is the same way. It's easier to take out the tile and mud together. If you are going with Kerdi, the drain needs to be replaced with a Kerdi drain. I think you would be time and money ahead to take it all down and start over.:)

02-22-2010, 09:33 PM
By starting over, how far down are you talking about? I'm most concerned about getting the sloped mortar bed below the existing liner out. Since it's on the concrete foundation, if the original tile in the entry way that I removed is any indication this stuff will be bonded tight. The mud bed above the liner might not be so bad since it's just sitting on that barrier?

I've got an air hammer so it will hopefully not be too much work to get the tile itself off, whether it's on the floor or the wall. I'll be going with new cement board of course along with hopefully adding a nook for soap and whatnot in the wall. Although I'm farming out removing the floor tile because just removing it and cleaning up the mortar left behind at the entry way was a total nightmare. Might be worthwhile to do the same for the shower tile demo? Wish I could post some pictures of what the shower and bathroom look like, but I'm out of state for another 2 months.

I've looked at a massive site on building showers (, but it's still unclear which would be the friendliest way to do it. Use the Kerdi membrane and drain, or some other method? I also see a 2x4 used to get the first (bottom) row started. How do people attach that to the wall without puncturing the waterproof barrier?

Believe me, I've got 1,000 questions since my tiling experience is limited to VCT.

Houston Remodeler
02-22-2010, 09:47 PM
I would guess the air hammer should solve your problems. The surface ceement should be the same hardness as the pre-slope ceement (if there is any) Normally drypack is sandier than sidewalk concrete and therefore easier to chisel out. Give it a whirl. The worst you would have is a small hole to patch.

02-23-2010, 07:53 PM
Sometimes we will prop up a board to start the second row. Just make sure the board is straight and level.

Feel free to ask all the questions you want, just keep them right here on this thread, it makes your project easier to keep up with.:)

02-23-2010, 09:46 PM
Thanks, I was wondering how that works. When tiling vertically does the mortar tend to firmly hold the tile in place? In other words, there's no worry off the tiles falling off the wall unless they're exceptionally heavy?

Also, when tiling is it better to start with the walls and then do the floor or the other way around?

I'm also curious how clean from old mortar the floor needs to be when doing the new floor tile. I have a feeling the answer is clean down to the foundation...

Is it ok to start a new thread in late April when the actual work happens since I'll run out of questions to ask long before then and will resume lurking for the most part? Here are some pictures of what the place looks like now (linked because they're huge)

(nevermind, says I can't have links for some reason)

02-23-2010, 09:47 PM
Maybe I can link now...

Bathroom as/is.

Marble for the floor

02-23-2010, 10:16 PM
The tiles won't fall off the wall if you have good coverage. Start at the bottom and shim up each row and level as you go.

Clean the slab real well. You want to stick to concrete, not paint or texture.

03-21-2010, 08:11 PM
I'm still tied up in the planning phases for my bathroom + kitchen / dining room projects until April 15th. Not a tax thing - on an assignment across the country from home.

So I'm looking into wet saws right now and it looks like there are a whole lot of options. What I'll need to cut in the bathroom for the floor is marble tile up to about 11 x 17 inches in size (Ashlar or Versailles pattern?). The walls will be some kind of ceramic or porcelain (not sure of size) and trim / backsplash will be a glass mosaic. Kitchen material is still TBD.

So the big question - what kind of wet saw would be best? I read about a Felker TM-75, but I'm not sure if it will handle material as big as I will use, and since I won't be home until April 15th and they're discontinued they may no longer be available anymore anyway.

Also I'm not sure if I should rent or buy. I'm leaning towards buying since I'll be doing the master bathroom, then the kithen, dining and laundry room floors, and later an upstairs bathroom floor.

Any thoughts or input on this? What about other tools? I already know I'll need to upgrade to a better/bigger level and I'll need a paddle attachment for my electric drill.

03-21-2010, 08:23 PM
Welcome, schicksal. Please put a first name in your permanent signature line for us to use. :)

Type "wet saw" or "tile saw" into the Advanced Search feature and ask for Titles Only and you'll get plenty of reading on your question. It's one of the most frequently asked about topics on our forums.

03-21-2010, 08:28 PM
Buy a Dewalt saw and sell it when you're all done. You will be so happy that you did. (In fact, you probably won't want to sell it because you love it so much.) But that's just my opinion.

03-21-2010, 09:15 PM
I've searched around a bit and that's where I came across the Felker TM-75 in a lot of threads but little mention of its replacement, or cutting stone tiles of this size. What I learned - Ryobi = no. I'm pretty sure that anything under $250 or so + anything for sale at a big box store would be a no.

The Dewalt is $800 at Amazon, or $850 at Tool King with stand. I hear a tailgate makes a great stand, but I haven't got one of those. Am I pretty much looking at Dewalt vs. Target vs. another type of Felker vs. Husqvarna here? Seems as though some of these are advertised for being for use with specific sizes of stock and material type.
edit: model numbers would help a lot due to the material size / type question

another edit: Although I have a few projects lined up for this house there's a strong chance that I'll wind up in another house sometime down the line and get the itch to remodel again... you know how that goes.

03-21-2010, 11:23 PM
I have probably typed this exact sentence 5 times on this forum...In my 14 years of tiling I have owned 2 target saws, an MK,a felker and now my Dewalt. I would take the Dewalt hands down any day, any job. I think you will find that many here agree, many don't. I am just 1 man. Keep reading the forum you will get lots of opinions on this. Have fun tiling.

The Kid
03-21-2010, 11:35 PM
the dewalt is hands down the most user friendly saw out there, as are all their other saws (table, mitre) Are they the best saws? Probably not, but id rather buy several saws that make my life easy and breaks, then a pain in the a$$ saw that lasts a lifetime.

03-22-2010, 08:47 PM
Thanks for the input! Looks like I know what I'll be shopping for in a mere three weeks!

06-21-2010, 09:44 PM
After however many months of planning and lurking on this board I'm finally back home and am hard at work remodeling the bathroom. I've done a lot of work with the walls, but now it's time to do the floor and shower.

The subfloor is concrete and the green tiles are coming off pretty easily. The biggest problem is that the buzzards are starting to circle my compressor and if it gives out I have to get a new one. So my questions so far...

- Any tips for removing the shower? I'd like to keep the brick that makes up the curb intact if possible so that would be one less thing to build.

- After I get the green tile and mortar off the subfloor am I pretty much ready to start on the floor, or is it a better idea to do the shower first?

- I will be tiling to the ceiling and also around the bathtub where the cultured marble was glued to the greenboard. I will probably need to cut the sheet rock out and install cement board where I will tile?

Right now I am leaning towards using Redguard because it seems easier to come by here (San Antonio). The floor will be marble in a roman pattern (four tile sizes), and the shower and backsplash around the sinks and tub will be porcelain tile with a travertine / glass mosaic tile. I'll post pictures when the stuff gets delivered.

Anyway sorry if the questions are really basic - it's my first time to do this kind of tile before.

06-21-2010, 10:32 PM
Cut the shower walls into manageable sized pieces and remove them. I've found the little Felker FHS-4 to be an excellent tool for such cutting as it eliminates the dust storm you cause with an angle grinder.

I'd do the shower before the bathroom floor.

You'll need to install CBU in the wet areas unless you plan a Kerdi shower. The rest of the walls can be sheetrock.

Using Redgard for what? You can get any tile installation product known to the industry in San Antonio. Lotsa good tile and tile product sellers there.

My opinion; worth price charged.

06-23-2010, 07:25 AM
I'll look around a little harder for Kerdi then - I've done a little searching in my spare time in the evening, but haven't found a whole lot so far.

Thanks for the tip - I'll have to start on the shower tonight after taking out the shower glass. Yesterday I couldn't work because my compressor died and I had to get another one. The shower was there before the floor - the bathroom was carpeted when the house was new!

07-02-2010, 11:28 PM
Well the demolition is done! At this point I'm trying to figure out two things...

- After looking around for a supplier in San Antonio I think I'm just going to order Kerdi online because there aren't a lot of dealers listed in the area. I will need the material, some inside corners and the drain? Nothing more?

- I would like to not have to knock out the mortar bed because it's in good shape and looks to be a huge pain to remove. Is it possible for me to remove enough of it so I can change out to a Kerdi drain and leave it alone everywhere else? From the Schluter website it looks like it may be a possibility but I have to ask.

Now for what I found when I was removing the old shower... whoever built it never included any waterproofing. They had one layer of greenboard on top of a layer of sheetrock. Of course water found its way in. Lucky that nothing too bad happened to anything except for the bottom 6 inches of sheetrock. Previous owners never took care of the shower glass so that was good and corroded too from water getting in there.

Thanks again for any help. Between figuring out how to get started, and the stone and tile company I ordered from actually delivering the stuff those are the biggest challenges.

Houston Remodeler
07-03-2010, 07:20 AM

I am sorry to tell you the ceement base has to come out. You gotta chip away at it to remove that drain anyway. That's a fifth of the work right there, maybe more. Rent a chipping hammer and it will make quick work of it. And they way waaaaaay cool tools to use.

07-03-2010, 05:56 PM
Rats. That hammer looks a LOT bigger than the air hammer I have with a 1 in blade. About how deep will this stuff normally be before I hit foundation? I've already hit a mid section of the drain with a few bolt heads. Today I've spent a lot of time on the plumbing but will get on that this evening.

Houston Remodeler
07-03-2010, 05:59 PM
I dunno how deep yours is. Got some pics? real close up? Normally 2-3" could be more.

07-05-2010, 07:31 AM
I think I wound up answering my own question yesterday because I hit rebar, and all over the place! But now I have a new one...

I'm looking at the Kerdi drains at tile-experts and I see that they come with a 4.5" ring for the mixing valve. The diameter of my valve is nowhere near that big. Is this thing supposed to fit snug against the mixing valve, or is it something that will instead fit tightly against the trim piece for the shower control? I can't find a picture of one of these in action to tell if it's something I can use, or if I'll need to order Kerdi fix to adhere the stuff to the mixing valve.

Also, how high up do people typically install Kerdi? I have tall ceilings in this bathroom and don't know if I need to build it all the way up or not.

Thanks again for the advice!

07-05-2010, 07:40 AM
You don't need the special Kerdi piece for your mixing valve. Nor do you normally need to affix the Kerdi membrane to the valve unit. Your trim should have a gasket that fits against the tile surface and I generally augment that with caulking around the upper portions of the trim.

Having some Kerdi Fix on hand when you do a Kerdi shower is a good eye-dee, though.

You need to install your waterproofing only in the wet area of the shower. In most cases that stops somewhere not far above where the shower head pipe comes out of the wall.

Unless it's a steam shower, of course.

My opinion; worth price charged.

07-05-2010, 09:10 AM
Hey, thanks a ton. Now I can place the order! It's not a steam shower by the way, although previous owners turned it into one from closing the doors up and having an undersized exhaust fan. Made taking out the wallpaper extra easy from all the seams that were peeling up...

07-25-2010, 11:59 AM
So three weeks later (or five months, two weeks after the order was placed) it looks like I'm going to have flooring. Still no clue when the Kerdi will get here but I'm hoping "soon" means within the next week. To recap background on the place it's on the 1st floor, concrete subfloor with no cracks, hairline or otherwise, and the shower floor is about 3 or 4 inches lower than the rest of the slab.

So I'd like to work on the flooring first. Is it ok to do that before the shower? The floor will be marble - what kind of cement should I get to put the stuff down with? I've been told to look for something light in color but beyond that...? Also, what size trowel will work best?

When laying out the floor tiles to try and figure out exactly where everything will go do you put in spacers or just eyeball it? I'd like to go with very small grout lines. Any advice on what the gap between tiles should be for natural stone? Is this the time to make cuts to any tiles that will not be whole, or are the whole tiles installed first and then tiles to be cut are measured, cut and installed after the whole ones have had a couple of days to set?

07-26-2010, 04:55 AM
I would wait until the shower was done before setting the floor. You can set the floor now, but you will have to protect it from construction damage.

Use a Marble and Granite mortar. They are medium set mortars, and are designed to allow for thicker applications without the usual sinking that occurs with thick applications of thinset. You may need to have 1/2" or more compacted mortar under your tiles to keep them level and in plane, depending on how flat your floor is and how much variation in tile thickness. Use the white version. Have a couple of notched trowels handy: a 1/4 x 3/8 x 1/4 and a 1/2 x 1/2. Use the one that gives you 100% coverage and enough thinset to keep the top surfaces in plane without to much back buttering.

Marble is usually set with very tight groutlines, say 1/32" to 1/16". That will be very hard to do unless each tile is exactly the same dimensions as all the others. Measure a few to verify this. If yours vary by more than 1/64, your groutline should be no less than 1/16" and probably more manageable for you, 3/32".

Grid lines. Snap grid lines throughout the area 2 tiles + 2 groutlines apart. By covering all the floor to be tiled with grid lines, you can start anywhere you want, and make all the cuts ahead of time. You can set your cuts as you set the whole tiles

07-26-2010, 06:54 AM
Cool, thanks! I'll be busy marking up the floor tonight. Hopefully the Kerdi gets here soon... my wife is starting to go nuts because the bathroom isn't done yet so I'll try and hold off on the floor just a little bit longer.

08-11-2010, 07:23 AM
I'm most of the way through cutting floor tiles down to size now and have come across a problem. I have a long (16x24) tile that I need to cut lengthwise. Last one I cut with the wet saw broke when I was most of the way through from the vibration. Is there a trick to doing this, or should I be looking into an angle grinder to make the cut instead? I already have one so it wouldn't be an extra expense. The edge of the cut will not be exposed, by the way.

08-11-2010, 08:50 AM
What saw did you end up with, Schicksal?

Houston Remodeler
08-11-2010, 10:41 AM
Can you score and snap the tile?

If your wet saw has a plunge feature, I'd use that to score the top of the tile and make the cut from the top down.

08-11-2010, 11:03 AM
Seems like a good opportunity to go to <insert large orange store name here> with a tile and test-drive their score-and-snap tilecutters.

"Oh you say it can cut a tile this big? I don't believe you - here. Show me."


08-11-2010, 11:12 AM
I have a DeWalt D24000.

By scoring and snapping, would that require another tool? I could use the wet saw to score down the length of the tile pretty easily. They're fairly thick - around 3/8" but I guess marble fractures a little more easily than regular tile.

Of course I'm down to my last jumbo sized tile... if bad comes to worse it's along a wall and you only see half of it anyway. The Versailles pattern would still work out just fine there with a couple of other tiles. I'd still hate it if the last tile broke while trying out a snapping tool. There are still two other tiling jobs to be done in this house so if I need to buy a tool that's ok.

edit: I've gotten really far in this project thanks to searching this forum and have been busy doing the bathroom floor for the last few days (maybe 12 man hours invested). Even when going slow there's still a lot that can go wrong and it really puts things in perspective when thinking about people that do this day in and day out for a living.

Houston Remodeler
08-11-2010, 12:09 PM
The dewalt has th e plunge feature. Line up the tile as for a regular cut. Loosen the knob facing you, the one that holds the blade, housing and motor in place. When you loosen it, the whole motor assembly will pop up a bit. With the blade higher than the tile to be cut, start the saw. Wait till the water is flowing, then start your cut by running the cart / trolley back and forth as you slowly add more slight pressure to the motor in a downward push. You'll be able to cut through the tile, nice and cleanly, with no tear out / blow out at the ends.

08-11-2010, 12:25 PM
What Paul said.

It can also help when you're having that sorta problem to be sure you cut all the way through the tile at both ends while you still have lots of thickness left in the rest of the cut area.

My opinion; worth price charged.

09-21-2010, 09:40 PM
Time for an update. I'm almost done with the bathroom project. The floor, shower and tile around the bathtub are all done except for two tiles that go around the window between the windowsill and the second row of tile.

While doing the project I've had tons of questions, but they were already answered in other threads. So I searched instead of asking something that someone already asked about before. I've been holding off on posting pictures because I wanted to wait until the countertop was in (and I may bump the thread at that point in a week or two). Anyway here's how it came out.

Should've taken pictures during the shower floor build. It's orange and sloped... you've seen more than a couple of those.

Almost done...

Just add glass - it's in now.

Best one of the shower until the granite is in... it's grouted now and just waiting on that one little thing.

Couple of pics of the floor.

This took a long time to install but it was my first time around ceramic or stone tile.

Thanks again to all those that helped, and to those that answer the same questions that I had when others asked them!

09-22-2010, 04:33 AM
Lookin' good! :clap2: