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Old 11-05-2010, 04:34 PM   #1
nacrelli
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Slate tiles on concrete slab sunroom

Hello -

I've read through several of the posts on your advice forum and I believe I've found most of the information I need, but I still have a couple questions.

A little background about our project: We had a screened in porch that we had converted to a 4-season sunroom this summer. The floor is a concrete slab that slopes away from the house (visible in the pics). The slope is approximately 2 inches across 9.5 feet, which made sense when this was an outdoor space. We purchased 12x12 slate tiles to install on the floor, but have never installed any tiling before.

So far, I've gathered the following steps from reading other posts and want to confirm that this is correct:

1. Repair any cracks in the concrete with a product like Schluter Ditra for larger cracks and Laticrete Blue 92 for smaller cracks (I assume we just put this product over the crack and wait for it to dry, so please let me know if there is anything else involved in this step)
2. Clean any dirty tiles with water only
3. Cull tiles into Bad, Good, Best piles
4. Individually pre-seal top of tiles with a product like Sealer's Choice 15 Gold by Aqua Mix (being careful not to let sealer get onto sides of tiles)
5. Using medium bed (marble and granite) mortar, coat the floor and back butter the tiles, working in 2x2 or 3x3 tile sections, using 1/4-3/8" spacers and a 1/4" notch trowel
6. Allow to dry, although I don't know how long
7. Install sanded grout with grout gun or heavy plastic bag to avoid getting grout on top of tiles
8. Allow to dry for several days (3-4?)
9. Apply same product as in step #4, which will seal tiles again as well as seal the grout
10. Voila!

So, please let me know if there are any flaws in my plans above. Also, I have some questions as follows:

1. Should the room be a certain temperature for mortar, grout, or sealant installation?
2. Will the slope of the room affect how we should install the tiles? Note - we cannot pour a self leveler because the window walls that were installed would almost be buried on the one side of the room. The slope has to stay, but I want to make sure we do what ever is needed if there's anything special about installing on a slope.
3. The floor has several coats of paint that are chipping badly in some places. Should we scrape off all the paint, or is it ok to install the mortar directly on top?
4. I would like a bit of a shine, but not glossy slate when complete. Can you make a recommendation for a sealer that will acheive that result if the one I mentioned above is incorrect?
5. How much space should be left between the slate tiles and the drywalled walls?
6. Should we start in the middle of the room, or on a side/corner?
7. Should sealer be re-applied throughout the life of the slate? If so, how often?
8. On the two sides of the room that have window walls, should we grout all the way up to the window wall? Reason I ask...the window walls are vinyl over aluminum, so there is nothing on those walls to nail baseboard/trim into. I imagine we'll have to have a finished looking floor all the way to the edges on the window walls?
9. What should we use to put on the sealer in step #4 and step #9?

Sorry this is so long. We plan to start tackling this project this weekend and look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance...this site has a ton of great information for newbies!

Kim
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:56 PM   #2
ceramictec
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Hi Kim,

Quote:
1. Repair any cracks in the concrete with a product like Schluter Ditra for larger cracks and Laticrete Blue 92 for smaller cracks (I assume we just put this product over the crack and wait for it to dry, so please let me know if there is anything else involved in this step)
Ditra isnt a crack membrane.

Quote:
3. The floor has several coats of paint that are chipping badly in some places. Should we scrape off all the paint, or is it ok to install the mortar directly on top?
it all should come off
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:56 PM   #3
cx
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Welcome, Kim.

Unfortunately, the really good time to do the initial preparation of that floor for a tile installation woulda been before you had those nice window walls installed.

It's gonna be messy. As Brian points out, the paint must be removed and it must be done by mechanical means. Generally referred to as scarifying, it involves grinding the surface down to clean concrete. Can be done with a number of different tools, but for a large area you might wanna consider renting a serious scarifying machine or even hiring the job done. Looks like you've got a bit of floor to do.

The cracks in the concrete need more description and you'll likely need to wait 'till the scarifying is done to see them all. Are any of the visible cracks higher on one side than on the other? Even the tiniest bit?

Have you used a long straight-edge to determine how flat the floor is?

Your first 1 thru 10 list is in the ballpark, but we'll get to all that as you go along. Have you purchased the slate? Do you know its origin or quality?

The trowel size and type of mortar will depend to a large degree upon the flatness of your floor and the gauging (variation in thickness) of your tiles.

In the second 1 thru 10, most of that can wait a bit, too, but.....

1. Your substrate and your tile and your tile installation products and your grouting products and the ambient air temperature must be 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher at time of installation and remain at or above for at least 72 hours after completion.

2. Tile don't give a rat's patooti how level the floor is, only how flat.

5. I'd recommend at least 3/8ths" for that area.

6. Once your layout is figured and marked on the floor you can start tiling anywhere you like. You can find out a lot more about that here on the site.

8. You do not ever want tile edges touching anything but grout or flexible sealant. Never. For those perimeter joints at the outside of your floor you must leave a movement accommodation joint, again I'd say at least 3/8ths" for that room, which can be filled with an appropriate flexible sealant. Given the shape and exposure of that room, I'd suggest you'll need such a joint dividing the two sections, too. More on that will come later.

In what geographic area is the house located? Which directions does that room face? What are the overall dimensions of the room?

That should get us started.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:40 AM   #4
nacrelli
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Thanks for the detailed response! I've tried to address each of your questions below...

Cracks - I don't see any visible cracks at all, but I guess we'll know more once we remove the paint.

Flatness - We have not used a long straight edge to determine flatness. There is a small bump at one point in the floor (visible at the bottom of the 4th picture), but the rest seems to be generally flat. How much variation is allowed in the "flatness" and what do you recommend using to test?

Slate - We have already purchased the slate. It's origin is India and it's a gray base with a lot of rust colored accents. Some pieces have flakes, but the majority looks good to me (although I'm not an expert). Although the pieces do vary slightly in thickness, most of them are pretty uniformly cut.

Temperature - It's dipping into the 40's at night here, so would it suffice to just run a small room heater to keep the temperature up?

Location - We are located in Baltimore, MD. The sunroom window walls face west (short wall) and north (long wall)...(not the most ideal sunroom, but the porch was already there). The temperature swings aren't as great since it doesn't get a strong daytime sun.

Size - Dimensions of the room are approximately 9'6" x 18'6".

Scarifying - I've looked at Home Depot online, but don't see anything for scarifying. Where would I rent one of these and what else could it be called?

I have a question about your last line "My opinion; worth price charged"...not sure what that means? Do you think we should hire a professional to do the job instead of tackling on our own?

Thanks so much!
Kim
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Old 11-06-2010, 11:43 AM   #5
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Industry standard for flatness is no variation more than 1/4" over ten feet and no more than 1/16th" in any one foot. Flatter is better.

Put a couple pieces of your slate in a bucket of water for a few days and see how it holds up. Cheap test. Sometimes instructive.

Small electric heater might keep the temperature up where needed if your slab temperature does not drop below the required 50 degrees. It's important.

I'd definitely separate that tile installation at the change in direction. Industry standard calls for a movement accommodation joint every 8 to 12 feet in an application like you have. Plus, of course, around the entire perimeter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim
The temperature swings aren't as great since it doesn't get a strong daytime sun.
'Cept, of course, inna Summer, eh?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim
I have a question about your last line "My opinion; worth price charged"...not sure what that means? Do you think we should hire a professional to do the job instead of tackling on our own?
That's just my warranty disclaimer, Kim. We're a DIY site, we think you should do all tile jobs on your own. Almost.

The cleaning of the slab might just be something more conveniently subbed out to someone better equipped than yourownselfs, though. Or not.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 11-06-2010, 01:48 PM   #6
ceramictec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nacrelli
Do you think we should hire a professional to do the job instead of tackling on our own?
that is something you need to ask yourself. are you physically (it's labor intensive),
mentally (going for it 100%) and handy enough (creative type) to do the project ?

reading up on something is good to learn but you need a creative type skill to do it right.
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Florida Installer of Laticrete HydroBan & HydroBarrier
....Florida Installer of Schluter Kerdi & Kerdi-Board
................."Waterproofed Tile Showers"
........Porcelain - Travertine - Ceramic - Glass Tile
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