MikeInSeattle - Kitchen Project [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : MikeInSeattle - Kitchen Project

02-22-2013, 12:03 AM
The first level of my home includes a small tile entry, carpeted hallway, formal dining room, small guest bathroom, a kitchen, and small dining area. I would like to replace this flooring with ceramic tile that looks like wood planks.

1. First, I want this to look good. I would like to do either a running bond or herringbone pattern. I have looked at many of ceramictec's tile pictures and the work he does is beautiful. I realize he does this professionally. Is it realistic to do this job as a DIY? I am patient, I am willing to take my time, and listen to the pro's. But, my tile experience will be what I learn on this job. Would it make sense to build a mock-up and practice laying these plank tiles repeatedly to get the technique down before starting on the actual floor? Are there key skills for this type of tile I should focus on/acquire before even thinking about starting this project?

2. Deflecto: I have Douglas Fir 2x10 joists 16" OC, in good condition. Span on the kitchen/small dining area side is 11 feet 8 inches. Which say's it's good for ceramic tile with some margin. On the hallway, formal dining room, entry, and guest bathroom side, the span increases to 14'. Very little margin, with a deflecto of 380. Are these deflecto values satisfactory for wood tile planks with 1/8 in joints? I thought I had read somewhere that these tile require natural stone deflecto numbers, but I am unable to find it now. Any guidance here is appreciated.

3. Still need to look at subfloor.

4. I have a staircase to the second floor. This stairway entry/exit meets the ground floor in the hallway. How do you handle the affect adding tile will have on the riser height here? I was going to ignore it, realizing that this might make me non-code compliant.

5. The remainder of the downstairs will be carpet. I want the tile and carpet to be on the same plane. Is it just a matter of adding sheathing to the low side to bring it level? Maybe it won't be exact, but I should be able to get it close right?

If I understand, depending on the answers above, the next step would be evaluating the sub floor and then determining what I'll have to do there, correct? Do I just need the subfloor material and thickness?

Thank you,


Sponsored Links

02-22-2013, 12:33 AM
Welcome back, Mike. :)

1. They're funny shaped, but they're still ceramic tiles. Buy good quality tile, plan well, measure carefully, take your time, and you should be able to set them successfully.

2. Our Deflectometer is a fairly conservative tool. If your joists are #2 or better grade and in good condition you are fine at a 14-foot span even with the added dead load of your tile. I know of no reason to treat your tiles as anything other than ceramic tile for purpose of floor structure.

4. Stairs make for difficult situations in remodeling applications. If you raise the bottom floor at the stair, your only option is to raise each stair tread and the landing above. Or don't do the tile floor. I'm inclined to overlook code requirements in some cases where said code may make no sense, but never with stairs or railings. Just too easy for people to get hurt when you don't pay attention there.

5. If you're talking about under the carpet, yes.

6. Type material and thickness is a start.

My opinion; worth price charged.

02-22-2013, 11:32 PM
Here is the current subfloor info:

(Edit: this is OSB) Weyerhaeuser Edge Gold 23/32 thick. (Per stamps on bottom of flooring). I found the specification sheet on the Weyerhaeuser website and it is linked below.

Link to Specification:


I'm not sure how to interpret the L/360 info in the specification. :crap:

What is the next step? Is this enough info to determine how much plywood I will need to add to the subfloor to stiffen the subfloor across the joists?

For quality "wood plank" tile, can someone recommend a good manufacturer? From what I am reading, I will want to ensure they can provide consistently flat (minimal warp/bow as well as square corners with parallel edges.

Thanks in advance!


02-23-2013, 10:23 AM
The Deflectometer does not address the between-joist stiffness of the subflooring at all, Mike. That's determined by testing and experience. Your nominal 3/4" OSB over 16"oc spacing meets the minimum requirements for all tiling substrate manufacturers I'm aware of. If you're happy with that, use it. If, like myself, you'd prefer a little more subflooring, add a layer of nominal half-inch exterior glue plywood with no face of grade lower than C.

I'll see if I can find someone to address your tile brand question.

My opinion; worth price charged.

02-23-2013, 11:05 AM
What is that first riser height compared to the rest?
What is your current flooring material in that area? What is it on the stairs? I think having a short riser on the bottom step is the least sin to make on stairs... When I added hardwood instead of carpet to the upper stair deck in our home this was an issue I considered but went ahead and sinned on. So my tiop riser is 8" and the rest are 7.5" except for the bottom one which is 8" also and the hardwood and stairs are unchanged in this area from the original build except for one wood refinish. Do I notice this 1/2"? no. is it to code? no off by 1/8". My stairs goes down 5 steps to another deck and turns 90 so I decided a fall would only be a non fatal broken neck. just kidding.
Hopefully your lower riser is over 3/8 higher than the others so adding 3/4" of tile and ditra will keep the difference close to 3/8"

PS we looked at those wood tiles and we really liked them.. I remember them being on the thick side near 3/8"

02-23-2013, 01:19 PM
Thank you. I'm going to add an additional ply. My goal is to adjust the height of flooring on the carpeted side, to be in plane with the tile. Would you recommend I do that at the same time I'm adding the additional layer of ply in the tiled area? Or, should I wait until I have the final height after the tile is installed?

Now, I just need to settle on tile manufacturer and tile.


02-23-2013, 09:41 PM
Now, I just need to settle on tile manufacturer and tile. what look are you going for ?

02-24-2013, 03:10 AM

I like this look. If not this pattern, then I'd like to do a regular "wood floor" look, I guess that is running bond?

It looks like really tiny grout lines. Do you think this would still be a clean look even with 1/8 in grout lines?

The company "Mediterranea" is in Florida. I have no idea how expensive these tiles are or what their quality is. If you know of a good quality/good value tile mfg, please let me know.

Your work is really nice. I see your pictures on Houzz, they really stand out.


02-24-2013, 03:18 AM
My bottom riser is only 6.5 inches tall, and the rest of them are 7.5 inches tall. I never noticed it until I measured it today. Now, I notice it every time I walk up stairs. I'm going to document this, an then see what it looks like after the job is complete. I think the only way to really address this is to rebuild the stairs. I've never stumbled on the first step though, in about 5 years.

02-24-2013, 08:18 AM

I like this look. If not this pattern, then I'd like to do a regular "wood floor" look, I guess that is running bond?that tile is nice. I have yet to use it due to its cost with shipping.

the pattern is called "herringbone"

The company "Mediterranea" is in Florida.its actually a designer in Miami who has manufacturers make
it a label it under their name an spec.

If you know of a good quality/good value tile mfg, please let me know.I just finished a job using a Florida Tile called Berkshire and another job using a tile Florida Tile imports from its parent company in Italy called BluStyle.



03-16-2013, 03:38 PM
The quote I received for the Havana tile was $4500 + $350 for shipping. While I was waiting for that, another tile caught my attention. It is "Mannington Strata Earth", 12in x 24in.

Any reason not to go with this larger tile?

Stair remodel should be done in 3-4 weeks and then I go straight into tile. :0


03-16-2013, 04:18 PM
color and size selections are up to you.

03-17-2013, 10:42 PM
Thanks Brian. Have you used this tile company before, are the tiles they sale of good quality?

Heated tiles: After reading up on heated flooring, and then checking the forums here, I've opted for radiant hydronic heating. I made this decision primarily on the need to use self leveling compound on the entire floor and the ability to add/modify/maintain the system after the tile is installed.

I play hockey with a guy who owns a hydronics company and he stopped by today to take a look. I was surprised by the cost of these systems, but again, I can start small and build a whole house system eventually. I'm going to use aluminum heat transfer plates fastened to the subfloor from below.

Any other pro's / con's I should consider before finalizing this decision?

I should start the prep for tile in about 3 weeks now.


Hank B.
03-18-2013, 12:00 AM
Mike, I installed some of the medditeranea tile with a herringbone pattern recently and with a 1/16th joint. A Herringbone patern is nice because it keeps you from offsetting the tile any more than the width of that tile, yet still has a nice look than your typical plank install that only gets offsett the same 6". Much more time consuming to do though. Think it doesn't matter as it seems your selection might have changed by now, but I wasn't crazy about the mediteranea at all in terms of flattness of the tiles.

Hank B.
03-18-2013, 12:01 AM
But the color and pattern variation was very natural looking.

03-18-2013, 12:30 AM
Getting closer! :oyeah:

I wish someone around here would try it out, I'd love to install some.
Guess I better get another house and try it myself ;)

Useless post info wise, but good luck with the project. Those plank tile floors (at least the pictures on this forum) look about a thousand times better than it sounds like they would.

In the pictures you posted, I like the grout that blends with the tile better. But its always hard to say by just pictures. Since you see it in person, what do you think? Do you like the grout lines that show or blend better?

03-26-2013, 06:18 PM
Hi Mike!

I'll be doing the 6 x 24 Havana tile myself here in a few months in a basement reno - only about 156 sq feet tho, and just straight plank - no pattern. let me know how you make out!

Donnie D.
03-26-2013, 06:52 PM
yea please post some pics of before and after the install

03-26-2013, 07:34 PM
In the pictures you posted, I like the grout that blends with the tile better. But its always hard to say by just pictures. Since you see it in person, what do you think? Do you like the grout lines that show or blend better? sorry I missed this.

I "personally" like the grout to blend so you are tricked to thinking its actually a wood floor. that is if the tile is passable to look like wood and doesnt look cheap or a repeating patterns shows. I have isntalled all types and each case manufacturer is different in what they make. I have found that some homeowners like to have a lighter grout so people know its a look a like tile. to each is own. :postitbg:

09-20-2013, 11:30 AM
After reading as much info I could find on flooring types, budget, time, and skill level, I opted for HW floors for all but 250 square feet (my kitchen and dining room).

I'm finishing up replacing all the millwork in my home, and then next up is the kitchen. I'm planning on starting the vinyl removal in about 30 days.

Should I continue the kitchen project on this thread Or delete this thread and start a new one?

My first question for the kitchen is actually the removal of the existing vinyl floor. I believe the vinyl extends underneath the cabinets. Does this dictate that I should/must remove the cabinets and rip up all the vinyl and luan down to the sub floor. Or, is it acceptable to score the vinyl and luan up to the cabinets and rip it out that way?


Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
09-20-2013, 04:03 PM
Hi Mike,

I didn't go through the whole thread but for removing the vinyl you can rent a toe kick saw that is especially for this. They work great but you can scratch up the front of the toekick if you are not careful with it.


09-23-2013, 12:22 AM
Thank you Jim. I'm in Lynnwood, just a bit north of you. I've been reading the book by John Bridge, Tile Your World. I really appreciate, envy, and stand in awe of you good tile folks.

1. Do you guys roll back the carpet to protect it when laying tile that is going to butt up against it? Do you re-stretch it yourselves or do you call a carpet company to come in and do that. Non Issue?

2. How do you protect hardwood floors that your tiling up to? Cardboard over the top?

3. I went to an interior design store here where I live. I was hoping that would ensure I would get a better quality tile. However, the tile I picked was Veranda Leather by Daltile. Which...is carried by Home Depot "Online" for half the price this store was charging. HD price is just over $5 per sq ft. Any concerns with daltile or the product they sell through HD?

4. I am reading "Tile Your World" by John Bridge. I was thinking of purchasing two boxes of the tile or approximately 20 sqft to verify they look right, and maybe to do some preliminary layout work with. Would you recommend against purchasing tile in two separate orders spaced over a couple weeks? I suspect that might cause an issue with color uniformity, etc. But, it would be nice to be able to just spread a couple boxes out before committing to the entire floor/fire place.

Thank you in advance, Mike

Tool Guy - Kg
09-23-2013, 10:49 AM
1.) Yes, I roll it back. Yes, I re-stretch it when done with a knee-kicker onto a tack strip. If it needs a carpet stretcher, I'll call a carpet guy to come.

2.) Depends. But there are a lot of little crunchy pieces involved with tile work that can do damage to a hardwood floor finish. While it's normal to protect flooring at my jobs with tarps, hardwood flooring typically gets covered with RamBoard or the like. It's completely taped around the perimeter to keep "crunches" from getting under the board and causing damage.

3.) If the tile meets ANSI 137.1 standards, that's a good thing. It tells you that a lot of desirable characteristics are present. Absent this ANSI standard, you don't know what you're getting. It may be awesome tile, it may be horrible tile. :shrug: For that reason, look for the ANSI standard.

4.) I'd personally go for that option if you're willing. Yes, the dye lot may be different. But you'll be getting a really good "feel" for what the tile will look like within your home environment.


Houston Remodeler
09-23-2013, 01:36 PM
4) if the first batch doesn't match the exact same label as the second batch (we always check every box) use the odd ones under the appliances, in closets and where they will not be seen.

We also cull out the not so desirable looking tiles, blemishes, chipped corners to use for cuts and such.

2- if taping a protective layer to the hardwoods - do NOT leave the tape in place for longer than a few days, even painters tape, especially if its getting walked on. You will peel off the polyurethane along with the tape. If the floors are fairly new, we do not use runners for long periods of time as the sun will fade the non-covered areas leaving striped dark areas under the runners.

09-23-2013, 09:50 PM
Great. Thank you. Tile is ordered and I contacted the carpet company to see if they can restretch and stuff this edge when they finish the last upstairs bedroom.

A couple more questions.

I've searched the forums and I am sure this has been asked before. I must be searching on the wrong terms...but,

1. I'm planning on using Ditra. I'm trying to determine if XL is necessary. I want to end up flush with 3/4" Hardwood. Tile is 3/8" how much allowance do I give for the thinset? If one is going to be higher than the other, I'd prefer the HW to be slightly higher (less than 1/8th in if possible) than the tile.

2. Sliding glass door, what is the correct process for tiling up to the door? I'm assuming the gap should be caulked at that interface, correct? The hot tub is just 15 feet outside the door and people tend to drip into the house when coming in..should I do anything extra for waterproofing at this joint?

Thanks again! Its awesome I found the hobby called "remodel" otherwise I would have had to deal with savings, and things like having friends...


Tool Guy - Kg
09-23-2013, 10:40 PM
1.) Ditra XL is specifically sized to allow most floor tile to be built up flush with 3/4" hardwood. The regular Ditra is 3/16" thinner than Ditra XL.

2.) Yes, caulk that joint. No, extra waterproofing isn't necessary with drips. Splashes would be a different story, though.


Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
09-23-2013, 10:41 PM
I'm in Lynnwood, just a bit north of you.

Yes, Lynnwood, I know it well. I grew up in Snohomish County. Here's a crash course in Lynnwood for those that aren't familiar. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cclhqdQqbeQ) :D

For the Ditra, I think the 1/8" will work the best, if you are using the 20" tile. You may have to build it up slightly at the hardwood but it usually seems like the floor dictates that it ends up higher than what you plan.

For the slider you'll want a slight gap and you can fill it with 100% silicone that will (usually) match the grout that you buy. I usually put some urethane caulking (Kerdifix) at the Ditra level to the door. That way you're not relying solely on the silicone at the grout level.

09-25-2013, 06:11 PM
They nailed Lynnwood. Modern day version would have to include the incredible high number of bakini barista coffee stands, and massage parlors that populate Hwy 99.

Ok, I've received authority to proceed. So, this is getting realerer.

1. Tile Info - Mfg in accordance with ANSI 1371.1 (http://products.daltile.com/documents/salessheets/DT_Veranda_SS_12031.pdf)

I'm going with P506 (Leather) and the tile store actually beat Home Depots pricing. But it is $5.16/sqft. Do any of you guys know of a similar looking tile that is less expensive? Hopefully, the 22 sqft of sample tiles will be here soon.

2. From what I've read Ditra would be prefered over hardi if floor heating would be used. I can't afford hydronic heating right now, but in the future it may be an option. The system I would use would involve fastening heating conductors directly to the subfloor from below. With that said, is my understanding correct and is DitraXL the option I should proceed with.

3. After budgeting for the tile, Ditra, and thinset are there any other major costs I need to think about? I know there is always the chance that when I rip something up I'll discover damage...and be up a creek.

4. 13x13 tiles. Would you recommend LASH or another leveling system be used?

5. This is my last chance to pull the plug and go with a pro, or just wait until my budget isn't as tight.

Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
09-25-2013, 07:37 PM
Hi Mike,

I just sent you a pm on purchasing the tile.

As far as Ditra XL, I don't think there's really any advantage gained for using it over floor heat. If anything I think it would insulate more than it's 1/8" counterpart.

There's nothing wrong with using it and it's a great product. But I wouldn't use it solely because you may put floor heat in.

My opinion.

09-27-2013, 11:07 AM
Just need to double check my numbers for establishing final tile height:

HW floor Height = 0.75 inches from subfloor

1/8 in thinset
1/8 in Ditra
1/8 in thinset
3/8 in Tile

----> Puts me at 0.75 in final tile height which should be close to matching up with hw floor height.

Are the thinset numbers realistic, what I'll be targeting during install?


Houston Remodeler
09-27-2013, 11:30 AM

Good idea, wrong numbers.

If you're trying to match an adjoining wood floor that is 3/4" higher than your tile subfloor, the perfect ditra is Ditra XL.

Thinset + ditra XL + thinset + standard 3/8" tile = 3/4" when finished.


1- thinset + ditra winds up being right close to 1/8"
2- The thinset under your tiles will wind up a smidge thicker than 1/8"
3- Did you measure the actual tiles?
4- How flat is the substrate?
5- How perfectly flat are the tiles?

09-27-2013, 12:06 PM
No, I haven't received any of the tiles yet. The samples I'm hoping to be able to pick up today (22 sq ft) The remaining 270 sq ft will come later. I'll measure then.

So, I'll hold off on ordering the Ditra XL until I can get a feel for the actual thickness of the tiles.

I found partial rolls of Ditra XL on EBAY. Which is great. I was worried I'd be ordering two 175 foot rolls to do 200 sq ft of kitchen. :(

I'm going to start demoing the counter tops and floor this weekend. My poor daughter is learning to love living on a job site...

09-27-2013, 12:25 PM
I believe Master Wholesale will sell you as much, or as little of the sheet goods as you'd like Mike. Could try Daltile too, their right next door. :)

Houston Remodeler
09-27-2013, 12:53 PM
You can also get samples of ditra and ditra XL to make test mock ups with.

09-27-2013, 08:40 PM
Thank you. Ok, I'm a bit nervous. I'm reading Tile Your World and read about the bouncing on the floor to check for stiffness. Earlier in this thread I used Deflecto and had discussions about the kitchen area flooring. Per deflecto my floor is good.

I was jumping around in the kitchen. I set a glass of water on the floor and I'm able to get the water to move in the glass. Its not a lot, but its noticeable. When I put the same glass of water on the kitchen counter and jump in the middle of the floor the water moves a little too.

Should the floor movement be noticeable like this?

09-27-2013, 09:04 PM
Mike, we got no useful way of answering that.

If Paul, above, jumped on your floor and things rattled inna cabinets, I'm inclined to say, "You might wanna look into the structure before you tile." If our good friend Dave Gobis, the Tile Buddha, jumps onna same floor and things rattle, I'm inclined to say, "Imagine my surprise." :)

If you've entered accurate information into the Deflectometer and it said you could tile, I'd be comfortable tiling if you have a good subfloor. Think we discussed that early on, too. The Deflectolator is a pretty conservative measuring tool.

My opinion; worth price charged.

09-27-2013, 09:08 PM
Ok. Thank you. I'm sure it is fine. I'm just nervous.

09-28-2013, 01:20 PM
Starting demolition of the vinyl floor today. This might take me a couple weeks. Tile will be here Tuesday.

This is the easy part right? I don't really have any single long "wall". My longest straight section is where the tile will transition to carpet. Should this be my reference/bearing for starting my layout?

Thank you for the heads up on Master Wholesale. They are hooking me up with Ditra XL by the linear foot. None of the rental yards around here have a toe kick saw, but harbor freight :( has one for $69. I'm going to get that one. I guess there's a design flaw with the handle, and it can break when the saw kicks back. We'll see.

What do you guys do with appliances while your working? I was going to move the dw to the garage, the refridgerator to the family room onto the carpet(??) and the stove to the garage as well. I'll have about 30 boxes of tile. Is there a recommended way to place this on the floor in terms of stacking the boxes?

09-28-2013, 01:47 PM
It's less important where you start to set, but it is supremely important that your layout looks good when you're finished. There's a section in JB's book about layout. Go over it a few times, make some marks on the floor, and see how it looks. Often we adjust layout a few times til we get it right.

Get all appliances out of the room if possible, cover them if not. Distribute boxes of tile near where you'll finish up, then pulling from 3 or 4 boxes, mix em up and stack (on a dolly) ready for install - check for patterns while opening boxes/mixing. Handle tiles carefully so you don't chip edges. :)

Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
09-30-2013, 11:13 AM
Mike, more often than not you'll want to have a full tile at entrance where you walk into the room. When I use to work at a tile shop I would tell the guys they better have a full tile in the doorway or a good explanation as to why not.

If you can give us some photos or a drawing of a layout we might be able to better help with the layout.

I'm surprised none of the rental stores carry that saw. Another option would be to see if any of the pawn shops have one and then sell it back to them when you're done. It can take some time to go to all the different pawn shops though.

10-05-2013, 10:41 PM
thanks guys! Yeah, the saw has been a bit of a struggle. Harbor Freight ended up not having any in stock, and online they are back ordered. I just bought a used Crane 795 off of Ebay for $150 including shipping. I'll try to sell it when I'm done.

So, everything should be coming together this week, and I should get started this coming weekend.

I'll submit pictures and a drawing of my floor this week. Once I get started...oh boy, I imagine I'll have a ton of questions.) It is so great to have a site like this available for support.

Thanks again,


10-06-2013, 10:07 AM
A couple of questions while I'm waiting to get started:

1. Can you recommend a quality Latex PC Mortar for the OSB to Ditra, and Unmodified Thinset for the Ditra to Porcelain?

(Latex PC Mortar...is that just another way of saying "Modified Thinset"?)

2. The tiles are rectified 13x13 porcelain. When laying tile, what are the keys to preventing lippage? (Should I purchase a LASH or some other leveling system?)

2a. Any good tutorials on back buttering? When you back butter is it basically a very thin layer (< 1/16th inch) of thinset on the back of the tile?

3. Assuming, for now, that the tile has 4 90 degree corners..how do you get perfect grout lines? When you spread your thinset, do you just remove any thinset that covers your layout lines and do you use spacers between the tiles to help control the gaps?

I'll keep searching and reading.

10-08-2013, 09:13 PM

Vertical Straight section on left opens to carpeted family room. Going CCW, pantry, then where the blue box with x through it is, that's the entry from the hallway, it is oak hardwood, then fridge alcove, far right alcove is for range, then on the bottom, first alcove is for dishwasher and then there is a sliding glass door.

As it stands there is a small row of skinnies in the entry from the oak room.

Let me know if I should submit a dimensioned drawing..



Houston Remodeler
10-08-2013, 10:08 PM

1- Dunno the PC part, but versabond will work under and Ditraset for over

2- LASH is a good thing IMHO but a flat subsurface is more important

2a- Back buttering = troweling on thinset with the notched side. Back burning = a very thin, scraped layer.

2b- watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyt2US_SSBM)

3- research 'gridding' where you trowel up to the line, then lay the tile in that. Or use spacers and double check your work with a tape measure. Just like installing shingles or lap siding.

4- Yes a measured drawing is helpful

4B- read pages 20-22 (http://www.schluter.com/media/DITRAHandbook-ENG-2013.pdf?v=201309240601)

10-09-2013, 07:43 PM

I was hoping to do just a normal grid, but it seems like this might be better?

Houston Remodeler
10-09-2013, 08:38 PM
What does Mrs Mike prefer? :ct:

10-12-2013, 12:44 AM
Well, it's just my daughter and I...and she likes the diagonal, and wants the future tile backsplash to have some blue/pink/purple in it.

Tear out is going pretty fast. Instead of removing all of the vinyl sheet, I am just cutting out enough to see the seams, then scraping those down to expose the fastener heads. Remove the screws, and then pry the plywood up. The edges are screwed...the middles have a combination of nails and staples.

Ditra question: Does it matter which way you lay the ditra...parallel or perpendicular to the substrate sheets?

The Crain toe kick saw will be used tomorrow and then hopefully go up for sale the day after.

Once the last of the vinyl underlayment is removed, I'll check the floor for flatness. Hopefully, it is good. Would be a bummer if it needed to be leveled further.

Thank you for your help.


10-12-2013, 09:25 AM
Does it matter which way you lay the ditra...parallel or perpendicular to the substrate sheets?

Doesn't matter which way you run the Ditra.

10-12-2013, 11:31 PM
Tear Out Complete!

Crain 795 Toe Kick Saw - worked very well. In the corners, I tried using a flush cut hand saw. Then, drove to Lowes and picked up an Oscillating Saw. So much faster, and a quality cut to boot. Tear out took the better part of the day, but we also demolished the tile countertops.

This week, I'll pick up the supplies to lay the tile, and hope to start that part of the project next Friday. I checked the floor for flatness and I think I'm good.

Time for bed.

10-13-2013, 06:42 PM
I've been searching this forum and Google, maybe I'm using the wrong search terms...

What do you guys do to clean the floor prior to laying tiles or ditra down? Just vacuum with the brush attachment or ?



Houston Remodeler
10-13-2013, 06:59 PM
Usually a good shop vacuuming. If needed that is followed by a damp sponging as we work along.

10-15-2013, 10:32 PM
I was planning on using versabond between the OSB subfloor and Ditra Set between the Ditra XL and Porcelain Tile. Reading the tech sheet for versabond, it say's under product limitations not to use it for direct bonding to OSB.

Is that referencing tile directly to OSB or does that mean don't use Versabond to adhere the Ditra XL to OSB?

Edit: I searched and it looks like Versabond is used, even though the mfg recommends against it. I will use Versabond....and be ok....right?

10-15-2013, 11:56 PM
You are fine. CBP's limitations on Versabond mean don't install tile directly to OSB using Versabond. And you aren't doing that, you are applying a membrane, and then your tile :)

Versabond is a fine choice for bonding your Ditra to the OSB.

10-16-2013, 07:25 PM
Mike, I've heard people other than those as CBP say the same thing Gerry just said there, that CBP thinks it's OK to bond other things to OSB with VersaBond, just not tile. But I've never seen that in writing in any of CBP's data sheets. You'll note that CBP recommends the use of VersaBond over exterior glue plywood, but lumps OSB in the same category as Lauan plywood and particle board.

Given that, I personally wouldn't use VersaBond over OSB for any application. And I'm a long time user of VersaBond.

But, then, I would be hard-pressed to bond anything to OSB with any thinset mortar, truth be known. A second layer of plywood would solve a couple potential problems there. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

10-16-2013, 10:00 PM
Shoot. I feel like a bad student. I know the second layer of ply...especially if I went 3/4 would put my mind at ease regarding did I do everything possible to give my tile job the best base possible.

I opted not to though and it was due to aesthetics with the transition, the deflecto numbers checking out for ceramic with some margin, deflecto being conservative, and this thickness of osb meeting the minimum.

I picked up the thinset and put down the ditra xl tonight and was logging on to ask a couple questions and post a picture..

1. I used a rubber float and a smooth board with rounded edges to press the ditra into the thinset. I pulled up multiple corners and it looked like full coverage to me. I can see the thinset through the ditra but it doesn't look uniform...kind of blotchy. Normal?

2. How long after grouting do I wait to seal and then move in heavy appliances? Range, refer, and the lighter dishwasher?

10-16-2013, 10:34 PM
1- Sounds like you did it right. Once things dry out under there, they'll likely look more uniform. Is it pretty flat?

2- Depends on sealer and the manufacturers install instructions. Typically, they require 3 days minimum at 70F & 50%RH. If it's cooler or more humid, add time. A week is better to cover all the bases. For under appliances, you can push those areas a little to get them back in if you'd like, but leave the other areas to dry longer if possible. Remember, it ain't gonna dry from below due to the Ditra. :)

10-17-2013, 11:02 AM
Thanks everyone. Can I change the title of this thread to MikeInSeattle - Kitchen Project? I'll post pictures of the floor tile when complete :0

I'll be working on the back splash next. Should I keep those questions on this thread or move to a new one?

First question: How do I proceed with a backsplash project? What is the first step? How do I determine if my wall is suitable? Will the wall flatness determine what tile to use?

10-17-2013, 11:18 AM
Hi Mike. Name changed. You can keep it all here - I know at least one person that'll be appreciative. :D

First step is usually along the lines of "Honey, what do you want for a backsplash?" Tile, stone, glass, etc... Get your ideas together and decide what you want - type of tile, sizes, colors, patterns, etc... Then go about figuring out how to get er done - this will vary somewhat depending on your decisions above.

Same rules apply to flatness for walls & floors. Obviously, you're not walking on the wall so the structural requirements aren't as strict.

What's there now? Is it clean? If it's clean and flat, you're probably ready to go now. :)

10-17-2013, 12:38 PM
Thank you! The wall is clean except paint. I'll put a straight edge on it and look for flatness deviations.

The narrow section (about 3 inches tall) behind the sink and under a window is definitely not flat, but I will get numbers for you.

Thanks again!

PS...I'm a pretty cautious guy, especially around saws. I want to keep my digits. I didn't experience any trouble with the toe kick saw, but I made sure to keep the saw at high rpm, didn't back up, etc. I don't know if you need one, but I put it on the "for sale" I'll give it to you or any of the other pros on here that helped, and even cover shipping if you can use it. Mike

10-17-2013, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the offer Mike. I'll PM ya. :)

For a painted wall, **we use a random orbit sander hooked to the shop vac with the coarsest paper we can find - 50 or 80grit. Then, we just scratch it up a bit. You're not sanding per se, just scuffing it up to help the mortar bite. Wipe it off with a damp sponge and you're ready to go. :)

**edit: if you've got an older home, then lead in paint becomes more probable. No power sanding in this case. Just do the same with hand sanding, and wipe the area clean when you're finished. :tup1:

10-17-2013, 08:58 PM
Almost there, just ran out of steam. Hopefully, this comes together and looks good. Mistakes so far are "over cutting" my door trim, so I'll have to replace some of those. I think I simply cut on the wrong side of the line. Me=big dummy.

That's not ditra on the back wall...just orange paint...soon, JohnBridge forum willing...it will be a tile backsplash..

Tried hard to not have any lippage, but I see some. I think I need to remove a tile where the floor transitions to hardwood as I don't think I left enough expansion space. It's about 1/16th there.

I think I really need to review my tile and grout estimating skills. Bought 4 bags of grout...needed 8. Bought 280 square feet of tile, needed 230...yikes.:sick:



10-17-2013, 09:31 PM
It looks good Mike, no shame in that. What's that saying "measure twice, cut (or order) once". ;)

Houston Remodeler
10-18-2013, 07:05 AM
You can tile something else with the left overs :postitbg:

10-20-2013, 11:41 PM
Well, I have a couple of mistakes. One REALLY boneheaded mistake that I can't believe I did...I knew better.

Boneheaded Mistake: I took great pains to keep the ditra and mortar off the wall and cabinets, leaving about a 1/4 inch for expansion. While grouting, I got into a really nice rhythm, and ended up filling in all my expansion joints with grout. Last night I was staring at the work, and realized what I had done. I spent about 5 hours today cleaning all the expansion joints out. :(


After the grout has dried, it seems a little low. There's about 1/16th difference between the top of the tile and the top surface of the grout. I also notice I have some pin holes. These should be flush right? Ok to mix up some more and go over it again?

10-21-2013, 11:43 AM
It is what it is now. If you try to add more grout only 1/16 thick, it'll flake off before you can say... just about anything. For a proper regrout, which is what you're proposing, you'd need to remove existing grout down to about 2/3 the depth of the tile so the new grout bonds & grabs onto the tile sides. :)

10-21-2013, 12:38 PM
Looks real nice! Don't be too hard on yourself--everyone makes mistakes. You might try some paint matched caulk to fix the door jambs. See what it looks like and maybe you don't have to replace.

10-21-2013, 11:25 PM
Thank you. I am going to leave the grout alone. Geez I still can't believe I filled in all my expansion joints.

I do need to break/smooth the edges of the tile along the carpet transition. All in all I am pretty happy. I was looking at my first project, the HUGE 5x8 laundry room and it's held up really well. No signs of any issues. I hope the kitchen has the same success.

I'm still looking at back splash tile. Thanks again you guys!


10-28-2013, 10:37 PM
Hello, If found this on Houzz and it is speaking to me. I think this is what I want to do. On houzz, it says it was designed by Ann Sacks. I am unable to find a mosaic like this on her website.

Do any of you, with your experience, know where I can find this or do it myself. I want the same/similar colors.

Will this require any extraordinary effort or ? I've got about 40 square feet of backsplash to do and I would like to keep materials under $1200 if possible.

Thank you.

Mike in153153 SUNNY Seattle

10-29-2013, 12:42 PM
Here's where I'd start. :)


10-29-2013, 09:56 PM
Yes, I called them this morning. The person helping contacted me this afternoon and said they have some in stock and they are sending samples. They sound reasonable cost wise. Kitchen is coming together! I'm hoping the back splash is "the" thing that ties it all together and makes it great.

I'll let you know when I get the tile and do a final check of flatness on the wally.


Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
10-29-2013, 10:08 PM
Wow! You've got a lot done since last time I checked in. :clap2:

I think the floor looks really good. Nice job! Which Ditra ended up working for you? The XL?

10-29-2013, 10:55 PM
Yes, ended up using the ditra XL and the tile is on plane with the wood floor. It worked out really well and was really easy to use. Though, I'm still finding ditra xl scraps in odd places...

It took me the better part of the week to get the cabinet face frames sanded, trim installed, and painting done. My daughter loves it, and she has been patient and quite the helper. Appliances went in fairly easily...first meal on the new stove...mac and cheese. We are first class here!

Now, it's down to the back splash, some under cabinet lighting.

I really appreciate the patience, expertise, and willingness to help you guys all share.

10-30-2013, 10:00 PM
Ok, I checked the wall for flatness. With one exception, the wall is very flat. The exception is the area where the wall behind the stove meets the right exterior wall. There is an approximate 2' section that bows towards the exterior of the house. The dip is just under 1/4" and follows a smooth arc, I suspect it is a stud that is out of plane with the other studs?

How should I flatten this section? The bow extends from the counter top elevation up above the bottom of the cabinet.

Thank you,


10-30-2013, 10:08 PM
Is the backer staying? If so, then rough it up a little with 50-80 grit sanpaper & skim with a quality modified mortar, like Laticrete 254 or a cementitous patching compound like Henrys/Ardex available at the box stores. Use a straight 1x board to screed off the material between the high spots. If not, then you can shim framing or screw a chunk of 2x next to the one that's out-of-plane. :)

11-06-2013, 09:44 PM
Mosaic samples arrived today. The woman at Ann Sacks said they needed to be wetted down to see their true colors...

1. These are natural stone mosaics. Will I need to seal these and will that maintain the wet look? Plus, I like the stone colors better when they are wet.. Seal before grouting or after? Do I need to use something on the tiles to ensure the grout doesn't get stuck in the small pits and pores of the natural stone?

2. I'm going to install a pencil border where the backsplash terminates on a long wall. Since the pencil border stone will be used to hide the edge of the tile...do I just attach the pencil stone to the wall with adhesive?

3. What are the steps to install and grout this stuff? Do I use loose stones to get the mosaic sheets blend in well?

Thank you,


Houston Remodeler
11-06-2013, 11:28 PM
1A- Yes

1B- Both

1C- The only thing that works is painters tape.

2- thinset yes

3- Lots of steps in the process. JB wrote a whole book of the subject. 2 or 3 I think. Might wanna download one of them before you start. It will be your best investment.

Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
11-06-2013, 11:39 PM
Also, keep in mind that the whole stone is porous, not just the grout. So the longer term maintenance is going to be more than a porcelain tile with urethane grout. Just so you know.

11-07-2013, 02:25 PM
Hi Mike.

Do I need to use something on the tiles to ensure the grout doesn't get stuck in the small pits and pores of the natural stone?

Well, if grout doesn't fill those pits and pores, what do you think will? You want grout to fill the pores so the other nasty stuff doesn't. ;) And if you're needing grout to fill in pores, then "sealing" is best left till after grouting.

Depending on the stone, you might consider SpectraLOCK grout. In addition to it being a premium stain resistant grout, this will often times give stone a finished wet look without even sealing. Actually, i believe the resin in the grout actually does seal some porous stone without specifically sayin so. In this case, we likely wouldn't seal anything.

Might make a little sample board and get a mini-unit to test out the look. :)

11-08-2013, 02:39 PM
Thanks guys. The mosaic tile from Ann Sacks is on its way, and I will make a sample board up prior to sealing/grouting.

The plan is to level the wall this weekend, after I run some wiring for under cab lights.

I've been reading "Tile Your World" it is a great reference, and believe it or not I do spend time searching the forums prior to posting a question.

I want to make sure I'm using the right thinset for the natural stone. Would any modified thinset be acceptable...aka the "Mapei Porcelain Tile Mortar" at Lowes for example? Or?

For cutting the mosaic sheets at the counter line, upper cabinet line, and around outlets...I was basically planning on setting the sheets up against the wall, marking the front face of the stones that need to be cut, and then pulling them off the mesh and cutting those individual stones. My wet saw is just a simple one by Ridgid, purchased at Lowes.

I purchased a "Miracle Sealer and Enhancer" that was recommended by Ann Sacks. It can be used on the stone back splash and the granite counter top. I haven't used it yet...they said to do a thorough clean/vacuum of the back splash, then seal, then grout, clean again, and then final seal.

Any cautions, or tips at this stage are greatly appreciated!

11-08-2013, 04:15 PM
What grout you usin?

If we've got long straight cuts, we keep the tiles on the sheet and run it through the wet saw. For outlet cuts, we'll often remove individual tiles after marking them and cut one at a time.

For mosaics, we like non-sag mortars like Laticrete 4XLT or 255, Mapei Ultralite, CBP Megalite or Prolite, etc... Call around to find some, you'll be glad you did. I know Masterwholesale has a few, as do others up that way. :)

11-10-2013, 10:52 AM
Ok, here is the plan:

Wall flattening: Laticrete 254, after a course sanding with 80g sand paper.
Thinset: Laticrete 255 non-sag
Grout: Spectralock

I'm reading the JB Tile Your World book. I don't see anything specific on installing pencil liner. I'm planning to use laticrete 255 and I'll be installing the pencil liner first.

1. do you press the liner firmly into the thinset? It seems with the small footprint, you could literally squeeze most of the thinset out. But, this would be desirable since the liner is a border, and you don't want to see any thinset...

2. 1/4 x 1/4 notched trowel correct? There will be some areas where I won't be able to fit a notched trowel into...specifically behind the sink, and below the window sill. Ok, to just use a spatula or putty knife in this area?

Really appreciate the help. This remodel...the list is getting smaller, but holy moly. I did take a break to burp the garage/shop. But, I'm worn out. :P

Houston Remodeler
11-10-2013, 11:06 AM

Unless the pencil liner shape and size determines the rest of the layout, we normally install all the field tiles first, with some sort of wood /tile blocking as a spacer so the upper sections of the field tiles can be set without stopping for the pencil liner.

11-10-2013, 01:07 PM

This tile is a random mosaic. I was ass-uming that this meant there was no layout considerations. Im constrained by the countertop, the upper cabinets and then around a window. I was going to butt up against the window casing and caulk the perimeter.

am I making bad assumptions regarding layout? The pencil liner will be placed vertical and will be used to transition from the bs to painted wall.

11-10-2013, 02:10 PM
Layout is *always* a concern if you want the finished product to look good. ;)

I'd stick the pencil on last - it's easier. Just make a line where it goes and lay the mosaics to the line.

Dry fit the mosaics to make sure they look good. Sometimes we'll have to compress or expand layout a tad with those tiles and to avoid a skinny cut or a huge joint at the perimeter. Occasionally we'll cut a wider sheet into a few narrower sheets to stretch a few joints. :)

11-11-2013, 01:23 PM
I hesitate to ask this because I'm probably missing the obvious. The mosaic tiles are not rigid.

For layout, I'm thinking about doing a dry layout on the ground, placing the mosaic sheets in the "highest" likely install placement in the mock-up. Then, placing them on the wall in the order they are in on the mock-up.

Is there another way you do layouts with mosaic sheets? With all the variablility it doesn't seem I can do a layout on a cad program and get any sort of replicable result.

Color variation then would also be part of this mock up. But, I should still expect to have to make adjustments during actual install right?


11-11-2013, 03:23 PM
We call those "full scale drawings". ;)

And that's the best way to layout any tile - use the actual tiles, spaced as necessary, and just measure what you got. Number each sheet with tape to indicate what order & where it gets set, and also make a quick "key" drawing on a sheet of paper to use while setting, so you get em where you want.

If you need to stack the sheets, stack with the first sheet you need on top, and in order on down to the last sheet on bottom. :)

11-13-2013, 02:32 PM

Spectralock a good choice for grouting this back splash and natural stones?

I'm going to make a sample board and try a few different colors. Initially, I was thinking a light colored grout, but now I'm leaning towards darkening the whole thing up.

Thanks again,


11-13-2013, 02:50 PM
Yea, but. Gotta test it to make sure the sand doesn't scratch the glass - this goes for any sanded grout & glass. We use it regularly, always test, and never scratched glass yet.

Lighter grout colors help glass "pop", but its the overall look we try to shoot for. Again, test boards help reduce surprises. :)

11-13-2013, 05:43 PM
Dana, thank you. Does all of the above apply even if it is a tumbled natural stone?


11-13-2013, 06:30 PM
Sorry, thought you had mixed glass & stone. We typically try to match the grout & stone if possible. If stone is multicolored, then you've got more color options. If you're doing a test board, you'll be able to see if the sand scratches the stone too - not likely unless you have some soft polished marble mixed in there. :)

11-16-2013, 08:07 PM
Dana, I picked up the mortar and grout at master wholesale. The counter gals get a 10++ for gorgeousness. I picked up two spectralock minis and a big one.

Im going to flatten the wall sunday. I have to flatten around two outlets. So I was going to set the adjustable extension rings to the drpth needed for flatness...and the pop them out befor laticrete 254 sets up. Is that what you guys do? If I want to cover a outlet ob a different wall...I have to plug the hole in the wall right?

ive been reading the spectralock thread. Only 43 pages to go..

11-16-2013, 08:40 PM
counter gals get a 10++

Ah yes, MW. If I lived closer, i'm sure i'd find things to pick up there almost daily. :nod:

That'll work with the extenders, or you can leave em out and cut the mortar once it sets up a little. :)

11-19-2013, 10:34 AM
I flattened the wall last night. I struggled a bit when screeding. The mud wanted to stick to the screed board. It looked pretty ugly. But after it setup and I could run the smaller board across it...it looks good imo.

I used the margin trowel to make the joint at the countertop.

For the outlets...I just taped over them...and then removed the tape before the mud setup.

next is tiling. For these flat river rock stone...anything special required in terms of masonry blades?

11-19-2013, 11:37 PM
Ok, I started putting up the rock. The rocks seemed to cut fine with the same saw blade I cut the porcelain floor tile with. Small rocks would break with narrow cuts, but I think I can get them with less pressure.

As far as putting them on the wall... I have some loose stones and I think it was from not getting enough thinset on the wall. Is it ok to just let everything set and then remove and apply some thinset to those stones?

I started applying more thinset, and that started causing thinset to ooze up and out of the joints. So, I need to find a happy medium. After the grout set for a little bit, I used a trowel, knife, and a small tooth brush to clean the joints up. I wiped down the stones.

The joints range from almost nothing to a half inch. Where the tiles but up against the counter top, I struggled to keep a consistent joint. It ranges from from almost nothing to a quarter inch. The tiles aren't square, I cut the bottoms but I need to improve..

I only had a little time to work on this tonight, and it is going much slower than the floor. Thank you for your help!

11-19-2013, 11:44 PM
Is it ok to just let everything set and then remove and apply some thinset to those stones?

Yea, we go over the wall next morning and remove loose stones. When we start setting again, we start with the loose ones from the day before. You could also wait til the end and set all loose ones at the same time.

Flattening the trowel notches can help keep mortar oozage to a minimum. Flattened 1/4" notches often work good with that kinda stuff. :tup1:

And don't worry about speed. Walls are always slower than floors, so sounds like you're on track. Just go for quality, however long it takes.

Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
11-20-2013, 08:07 AM
Mike, once you grout the rocks in they will stay. It's easy to break them loose when there's no grout in between.

When doing river rock I pull about 60% off the sheets and install them individually. My experience is that when the river rock sheets are grouted you will be able to see the seams in the sheets, no matter how "puzzle-pieced" they try to make them. Installing two sheets about 2-3 inches apart and filling the gaps in with individual rocks eliminates that issue. Also, you won't need to cut the rocks by doing it this way.

Is this still the kitchen backsplash? Last time I checked in I think it was some sort of random mosaic?

11-20-2013, 10:24 AM
Thanks guys. The mosaic sheets are made from natural stone...looks like different colored river rock to me. Not as round. I'm still working on the backsplash. I will definitely look at the method you describe.

What do the pros look for in terms of quality as you install a back splash?

11-20-2013, 01:19 PM
What do the pros look for in terms of quality as you install a back splash?

Same as every other install. Straight even cuts, even layout, flat & in-plane, etc... Because BS's are closer to eye level, they are typically scrutinized more than floors. Quality level has to be kicked up a notch or 3. :)

11-20-2013, 01:31 PM
Thank you. The cuts along the underside of the cabinets will be interesting.

Do you have any tricks for keeping a consistent caulk gap where the bs meets the counter top?

If I was your apprentice (I'd be fired by now..) how much variation on that line would you allow before you would say pull the tile off and do it again?

Somewhat subjective I know...just want to get a feel for how much tolerance someone other than me has.

11-20-2013, 01:44 PM
Do you have any tricks for keeping a consistent caulk gap where the bs meets the counter top?

spacers. or one long one.

how much variation on that line would you allow before you would say pull the tile off and do it again?

there's not really a number here, it's more a look. we want it to look good, which typically means very little variation so the caulk joint can stay small. post a photo of what you have and I'm sure you'll get opinions on the look.

It ranges from from almost nothing to a quarter inch.

thinkin maybe that's gonna need to be redone?? but lets see a photo or 2. :)

11-22-2013, 09:31 PM
I will get pictures uploaded tonight.

I made a little progress today. I've been using a toothbrush and tiny flat head screwdriver to clean the thinset in between the rocks. There still seems to be some grout around the edges of each rock, haze like..

Toothbrush and sponge the best way to do this?

I now understand why some recommend starting from the top and working down...thinset coming off the trowel and wall finds the stones you laid previously when starting from the bottom. duh. geez.

I purchased mud rings, but it doesn't look like I need them. Now, if only I could read the labels (smeared with thinset) on the wires I removed from the dimmer switch and outlet. :(

11-23-2013, 11:27 AM
Any input is appreciated, it's not too late to tear some down and replace or redo.

The window is the next area to do..






Houston Remodeler
11-23-2013, 02:17 PM

To get a straight line at the adjoining surface you have 2 choices;

1- trim the sheet on a wet saw to make a straight line

2- hand place each stone

11-23-2013, 02:46 PM
I think it looks good Mike. With those stones, a few high spots are may be acceptable because of the varied width and angle of those joints - only you can decide this. What Paul said - with only a few off, I'd just reset those few rather than cut a whole sheet.

And yes, once mortar is oozing out of the joints, that's about the only way - short of removal - to clean things up. Are you flat troweling the notches before setting? What notch are you using? Are you lightly tapping the stones into the mortar with a small block of wood? or are you pounding like you're driving a big nail? :)

11-24-2013, 11:30 PM
Thank you! I have been working hard on this today. Cleaning between the rocks, and the rocks themselves is what is consuming the most time. I was getting a little frustrated that during the cleaning process I was knocking rocks loose. But, I'm not sure how to eliminate this entirely. So, I'm going to assume it's just part of the deal with mosaic stone tile.


1. I have wasted a great deal of Laticrete 254. I've got 1/2 a bag left. If I run out, can I use the remainder of the Laticrete 255 I used to flatten the wall?

2. How will I know when the rocks are clean enough to move on and seal? When the rocks (even the ones straight out of the box) are wetted and then let dry, they dry with a haze.

3. Pencil liner - I'm going to draw the installation lines for them, and then tile up to the line (less an 1/8 inch) I've read the JB book. But, when the liners are stacked end to end, going up the wall...am I leaving a space between them for grout, or do you butt the ends together?

Thanks again guys. I hope you all had a great weekend!

11-24-2013, 11:53 PM
1- yep, 255 is fine... maybe even better
2- clean them with clean water & nylon bristle brush if you want, and that's it - go easy with the brush. let dry & seal... unless there's blobs of mortar stuck to em
3- leave 1/8 or so to grout between em

11-25-2013, 12:08 AM
I recently installed the same tiles (best I can tell from the pictures) in a shower pan. They can be made fairly flat with patience.

I did this:
trim the sheet on a wet saw to make a straight line

And a bit of this:
hand place each stone

and this:
Are you flat troweling the notches before setting?

picture of the shower pan
picture of flat troweled notches (used a 5" drywall knife, find it easier than the flat side of the trowel)

11-27-2013, 12:58 AM
Thanks guys.

John, your shower looks really, really nice.

I've had the opportunity to make a few more mistakes since my last post, and come up with a couple more questions.

1. While not globs, I believe I still see some thinset on a few stones after sealing. Basically, grey areas. Once you seal the stones, is it too late to do any more cleaning? I'm using miracle seal that I purchased from Ann Sacks.

2. The stones themselves are looking better. I've done quite a few repairs and I'm moving some of the "grouped" dark stones around to spread them across the wall. Is it ok to just apply mud to the back of these individual stones? I've been doing that on some of the hand placed stones and it seems to work... famous last words.

3. Eventually, I'm going to have to grout. :0 I'm using spectralock and I've been reading the forum. So...I have 40 square feet of wall, but linear feet of grout lines is pretty high I would imagine. How should I plan on doing this? Mix partial batches, or is it reasonable to do 40 square feet and initial cleaning of all these grout lines within the given time...80 minutes to use the grout, and start the initial cleaning within 20, final clean within an hour or so?

4. Grout mix...my joints range from less than 1/16 to 1/2 inch. Would you recommend mixing the grout with 10% less part C to assist in smoother narrow joints, or is that going to cause problems with the wider joints? Thoughts?

5. For grouting...any thing specific I need to be aware of before I begin? Such as anything I should absolutely be sure not to do so I don't screw things up really bad?

I know that's vague, but I don't know what I don't know...

Thanks again. Almost done. Almost broke.

11-27-2013, 11:47 PM
1. no, but some heavy duty cleaners will remove sealers, etch some stones, etc... best to test on some spares or your test board before going down that road.

2. yep, fine to stick one stone or many that way.

3. how many walls? any natural "stop" or "break" points you can use to break it up into multiple batches? Are you using full units or mini's?

4. i'd mix full batches of C for all of it. i've never left out any and never had an issue. with the newer versions, this is much less of an issue. that said, wiping the grout with a clean white damp terry towel or micro fiber will take care of any 'bleeding' should it occur.

5. have all the sponges, doodle bugs, micro fiber towels, cleaning water mixed with cleaner, clean grout mixing buckets, grout float, extra cleaning water, margin trowel, etc... all staged and ready to go before mixing anything. Then just follow the instructions and you'll be fine. Double check the dates on the a&b packages and the batch numbers on the part c's for color match. If you have different batch numbers on the c's, just mix all the c's together then divide them out again per batch.

11-28-2013, 02:23 AM
Dana, thank you. Regarding #3...

3 walls, in a U shape. The bottom of the U is the longest wall. I purchased one full unit from Master Wholesale. My grout joints are all over in terms of size so I have no idea if this is enough grout.

I have about 4 square feet left to tile, and then I need to go back through and address a few issues. Loose stones, some larger than allowable grout joints, etc.

Thanks again! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
11-28-2013, 10:29 AM
Hi Mike,

Things look good. You should have no problem getting the grout spread in the required amount of time as the joints between the pebbles should eat up a lot of the grout fast.

Hopefully you bought Spectralock Pro Premium. :)

11-28-2013, 11:55 AM
I'd get another full unit, and maybe a mini or 2 for backup should you run out. If you only need a mini, it'd be a shame to mix a full unit. Take back what you don't open. Start on the walls that are not focal points, and if you're getting close to running out try to stop in a corner.

We buy commercial units, which is 4 full units. For a job like that I'd have a couple of C's on site. :)

11-29-2013, 11:44 PM
Yes, I purchased one full and one mini of Pro Premium. Stuff is spendy.. I will go pick up another full and mini unit from Master Wholesale. Yay...this time I'll shower and dress better ;)

I'm shooting to have the rest of the stones installed tomorrow, and then grout next weekend.

1. In another thread, it said to grout to the edge and then clean along the edge to make room for caulk. Same true with this grout?

2. The "white scrub pads" referenced in the laticrete instructions...are these basically white scouring/finishing pads? I'll look for them at MW.

I basically have the next week to clean and repair loose stones, etc. If I knock a stone loose during grouting, what should I do?

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

thanks again!


11-30-2013, 12:13 AM
...anything for a MW visit. :D

1- i usually slow down around the edges and try to keep the perimeter joint open, and then clean out what gets in the caulk space after it sets up a little.
2- Yep, white buffing/finishing/doodle bug pads. MW has larger (4x11 ??) pads and holders. 1 pad would probably do it - you can also use a few smaller ones available just about anywhere.
3- you can also mix about 1/2 - 1 cup of white vinegar : 2 gallons water for cleanup if you run out of cleaning packets. :)

11-30-2013, 02:37 PM
Ok..two full units and two minis on hand. Part Cs appear to all be from different lots. You mix them up and divide by weight? Im going to be using a food scale...I knew that thing had a purpose.

ok..carpet installers broke a floor tile today. One of the smaller tiles. Im not blaming them. I am blaming my layout error. So..can I dig out the thinset and use some laticrete 255 to put it in place? Ill have to get some more grout..I just took the partial bag to the dump...on wednesday. Grrr.

11-30-2013, 02:47 PM
Yep, divide by weight. Use a clean dry bucket & mixer. 255 for the repair is fine.

12-05-2013, 12:56 AM
Stones are all up. I'm doing a "deep clean" and using a razor blade, tooth brush, sponge, small scraper to get the last of the thinset out. My goal is to go through and re-attach the few remaining loose stones on Friday, Grout on Saturday afternoon.

I fixed the small detached tile on the floor. However, while cleaning up tonight I was vacuming and oh crap....I noticed that I vacuumed up a thin layer of grout where 4 tiles come together to make a point. Looking closer I see there is a crack in the grout right at the intersection, and then what appears to be about 1/3 of the way down the two sides of one tile.

Considering, my little laundry room project has made it a few years with continual shaking and hasn't had any grout issues...I'm really nervous.

What do I do...just wait it out and see if the cracks propagate further, or should I be doing something more proactive?

12-05-2013, 01:05 AM
The cracks are near the repair from the carpet guys damage?

12-05-2013, 01:21 AM
No, the cracks are near the stove. The tile that broke loose is where the carpet transition is, opposite ends of the rectangular tile area..

12-05-2013, 09:07 AM
After reading some posts..cracking is due to movement. I think I will look at those perimeter joints. Perimeter joints not being free of grout could do this correct? Once those are checked and cleaned...I will regrout this one area. If it doesn't crack again...I can decide to regrout the whole floor.

I cant tell if it sounds hollow under the tile or not. Do I need to pull up any tiles before regrouting?

12-05-2013, 01:08 PM
Yep, cracks are typically from movement of something. Could be any number of things or combination of things that contribute to cracking. Grout or mortar in the perimeter joint, tiles cut tight to something immovable, getting on the floor too soon after setting, etc... can all contribute.

If the tiles around the cracked area aren't loose or hollow sounding, I'd leave em. :)

12-08-2013, 01:34 AM
I didn't get finished with grouting today. I used two mini's and one full on the two short walls, and I have the long wall to do. I have one full, but am going to go get a mini, mix the sand...just to be sure i can do it in one shot.

Overall, aside from me being too slow when using the full...it went well. How long do you wait to caulk?

Houston Remodeler
12-08-2013, 09:32 AM
As soon as its firm enough to work over.

12-08-2013, 11:54 AM
Glad it went well. Those pebbles sure eat the grout, huh.

I typically give it a day before caulking something like that.

12-09-2013, 03:19 PM
Well, it just wouldn't be right to end this project without having to redo something :)

1. I went through and tried to clip all those little mesh strings (from the tile backing) prior to grouting. I missed some, so I am going back through and plucking the wall, and will fill those little holes.

2. As you will notice in the photos....I used the wrong caulk. The correct caulk is on the way. The corner joints aren't really that huge...

Getting close to the end. I really appreciate all the help. I think when it comes time to do the master bathroom, I'd like to just pay you to do it. I know it will be done right, and look gorgeous. I'll start saving up!155313



12-09-2013, 05:16 PM
Looks good Mike. That's quite a job. :)

12-26-2013, 02:30 AM
Merry Christmas. Progress continues. While cleaning up the kitchen tiles I am noticing more "pin holes" and areas of grout that will lift out when I sweep or vacuum. Earlier I had thought this was a crack.

I've since cleaned up all my perimeter joints. I used a regular blade on my oscillating tool, and it made short work of the grout. Much easier than using the grout blade I had purchased...it just could get down into the joint far enough.

Attached are some pictures. I'd like to know if it looks like a floor movement problem, possible grout mixing/application error, or something else. I picked up a new bag of grout and will start "repairing", but I would like to know if there is some more significant underlying issue that I need to address.

I've also attached a couple more pics of the kitchen and bathroom!




Houston Remodeler
12-26-2013, 09:28 AM

What grout did you use?

Did you read and follow the advice on the Grouting Tutorial (http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=85639)some handsome guy wrote?

12-26-2013, 12:54 PM
Also Mike, tell us about the pattern of the cracked grout. Is it all in one area, or random spots spread throughout the whole floor, or near the heavy appliances, etc...

12-26-2013, 01:53 PM
Thanks guys. Grout is polyblend sanded.. the holes are in just a few areas and I eould say rando.. the biggest are is about 2 tiles away..towards center of room from range.

12-26-2013, 11:58 PM
I had typed that last message while on the cell phone. Yes, I did read the tutorial. I may have had the grout too thin.

If you need more images, let me know. I'm trying to determine if this is a grout issue...which could be a pain, but wouldn't be a disaster. Or, if this is an indication that something has went awry either with the floor (checked on Deflecto), the floor to DitraXL, or the DitraXL to tile and I'm heading towards disaster.

I have the hardwood floor guys coming in a few days to do the final finish. I will tell them to hold off if there's a chance I'm going to be ripping up the tile...

12-27-2013, 01:32 AM
Has the loose grout shown up all at once or grown from where you first noticed it?

It's hard to tell from here, but if 1) the grout issues are limited to a fairly small area, 2) there aren't loose tiles, 3) deflecto passed, 4) Ditra is properly bonded to OSB, 5) tile is properly bonded to Ditra, 6) grout wasn't lumpy or "expired", and 7) grout issues don't start happening in other areas, then it sounds like it may be a localized grout mix/install issue. Sometimes the end of a batch might have started to cure too much before you get it placed and it doesn't properly compact, cure or bond.

And if it's a mix/install issue, then a regrout might take care of it... if the color match of the new grout is close. ;)

12-27-2013, 02:03 AM
That is alot of ifs. Lol. Ok...what would you do? Regrout and see what happens..or pull up a few tiles? It seems like the tile is secure. I have no idea if the ditra is bonded to the osb other than it seemed like it was well bonded after installation. :/

Should I have a tile pro come look? Or...?

12-27-2013, 12:58 PM
In the worst spot, 2 feet out from the stove, towards the right side. I don't hear a distinct hollow sound. But, when I step near the crack I can hear it...sounds like gravel.

I would guess this indicates more than a re-grout.

So, I guess the next step is to figure out where the movement is coming from.

I verified my sub-floor and joist dimensions, so I believe the deflecto values are correct.

1. With that said, I guess it is logical to start from the top. I will remove the grout from around the four tiles and pry them up and see what it looks like under there.

1a. What would you look for? I believe I am looking for something that would allow/cause movement of tile independent of the sub-floor. The only thing that comes to mind is a missed bubble in the ditra XL.

Being bummed out isn't going to solve the problem, and I need a solution. So, I appreciate your guidance here. What else should I be looking for? I did not notice (and I was stepping on the tiles to see if I could hear anything) prior to today...I believe hearing the tiles is something that is now happening.


12-27-2013, 01:32 PM
when I step near the crack I can hear it...sounds like gravel.

This sounds like a loose tile or bond failure below it. Check the whole floor for this to see the extent of it. Rap on the tile with your knuckles, or bounce a golf ball, or walk around a lot and listen for those same sounds. Let us know what you find. :)

12-27-2013, 07:08 PM
Ok, I walked the floor, bounced a golf ball, and used the handle of a hammer tapping everywhere..

Upon closer inspection, I have pinholes in the grout scattered what appears to be randomly throughout the floor. These can be a single pin hole, to a short row of pin holes.

I have three cracks. I'll try to add a picture that shows where. If you drew a line between the crack at the stove, and the one furthest away...the crack in the middle would fall off that line by one half of a tile. I know there isn't a subfloor seam there, but it might be close to a ditra seam...I'll have to look at the photos to see.

Golf ball...barely bounces at the biggest crack. I can't hear a huge difference in sound, except maybe it sounds "deeper"...more reverb? The deeper sound covers an area of about one tile, but centered where the four tile points come together.

At the other two cracks it is not as pronounced, but the ball still bounces less. This probably sounds crazy...

I'll try to attach a diagram..

If there isn't a huge difference in sound, that could mean my hearing sucks or the entire floor is suspect...hmmm.

12-27-2013, 07:25 PM
Two of the three cracks are on the DitraXL Seam. I have no idea if this is significant. The third middle crack is not directly on the seam.

It also appears like a dark spot is under the ditraxl at the crack. I thought the dark patches indicated where the thinset had saturated the felt on the Ditra?


12-27-2013, 10:12 PM
Gotta photo of that floor from that angle showing the plywood?

and answer this as best you can
Has the [cracks or] loose grout shown up all at once or grown from where you first noticed it?

Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
12-27-2013, 10:22 PM
I would regrout the two tile that are close to each other and then watch and see if the cracks return. Why pull up tile if you don't need to?

12-27-2013, 11:49 PM
I'm not 100% sure, but I'm going to say the cracks showed up all at once. The one by the stove I noticed first, and it did seem like it grew over the course of a week. The first photo is of the plywood. It looks like the seems are in at least in the neighborhood of the cracks.

I'm willing to grout the two cracks closest to the stove and sink. But, I guess why pulling the tile was on my mind...is due to being able to hear the tile when I step on it. I haven't been able to hear the other tile, and I don't notice a huge difference in sound.

Images: 1. Plywood, 2-4. Cracks starting at stove and moving away. 5. What I'm calling a pin hole. (Looks like an air bubble to me, but is this also a crack?)

Thank you!






12-28-2013, 12:14 AM
Pin holes point to how you mixed or cleaned - maybe too fast a drill speed and/or too much water. I'd replace the one tile that crackles, and regrout those few areas. :)

12-28-2013, 12:25 AM
I'll get busy. If I get into it and adjacent tiles are making noise...I assume I should keep pulling them up right? If any of the Ditra is popped up, is it ok to just cut out that section and replace....oh dang, I don't have any left. Yikes.

yikes...I don't have thinset, unless I can use the left over backsplash thinset on the floor?

Ok, thanks guys!


12-28-2013, 10:07 AM
Hi Mike. Yes on cutting out the Ditra. Just patch in some more with modified thinset under and unmod over like before. Re: no thinset . . .

I don't think that you can drive 10 miles in any direction from any point in Seattle area and not bump into pallets of thinset. Need Ditra? Home Depot has standard Ditra, or PM me and I'll send you what you need.

Re: the grout Pitts and caverns, I've always seen that if you can see some areas like that - just like an iceberg, there are lots more areas like that that you can't see . . . yet. If the area affected was the same technique and materials, then you may see more of it to come. Keep your spare grout in a plastic zip lock for the future.

01-24-2014, 10:25 PM
Hey guys,

So, I pulled up the first tile and it doesn't look too good. I'm really concerned because I checked for coverage when I was tiling, but this tile looks like it is brand new on the bottom. Pictures below.

When I was cutting out the grout, there were definitely voids under the surface. I'm pretty ashamed of this job :(

My questions are these..

1. What do I do with the thinset under the DitraXL? Scrap it down?
2. The tile came up pretty easily. How do I know if the Ditra is ok under the adjacent tiles?

3. Do the pictures (poor coverage, etc) increase the odds that the cracked grout was due to just poor tiling?

4. No more cracks have shown up...I guess that's one positive ?





01-24-2014, 10:40 PM

Mike, looks to me like you've got "issues," both under the Ditra and under the tiles.

1. Scrape and/or grind.

2. You don't, but that one piece of Ditra you pulled up does not bode well.

3. Yes.

4. You can always hope. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

01-24-2014, 11:18 PM
Yeah...this is embarrassing. In hindsight, I don't think I was in the right state of mind to have started this project.

I won't be able to let this go. So, I think I'm going to just remove and redo these 4 tiles and then the four tile around each of the other cracked areas. Then, let some time pass without any more remodeling projects. Enjoy the summer, etc. Then tackle the complete redo in a year or so.

In short...Ouch, sums it up nicely!

01-27-2014, 09:29 PM
First, a big thank you everyone that has helped and for your forgiveness. I've removed the other three tiles and pictures are below.

1. Coverage isn't perfect, but at least the tiles look like they were introduced to thinset.

2. Problem: cracked grout.
a. What role would ditra to osb bond play in this?
b. Inadequate thinset tile to ditra coverage (especially if the Ditra pockets arent filled all the way) seem like it would be a direct cause.right?
c. Would those multiple OSB seams along with Ditra Seam at this location play a role?

If floor deflection isn't an issue (deflecto says it isn't) and I redo the Ditra to OSB, and Tile to Ditra....this 4 tile spot should be solid, right?



01-27-2014, 10:07 PM
It could all play a part, Mike, but I don't know what you mean by c.

01-27-2014, 11:07 PM
c. There is a seam where two pieces of OSB mate up together. Then, there is a seam where the Ditra sheets joined up together.. all where these 4 tiles were.

I'll do some digging but I'm still confused about the Ditra not bonding to the floor. I was scraping thinset just now and the thinset is bonded really well to the OSB.

If Ditra Bond was used, and polymer wasn't added...would that affect the thinset to ditra or thinset to OSB? Regardless the ditra matting is bone white underneath in some areas...and that seems like it would be almost impossible to accomplish if I tried.

01-27-2014, 11:31 PM
If Ditra Bond was used, and polymer wasn't added...would that affect the thinset to ditra or thinset to OSB?You mean perhaps Ditra Set?

If so, yes, that would be unacceptable for the Ditra to OSB application. It would be fine for the tile to Ditra application.

But even if you had used the appropriate leche in the mix, if the mix was insufficiently wet or allowed to skin over before installing the Ditra you could have the result shown in your photo.

My opinion; worth price charged.

01-28-2014, 01:40 AM

If it makes you feel any better I use uncoupling membranes often, and still sometimes have issues with the mat bonding. My first go with strata mat (similar to ditra) was a disaster. I had to pull it up and reset it all, luckily I hadnt tiled it first.
Lots of things could cause that, in my case the self levelling product under the strata mat sucked all the water out of my thinset.

Ive had other issues as well. Always found a way to resolve them so far. Just wanted to let you know ive had a hard time getting a good bond once or twice too.

01-28-2014, 11:25 PM
Thank you. Here is my second attempt. Does this still look too thin?


01-29-2014, 10:54 AM
Looks good from here Mike. Full coverage on both Ditra & floor, and although it's tough to tell from several miles away, looks like the mortar is loose enough. :)

01-29-2014, 11:01 AM
Looks good to me, Mike, but, then, I'm a lot closer than Dana. :)

01-30-2014, 07:44 PM
I replaced the four tile, and redid quite alot of grout for interim repairs while I figure out the redo.

I burned thinset onto the back of each tile. Then used a 1/4 x 1/4 trowel to apply thinset to the top of the ditra (after filling the holes).

I can get the four tiles on plane with each other, but struggled to get them on plane with the surrounding tiles. I spent a fair amount of time on these. But, I still have a difference in height of approximately 1/16th new versus existing tile.

Is this due to the lack of thinset on existing tiles, or is it due to something I'm doing wrong? I didn't want to go any less with thinset due to coverage..


Houston Remodeler
01-30-2014, 08:04 PM

You didn't do anything wrong. All that is missing is 20 years of practice. Many days I remind my customers and helper that we do make the job appear too simple.

Cut yourself some slack. Then have a beer. :cheers:

01-31-2014, 05:12 PM
I am definitely going to follow that last bit of advice. It's time for beer. Here are some "final" pictures of this job.

This was a budget kitchen remodel. I ordered new cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and had them finished locally (conversion varnish over cherry stain).

Thank you John Bridge Tile Forum. I will post again when I redo the kitchen floor (about a year from now) and remodel my bathroom...about 100 years from now.

Go Seahawks!





01-31-2014, 11:18 PM
Looks great Mike. :tup1:

04-04-2014, 09:54 PM
Just a quick follow up. No more cracking. Where I replaced the four tiles has held up perfectly, and the areas where I just dug out and replaced the grout have held up perfectly.

Thanks again guys! Much appreciated.

Houston Remodeler
04-05-2014, 07:08 AM
That's a kitchen to be proud of !

John Bridge
04-05-2014, 07:51 AM
Cute little girl, too, MikeInSeattle. ;)