Tiling a slope [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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07-26-2004, 05:42 AM
Hi all, I'm Sharon and I'm new. Been reading and trying to educate myself and have learned a lot. But not enough.

The room I want to tile is 10x15, it was originally a breezeway connecting the house to the garage. Concrete slab, they added 1/2" plywood under carpet. The plywood is glued to the slab, and it was popping up in the center because the slab is sloping to one side, it appears to be about an inch lower than the center, maybe a bit more.

OK, so I bought the self-leveling compound. Here's the dilemma, the low wall (10 feet wide) has a sliding glass door that takes up most of that wall. How do I make it level and not make it higher than that threshold? And it's not quite flat either. I've already got my 12x12 porcelain tiles. What if I use thin wood and build a little frame around the door?

They weren't much help at the store, I'm an average sized, middle aged woman and they didn't even help me with the two 50 lb. bags of compound I bought. And I'm having a devil of a time getting the plywood up!:crap:

Thanks all.

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07-26-2004, 06:15 AM
Hi Sharon, welcome to the forum. :)

Ideally, you'd like to have "flat" and "level". Sometimes you have to compromise level due to the particulars of the job. It's got to be flat though. Hang tight, you'll get idears from the real pro's. Any chance you could post some pictures of the area?

07-26-2004, 06:19 AM
When I get home tonight I'll take pics of it and post, will try to draw lines showing the slope.

07-26-2004, 08:15 AM
Welcome, Sharon. :)

Does the 3/4 inch plywood underlayment extend under the threshold of the sliding door?

Do post pichers. We like pichers. :D

John Bridge
07-26-2004, 05:34 PM
Welcome aboard, Sharon in Georgia. :)

I'm tellin' ya right now I don't like the idea of plywood glued to concrete, especially in what used to be a breezeway. :)

07-26-2004, 06:17 PM



OK, here are the pics of the sloped floor I'd like to tile. The first pic is going the length of the room with the sliding glass door at the low end. The second pic shows that the plywood is butting up against the edge of the sliding glass door frame. I've only been able to get one center section of plywood up so far since it's glued down :bang: In the third photo, I've put tape where my laser line is, and at this half of the room, a distance of about 5-1/2 feet, it drops down 1-3/4"! At the other half of the room it only drops about an inch. I don't think that SLC is going to quite do the trick. Help!! Thanks.

John Bridge
07-26-2004, 07:26 PM

Thanks for the pics. Confirms my suspicions. :)

I would remove all the plywood. Heck, it's not even glued down all the way. Looks like beads of Liquid Nails or construction adhesive just squirted under the sheets. No way is that going to support any kind of tile installation. Rip it out and start working on the concrete floor to bring it up to snuff. We'll tell you how to do that. ;)

07-27-2004, 05:27 AM
That's funny that you say it doesn't look glued down all the way because it was sure tough to get up :D Hey, but remember I'm a middle aged woman with more spunk than muscle (or money)!

So after the plywood comes up, what's next? Just lay it on me (no pun intended;) )

07-27-2004, 07:32 AM
Boyohboyohboy, that's not very wonderful. Maybe some nice carpet in there after you remove the plywood?

Looks like you could level the floor OK at the end with the sliding glass door. More than enough room for an inch of floor and some tile. But what kind of doorway do you have at the other end where you have the inch and three quarters to build up?

The rest of that plywood should be easier to remove than the first sheet. Now you can get under an edge and, with the scarcity of glue evident, pop them up pretty handily. Biggest, heaviest steel digging bar you can get holt of would be my choice of tool.

07-27-2004, 07:56 AM
I just pulled up the carpet! This room is used as the dog room and it's also going to be my office. We ruined the carpet the first month we were there, LOL!! I'd like to replace all the carpet downstairs, if I can ever get through with this room. I even bought tiles the color of Georgia Red Clay (terra cotta color).

The sliding glass door is at the low end, that's the side that needs to be built up. At the high end we have a regular entry door that has plenty of room to build up, same on both sides (one doorway with no door, one door going out to the garage). This 10x15 room has 4 doorways and 2 windows. Very nice and light, higher ceiling than the rest of the house, it's just wasted space right now that I desperately need.

07-27-2004, 08:36 AM
Hi Sharon.

Bare with me here but I just want to make sure we have a good understanding of where this High Spot in your floor is.

Is your situation more like drawing A below? That is, where in addition to the sloping floor you have a high spot in the middle? Or, is drawing B more descriptive? i.e. where the high spot runs across the entire room, perhaps where the new concrete pour began over the former breezeway.

07-27-2004, 08:51 AM
Mike, excellent drawings. I think A is the one. From the center, the difference is about 1-3/4" on the right, about 1" on the left. The room slopes more drastically as it heads toward the sliding glass door, no doubt they intended it for drainage when it was built. As you look at your drawings, the left side contains an outside entry door, there is an open doorway in the center on top, and directly opposite that on the bottom is an entry door to the garage.

07-27-2004, 09:56 AM
OK Sharon, this more like it?

07-27-2004, 09:58 AM
Mike, that's it exactly!

07-27-2004, 06:52 PM
Well Sharon, the gentleman from Boerne pretty much summed it up for me too; Boyohboyohboy.

There are many experts around here much smarter than I to address this situation. I honestly can’t think of a single reasonable solution for this uneven floor that would not create other problems along the way, like 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" transition heights at the doorways. But maybe, just maybe a combination of several things might lead to acceptable results.

If I came home and my wife said: “OK Bucko, I just did the hard part removing the plywood, now tile the sucker!”, here’s where my thought process would go. First I would think of using SLC to remove about half the difference in irregularity. Then I would look for a porcelain floor tile, both 12” and 6” that had an irregular “slate like” surface which has an attribute of concealing lippage. I would arrange this field of tile into a pattern to avoid straight grout lines, like maybe a pinwheel pattern. Then in the middle of the floor over the remaining hump I would insert a different pattern using 6” and smaller tiles, again with the irregular “slate like” surface.

Others will be around to offer their suggestions and prolly even pick mine apart, but for the time being, that’s my best shot at it.

07-27-2004, 07:10 PM
I echo, ohboy! OK, this is my first tile job, and to do it in anything than a plain grid pattern might be beyond my abilities. Besides, I've already bought my tile, 12" porcelain.

I heard an advertisement on the radio while driving home today. It's for a place called Be Level (or something like that) and they level concrete. In the ad it says that they drill holes in your concrete, shoot something in, not sure if it's additional concrete or what (lots of road noise) which lifts the concrete so it's level, then they fill and seal the holes. "All for a fraction of the cost of new concrete." I'm skeptical.

Keep those ideas coming! Thanks.

07-27-2004, 07:17 PM
That's been around for awhile,a friend of mine used to do it,he called it injecta-something,and it could lift incredible amounts of concrete to level it out-never actually saw it though. O.K. went back and read the thread,disreguard my first sentence.First,if you bring up the low spots you'll have to cut some off the bottom of the inswing door,and you could get a strip of aluminum-L- to go up to slider track if you need it.Did you check to see with a level if you could grind or chip hump in middle to lessen the amount you have to build up?,that would help.The low area can be filled with self leveling compound,a product you mix with water and pour out like soup and spread with a rake slightly to get it to flow,rather expensive, or you can spread wet thinset in the low area and put a small stick along wall the height you want to build up then mix stucco or sand topping mix, wet and use a straightedge to screed and saw at mixturewith one edge at high spot the other on the stick to level spots.A running bond or brick pattern horizontal to entry might help, like Mike says to hide things,and it's a simple pattern.

07-28-2004, 05:33 AM
Why not scarify the bump down a little? Maybe 3/4", then use SLC to raise the rest of the floor to the new, lower, height.

07-28-2004, 05:53 AM
If there is an actual hump in the middle that could be ground down, how difficult is that -- remember, average sized middle aged woman here! Y'all assume I'm capable of an endeavor like that :eek: There is enough room on the side where the entry door opens inward for me to build it up an inch or so, not so concerned about that side. I have some SLC, but it's my understanding that it's only good for an inch or so, and I'm 1-3/4" low on the side with the sliding glass door. Can it be applied in layers, letting it dry after the first inch and then doing it again? What can I use in addition to the SLC? I thought I could build a casing around the frame of the sliding glass door so I'd have a barrier.

OK, or bring in a pro, and I really can't afford that right now. Got lotsa stuff I want to do around the house, this would be a huge accomplishment for this novice DIYer.

John Bridge
07-28-2004, 05:00 PM

Anybody who can pour SLC can grind down a hump in a floor. Don't be so modest. :)