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Old 12-08-2008, 10:46 PM   #1
junk4rich
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Tile to Wood floor joint

I just read an article in JLC about a tile inlay in a wood floor (a beautiful job). It made me wonder about the necessity to use a threshold when joining tile and wood. I now have a customer that has removed 2 walls to open up a foyer to the connecting rooms. They currently have wood floors in the other rooms and I'm putting polished marble in the foyer. Originally they planned on knee walls but now I'm wondering about leaving it open and simply making a " joint and caulking it to similate grout. Is this becoming more common? I expect I need to end nail the floor boards to make sure they can't raise up since I have no way of knowing where the end most nails are. Any other issues I might come up against?

Any insight would be appreciated.
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Old 12-08-2008, 11:23 PM   #2
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I install both wood and ceramic flooring. Matter of fact starting a project next week where I will install wood in living, dining, and tile in Kitchen, entry, adjoining hallway. Both have their needs for expansion and contraction. Wood is the biggest culprit in the expansion contraction as it requires the most amount. Wood expands and contracts due to the humidity levels and seasonal changes.

I always install backer-rod between tile and wood and then use a matching sanded grout caulk between. Easy to do also. Just apply painters tape on both sides of the joint. Caulk and scrape flush to both with a putty knife. Remove tape carefully from both tile and wood immediatly. Wallah! perfect joint. Just need to protect for a few days. I ussually use a carpet tube cut in half, tape over the joint for a few days to protect from traffic.
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:53 AM   #3
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I've never used anything but caulk between hardwood and tile, Rich.

The big problem is finding the right kind of caulk in a suitable color. The stuff Tracy is describing and the stuff Michael is using in that JLC article don't meet the industry requirements for caulking in traffic areas. But they look good so that's what folks frequently use. And we frequently get by with it.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 12-09-2008, 09:27 AM   #4
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'Round my way, we use schluter metals against wood like these.
Gives a nice edge to grout or caulk against and movement in the wood won't disturb it.
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:17 AM   #5
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CX is correct in that it does not meet industry standard and is not water proof. Intermentant water only. I do have to say though that I frequent a SUBWAY sandwich shop I done 6 years ago where I did use the TEC sanded grout caulking in an expansion floor joint and also around the perimeter where tile meets base tile. To this day it all looks in perfect condition and this is a public setting.

The correct industry standard caulking for traffic areas is something like an isoelastic caulking that is used in the concrete construction. This type would be traffic bearing, waterproof and/or water-resistant. Problem is finding a place to purchase it first, then trying to find a matching color.

Oh BTW I did find that the isoelastics carried by concrete supply houses ussually does cost about half or less then what the grout caulkings go for.
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Last edited by Bellsfloors; 12-09-2008 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracy
The correct industry standard caulking for traffic areas is something like an isoelastic caulking that is used in the concrete construction. This type would be traffic bearing, waterproof and/or water-resistant. Problem is finding a place to purchase it first, then trying to find a matching color.
The caulking called for in traffic areas (Shore A Hardness 35 or greater) is generally urethane based and you're certainly correct that it's not easy to find and the color selection is quite limited. Prolly why it's so seldom used in real life.

Waterproofing isn't a requirement, though, for floor traffic areas.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 12-09-2008, 02:24 PM   #7
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Rich,

I do it the same way as Tracy, works very well and looks good also. You do need to be careful about height differences between floors as caulk offers no edge protection to either surface. If you are using thicker materials even with the backer rod there can be some "shrinkage" of the caulk, creating a concave surface. FWIW, I use TEC caulk pretty much exclusively and very happy with the color choices and quality.
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Old 12-09-2008, 02:33 PM   #8
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If you axe the caulk manufacturers, Ray, I believe they'll tell you the surface wants to be a little concave. Just as the bottom wants to be concave over the top of the backer rod. All part of the great cosmic caulking plan.

We usta have the Caped Caulking Crusader hereabouts to 'splain all that sorta thing for us, but he ain't been neither seen nor heard for this long time. Got tard of beatin' his head against John Bridge's wall, most likely.

I believe Chris The Rep is pretty well schooled on that caulking bidness, too. Maybe he'll drop by and comment.
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:20 PM   #9
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Well, it looks like the floor hieghts are gonna be a question. I don't think I can keep the tile floor low enough to use a caulked joint. What's the thinest I can get away with on doubling the subfloor plywood? It had 2 half inch sheets of plywood and a thin slate tile on top and I don't see any way I can keep it that low. I'm figureing on doubling up the floor joists since this house has a notoriuosly bad floor throughout. I'm hoping to get away with the half inch sheets, a layer of ditra then the tile. That will allready put me higher then the wood floors.
I think we'll keep the knee walls and use a transfer between the 2 rooms.
Thanks for all the great input so far.

Rich
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Old 12-10-2008, 10:48 AM   #10
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I'll move you over here as a project thread, Rich, so other visitors can benefit from the exchange.

I think you'd better start by telling us just what you have for a joist system. Natural stone requires much less deflection than ceramic tile.

And your subflooring isn't close to the requirement for the stone installation. Gonna need to decide on some demolition if that half-inch stuff is already in place.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:20 PM   #11
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Yeah, I thought it probably should have been here right after I wrote it.

The current joists are 2x8's on 16" centers. I was planning on doubling that to 8" centers. I have removed all the subfloor in the foyer but I think the connecting hall is to small to warrent that. My main issue is the adjoining rooms hardwood flooring. The overall thickness in those rooms is about 1".

My plan is to shave and shim the uneven existing floor joists. Add the additional joists on 8" centers. Glue and screw 19/32" T&G plywood to the joists. Glue and screw 15/32 plywood on top with stagered joints. Then top with thinset, ditra, thinset, and marble.

So, how long till the marble cracks or grout seperates? :-(

BTW, I need a recomendation for an unsanded grout for polished marble (not sure what kind yet) with tight joints.

Thanks all,
Rich
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:57 PM   #12
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What kinda wood are your joists, Rich? What is the unsupported span?
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Old 12-10-2008, 10:52 PM   #13
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It's a 40 year old construction so I would guess pine but I'm not sure.
The clear span is just under 14'.

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Old 12-10-2008, 11:27 PM   #14
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Rich, you ain't got a prayer of a successful stone installation if those figures are accurate.

While between-joist subfloor deflection is the more critical issue in most tile installations over wood-framed floors, you gotta at least get in the right ballpark with your framing structure. Even with span charts for your particular wood specie (if we knew it and it was very good) we'll have trouble getting you up to specs for ceramic tile with the addition of your extra joists.

That'd pewt you at about half what you really need for natural stone.

Gotta think mid-span support here. Your situation allow for that?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:39 AM   #15
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I can't imagine the homeowner going for another support beam in the basement but I'll try. May be more likely to go with ceramic.
Would LVL's help the situation?
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