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Old 09-10-2001, 01:35 PM   #1
LDavis
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Condo - 2nd floor concrete?

Went to bid a job this morning. Two story condo, 1500sf, built in the mid 70's. All stretch-in carpet except 2 baths and kitchen, which look like old "lick/stick" vinyl tiles. Customer wants all old floor coverings removed and everything tiled, including stairway.

I knew the first floor is concrete. Went upstairs to see what kind of subfloor I'm facing and am surprised to find what I assume is a light-weight concrete of unknown composition, strength, etc. How do I determine if this is an acceptable surface, as is, to set tile. (I'm thinking possibly gypcrete or something similar, but not sure)
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Old 09-10-2001, 03:38 PM   #2
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Latney

For all the hullabaloo over gypcrete I hear about...I've never actually seen the stuff. It seems like it would be softer than concrete. If so, would a whack with a hammer and cold chisel in a discrete place dislodge a chunk of material? If it was gypcrete or some other SLC, it would be real fine grained in the cross section.

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Old 09-10-2001, 04:32 PM   #3
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Very light gray in color, easy to scratch.
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Old 09-10-2001, 05:51 PM   #4
John Bridge
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Latney,

Besides gypcrete (which I think is proprietary) there are many forms of "lightweight," none of which (as far as I know) are suitable for a tile installation. I've always torn the stuff out and floated lath and mortar in it's place.

Many times there's not even any reinforcement, and if there is, the stuff usually isn't strong enough to cling to it. If you uncover enough floor, you'll find it cracked all over the place (I think).
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Old 09-10-2001, 08:25 PM   #5
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Latney:
The "lightweight" concrete is not, concrete.
Like JB pointed out you will find that it is not re-inforced with lathe or rebar and most assuredly it will be cracked.
You will have several issues to contend with, the first being what if anything to do with the cutback adhesive remaining on the "lightweight".
I have seen many successful jobs over this material using Ultra-Set as the bonding membrane. (Interior, light residential use only.) Bonding will occur only in the intitial set sense, of course. The "lightweight" will be difficult to bond to with anything and at best you are creating a "floating floor" system.
These "floating floor" systems are sometimes called sound reduction or abatement rated floors as well. (You can review these types of systems in the back of the TCA Handbook of Ceramic Tile Installations.)
You might consider contacting Schluter and asking if their kerdi system might work in these kinds of installations in that they are not trying to bond to the substrate any way.
This might be a good test for the "uncoupling" pitch they throw.
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Old 09-10-2001, 09:01 PM   #6
LDavis
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I appreciate everyone's response. The entire second floor is now carpet/pad/strip. The only way to find out what kind of shape this "stuff" is in, will be to get the job, which will include tearing out existing carpet, etc. At the very least, I can at least include a disclaimer of sorts with respect to the second floor.

This particular customer has "allergies" and will not consider carpet anywhere in the condo. Already priced laminate and decided material/installation was above budget.
I'll see what happens with the proposal.
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Old 09-10-2001, 09:19 PM   #7
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Latney:

If that was built as a multi-unit condo project, it is not at all unheard of for the upper floors to be actual "lightweight concrete".

In one old life, I worked for a couple concrete pumping companies. A good portion of our work was putting lightweight on upper floors of high-rise buildings and lots of times on two story things like motels and condos.

Have worked on (as remodeling person) one single-family residence that also had same for the second floor.

If that is the case with your building, that floor should be quite adequate for tile.

Ice pick through the carpet would be my first test. Lightweight concrete still feels like concrete.
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Old 09-11-2001, 05:35 PM   #8
Ron
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L.,

I've been taught to approach suspended slabs with caution.Especially in large condos and high-rises.

Some are not suitable for a direct bond installation,such as post-tensioned slabs.Are you talking about a slab or is the lightweight concrete on wood?

I would probably find out what the particulars are and contact Schluter,with their Ditra membrane in mind.
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Old 09-11-2001, 05:41 PM   #9
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CX,

Are we talking about the same thing? You're saying it's okay for tile. I'm saying it's not. (That part's okay.)

The "lightweight" I'm familiar with is not reinforced and contains aggregate such as perlite or some other flimsy thing. Additionally, there is not a lot of portland content. Other "fillers" are usually used.

Question: Would you do it in YOUR house?
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Old 09-11-2001, 06:57 PM   #10
Sonnie Layne
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damned, I thought for sure that conversation would bring John to his senses to use the word "thingy".

Hell, he should be a professor at SMU, Hey JP, I only live a block away!!!

Anyway, as most of you know, this has gotten much too teknikal fro em. oops. spoo.

I think John's a chikin. Do I hear an AMEN? (whatever that means>)
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Old 09-11-2001, 07:53 PM   #11
Bud Cline
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If laminate flooring breaks the bank then how on this green earth can tile be affordable? I don't understand!

Take a few maze nails and drive them into the (unidentified) substrate. If the nails drive as if you were driving them into wood it is probably gypcrete. There is nothing scientific about this test, I don't even know where I got the idea. It just gives me a feel for the composition.

Personally I wouldn't tile the stuff without knowing exactly what it is. If it is Gypcrete, I think everyone in the industry advises against installing tile, even Gypcrete.
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Old 09-11-2001, 07:59 PM   #12
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Maybe THAT'S what I was tryin' to say.
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Old 09-11-2001, 08:07 PM   #13
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John:

Lightweight concrete that I'm familiar with differs only in the course agregate, which is a pourous rock, but more substantial than pearlite type stuff.

Got plenty portland. In fact, if it's on the second story, it was almost certainly placed with a pump. To do that, the agregate must be soaked in water for several days and the mix will contain no less than 5 bags of portland per yard and more likely 5 1/2 to 6 (the "lubricant" in concrete for pumping is the portland and Lightweight is more difficult to pump than hardrock concrete). It's usually reinforced the same as hardrock to my knowledge, and poured in the same thicknesses (I could be wrong about the thickness).

It's like concrete when it dries (long time later) except that it weighs less. That's my understanding.

Don't know what else might be out there, though.
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Old 09-13-2001, 05:23 PM   #14
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They be a bunch of crap out there, amigo, and when the operative word is "townhouse" or "apartments," things get really shoddy. Many times I've seen 1/2 CDX as decking. Lightweight poured (yes, pumped) directly on top with no reinforcing. Not a pretty picture when it starts cracking up. I actually built a multi-unit project like this way back before I went belly up in the carpentry business. All we did was double up the bottom plates so there would still be something to nail the cheap base to after the lightweight.

I'm aware of the lubricating value of portland when pumping mud, but there are other ingredients that can be subsituted to equal advantage. Portland is heavy. (As if you didn't know that.)
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Old 09-13-2001, 07:25 PM   #15
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John:
I guess it's just like some folks lay tile, thems that y'all make fun of. Lots more wrong ways to do construction stuff than right ways, I'd hafta agree.

If you substitute Fly Ash for portland in a pump mix, you pewt it in YOUR pump. Pump want Portland! Pump don't want substitutes! After the "Boom Party", pump operator and his friends maybe come by your place to celebrate further. Not a pretty picture.

You ever pump some mud? Great fun. I've always been impressed that those things work at all. Like to have been there when the idea was born:

"Oh, yeah, go ahead and pour that sand and gravel in my hydraulic equipment". "Yeah, pour water in there too, that'll be good". "Cement? Sure, might as well pewt that in too". "OK, let's turn it on and see what happens. Hell, it's only 50 thousand bucks".
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