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Old 07-23-2013, 12:22 AM   #1
joe ainley
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chicken wire or hardi/kerdi board

We are remodeling two bathrooms and I am totally confused about what to do regarding the tiling. One bathroom has a bath and we bought marble (on sale) to extend to the ceiling and around the room at waist height on one side. The floor is also going to be marble on a concrete slab.

We got 3 bids for the tile work on one bathroom. The cheapest guy says he will use chicken wire and paper with mud or thin set -- not clear which. Then he pops on the marble. No word about sealant other than an explanation about paper. No word about floors. He came in at $2300.

The $3200 bid states "preparation to be mortar bed". There is to be "no base" on floor installation. Nothing about sealant.

The $4300 bid calls for "Float and Mortar set" around the tub walls; tile on sheetrock for the wainscoting, and "no base" for the floor; tile on concrete. Ditto silence on sealant.

Does the mortar bed mean old school? Same question for Mortar set? It sounds like all except the most expensive bid are going with mud base. What should I ask or put in contract to make sure I am getting the true cement base rather than a thin screen of mastic or some such?

Many thanks,

Joe
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Old 07-23-2013, 03:20 AM   #2
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Welcome, Joe.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe
One bathroom has a bath and we bought marble.......
Mmmmm, you mean a tub, perhaps? With a shower, maybe?

If you are confused about the terms in any proposal for work of any kind in your home you should question the contractor until the you are both completely clear on what is being proposed.

By "sealant," for example, I'm guessing you mean the method of waterproofing the shower walls, but it's just that, a guess. Ask them.

When the bids say "no base" I'm similarly guessing they mean no tile baseboard is included. Ask them.

It sounds to me like all three are bidding mortar bed walls in the shower (if you'll add a geographic location to your User Profile it'll help in answering some kinds of question. Otherwise we hafta guess you're in California), but I'm guessing again. Ask them. Ask them specifically what materials are to be used and what method of application, such as "one-coat," "scratch and brown," or other, and what method of water containment they plan to use.

I'd probably eliminate the guy with the chicken wire. Old-school is fine, but there comes a time when you at least move up to compliance with industry standards in your old-school methods. That would require him to use the specified metal lath in his mud walls rather than chicken wire.

But the bottom line is that you don't understand the proposals and that is never good for either side in such work proposals. Ask them anything that you don't understand fully. If they're not willing to make it clear to you what they propose to do, they shouldn't get your business.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:09 PM   #3
joe ainley
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Chicken Wire

"I'd probably eliminate the guy with the chicken wire. Old-school is fine, but there comes a time when you at least move up to compliance with industry standards in your old-school methods. That would require him to use the specified metal lath in his mud walls rather than chicken wire."


Thank you very much for this information. I was unclear in my post. We are installing a bath with a shower head at one end. We live in San Jose, California.

Can you please tell me what "metal lath" is? I am familiar with lath and plaster walls but not regarding tile or metal. Is it preferable to lay tile directly on the concrete floor rather than on some kind of base? I shall find out what is meant by "mortar bed" etc. From this forum I understand that the best bed is sand and portland cement for natural stone used as a splashguard around a tub/shower.

Is there any type of mortar that you would recommend for this type of application? e.g. something with an acrylic polymer in it?

Thanks again,

Joe
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:31 PM   #4
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Joe,

I'll quickly answer your question about what metal lath is, but I'll let CX help you further.

Below is a picture of metal lath.
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:42 PM   #5
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Ditra v. Metal Lath

Am in the process of trying to figure out the best type of install for marble bathtub splashguard and marble flooring on cement substrate.

In doing my research I stumbled across something called Schluter Ditra. This looks very cool and the company video is clear as a bell. However, they show it being set on a floor. Does anyone know whether it can be used on a wall as tile backing?

I found Ditra recommended on the web by someone who also went on to say:

" Lath over tarpaper and then 1-1.25" of drypack is the indestructable old fashioned way. Ditra has been around for over 20 years. Lath over the tar paper allowed the tile to ride over the subfloor. Ditra does the same thing in a much thinner and much lighter version."

Is lath over tarpaper comparable to Ditra or is there a clear benefit to the Ditra?

I am not sure what "drypack" is but I assume its a means of de-coupling floor and tile. Is it true that you need 1 to 11/2 inches of this for a floor if not using Ditra or cementboard?

All of the contractors who have bid the job state that the tile will be bonded directly to the floor. I assume this is not good.

BTW, I live in San Jose, California

Thank you.
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:51 PM   #6
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Joe,

Lets get one big question out of the way before we continue..

What kind of subfloor do you have? Is it a wood structure or is it a concrete slab?

Also, for what it's worth, a solid and adequate subfloor, whether it's wood or concrete can handle a tile installation for many decades if it is installed correctly. And by installing it correctly.. I mean correctly using any of the current industry standards. Whether it's direct bond to concrete, CBU on wood, DITRA on concrete or wood, mud bed (or Dry Pack) on top of wood or concrete.. Point is, as long as the installation is correct there really isn't a need (in my opinion) to worry. Each person has their own preferred method.. and a lot of folks here are very much "pro-Schluter" for various reasons. Myself, I'll take cement board, a concrete slab or a mud bed any day of the week.

There are two main advantages to DITRA. It's uncoupling properties and the thickness of the product.

Mudbeds go back many many many years and there are 100s if not 1000s of incredibly old floors that are still rock solid to this day that were installed on top of a mud bed. Again, it goes back to a correct and proper installation like I mentioned above.
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Old 07-23-2013, 06:02 PM   #7
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Joe, it'll help if you'll keep all your project questions on one thread so folks can see what you're working on and what's been previously asked and answered. We can give it a more generic title any time you'd like to suggest one.

And again:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CX Post 2
(if you'll add a geographic location to your User Profile it'll help in answering some kinds of question. Otherwise we hafta guess you're in California)
Keep in mind that there are two distinctly different kinds of "mud" used in tile work, one for walls and other vertical surfaces and one for floors.

In regards to your thinset mortar question, it's common for the tile contractor to supply such materials for the job, so I recommend you find out what they intend to use and we can comment on that if you like.

I really think you need to wait until you can get your prospective tile contractors to fully explain to you the materials and methods they intend to use in your project so your questions and our answers will more closely address your situation.
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:39 PM   #8
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Thanks everybody,

BTW I am in San Jose, Ca.

The floor at issue is cement and pretty level.

Wall wise, I think the big issue has boiled down to this. Three contractors have bid with a "mud bed" method for the walls. Assuming they do it correctly, is that method acceptable where the wooden wall is just 2x4's every 16 inches or should/must there be some type of backing board to screed the mud onto.

As it is most of the wall would be paper and lath.

A tile person at Home Depot told me that he had never seen a tar paper and lath wall without a backing board of some kind (at least residential construction). He claimed that you could not screed properly as the mud would bounce around on the wire.

So, I guess my basic question is can the chicken wire/tar paper suffice without a layer of hardiboard or something behind it. My wife wants it to be that way as she feels the backer board and mud will push the stone out and make it look "stuck on".

Thanks again,

Joe
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe
A tile person at Home Depot told me....
Many here advise limiting your questions to the fine folks working at Home Depot to "where can I find the _____."

As to your chicken wire question....there's a very experienced tile professional who works in the Bay Area that posts here and does the one-coat mud over chicken wire and paper method you mention. His system has drywall over the wall framing, then the paper, then wire, then mud. He's posted photos of some nice looking completed showers and baths. Perhaps he'll chime in and answer specific questions you may have.

So I believe you are correct in that there is a substrate in the chicken wire/paper system. Though I'm just an armchair tile wannabe hack so take that for what it's worth.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:13 PM   #10
joe ainley
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Pete,

I appreciate the feedback. Hopefully, the local tile expert will weigh in.

Know what you mean about HD; as in ok, why are you working there instead of plying your trade.

Cheers.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:08 PM   #11
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Joe, that's not a local question at all, it's a very old standard, or pair of standards.

The oldest and best and least used method today uses no backing material at all behind wall mud. Roofing felt is stapled over the open stud bays, expanded metal lath is nailed to the studs over the paper, and "fat mud" or "wall mud" is applied over that in tow coats, a scratch coat, then a leveling or brown coat. The brown coat is applied using wood lath strips to make the walls plumb, square, and flat. Very, very flat.

The other mud method is the one-coat method. That requires a backing material, usually drywall, over which the same felt and lath are stapled and then the single leveling coat of mud is applied using the same method as for the brown coat.

In some code compliance jurisdictions the one-coat method is no longer being permitted in wet areas because the inspectors are (incorrectly in my view) calling the mud part of the bonding mortar for the tile. Building code no longer allows drywall in wet areas.

The two-coat method over open joists is a very good installation method and is becoming a lost art in most parts of the country.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 07-23-2013, 11:26 PM   #12
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CX,

Thank you very much for that explanation. I get it now.

The trick is now to find somebody who can do the two coat. It sounds like a true art.

Really appreciate the help.


Thanks,

Joe
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:04 PM   #13
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Hi Joe.

What your contractors are bidding is common practice in San Jose. "Chicken wire" AKA 20 gauge 1" mesh is the preferred lath of choice for bay area tilemen. It is 100% up to the job as long as it is galvanized and self-furring. I am going to talk about the "one-coat" mortar bed method later in this post, both for your and "in-general" information for those here that wonder what the difference may be.

San Jose is one of the few municipalities in the bay area Which does not require interior lath inspection. This does not mean that common practices as required by the other municipalities that do require inspection may be ignored.

Ask the bidders "will you be following the interior lath requirements of Los Altos, Cupertino, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, (....etc) when you lath my shower?" The general guidelines are:

1) Minimum water-resistent ("green") drywall, but most now call for Denshield in wet areas. If your contractor will be replacing the drywall, tell him you want Denshield in the bid.

2) Waterproof paper; 30-30-30 Kraft paper (Aquabar, Rattan, etc) or 15 lb roofing felt or better. Paper run horizontal, starting at the bottom, ship-lapped min. 4", no tearing. Minimum vertical overlaps 12".

3) Galvanized self-furring metal lath, 20 gauge minimum woven mesh (chicken wire) or 1" self-fur welded-wire 18 gauge are normal. 3" minimum overlap regardless of type of lath. "Diamond", or expanded lath is not common for one-coat, but some use it. If the guy wants to use it, it must be furred (which is why almost nobody uses it for one-coat).

4) Mechanical attachment. Lath to be nailed-off using 1 1/4" (min) galvanized "roofing" nails or equivalent 1 1/2" roofing staples 6" OC (on center) all studs max 16" OC. No nails @ inside corners. Nails at lath overlaps. Non- self-furring wire requires furring nails (which is why everybody uses self-furring wire).


So, as a layering: drywall/denshield, waterproof paper, metal lath, mechanical attachment. The purpose of the drywall/ is as a backer for the mortar bed. The HD guy was actually right about that.




The California bay area is in a high earthquake zone. Statistics have shown that the "one-coat" mortar bed method fairs better than any other tile installation method including non-mortar bed (cement backer-board etc) in sever earthquakes. Most of this information, along with countless changes to structural requirements for 2-story or less residential structures came following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a 7.1. (side note: I wish I had bought Simpson Strong-tie stock in '88 LOL!). The rest of the country would be amazed at what our framing looks like here in CA, or our concrete foundations. My house, built in 2003, is on a "post-tension slab foundation". It is 12" thick, and has thick/sheathed steel cables 12" OC both directions. A couple weeks after the slab is poured, tension is applied to each cable in the thousands of pounds per square inch, then capped and welded. They do not crack, and crack-isolation membranes for this type of slab are optional but not needed.



Back to tile on walls in an earthquake: why is one-coat best? Very simple:

1) At 1/2" thick, the mortar bed has a lot of flexibility ie it can bend without fracturing. As the mortar wraps a corner, there is equal strength. As there are no panel seams in which strength is lost, the entire mortar bed is a single monoque structure without inherent weak points.

2) Furred lath means that the mortar has completely wrapped the wire. The wire is well-embeded in the mortar, and thus will not let-go of the mortar. Mechanical attachment means the lath will not let go of the wall structure. Directly at the attachment point, the lath can bend under stress without letting go of the nail. Nails cannot "pop" like on sheet goods (drywall, cement backer board, etc).

3) The waterproof paper is dual function. It also serves as a cleavage membrane. The mortar bed can in effect "slip" on the drywall beneath, moving with the ground movement and lessening fracture. Thus no nails in the corners. Hmmm... This is why they fair better than any other installation method.


These are not my ideas. This is what the building inspectors say when they are asked "why?".


After the Loma Prieta quake, studies were done. All of a sudden, everybody's building dept. wants to see paper and nails. They are less concerned about mold/rot than about slabs of tiled walls falling on people. Luckily, waterproof paper serves both



Regional practices are important. I know I would want a house built to withstand hurricanes where those happen. Not sure what withstands tornados (gulp). But I'm very sure I want a house that I don't have to be dug out from under here in earthquake land.




The bids sound typical to me. Mortar bed shower (wet area), thin set wainscot (dry area), and thin set to slab floor tile. However, if you are not on a post-tension slab, tell them you want a crack isolation or anti-fracture type install on the concrete. Or Laticrete CST (or equivalent) thin set used. That should not add much to the bid.


Good luck, and show us photos so I can see what my competition is up to

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Old 07-25-2013, 06:35 AM   #14
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Above is a good post.

I'm down in Monterey and mud is what we see and do with chicken wire (stucco mesh) in showers. Mud is becoming a long lost method. Pan liners and mud are still common in this area and make sure that you have some references from your installers.

I lived in willow Glenn for almost a decade off of curtner - miss the heat!
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty
3) Galvanized self-furring metal lath, 20 gauge minimum woven mesh (chicken wire) or 1" self-fur welded-wire 18 gauge are normal. 3" minimum overlap regardless of type of lath. "Diamond", or expanded lath is not common for one-coat, but some use it.
I'm sure y'all have an ICC ER for the use of all those light gauge products, right? Since "the building inspectors" seem all to accept the use, I trust that's all written into the local building codes?
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