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Old 07-28-2010, 10:00 AM   #1
gworrel
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Detroit old house bedroom to bathroom

Hi all,

I am converting part of a former bedroom to a bathroom in my nearly 100 year old house in Detroit. The area is about 11' x 8'. We already took out an original maple hardwood floor. Left behind is a t & g 1x8 subfloor which runs perpendicular to the joists rather than diagonally. The joists are unknown wood that measure approx 1.75" x 7.5". The deflecto calculator gives me L / 289 if I assume unknown wood and standard 2x8 sizing. If I use a little interpolation to account for the larger actual board sizes, I get about L / 385. If the wood is SYP or Douglas Fir, then it could be as high as L /475.

I have not picked an actual tile yet but I am leaning towards a grey natural slate with Ditra underneath. I am planning to either double the joists or screw / glue 3/4" plywood on both sides of each joist. Should I remove the subfloor or just put plywood over the top? What are my options that will maintain a floor level close to the original? Thanks.

Greg
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:42 AM   #2
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I'd pull the boards, assuming you have no access from underneath. If you do, sister up from below like you described. Use construction adhesive on those 3/4" ply sisters (which I'd honestly avoid, in favor of board lumber).

If you leave the planking, then put down 1/2" ply, properly installed.

If you remove the planking, then put down new 3/4" ply, properly installed.

"Properly installed" varies a bit depending on your course of action.

Add blocking for the board edges, glue/screw properly, etc. Ditra is a fine substrate over either of these plans. Obviously pulling the boards out gives you a much lower floor overall. Your call tho! hope this helps!
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:39 PM   #3
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I have a basement underneath so access is not a problem. I just discovered a new problem though. The subfloor is not level with a variation that appears to be as much as a 1/2 inch in 4 feet. This must be due to a sagging main beam in the basement. Aside from making sure the beam is not going to sag any further, I assume the best way to fix this is to take up the sub-floor and level the floor with the sistered joists put in level so the plywood is attached to the new wood that is level.

So 3/4 inch plywood glued to the new level joists, then unmodified thinset, then ditra, then modified thinset then tile then grout?

I have a bag of Laticrete 254 left over from replacing the tile on a swimming pool. This is good to set the tile but not good to set the Ditra, correct?

(Just fyi, I hired a couple of experienced pool tile setters, one of whom was the nephew of a buddy of mine, to set the pool tile but I grouted with Spectralock because one of them said he was allergic to epoxy. Using Spectralock in 95 degree heat in a swimming pool is tricky but it turned out great.)

Greg
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:17 PM   #4
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Hey neighbor,

Sounds like you have a good handle about getting the joists' deflection rating to L720 or better. I would NOT remove the subfloor unless absolutely necessary. Remember the walls were built over the subfloor and so removing it creates several problems. Can you make the floor flat by using a SLC? (self leveling compound). You need a double layer subfloor anyway if you do decide to go with slate. (Which I might recommend you don't).

If so, install the second sheet of underlayment, then make the floor flat. Then the Ditra. But you've got the type of thin set backwards. Modified to wood, unmodified to set the tiles.

Laticrete 254 is modified, good to install Ditra to wood, not for tiles to Ditra.

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Old 07-28-2010, 09:56 PM   #5
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Greg,

I'd go w/ your plan - pull the old boards, fix up the framing to your liking and necessary flatness, and go w/ all new subflooring. I think you wind up with a vastly superior end result. If you wind up w/ partition walls spanning joist bays (i.e. cutting out the floor makes a wall hang in mid-air) just add some cross-blocking w/ joist hangers to support that wall first, then carefully cut the flooring out around the perimeter of the room, making sure you don't cut into those new pieces of cross blocking you just added.

And unless you JUST wrapped up that pool job, I'd not use that old thinset for much other than underneath CBU / Hardie. It has a short shelf life unopened. Once opened it drops about 90%.

Good luck!
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:11 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies.

There are no interior walls to deal with. There was a wall that was previously removed to combine two bedrooms into one. I will be putting in a new 2x6 wet wall now to use some of that space for a bathroom.

I see however that the subfloor extends under the exterior walls too. It would certainly be easier to leave the subfloor and use SLC. If I use SLC then I put 1/2 inch plywood over the existing subfloor, pour the SLC, then the modified thinset to bond the ditra, (or does that change due to the SLC?), then unmodified thinset to bond the tile to the ditra.

Would you put the new wall in first over the subfloor and before the plywood?

How much variation can SLC make up?

I have a rotating laser level that I can use to get an exact idea of the leveling needed.

Jaz, my parents and two of my brothers live in Troy. I am in the Old Redford area of Detroit. I hope you are staying busy in the current downturn.

Ed, I just finished the grouting of the pool last week. (I am hoping to paint the pool with epoxy today, finally, of course now that the weather has cooled a bit and winter is just around the corner.) The tiles were set about a week earlier. There is a small amount of 254 in an open bag but I have an unopened bag. Sounds like I should just toss the opened bag.

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Old 07-29-2010, 09:27 AM   #7
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It's an old house, right? Think of it this way WRT SLC: If you poured a 5 gallon pail of chocolate milk on the floor, would any of it go thru to the space below?

If you just answered "yes" to that, then I'd recommend avoiding the SLC.

Seriously - build up the framing the right way, use it to flatten, level, and stiffen the floor appropriately. you'll be happier in the long run.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:01 AM   #8
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Jaz,

I forgot to ask why not slate?

Coincidentally, I just watched an episode of Holmes on Homes last night where they redid a slate shower that was a mess. The contractor had put a membrane under wood framing for benches so the wood was saturated and puddles had formed. They ripped out the mess and put in Brazilian slate that Homes said was non-porous. Or maybe it was just less porous.

I saw some slate at TJ Tile that I liked that was laid in a pattern something like this:

http://www.buyfloors.com/versailles-...n/info_17.html

I am not sure what the stone is in that link but I like that as well. I was trying to avoid beige. I think every tile at HD is beige. I was thinking dark grey. I don't know how often design and color choices are discussed on this forum but I am open to suggestions. The bathroom will be a mix of new and old, with a clawfoot tub with chrome feet, a rectangular glass walled corner shower, and wood wainscoting to match the wide window trim.

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Old 07-29-2010, 11:25 AM   #9
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Ed,

Certainly anything poured onto the subfloor as it looks right now would end up in the basement in seconds. Even though the subfloor is t&g, the boards have shrunk and there are numerous gaps, knot holes, etc. I assumed the SLC would go over the new plywood which could be sealed all around.

I was really starting to like the SLC idea. I can see issues removing the subfloor since it would need to be cut all around the edge of the room. Would I cut that with a recip saw? No easy way to cut straight down along the wall. The plaster walls go right down to the floor. A new subfloor would also require a new full length joist to support the edge of the floor.

Other than needing to be contained while it hardens, any other reasons to avoid SLC? I am rarely one to take the quick fix but it seems like a good fit here.

Thanks,
Greg
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:40 AM   #10
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Look at how much you're trying to build up, and then add in the minimum req'd thickness at the thinnest point (your current high spot). Factor that total thickness in on top of your plywood, thinset, tile, etc. Just things to think about. I'm not an SLC aficionado, but ISTR they want something like 1/2" min thickness?

Around the room, you'd be adding some blocking and/or joists, yes. Not really difficult, and again - gives you the ability to relevel everything while ending up with a much "lower" floor. And either way, you're cutting and installing plywood.

Cutting the floor out around the walls could be done w/ a sawzall and a hand saw to finesse around the joists. Yes - I'd use a circ saw to get me close. Might just skip the sawzall and ignore that inch around the edge, if I could, and put a nice fat baseboard over it...
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:46 PM   #11
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I'm not opposed to removing the planks if that's the best method. It's just that it often isn't the best way to go. Every situation has to be assessed on its own merits, and I can't see the room from here.

Slate is one of the worst choices for a shower, (arguably the worst), however I'm sure there are some people that took the chance and like the results, very rare I think.

I've watched Holmes every week for awhile now. Kinda like him very much. I'm a die-hard Kerdi guy, (and Ditra too), no better way to build showers. I'm one of only a handful tile setters that even know what Kerdi and Ditra are in this market. Problem I get blown on price when I quote as compared to all the hacks operating here there days. I can say that probably 95% or more of the showers built here are done wrong. Some people don't care though.

I lived in the old Brightmore section south of the Old Redford area from '56-'65 then Warren, Roseville and Troy.

Jaz
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:07 PM   #12
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Jaz,

I beg to differ with you. I think travertine is the worst stone for a shower. Granted slate is a close second.

Just sayin....
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:17 AM   #13
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I have checked with a laser level and the slope is worse than I thought. From the highest corner to the lowest corner the difference is about 1 7/8 inches. At the doorway where the transition would be the difference is about 3/4 inch.

So if I remove the subfloor, level the joists with new sisters, then 3/4 inch plywood will leave me flush with the outside floor. So the transition will be off by the thickness of the ditra, thinset, and tile. What is an acceptable transition level change? Is 3/4 inch plywood all I need? Does stone require two layers of plywood?

I was not going to use stone in the shower, but only on the floor, and even that is not carved in stone. I have an acrylic shower pan going in over the floor and two walls of glass. I will use glass or porcelain tiles on the two solid walls of the shower.

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Old 07-30-2010, 10:19 AM   #14
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Greg,

natural stone likes to have 2 layers of ply totaling 1.25 inches. Your joists are 16" oc?

Can I interest you in a nice through body porcelain?
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:23 AM   #15
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Stone installs need 2 layers of properly installed plywood under the tiling substrate, yes. So your 3/4" flushes out? Then factor in 1/2" over that, and the Ditra, thinset, and tile. I'd guess you're about an inch there, give or take a 1/16".

An inch door threshold isn't unmanageable. Kinda tall but you can get away with it.

Now - if you went w/ a ceramic "stone lookalike" you can scrap that extra 1/2" and then a simple, cheap marble threshold will easily do what you're asking.

Remember to treat a stone threshold like a tile - needs to be on top of those ply layers and have proper tiling substrate.

Speaking of which, gollygeegosh if my ex-wife ain't gonna hand some poor tile guy the threshold from her master bath someday...
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