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Old 03-16-2018, 09:18 PM   #1
HughM
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Retro Fit Tile on Porch with SO many Issues!

Hi, I am new to your forum, and will appreciate input on my DIY challenge. I have removed some very slick scrap marble from a porch/patio area and want to replace it with porcelain tile. What we have there now is a rough, uneven concrete substrate.

About 2/3 of the 10.5 x 20 surface area sits on top of an underground storm cellar and the remainder sits on top of the ground. It has no useful slope at all. We live in NE Oklahoma and can have winter temps down to sub zero.
We have a deep crack that runs the depth of the area, located basically where the cellar area meets the dirt base. The house’s entry door is on the side the sits over the ground, and we have 1 ½ “ of space under the door threshold. We have considered raising the door threshold up by 1- 1 ½ “ in order to create a minimal slope for our 10.5’ deep porch floor. If we do this, we will have a new height of about 2 ½-3 inches at the threshold for a mortar bed and tile, otherwise we have 1 ½ inches.

We also need to replace a section of the porch where an old sidewalk met the porch. In this area, the porch substrate basically crumbled away and was removed with the old sidewalk. Our idea is to pour a new sidewalk over a 4" compacted ¾” gravel base, and also replace the missing section of the adjoining porch at the same time. Then we would like to install porcelain tile on the porch/patio surface. Here are some of our questions-

1. In pouring the sidewalk and adjoining porch repair area, do we need to prepare the edges of the old porch in any way for bonding with the new concrete? I have read to undercut the old concrete when patching so would we use a similar approach in pouring new concrete to adjoin the old? Any other prep needed of the old concrete? Or perhaps we should not be bonding at all to the old concrete as it is a part of the cellar and maybe an expansion joint is a better abutment?

2. We want to create an expansion joint in the area where the crack between the two different bases is. How can we do this best? Silicone in the uneven crack and then an expansion joint in the tile as close as possible? Or should we try to use a crack isolation membrane here?

3. When laying tiles on the rough concrete substrate, what methods might work here and what products would be best? I have read lots of information on different application methods but don’t know how to adapt to our specific issues of uneven surface, no slope to minimal slope, limited height space, 2 different bases, cracked area, and budget concerns.

4. We are considering a removal of that portion of the concrete substrate which is over dirt, and starting over with a new slab on this portion of the porch. It is very tempting as we could expose the side of the cellar wall, perhaps create a better defined expansion joint between the cellar wall and the dirt base, add waterproofing to the cellar’s exterior wall, etc. However, we are hesitant to take it out because a 7’ length of the house wall here actually sits on top of the same marble top that we just removed. It looks like the previous owner built the addition right on top of his patio and we are guessing that the footing here may be an old concrete porch. And all this for the fix of a slick cracked marble top. ARGH!

We live in a rural area and the local contractors aren’t a good resource for knowledge in finding the best solutions to our porch issues, so we thank you for guidance you may provide. We realize that our porch has a number of deal breaker (aka tile breaker) problems, but we have to work with what we have and find some sort of compromise remedies. And in doing so, we would like to use the right products in the right way, the first time, if we can afford it!

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Old 03-16-2018, 09:49 PM   #2
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Additional note about pics- the mortar bed from on the old tile is not completely removed in the pics, but we are working on it.
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:53 PM   #3
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Welcome, Hugh.

Tough situation for the remodel you have in mind. Lot to consider.

First consideration is your lack of slope. Unless you can remedy that you'll just be putting lipstick on a pig. Raising the door threshold, if you can successfully do that, would seem the easiest choice, but consider that the tile industry standard for slope in your situation would be a minimum of a quarter-inch per horizontal foot. That would require something more than 2 1/2-inches in increased height (presuming you're currently somewhere close to level) in your substrate at the house. Add to that your tile and a couple inches (my personal minimum) of height between the patio height and the door threshold and you've got a substantial change there. You'll also want to consider removing the lower portion of your wall sheathing so you can flash your new waterproofing up the exterior walls a bit and tie that into the waterproofing membrane you'll install under your tile installation.

All doable, perhaps, but will need some serious planning and careful execution.

1. I would be careful not to attach those two concrete sections. You'll want to leave a movement accommodation joint there and honor it up through your tile and/or whatever covering you use on the sidewalk. You will forever have some differential movement between those two sections.

2. There again, I would anticipate that you will always have some vertical, as well as horizontal, differential movement between those two concrete sections. I can't tell why the crack/joint is not a straight line where the two sections currently meet, but I'd want to look into that before making a decision on the treatment in the tile installation. Best case would perhaps be a repair that resulted in a straight joint there that could easily be honored up through your new sloped mud and tile installation.

3. The addition of the new sloped substrate should eliminate the existing rough surface and could be easily bonded to the current surface.

4. Can't speak at all to the potential issues in removing the existing SOG and I'm not at all sure what benefit that would be unless the current concrete is unsound and really needs replaced. You could lower it to make room for a proper slope away from the structure, but that would leave you with sections at different heights and still no slope in the existing above-grade concrete.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:51 PM   #4
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CX,
Thank you for your insights, I think your points hit on all of our biggest concerns. And yes, I understand that creating slope would need to be our first objective. Our existing substrate is basically level as it runs away and out from the house (east to west). However, there is some slope down in the run from the north to south. Do you suppose this might help our situation any if slope could be a combination of east / west as well as north /south? Would it allow us to raise the threshold any less?
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:13 PM   #5
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Very difficult to get a sufficiently flat slope for tile when creating a compound slope like I think your suggesting. If you think you can get the required slope with the flatness required for the size tiles you anticipate using, I wouldn't see a problem with it.

Far easier said than done, though.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 03-18-2018, 09:40 PM   #6
HughM
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Ok, well short of dynamite (tempting!) we don’t see any options besides trying to create slope as best we can and then hoping for a decent result.

Could I also ask for input on the process and products-

1. Correct product for creating the sloped substrate and bonding agent? And if it has a minimum depth requirement, can we then switch over to a different product for a thinner substrate as we near the lesser substrate depth?

2. Is there a resource for info about how to properly apply the new substrate and achieve a nice flat surface?

3. Suggestions for products in creating the movement accommodation joints in the concrete substrate and in the tile?

4. Could you recommend a waterproofing product that would be cost efficient and consistent with minimal height concerns and compatible with other products being used? Redguard? And does this go directly on top of the new substrate?

5.. And then what product should we use to apply the bond coat for the tile?

Thank you again!
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Old 03-19-2018, 08:45 AM   #7
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Hi Hugh,

Looking at the pictures I don't see how you would get sufficient slope on that without coming up to the level of the inside floor or higher. I know it's expensive, but my long-term approach would be to remove all the concrete and start over.
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Old 03-19-2018, 12:22 PM   #8
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John,
I wish we had the budget to tear it all out, but the cost to pour a new cellar top sends the dollars way up. We could demo the portion that sits on the ground though, is that what you meant? I had originally thought this might work in that we could also expose the cellar wall and make a more defined movement joint next to it. Just didn't want to tear out something unless it needs to go.
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