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Old 03-08-2008, 09:35 PM   #1
Tile_guy
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Ditra vs Heavy gauge metal lathe (the real facts)

I`ve been reading about the this ditra mat for quite some time now. In fact I`ve probably installed and tiled over 20,000 feet of it, but also I`ve used a hella lot of metal lathe ( heavy gauge). In my almost 20 years experience I`ve found that their are more failures with ditra than metal lathe. It has also come to my attention that Ditra is (maybe) pulling out of its Troba bed system in outside decks up here in Canada. So .....just like my bad experience with Prism last year ( in which they temporarily pulled the line) I`m still very leary about all this new technology ...In fact ..i.. goes to custom and their Prism line. They were willing to replace the tile in the whole show home I did (their bright white turned grey) but still made me look like a clown.

Greg

P.S. I have never had a metal lathe failure, but have had some minor problems with Ditra ....they were easily fixed however.
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Old 03-08-2008, 10:22 PM   #2
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What problems have ya had with the Ditra Greg?
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Old 03-09-2008, 06:38 AM   #3
Rd Tile
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And how are you using the metal lathe?

Full mud bed or scratch coating?
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Old 03-09-2008, 08:02 AM   #4
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In your experience with lathe jobs, how have you documented the longevity of those jobs ? Have you re-visited; any / some / most / all of your jobs since installation ?
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:07 PM   #5
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Ok.. I hope I can answer all these in this paragraph

First off ....with the metal lathe I use min 3/8-1/2 inch trowel and high quality medium bed with acrylic....scratch coating I don`t believe is right. Kinda like pouring a concrete slab with Re-Bar, but only just covering the Re-Bar and then the next day pouring the rest of the concrete....
(just simply engineering) IT WILL FAIL! .

I have documented alot of my jobs over the years, in fact most good setters know that if it fails....THEY WILL USUALLY CALL!..

No calls on metal lathe, but 2 or 3 on Ditra

The Ditra problems have been water underneth breaking the bond and extreme movement in 2 houses ( also possibly the Ditra bond was broken due to laying the tile the same day and their was alot of traffic in the areas where it failed...many trips to the saw

Now I will add this regarding the metal lathe...I use alot of staples to hold it down( approx 1 box or 5000 per 200 sq ft) in other words i make sure it does not lift ....EVER! .....good luck to whoever trys to tear out my floors I also go over it after and during to double check that their are no areas missed.
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Last edited by Tile_guy; 03-09-2008 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:44 PM   #6
Brad Denny
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Hi Guy,
The comparison you are making is kinda like apples to oranges. I don't use much Ditra, but understand the idea behind it. (video link) You are using the method with lath and thinset mortar to gain a stable substrate to bond your tile, not uncouple or waterproof, and I'm not sure if it adheres to any real standard (though it may work). Used correctly with the proper structure underneath Ditra can be superior to other types of tile underlayments. (Ditra Handbook link)
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:02 AM   #7
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Tile_guy, We use lathe on the majority of our jobs, but we do use a scratch coat. However, its not filled with thinset. We use K.R.T. from pakmix, and 100% c-cure crete. (latex additive) We use a 1 inch crown x 5/8" staple 4 inches on sqaure, overlap the lathe by a 1/2" and staple the seams every inch or so.
Your analogy of the concrete and rebar, is a little out of line. Thinset is going to bond to the scratch coat, period. The two times i have seen lathe fail, was when filled with thinset.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:18 AM   #8
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Hate to be the stickler here, but since we are the Pro's ...

*Loose Googled Definitions
Lath-Materials that are nailed to framework to serve as the base for plaster. May be spaced wood strips, perforated gypsum board, or expanded metal.

Lathe-A lathe is a machine tool which spins a block of material to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.

Sorry, just thought the clarification should be made.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:45 AM   #9
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Lathe- ummm good point...... speeling is rong but I hope u r abel 2 figyer the rest out

To Chase ..... have you ever seen a top coat or concrete repair come apart?
usually its in layers ...and the layers arent in the mix itself ...but at the stop and starting points of the pour I`m not saying your way doesnt work, but what I`am saying is that mine has never failed ( and I also wont use this method if the subfloor is under 1"1/4 to begin with ..usually its a bathroom over lino with minimal deflection to begin with)


I guess what I`m trying to say is this...have you ever red the acceptable substrates on the bags of certain thinsets? I `ve seen tile jobs fail after the setter went over the Lino with high grade thinset (and under ansi it should work ..but didn`t)

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Old 03-10-2008, 12:57 AM   #10
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Truly sorry, Greg.
I just noticed that four in a row made the same mistake I have in the past.

As for this idea of using thinset mortar over lath, do any of the manufacturers of the products you are using stand behind this? To my knowledge there are only three situations lath is to be used in creating a suitable surface for setting tile on floors (at least by the TCNA); poured gypsum underlayments, cementitious self-leveling underlayments, and portland cement mortar beds.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:11 AM   #11
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Ok ...my questions is this.. Has TCNA ever approved any products or usage types, and then these products later failed or were removed from the market ? I`m not unteachable but I`m leary....I have used Ditra and there are some photos on my Kamloopspro-tile.com site of a large free standing cast iron tub on top of 18x18 Travertine...which hasn`t failed. Had the this house not had infloor slab heat on the upper floor(concrete) I would have used 3/4 plywood on top with lath. 1.5 inches of subfloor with metal lath and I would have been fearless if I was to install that way too.

ANSI and TCNA = in my opinion of course testing in ideal condtions but the world isn`t always ideal.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:29 AM   #12
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Greg, I honestly can't think of any products or usage types that would fall into that category, but you originally posted that you had failures with the Ditra and later mentioned it was due to improper engineering in the structure of the house. The idea of lath and thinset, which I have seen, but do not feel is adequate enough to set tile on, was being compared to the Ditra system. Thinset is produced to bond tile, not serve as an underlayment. I see no difference in bonding the tile directly to plywood and your method, which with the right products (and no lath) can be done.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:36 AM   #13
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Well its late and I gotta big job to look at tomorrow 2' x 2' slab throughout the house. No lathe in that one for sure(mud bed or medium)

Night Brad
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:05 AM   #14
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Hi Greg, Welcome aboard.

Some things seem to work for some people. That's for sure. And as you say, real life is different from test conditions in labs. The thing is, though, every time lath and thin set has been tested in a lab the test sample has failed pretty early in the process. So for me it makes more sense to stick with methods that have been proved to work both in the lab and out on the project.

Although there have been minor problems with Ditra (as there are with any product if it's out there long enough), Ditra has withstood the test of time both in and out of the lab. There are, of course, other products that can make that claim, including other membranes (Nobleseal TS) and various tile backer boards -- even liquid membranes.

Also, your method seems to entail quite a bit of work, and that equates to time, and time is money. I think Ditra will win the ease-of-installation test every time. And then there is the blood factor: I don't bleed when I handle Ditra.

Finally, if there ever should be a problem with your method, you'll be out in left field with not much of anything to fall back on.

I haven't checked my ANSI specs lately, but I don't recall seeing a direct bond to vinyl with thin set method.
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:13 AM   #15
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I used to do the lath and thinset tile job too. Commonly referred to as the New jersey mud job. In fact, the tile in my dad's house was done that way by me. I get to see it several times a week. It has been down about seven years. The bathrooms look great still. The laundry room with an entrance from the garage that gets the most traffic in the house, 3/4" ply, over joists with a 5' max span, has small cracking in the grout. You know, the small barely can see them cracks. In my book I would consider that a failure.

I see other jobs that I did with other underlayments that are older and more heavily used that don't display these problems. Just my observations of how I see my jobs.

I now try to stick to industry standards. If something ever goes wrong at least I won't have to explain to a judge why I think I know more than the people at ANSI or TCNA.
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