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Old 02-10-2012, 01:12 PM   #1
JimBoux
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Marble Tile install, making sure I'm covered

Hi all,

I'm a competent DIY whose done 7 or so tile installs before but I wanted to check on a couple things before starting my 3x6 White Carrara backsplash because there are a few new things I don't want to trip over. My previous tiling has all be glazed ceramics with the thinnest grout line being 3/32"

Substrate - sheetrock, unfinished
Tiles - White carrara 3/8" thick, honed, slight break on finished edges
Thinset - planning on Latex thinset with acrylic modifier
Trowel - 1/4" square
Spacing - 1/8" between counter and first course, 1/32" tile space, 1/16" tile to cabinets.
Grout - snow white, unsanded
Sealer - whatever was supplied by tile store

Plan (greatly simplified): Prime sheetrock(?), install tile, seal, grout

Questions:

Does anything look out of order with my list above?

Should I use a smaller trowel since I have such a thin grout line planned?

Last time I built a kitchen I put up a cement backer board strip in the middle of the wall for the backsplash like I was building a shower and was told I was nuts and could use sheetrock so that's what's there this time. Do I need to seal /prime the rock?

Is 1/32" too thin a grout line - I'd like to keep it as thin as possible? I have a rubber float to really push it.

Since I need to mount, seal and then grout to stop the grout from adhering to the stone will I have a problem with the grout adhering to the tile space or the slight bevel? Is there anything I have to do here so I don't end up with grout coming out after a couple of seasons?

Feel free to offer any other special tips for working with marble.

Thanks much,
Jim
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:21 AM   #2
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First off, your tile need to be accurately sized to within 1/96" for a 1/32" grout line to be feasible. Second, your walls need to be dead flat, to within 1/8" in any 10 foot direction.

Do a mockup board. Make it at least 2 square feet so you can test sealer vs. non-sealed vs enhancer. Grout with the grout you intend to use.

Use white thinset.
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:51 AM   #3
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Thanks Bob. I seriously doubt the walls are that flat. I'll put it straight edge on them today to check.

I am also going to go through and pick out my least favorite stones for a mockup board. I was planning on using that to check the sealer and also the grout color.

I was just going to layout a 2'x4' set of tiles dry on my kitchen table to make sure they're true.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:02 AM   #4
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What Bob said plus;

The trowel size has nothing to do with grout joint width. I'd use a 1/4" notch provided the wall is fairly flat. If you want to achieve that 1/32" joint, make sure the tiles are perfect (they aren't) and the wall is dead nuts flat (it isn't) and use a leveling system like LASH or TLS. TLS will allow you to go thinner.

Don't let that discourage you however, it is possible to get very tight joints esp with natural stones like marble
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Old 02-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #5
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Thank you Paul. I know trowel size and grout width are not related I was just thinking that with such a small grout line I might try a slightly thinner apply to decrease chanced of filling any areas of grout space with thinset. Still I appreciate the comment.

The walls have two problem areas, one smaller issue where a crown of about 1/16" exist and a bigger problem where it looks like one stud was pulled back pretty far; it has a 3/16" dip across two stud bays.

The tiles are not dressed all sides. It looks like some have one short edge waterjet cut and the rest are sawn. I dry fit 6 rows of tiles 4 feet long with no space and they seem pretty darn good but they are definitely not perfect. Most joints are perfectly tight but there are a few places where there is a gap of about 1/64" (fits 3 sheets of paper but not 4).

I have never worked with the TLS or LASH products.

Fixing that low spot and going with a 1/16" grout line seems like a much better decision than the original plan.

Thanks again for your help - and pointing out where I was about to be stupid.
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Old 02-11-2012, 01:41 PM   #6
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Neatness will be the key to not getting thinset between the tiles.

When installing the granite floor tiles shown in the pic above, I back buttered the tiles and didn't apply any thinset to the floor. After buttering each tile I took a sponge and wiped the edges clean before setting.

Take a few tiles, 5-10 and set them stacked, on edge. Then place a straight edge along the top. The grout line will need to be a minimum 3 times the difference between the tallest and the smallest. While I find most natural stones to be fairly well rectified, its the squareness that is sometimes off. Depends on hoe the machine operator felt that day.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:44 PM   #7
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The low spot is fixed, the counter verified level and true, everything is all primed.

I did the straight edge test Paul suggested and also got out my veneer and measured a few tiles. According to those things I'm good at 1/16" grout width. To make sure I laid out quite a few square feet dry with 1/16" spacers and it looked good.

I shuffled the tiles tonight and picked out the blemished and/or ugly ones and set them aside. Luckily I'm still well within my scrap calculations so I think I'm down to my last question before laying them.

Are marble tiles generally set with the veins all running in the same general direction (say going down hill left to right) or should I lay them down randomly? I didn't think about this when I laid them out dry. Or am I just over thinking this a bit too much?

Thanks again,
Jim
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:52 AM   #8
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Jim,

Some well meaning, God fearing folks like their marble veining all in the same direction. Bless their hearts. We prefer to mix the veining, taking the time to look at each and every tile, putting the prettier ones where the most see spots are and the 'less attractive' tiles under dishwasher or stove. There is no over thinking on this. Get Mrs Jim to select which tiles go where. She'll feel like she contributed and can't blame you later.
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Old 02-25-2012, 10:14 AM   #9
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Thanks Paul. I have one corner and one end where a coffee brewer goes that's probably less seen. I'll put the least favorite ones there. Since it's a back splash I guess the final step I'll can take to ensure a good outcome is to lay out all the tiles on the counter, eyeball them and rearrange to fit my aesthetic taste and then put them up that way. Mrs. Jim is out of the house so I guess I'll just have to take my chances.

Thank you again for all your help - I honestly appreciate very much that you're taking the time.
Jim
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Old 02-25-2012, 03:42 PM   #10
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Hi Jim,

I do it like Paul does it. It's in the eye of the beholder.
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Old 02-25-2012, 06:45 PM   #11
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with veined stone like travertine and marble I often spend a couple of hours arranging them on the deck or the counter. Kind of like doing a puzzle. sometimes the best solution is to try and make the veins run from one tile to the next and sometimes the best course is to be completely random. Once you have everything ready to go put on little squares of tape and # the tiles.

I seal the stone and grout together about 5 days after install. White marble needs to be set with white thinset, or you run the risk of ghosting trowel lines.

1/8 gap between counters and tile seems too big. I'd go 1/16 max. Get a bag of tile wedges for the install.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:20 AM   #12
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Thanks John & PetrH. I did exactly as you suggested. I laid out all the tiles on the counter and moved them around until I got a pattern I liked. Going all the same direction couldn't have been done even if I tried. They're 3x6 subway tiles and some of them just couldn't be rotated to accomplish that. After getting the pattern right, I stacked them in reverse so that the bottom course was on top.

I set them with white thinset, and used the same Tavy spacers I'm using for the field to create 1/16" gap between the counter and first course. To do this I broke off the two spacer tabs on the back of the cross and then sanded it smooth. It didn't take long and worked like a charm.

The job is coming along well, and I have to say it would have been a disaster if I tried the 1/32" grout line I originally contemplated. The tiles just are no where near true enough. One thing I didn't even think of to start, but found as I went, is that they're also not even enough in thickness, or edge bevel for a grout line that thin to have worked. So thanks again for helping me see the error of my ways without just calling me stupid.

Thanks to PetrH for answering my question about how long for the thinset to cure before sealing before I even asked it. I'll upload a couple of pics of the job before the grouting later today or tomorrow.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:06 PM   #13
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to clarify, for the sealer application thinset is not the limiting factor. If you wish to pre-seal before grouting then you can do it a few hours after they go on the wall. It is the grout that needs to cure a minimum of three days before being sealed. I usually do not pre-seal, because I feel some of the sealer will get on the edges and compromise grout adhesion. So I seal the grout and tile at the same time five days ( or more) after grouting.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:05 AM   #14
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Thanks PetrH, I thought that the sealer might effect the moisture from the thinset and what they absorbed during cutting from coming out of the tiles.

I also wondered about the sealer and grout adhesion, so I was just going to try to avoid "slopping" it on and apply a thin coat.

But now I'm a bit confused. I understood your comment to be that I can pre-seal the tile, or do it the way I would porcelain tile; grout, wait 3 days, then seal. The tile people told me I MUST seal before grouting because there is no glaze and it's bare stone, so the grout would stick to the tile faces, and they have had customers do that and then have to use muriatic acid to take it off. Thus, I thought I had to seal, grout, re-seal the grout (after 3 days).

In the mean time - here are some pics of the job so far as well as how I modified the spacers.
Attached Images
File Type: pdf Dsc1.pdf (86.2 KB, 234 views)
File Type: pdf Dsc2.pdf (80.0 KB, 138 views)
File Type: pdf Dsc3.pdf (58.5 KB, 138 views)
File Type: pdf Dsc4.pdf (67.1 KB, 147 views)
File Type: pdf Spacers.pdf (31.9 KB, 152 views)
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:11 AM   #15
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Jim, I'm no tile expert, just another DIYer, but I recently set up about 800 of those 3X6 inch marble tiles. Mine were the posished ones though. After I set them all and about a day or 2 later, I applied Miracle sealer on them with a 1-1/2 inch paint brush carefully so the stuff got applied to the surface and little if any got into the edges. When I grouted them, the water from the grout got sucked into that thirsty marble along the edges, as I could see the tiles all get darker. In about 8 hours or so, (maybe a full day, I don't remember), the tiles returned to their natural color when the grout cured and the water dried or got back into the grout. I used the Miracle brand sealer, not enhancer, as the tiles look the same after sealing them as they did before. I'm not sure if the honed tiles will make any difference with the sealer. The excess grout came off the tile face surfaces easily when cleaning up. I have not sealed the grout yet, but probably will, as I used bright white grout and also made 1/16 grout lines. I'm very happy with the way mine turned out, and yours look great too.
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