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Old 11-13-2006, 06:50 PM   #1
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Small batches of thinset


How do I measure thinset from a 50lb bag to make small batches?

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Old 11-13-2006, 06:58 PM   #2
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That is hard to answer because of all the many kinds of mortars out there.
Many of the new flex mortars and highly modified mortars need to be mixed exact. That is to say in ratios per the bag instructions.
For a mortar like Versabond when mixing in a 2 1/2 gallon bucket I add a couple inches of water and pour in mortar until it looks like a valcano raising out of the ocean. 2/3rds of the mortar under water. 1/3 above. Stop there and mix it up. Add more mortar or water as needed to get the right mixture.
The mixing trowel will stand up by itself in the mortar.
Good Luck

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Old 11-13-2006, 07:54 PM   #3
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define "small"

I did my first 2 rooms mixing batches in one of those flat blue buckets, but have now graduated to half-bag batches in 5-gal pails. You know what? Bigger is better. For starters, I no longer have to guess at how much water - just read the bag and cut it in half. I was always guessing and trying to figure out the proper consistency. Second the tile work goes much faster. Most thinsets have a pretty decent pot life in that quantity so you really have more time than you may think - and you spend a LOT less time cleaning.

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Old 11-13-2006, 08:00 PM   #4
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Versabond and Folger's Coffee Cans

I take the mathematical approach. Versabond calls for 6 quarts of water for the whole 50 pound bag. I filled a Folgers' Classic Roast 39 oz can with vb and weighed it at 9 pounds on my antique farmer's scale. So 9 pounds is 18 percent of the 50 pound bag, so I needed 18% of the 6 quarts of water. There are 32 ounces in a quart, times 6 is 192 and 18 percent of that is 34.56 ounces and so that's how much water I used, more or less.

Now, to generalize, 34.56 is 3.84 times 9, so if you can figure out how many pounds of versabond you wanna mix, in pounds, multiply it by 3.84 and that's how many ounces of water you should add.

Now, if you don't happen to have a 39 ounce Folger's Classic Roast can handy, or an old scale, or if you're not using versabond, it gets complicated. The 39 oz can is your "big" can of coffee, but there's no standardization. A small can of coffee might be 11.5 oz or 13 oz and a big can could be more or less, I don't know. That's why ceramic tilers make the big bucks because they know what it's supposed to look like and what kinda trowel will stand up straight in it when it's just right. But, just use those math skills you learned in high school and you'll be all set.

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Old 06-26-2014, 08:04 PM   #5
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Small batch success

I am an amateur DIY tiler and was mounting 12 inch mesh sheets with 5/8 inch square mosaic ceramic chips on a kitchen counter backsplash. My adhesive mortar (Mapei polymer enriched for ceramic and glass; Lowes) was applied to a painted sheetrock wall (lightly sanded to prepare).
I mixed 2 cups water in the bottom of a 1 gallon plastic jug (top cut off) with 3 cups of mortar powder using a spiral mixer... then sneaked up on a 4th cup of mortar powder while stiring the pot constantly. Approximate ratio: One water to two powder. Of course different mortar might require another formula.
The best advice (found here and elsewhere) is the mortar mix should be stiff enough for the trowel to stand, and a glob of mortar to adhere to (not fall from) the trowel for a good while when suspended above the bucket. I think it is similar to cake frosting! Follow the instructions on the bag for mixing times and slake time. You will have plenty of time for an amateur to use this mud even with tricky corners and troublesome electrical outlet obstacles!
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:14 PM   #6
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This is like any other process where there is a specific recipe.
All those methods with "parts" and cupfuls and pounds etc. can work if you are diligent. But it seems to me the best way is to treat it like a lab process.
Calculate the ratio of mortar to water from the info on the bag.
Weigh out the mortar in grams using a kitchen scale that goes up to at least 6 kg.
Measure the volume of water in mL using a graduated cylinder or a cook's measuring cup.
Maintain the recommended ratio on each batch: grams (or kg) of mortar to mL (or L) of water.
As you go along, determine how many grams or kg of mortar you need per full tile.
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Old 06-26-2014, 10:25 PM   #7
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I'm a lot less precise than the others here, I guess. I mixed it a few times by computing the ratios and after that I just mixed it by eye. I'm probably due for a few months in tile purgatory for that transgression, but so far no tiles have fallen off the wall.

Does anyone have any data on how the thinset strength is affected by too much or too little water...?
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