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08-25-2001, 05:27 AM
My brother lives in Florida and wants me come down and help him put down 18 in porcelin tile in most of the hosue. Currently the house has tile in the living/dining room, carpet in the hall and bedrooms. He feels pretty sure he needs to remove the old tile. Is a pneumatic tool and air compressor the best way to go? I read on another posting that tile this big must have a very flat surface. How tough is that going to be with pulling up the tile? I've never removed tile and am not sure how much concrete will come up with the tile. AFter the tile is removed should he put down some type of self-leveler to make sure of the smooth surface? Any ideas on other problems we might encounter? Thanks, Julie

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Rob Z
08-25-2001, 05:40 AM
Hi Julie

Yes, an 18 inch tile will require a very flat surface.

It is possible to set tile over tile, meaning you would not have to remove the old stuff. It's going to be hard for us to recommend this though, without being able to see the current installation in person to check it for flatness and how well the tile is bonded to the concrete.

I think I have set tile over tile only about 6 times or so in the past 11 years. The other jobs-I just didn't feel that they were suitable for tile over tile.

The general statement that applies is that your new installation is only as good as the old installation, and if you don't know anything about it, then it's a gamble to go over it.

If you elect to remove it, an electric or pnuematic tool designed to remove tile (available at a rental store) will be your best bet. Beating that stuff out by hand with a hammer and chisel gets really tedious.

It is possible to dress up the surface that is left with a self levelling compound or feather finishing compound. If the old stuff comes off with little damage to the surface, you can just set the new tile over it.

Check the concrete for cracks. They will need to be dealt with.

And where gloves, eye, ear, and breathing protection when you do the demo.


08-25-2001, 06:03 AM
Hi Julie,
So your brother is offering you a "paid" vacation? lol

Rob has you on the right track so I won't inject any confusion EXCEPT to say....I have it from a reasonably good source that installaers down there don't use Latex modified thinset in most of the jobs.That fact alone is enough to make me believe that removing the old tile is the best way to go.

So what part of Florida? My folks live in Jacksonville and I'm going down the first of October to install some tile for them......and maybe ease on out to the beach.

08-25-2001, 10:45 AM
Thanks for the advice. I told my brother about this great website and I think he'll be checking this as well. He lives in Ft. Lauderdale, way south of Jacksonville. We used to live in Jacksonville (Mayport) several years ago. We loved it. We'd go back in a minute. Watch out for the sharks on your visit to the beach. Might be hard to set tile if you're missing a couple of fingers.

[Edited by Julie on 08-25-2001 at 05:22 PM]

08-25-2001, 02:04 PM
Julie, keeping in mind Kieth and Rob's warnings, a self leveling PORTLAND cement can be placed over the old tile. Why is your brother "pretty sure" he has to remove the old tile, are they loose, cracked, uneven?

08-25-2001, 03:22 PM
I don't believe any are cracked or loose but won't that create an even greater difference in the height of the floor where the current tile meets the previously carpeted area?

08-25-2001, 04:51 PM
Hi All:

I am Bill, the brother. Aren't I lucky to have a sister who is not only willing to help but gets so excited about the project she searches out web pages and starts a dialogue on the subject.

Awesome forum. I really appreciate the help!

I have about 600 sq. ft. of existing tile, 4"x8" tile laid in an 8"x8" pattern that was installed in 1980. The tile is firmly attached to the concrete slab. I chipped up 6 tiles (now hidden under the sofa) to see how difficult this project is going to be. Didn’t take long to know this required much bigger tools than I was using. I reserved a pneumatic scaler and air compressor for the Labor day weekend (seems fitting) from a local rental store. I have ample eye protection, hearing protection, respiratory protection. I was impressed that safety was mentioned and it gave this site even more credibility (at least in my eyes).

I have 3 mil poly and lots of duct tape to seal off the openings to other rooms and the A/C ducts.

I am removing the tile for two reasons. First, as you might imagine, there are a lot of grout lines; i.e. opportunity for uneven edges. Second, because I am going to replace other adjoining floor finishes (carpet and wood flooring both 1980 vintage) and the height transition seemed like to much to try and feather out.

We are going to lay the 18" x 18" tile in a diamond pattern throughout the: Kitchen, Family room, Living Room Dining Room, Hall and Master Bedroom. Currently, I am thinking I will cut down field tile to create a 6" border in the rooms, and a 3" border in the hall. I looked at different size, color and patterns of tile to use for the border. I thought a slightly different color or texture would add some character. Any suggestions on this issue? The "pre-cut" accent/border tile I saw was Soooo expensive, 6" x 18" at $12 to $30 per LF.


John Bridge
08-25-2001, 05:05 PM
Hi Bill, Welcome aboard!

Removing the old tiles and starting over will among other things give you an oportunity to introduce some movement joints into the process, although it's a little more difficult to conceal them in a diagonal pattern (diamonds). I like to do the joints in doorways and passages into other rooms. Movement joints are just one aspect of a large installation. The others will be around with more suggestions now that we know something about the existing floor.

On the border thing, well, it's a matter of preference. I'll tell you one thing, though. Not of lot of it is being done (unless you work with my favorite decorators, Marla and Susan, The Border Girls).

It's tough enough to get decent looking cuts in all the rooms with the diagonal approach. Adding the border will exacerbate the problem.

08-25-2001, 06:26 PM
Mayport...My Grandmother lives on Mayport road,she manages Singleton's trailer park.Kinda trashy now but a long time ago she rented to almost all Navy.My stepgrandfather was stationed at Mayport and my cousin was on the Saratoga and stationed at Cecil Field. My parents live off of Girvin Rd just across the intercoastal waterway and my brother-in-law is an Atlantic Beach Police officer.My parents use to manage Wonderwood and Halls trailer parks.Small world ain't it.

I commend you on your thinking as far as cutting your own border.I specialize in that type of installation here in Tennessee.I do a lot of special cuts that most installers around here just don't want to fool with.I saved a couple over $400.00 on their countertop by cutting the 1/2" wide stripe myself.I get a lot of requests to make stripes or borders out of floor tile to go on the wall.I tell you all this to say go for it.It'll be a custom installation that's one of a kind.We'll help you as much as we can through the process.

Yes you are lucky to have a sister like that. My sister helped me stay out of jail one time,she works for a big law firm,but that's another story.........

08-25-2001, 08:46 PM
Julie - Bill, yes the slc will raise the height maybe 1/4", so keep going the way you are.

Bud Cline
08-25-2001, 09:03 PM

The border thing I think is a great idea and I manage to upgrade jobs with this technique frequently.

John is correct in syaing that these cut tiles will no longer hide at the baseboards but the cuts will be moved to the inside of your border when installing diagonally. There's nothing wrong with this but I wonder if you have thought of the fact that you will be placing a cut (diagonal) against a factory edge (border). Again there is nothing wrong with this as long as you understand the look you will get.

Also, in my opinion not all tile lends itself to this technique. This is because the "foundation layer" of the tile is usually either grey (of sorts) or red (of sorts) but the finish (glazing) can be any number of a million colors.

When you cut the tiles you expose a fairly sharp edge. I like to soften this edge either with a rub stone or a diamond file. When filing on the tiles you will expose a tiny portion (line) of the tiles foundation. If the foundation is compatible in color with the tiles surface then there is no problem, but if the foundation contrasts the tiles surface then this isn't always pretty, and you have this odd color jumping out at you.

I'm one of a few guys in this area I know of that does this border thing routinely. People love it because of the cost savings over buying manufactured borders.

This air scaler is a wise choice and should do you a good job. There is also a machine available to rent that will grind your floor for you if need be, this will remove any remaining thinset and help to plane your floor. The machine gets a little pricy and you have to buy the stones for it, but they also do a good job.

Rob Z
08-25-2001, 09:21 PM
Hi Bill

We look forward to working with you and your sister on this one. The only thing I have to add is that on a diagonal installation I like to set only whole and half diamonds, with the border set "straight" and cut to whatever size is needed to make up the distance to the wall. For large tile like you propose to, this may not work in small areas like hallways. In big rooms, it looks great. The border can be tile of similar manufacture but a different color, or something altogether different.

08-26-2001, 08:04 AM
John & All:

Thanks for the warm welcome. I am so impressed. I came back to the site this AM and I had all these inputs.

Movements? I am not familiar with the term as used in this context. I can make some WAG’s but this project will be more successful if I leave my ego on the sidelines and ask!

A bit more information about the project. I have AutoCad 14 on my computer at home. I got the “as-built” drawings from the City and entered those into AutoCad. After entering the information from the drawings I measured each room (several times) and adjusted the drawings to reflect reality. I created a template for the 18” x 18” tile and have done several variations of the layout, with a 6” border and a 9” border plus some accent areas in the entry way (outside), the kitchen in front of the sink and in between the Family/Dining Room and Kitchen/Living Room area. Sure wish I could do a screen capture on AutoCad and post the layout. I don’t have a flat scanner but may be able to have a buddy of mine scan the layout and post it. I’ll check on that.

I realized I would be putting site cuts up against factory cuts. More to the point I didn’t know enough to realize it might be an issue, lol. One of my other sisters, Joan, will be helping and has done all the cutting on the previous jobs that she and Julie have done together, so I’ll get her inputs. I will be renting a wet saw an plan to purchase my own new blades for this project.

The porcelain tile I have picked is a consistent color throughout so we won’t have to worry about the “red back” showing through at the cuts around the border. It’s a great point for me to remember if I buy a contrasting tile for the border.

As a general concept if I use other than the field tile, should I stay with 18” or does it matter? I thought I might find a 12” x 18” so I only need to make one cut and don’t end up with a strip with two site cuts like would happen by cutting the 18” tiles down to 6” x 18”. I have never seen a 12” x 18” so other choices would be 12” x 12”, 6” x12” or 6” x6”. The 6” x 6” I have seen also get pretty pricey, and I’d end up with lots of grout.

Thanks, again


Rob Z
08-26-2001, 09:25 AM
Hi Bill

Having you draw up a plan and post it here would be very helpful. All of us here are by the very nature of our trade are very visually oriented.

The movement joints John referred to are planned for lines wherestresses in the slab can be relieved. For you installation, these joints would be filled with a color match caulk.

As for switching sizes of tile throughout the installation...that's a design question. I see no reason to not do it, as long as you are happy with the design.

I'm working on a bathroom right now that has 10 different sizes in it. It has all been drawn up by a designer and approved by the homeowner. I think it will look great when it's done.

08-26-2001, 10:31 AM

In earlier post you mentioned using only full or 1/2 diamonds. Therefore your border might be 9 inches on one side and 8 on the other right? If so, how does that match up in the corners?

Rob Z
08-26-2001, 11:50 AM
Hi Julie

The specifics of the border will be determined by the dimensions of the room. But I would balance the size of the border on opposite walls so they are the same size. The border on the other two sides would match each other, but not likely match the other two (this happens occasionally).

Let me go look at John's book to see if he has a picture of what we are talking about.

I'll be back.

Rob Z
08-26-2001, 12:00 PM
OK Julie, I'm back.

John's book has diagrams on pages 59 and 60.

Michael Byrne's book has a diagram on page 135.

These books will aid you greatly as you and your brother do this project. Both are less than $20 a piece, I think, so they will quickly pay for themselves if it saves you from making any mistakes.

John Bridge
08-26-2001, 12:52 PM
On the border issue, if you've moved the field around on your CAD and left the border in place, you've noticed it's very difficult to balance the cuts from side to side in more than one room at a time. What Rob said about full and half tiles only holds true in a rectangle, usually. Looks dynamite in the showroom, for instance.

You'll have to settle for decent looking cuts that won't necessarily be balanced from side to side/ end to end.

I don't think you'll find many 12 x 18 in. tiles, if any. A way around the "factory edge" issue is to use what you call "site cuts" everywhere. Cut off the factory edges on your border pieces. You'll throw away an inch or so of each piece, but it's no more waste than you would incur otherwise. In other words, have site cuts against site cuts everywhere. Much easier to grout than a cut edge against a factory edge. Of course, Bud's going to get on me about sharp edges . . . It makes him shiver.

Finally, If you buy my book we'll promise to send you a six-pack and a T shirt. Rob sends them out, though, so don't get on me if nothing arrives.

08-26-2001, 01:23 PM
BTW John,
I ordered your book...waiting for it to get here.

08-26-2001, 02:12 PM

I figured out how to do a screen capture in AudtoCad and can save the drawing to a word file but I can't paste it here. I will send you a direct email with the word file. Don't know if you will be able to open it but it's worth a try.

If this works I can send to others who are interested.

If anyone knows enough about this system to know how to paste and enclosure directly let me know.

John Bridge
08-26-2001, 02:57 PM

Email me the file, and I'll get it onto the forum.


I can't be held responsible for that book. You can't prove I wrote it, and even if you do, I'll deny it.

Rob Z
08-26-2001, 03:24 PM

Couldn't the multi room diagonal with border layout be made to work if, in the doorways and other transition areas, a strip of tile is set to separate the two fields?


Rob Z
08-26-2001, 03:26 PM
Just so you know, I'll drink the beer and send the shirt. (Unless the shirt is a 3XL, or unless the beer is a light beer).

08-26-2001, 03:29 PM
Rob,You mean "frame" each room individually? What about an "open" doorway? The layout would still need to be done like it was one big room....right?

Rob Z
08-26-2001, 03:45 PM

You said it better than I did. Frame each room as if it is by itself. Put a course of tile (same stuff or contrasting) in the door way. for two adjacent rooms with a large cased opening (no doors), I think the approach would still work.

Ideas, anyone?

08-26-2001, 03:58 PM

Did you just hear "Cha ching"? That was me buying a copy of your book. Seemed like a good idea since I'm getting all this "free" advise. Besides I am sure my sisters (Julie and Joan) will put it to good use on other projects as well.

Rob Z
08-26-2001, 04:01 PM

I got the diagram. It will work well. Label the rooms so we can refer to them during postings.

John can figure it out.

Get MB's book, as well. Start your ceramic tile setting library with both books, and you'll eliminate a lot of problems.


08-26-2001, 05:12 PM
Will label and resend.

08-26-2001, 06:40 PM
I love the idea of bordering each room separately. This way itstead of one HUGE tiling job, it's more like several smaller jobs. At one point, we'd even talked about a "border" or different kind of tile under the dining room table. Do any of you have any experience with this? I saw it in a showroom and it really looked great but haven't seen it in anyone's home yet. I'd love to try it - after all it's not my house! (Just kidding, Bill).

Rob Z
08-26-2001, 06:50 PM
Hi Julie

That's basically how we worded it for another ambitious forum participant a month or so ago. Treat each room as a separate job, and you won't get overwhelmed. That's how I do it, too.

The different tile under the dining room table could look very cool, but that will somewhat commit you to keeping the table right there for a long time, I think.

Bud Cline
08-26-2001, 09:16 PM
I've done dining table insets that were offset (off center) of the room and frankly they look really good I think. I guess it does commit the table to a specific location-sorta.

One job comes to mind that had a border and diagonal tile installed as you are thinking, then the table location was bordered within the diagonal scheme, and the table location was then strait-layed in a rectangle. The strait-lay grout lines were offset with the border grout lines by exactly half, this defined the rectangle border that framed it. Of course the grout lines of the diagonal tiles were allowed to "hit were they will" because the rectangle feature was also offset in the other direction. And this in a 75 year old farmhouse.

Actually you can do anything you want with a little planning, you are limited only by the limits of your imagination.

PS. John, I don't have a problem with all those "site cuts" but it's a helluva lot of work. From time to time I do try to make a living in this business and that many "site cuts" has the ability to reduce ones hourly wage as you well know. But I'm only staying in this business 'til a good job in fast food opens up for me.

John Bridge
08-27-2001, 06:36 AM
Okay, a few trial and error sessions, but here it is.

The idea of separating the rooms will work, but as Keith mentions, the field still has to line up in the one direction you're looking at, so I don't see that it's going to facilitate anything.

Bud Cline
08-27-2001, 10:06 AM
In my opinion (and we all know what thats worth) I would say there are only two concerns with layout (based on the overall configuration of the home) and they are both visual of course.

There are only two "line of site" issues to deal with that I see.

I would strike a centerline thru the entry intersecting with a centerline thru the hallway and cause those two lines to dominate the layout. These are the only two areas that need to flow visually.

The kitchen/family room "match up" seems to show a workable solution tho I would add one more border. I would layout the kitchen/family room (east and west) from a north/south centerline of the overall room, then strike a centerline thru the door from the livingroom for the (north/south)placing of tile. Let the north tile edges and the south tile edges fall-out where they will. This house will have furnishings will it not? I don't think it is possible with this many elements of design involved to make everything come out centered and full half tiles. It just can't be done.

John Bridge
08-27-2001, 02:56 PM

The layout looks good the way it is (to me, anyway), but did you simply use 18 in. units, or did you lay out some actual tiles. I've never run into an 18 in. tile that lays out at 18, 36, 54, etc. The 18 is just nominal, as the tiles are normally made overseas where the metric system reigns.

08-27-2001, 03:19 PM

I haven't ordered the tile yet so I only have a couple sample tiles. I measured them and assumed a standard grout line and it came out pretty close to 18". I realize the final test is to lay out the tiles and see where they fall. Ultimately the difference will come out in the border, as I doubt the "estimation" could be off by the width of a tile on diameter even across the room. But who knows, I've been wrong before.

The pre-planning is just the stuff that allows you figure out what went wrong when the job is done :-).

I laid out tile in the hall and end up with about 2" on each side of the hall so I will need some kind of border there.

When you first mentioned placing the "site cut" next to the factory edge, I thought you were referring to the ability to cut the tile straight. It finally dawned on me that there is a height difference in the tile from the factory edge to the location of the cut. Thank you!

You did a great job of posting the drawing.



08-27-2001, 03:26 PM
When you install the border cut "dots" to be placed at outside corners.If you use 6"x12" border,for example,the "dots" would be 6"x6". This makes a very professional looking border and eliminates the need to miter the corners......which looks cheap in my opinion.You still need to be aware of what edges will meet like John pointed out.With the diagonal layout,all the edges that meet,field to border,are going to be cuts.The sharp edges can be "eased" with a rub brick or diamond file.All you want to do is knock off the sharp edge,don't try to "round" it off.

08-27-2001, 03:28 PM
John, nice job on getting the layout posted.

Bill, I noticed that this drawing doesn't appear to have the entry on a diagonal. Are you thinking of going this way?

I liked Bud's idea of a border in the kitchen/family room. This would keep it consistent.

Of course, the furniture placement after installation will be key. We'll have to use the bigger pieces to hide the bigger problems, an end table here, a wastebasket here, etc... And if you don't mind your sofa in the hallway, I see no problems!

Bud Cline
08-27-2001, 03:45 PM
Throw rugs, think throw rugs. There's nothing like a $4 throw rug to hide a $10,000 tile job.

John Bridge
08-27-2001, 04:58 PM
Yeah, the very first "show home" I did for Home Magazine. We put tile over about 1600 feet of floor. I could hardly wait for the mag to come out. When it did, all you could see were rugs and about 3 square feet of tile floor.

I've still got that issue, though. I can flip it open and say, see that little patch of tile. I did that!

Rob, we got off track. Sorry.

09-01-2001, 07:10 PM
I started the removing the existing tile today. I removed about 400 sq. ft. I rented the EDCO pneumatic scaler and a 9 scfm compressor.

The guy who laid this stuff would be proud. About 15 to 20 % is bonded so well the largest piece of tile left is about the size of a finger nail. Just brutal work.

A good bit of the tile has popped up nicely and I have come to appreciate a tile that vibrates across the entire surface and pops up in only one or two pieces. I can barely type as I am still buzzing.

Of the 400 sq. ft of tile I removed very little came up with the mortar. The mortar is not coming up easy even with the scaler. Do I have to chip off the mortar with the EDCO or is there a better method?

I also want to revome about 120 sq ft of 1' x 1' wood tiles. I was planning on using the scaler. Is this still the right tool? How dirty is that work?

Bud Cline
09-01-2001, 09:07 PM

Talk about ka-ching. If the scaler wont remove the thinset it's back to the rental yard. They should have a surface grinder (uses stones) or better yet a rotary scarifier. Those would be the two more agressive machines to use. I haven't had a great deal of luck with the stone grinders though, I would use the scarifier with rotating sprockets. But that's where the cost begins to skyrocket. There is another less expensive possibility and that is a floor buffer type machine that uses agressive sandpaper (about 12 grit). The buffer will be least expensive of them all I think but also may not do the job.

The scaler can be used for the wood removal also. There is another blade for that task that fits the scaler. This "other" blade will be wider and probably made of spring steel.

Are you using the EDCO Scaler?

09-02-2001, 02:43 AM

Thanks for the help. I am using the EDCO scaler. It is the ergonomic model which in my view is well designed. I didn't feel any strain on my back at all while operating the scaler and at least so far today my back is okay. My hands are a bit stiff and sore but I hope they will loosen up by the time I get going.

Sounds like the rotary scarifier is the best tool for the job. If they have one available I’ll definitely use it. I have the scaler through Tuesday at noon, which is one nice aspect of renting over a holiday weekend. I’ll work at the thinset for a while with the scaler and if it makes sense to continue I will. I was getting a bit discouraged between the difficulty of lifting some of these tiles, not having much success with the thinset, and just being worn out, so your suggestions are welcome news.

The rental shop I am using is closed for the rest of the long weekend so it likely will be a project for next weekend. As demanding as this work is, I’ll probably need the break.

Hope your enjoying this long weekend with your family & friends.


Bud Cline
09-02-2001, 06:41 AM
Ridding a surface of thinset can be a chore or it can go surprisingly easy, just depends on the product I guess. I have been able to remove it with the floor buffer/sandpaper method quite easily and other times the floor grinder/stones wouldn't touch it.

The scarifier can damage the original slab so be careful.

Some of this is back breaking work there is no doubt, all of these guys will testify to that, but man the rewards. It's still all worth it to me.

John Bridge
09-02-2001, 08:39 AM
I think I've mentioned this somewhere else, but I'll say it again. I've never used any sort of machine to remove thin set, except my little De Walt hammer. I just knock the high spots off and then go right over the stuff with new thin set and tile.

The little bit of height variation makes no difference at all on a concrete slab, because no concrete slab is that close to level or flat to begin with. In fact, on occassion I've actually improved the situation, because the surrounding floors were higher.

I can understand grinding down the thin set if you intend to install a different flooring, i.e., wood, linoleum, etc.

Just my opinion (which is sometimes wrong).

Bud Cline
09-02-2001, 11:02 AM
The worst variances I remember are the "purges" that squeezed up between the tiles. That combined with the areas that the thinset just plain "didn't take" seems to leave a surface like the moon.

09-02-2001, 04:20 PM

I was wondering how the removal of the old tile was going. Sounds tough - however, after having an open house most of the afternoon, I'd almost trade you places! I'll keep watching for updates.

09-02-2001, 07:07 PM
Hum, where to start. The good news 1st…All the tile is up. The bad news, most of the thinset is still there. I tried several variations today to try to get more with the tile and, in general, had little success. I am sure what ever the tile setter used in that thinset in 1980 is now illegal. Seems like everything else that really worked good is illegal.

I was trying to decide last night if the work was getting harder or fatigue was making it seem harder. No doubt fatigue played a factor both last night and today, but it was definitely getting harder. Today I spent about 6.5 hours with that scaler and finished only 250 sq. ft. Yesterday I completed about 400 sq. ft in a little over 5 hours.

It is hard for me to know what is acceptable and what isn’t. First let me say there is a lot of thinset left behind. Lots of trowel marks, etc. You can read “Made in Italy” (backwards of course), on most of the thinset. I’d estimate that 80% of the thinset is still in place. Maybe a few days of rest will give me a different perspective but I don’t know how I start to ID what is a high spot to knock down.

Okay guys, let me remind everyone my goal is to put back 18 x 18 porcelain tile. One of the first discussions on this subject is that I need a very flat floor. So can I achieve “very flat” over the old thinset?

Bud, when the floor grinder/stones “didn’t touch it” did you use the scarifier?

A few thoughts about the “ergonomic” model of the EDCO scaler. The built in angle of the device puts the chisel about 15 to 20 degrees angle up from the floor (or almost parallel). For my tile this tends to either bite into the tile and pop it up in a few pieces OR it spalls off the front edge. I found that changing the angle of attack bites deeper into the thinset sometimes knocks the thinset loose and sometimes just gave a new bite into the tile to grind it off. I spent as much as 4 to 5 minutes per tile (4’ x 8’) with significant pressure just to grind off one tile. Of course others just popped right up. At any rate, when changing the angle of attack on the tile the tool is no longer ergonomic. At times I had to elevated the end of the tool above shoulder height ( I am 5’10”) just to get it to work. I couldn’t help but think the straight version of the tool would have been useful to me today.

Thanks for the additional info on the scarifier. I must admit a couple times today it occurred to me you might be pulling my leg with a “scarifier.” Kinda like a 9” spangler wrench, very few Rental yards carry them :-).

Bud Cline
09-02-2001, 07:44 PM
Bill the scarifier is very real. We have been known to tug at a few legs around here from time to time but I know exactly what you are going. It really doesn't get any easier I'm sorry to say.

I have the straight shaft EDCO and it works great for the first hour then fatigue sets in. It's too late now but I'll tell you what I have learned about that tool of destruction. To use it most effectively is more a matter of personal self dicipline on the part of the operator.

As you begin to tire you tend to want to lay into the tool. This is a big mistake. It doesn't allow the tool to do its thing. I think your body weight actually dulls the impact of the blows. An operator should position the machine with minimal force and let that sucker do the work. This gets harder and harder to do the more you use it.

Also, the natural tendency is to turn the air "up" thinking you need (in the words of Tim the Toolman Taylor) "MORE POWER". I have learned to turn the air "down" to slow the blows. Rather than a high frequency chatter the thing sounds like a rapid thumping of the tile.

The angle of attack as you have found is important but does vary considerably. I go back and forth as to wether that tool is really worth the effort or not. Some times I feel it works very good and other times I wish I had my money back.

I have also found that using a small jackhammer or chipping hammer with a bushing tool and a perpendicular (90 degree) angle of attack works well. This pulverizes the tile and I think it also does a job on the thinset.

EDCO also makes the grinder/scarifier I use (rental). They make a two head and a single head. The single cuts about a 12 inch path the double about a 26 inch path. The trouble is the scarifier teeth here cost $20 per set and they use 3 sets per head at one time. So it gets very costly very fast. But what else can you do?

Rob Z
09-02-2001, 08:48 PM
Hi Bill


I don't have much experience with what you have been discussing, but is it a good option for Bill to get up as much as he can and then pour some self levelling compound over the remnants of the thinset?


09-03-2001, 08:22 AM
Good morning all:

It took just a little longer to get out of bed today than usual. Sore hands, neck and the lower back has now offered an opinion on the subject as well.

One point I forgot to mention previously is that during the original construction the base boards were installed prior to laying the tile. A buddy of mine told me that is a common construction practice here in South Florida. Surprised me! From what I can tell I didn’t bang them up to bad but I still may pull them and replace them. Anby thoughts about base boards above or below tile level? I know having them above can hide some sins.

Bud, all things considered, I really didn’t think you were pulling my leg, but I had to ask. To much time banging away with the scaler I guess, lol.

I sure agree on the issue of how much pressure to use with the scaler. At times I found that backing off on the pressure worked much better. Frequently the issue was one of loss of fine motor skills. I didn’t have enough strength left to hold the tool moderately, it was either all or nothing. Ouch!

I looked at the regulator on the compressor several times and since the gauge showed the air pressure at 125 psi, exactly where the manual said the equipment should run, I left it alone.

My neighbor brought over an electric scaler from a contractor that he works with for me to try. Took me under two minutes to return it. I had to bend over to operate the thing and I know I’d much rather have my arms tired and sore than my back.

Can you describe a bit more about the scarifier. I am envisioning a roto-tiller with the serious blades enclosed in a box. Handles with controls, that one “drives” acrost (to steal a word from the John Bridge vocabulary lexicon) the floor which scars the surface.

Maybe you can take a shot at some of these questions.
-Generally when you rent this scarifier beast, are we talking 50 bucks per day or 200? more?
-What are some typical production rates? Can I do 650 sq ft in one day?
-How heavy is it? 100 lbs or 500 lbs?
-Can I adjust the depth of the bite and how accurate is the adjustment (assuming a properly functioning machine)?
-Generally when you rent do you have to buy the blades independently? How long do the blades last? How many will I need for 650 sq ft?
-Last but not least any operational "how to" and "what not to do" suggestions BEFORE I start on using the scarifier?

All in all, I've got about $200 bucks tied up in the rental of the scaler and compressor. The estimate to remove the tile was $2.45/ ft. or about $1600. At this point, I consider my time free so I am way ahead on $$ and I am learning (this is both good and bad). I consider my time as free because you could not pay me enough to do this work to make it seem like good wages:-).

John Bridge
09-03-2001, 12:37 PM
Hi Bill,

I would not even consider trying to remove all the thin set. I would knock the high spots off and either go over it with slc as Rob suggests or just begin installing the new tiles, figuring on using a little more thin set than normal. The floor has to be relatively flat; it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth.

If you're not planning on replacing the baseboards, I would leave them in place. Taking them off and re-using them is one hell of an added chore.

09-03-2001, 04:28 PM
End of Day 3!

I have been speaking in terms of sq. ft but haven't given any references to the drawing that is posted. Sorry bout that. I removed tile from the Living room, dining room and entry. I sealed the opening into the hall on the south and into the kitchen/fmly room on the north. I'd hate to think how dusty it would have been otherwise.

Today I was able to remove all the broken tile and clean the area. After hauling away all the tile, I took a couple of large box fans and set them in the opening of the slider on the east side of the room. I brought out my leaf blower and started on the West side of the room and blew the room down about 8 to 10 times before I stopped getting dust. I was a little surprised one of my neighbors didn't call the fire department, as the cloud from the 1st pass was pretty impressive.

We also removed all the wood flooring in the kitchen this afternoon. Another good news bad news proposition. The wood popped up very easily and Amy was in control of the EDCO scaler on this job from the start. She’s a real trooper. The bad news (who guessed 1st?) was the sheet vinyl under the wood. A real bummer. I removed all the vinyl under the refrigerator and the stove while I had them out and will have to deal with the rest later. No time or energy left. The kitchen looks horrible with old vinyl with mastic, but it is a renovation/construction project.

John or Rob with regard to the slc, I need more info, Your talking with a novice. SLC = self leveling compound. I‘d like to believe this is magic, foo foo dust that I throw on the floor and sprinkle with water an it sets up as a level floor, but somehow I have my doubts. I don’t see anything in Johns book on slc so my only option is to ask. I am sure there is a forum or thread on this somewhere already you can refer me to, so I can study up. I need a detailed description of the process, and I need to understand the timing. Do I do this as part of the tile setting or is this a separate step? I don’t plan to begin setting tile until October 13th or 14th so I have time and can do this in advance if possible. I am also going to paint the walls before setting tile. Will paint affect the slc if it gets splattered before tiling? Last, if I used slc will I be called a mud guy? For God sakes don't refer to me as a mud packer like the guy from toronto!

John Bridge
09-03-2001, 04:46 PM
I thought "Mud Packer" was a pretty neat name. I've changed it, though, at the request of the recipient (Ron).

Jim (flatfloor) Buckley is a manufacturer of slc (self-leveling concrete). He should 'splain it to you. Generally, though, it's very soupy. You pour it on the floor, push it around a little and it sort of finds its own level and smooths things out.

Again, if I were you I would merely mix my thin set just a little stiff and start setting tile.

There are quite a few things I didn't cover in the book. I signed a contract for 144 pages (sort of a pamphlet) and pushed it up to 226. The editors would not allow me any more space.

Rob Z
09-03-2001, 08:02 PM
Hi Bill

I'll ask jim B to stop by for an expert's take on this one.

Here's what I do when using SLC (which is rare, because I am following in John's footsteps and trying to become a mud man. I mud most floors, but would definately use SLC on yours because of the size and elevation issues.)

I consider SLC's to be magic potions that you have to use spells and witchcraft to get to work. I have a hard time accepting that a concrete product can be as wet as the typical SLC is and still work. But that's another story.

If you are going to use a SLC, follow the MFR's instructions to the letter. I use a heavy duty drill that has the rpm's they ask for, I use a measuring cup for the liquid and a watch for the exact number of seconds for mixing and slaking. I apply the primer in two coats exactly as prescribed, and clean the slab before hand with a mop and shop vac.

Plug up all openings and dam all the doorways and other openings cos the stuff will flow everywhere.

The brands I have used with great success are Ardex and Custom. I have never had a failure with either of these brands.

Let me get Jim over here. In the meantime read the propaganda on his site and over at Ardex.



I'll be back after Jim has had his say.


09-04-2001, 08:56 AM
Looks like I have 3 options.

1) Do nothing and lay tile over the old thin set.
2) Remove the thin set
3) Use an SLC to go over the thin set.

Under Option 2:
I talked with the rental shop and they have a rotary scarifier which I understand will take off the thin set and at least an 1/8 inch of concrete. Might be too aggressive. They also have a surface grinder with a disc which they claim is "aggressive enough" and will remove the thin set, and will also eat into the concrete if allowed to sit in one place to long. The Rental shop (NSS Rental) is pushing the EDCO surface grinder. They also have a scaler specific to removing the sheet vinyl and for $50 per day seems like a bargain. It will take me 4 or 5 hours and lots of blisters to manually remove the sheet vinyl with a hand held scaler.

Under Option 3:
I have reviewed the info at Ardex but don't really know where to start. They have a number of products but it isn’t obvious which one I should really study up on, so I hope the "expert" can make some recommendations.

Truly, I am leaning towards Option 1, with some thoughts toward option 2. With another 1/2 days work I can get rid of most if not all of the thin set. To this novice, it just seems like it will save me a lot of time and trouble when I go to set the new tile if I start with a clean substrate. I have reserved the equipment for option 2 for next Saturday but still have plenty of time to cancel between now and then.

Bud Cline
09-04-2001, 09:48 AM
If you choose the Ardex product you want the K-15 I think. I wouldn't go that route in this case.

I think the rental company is simply trying to disclaim any resposibility if you damage you concrete slab. YOU WON'T.

Most tool rental company's have no experience at using some of the tools they rent so they rely on the propaganda disbursed by the tool manufacturers. Therefore they think those machines will do everything the manufacturers say they will. They won't.

Use the scarifier, you'll know when your into the slab. Keep the floor swept and vacuumed so you can see what your doing. It will work.

To remove a full 1/8" of your slab accidently would be a helluva lot of work my friend, you couldn't possibly do it without knowing it, so forget that nonsense.

09-04-2001, 03:52 PM
First, lets use the proper technical terms, it is not Foo-Foo it is Pixie Dust.

This is a seperate step from installing the tile, you should actually wait 24 hours before installing the tile although you can actually walk on it in 4 hours. I would paint after the slc is down but use a drop cloth and clean up any spills immediately. I say this because I don't want to see you trying to scrub paint off a scarified floor. I would pour the slc Oct 6 & 7. I say 6 & 7 because the floor should be primed the day before the slc goes down, do it just before you go to bed and stay off it as much as possible the next day.

Keep in mind I am not advocating which option you choose this material is not che.. er inexpensive. OK lets start.

09-04-2001, 03:57 PM
Bear with me, some of this post is in a Word document which I suddenly cannot copy and paste here. The document could not be registered and now Bill Gates is preparing to install MS office which has been on this computer for 3 years and I want to see him do it without the CD AArrrrrrrrgh! I shall return.

Bud Cline
09-04-2001, 09:07 PM
Jim I don't want to get off topic but I also have "Office" I'm told but I'll be damned if I can find it. If you have any luck tell me about it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

09-05-2001, 12:10 PM
Equipment you will need:
We recommend Bon Tool http://www.bontool.com
Epoxy Mixer (egg beater type) part # 12-851-B7 $13.40
Epoxy Spreader 24" part # 12-689-B7 $26.95
Epoxy Finisher 14" part # 14-915-B8 $26.50
TOTAL $66.85 plus UPS freight

2 clean 30 gal plastic garbage pails, one for mixing, and one as a water reservoir
Garden hose to replenish reservoir
plastic drop cloth for mixing area
1/2" heavy-duty electric drill
Soft bristle push broom for applying primer
Small plastic pail capable of holding and measuring enough water to mix 2 bags of material, 12 to 14 qts. Depending on mfr. You can avoid measuring water each time you mix by filling the bucket to the appropriate level, marking the level with an indelible marker and drilling a few holes in the bucket at the level.
Old sneakers for stepping in the slc, if your careful you won't have too.

Three people, two mixing, one spreading.

Make sure two of the people are capable of lifting 100 + lbs. of wet cement are doing the mixing and pouring; a small dolly might be handy.

Try to grind or scarify as many high spots off as you can, don't go crazy with this, as it will defeat the whole purpose of using slc.

Since you sound like you have done a credible job of cleaning, give it one last vacuuming and use the broom to apply the primer, you will need two coats the first one will be absorbed very rapidly, then apply the second. Don't leave any puddles. Let it dry overnight.

Set the spreader to about 1/8" above the high point. The spreader has runners on it which are adjustable.

Buy more material than you think you will need maybe 3 bags.

Keep in mind that slc is approximately the consistency of a cake or pancake batter. make sure all areas where you don't want it to go are sealed off. If you find it going someplace it shouldn't throw a handful of dry slc into the opening.

Fill your water resevoir and open all the bags you think you need, the goal is to mix and pour continuously.

Read the mfrs instructions again and start mixing and pouring. Don't cement yourself into a corner.

Use the spreader to distribute the material and the finisher to smooth off, this is sort of by eye, but do NOT NOT NOT overwork the material, it will do the job mostly by itself, one pass with the finisher should be adequate. Due to wet cement catching light reflections and areas that do not catch light you may think you have lumps where you don't, trust the material, this is very important. Another caution, do not attempt to "work" the material once it loses its wet look, you will end up with a mess.

Since I don't know your elevations, lets assume you will need 40 bags of material, based on that the total time for this phase should take you no more than two hours.

Material should run approximately $25 to $32 per bag, with the Ardex K-15 at the high end. We do not distribute in Florida but Custom probably does.

Very important, make sure you have some wine, beer or some such to watch the Pixie Dust work. You are done!

09-05-2001, 12:18 PM
Bud, Office 97 contains Word, Excel, Outlook,Publisher, and small Biz Financial manager.

I finally got back to this, guess what, every thing works. I shut down last night and rebooted, what do I know ? Maybe John or JC knows. Is there an icon for shrugged shoulders?

09-05-2001, 12:41 PM

Thank you for the information. Sounds like the slc is relatively easy to apply and your instructions are very thorough.

At this point it is unlikely that I will use the slc. I elected to remove the old tile because, among other reasons, I didn’t want to deal with elevation differences between adjacent rooms. Spending an additional several hundred bucks and ending up with the same elevation issues isn’t the way I want to go.

I am still undecided about leaving the thinset in place or using the scarifier to get rid of it. John makes a strong point that I can leave it in place but as a novice I am concerned with “ease” of installation. I think I have enough of a challenge for my 1st tile job using 18” tiles on diagonal with a border.

Down to two options and leaning towards the scarifier. Thanks for all the inputs; I’ll keep you updated!

09-05-2001, 01:29 PM
Glad to help Bill & Julie, the other guys will take over now, good luck. It's nice to know your options now rather than later. I'm sure your capable of a beautiful job.

09-08-2001, 04:49 PM
Here’s the short version.

1) Does anyone know anything about propane fueled engines and what to do when the regulator freezes?

2) Can I leave mastic and paper from sheet vinyl on the floor and set tile over it? (About 25 to 30% of the mastic and paper is still down.)

3) I’d like some advise on how to deal with this rental shop. I’ve already considered guns, and Amy won’t let me do that!

Here’s the long version!

Today I went to the rental shop at 7:30 AM (it opens at 8) to get a scarifier to remove the thinset and a tool to remove sheet vinyl.

When I talked to the service guy he said they didn't have a scarifier in today. Grrrrr. I explained that I had reserved it on Tuesday, bla, bla bla, like that got me anywhere. I ended up with a propane fueled high speed floor grinder with a diamond blade, against my own better judgement. Of course the grinder had just been returned and was being serviced so it wouldn’t be ready for an hour. I took the vinyl tool and went home and took up the sheet vinyl. There is still about 30% of the "mastic & paper backing" that did not come up after the second pass.

Does this have to come up?

I went back to the shop 2 hours later to pick up the floor grinder and waited another 30 minutes. I got the grinder home and the damn thing would not run. I called the shop and they said to bring it back. I took my time getting down there because I was pretty frustrated! They gave me another(exact same machine) and I brought it home. It is now 12:45 PM and the store closes at 1 PM on Sat. I decide to fire this machine up to make sure it works before I stop for lunch as I only have 15 minutes to call if there is a problem. The machine starts fine and seems to work okay. I decide to work for a few minutes since I have it up and running. About 20 minutes into the session I notice that I have lost about 99% of the efficiency. Crap, what now. I do several tests and see the blade is turning when I raise the front of the machine and can tell it is not when put it in the normal operating position. Grrrr I go try and call the shop and they are long gone for the day. I call 5 of the other 12 offices and no response and no answering machine. Now I am fuming!!!

I stop for lunch and give the thing some thought and decide there is a loose belt. After lunch I muck about and figure out how to tighten the belt and I am back in bidness.

When I start out again, the machine seems to run okay but the engine dies after about 10 to 15 minutes of work. AS the day goes on 10 to 15 gradually becomes less and less until I am now down to about 2 to 3 minutes. The diamond grinder blade works like a charm when the engine runs.

So getting more and more frustrated I decide it is time for a break. I have had a quart of Gatorade and taken Johns advise and stood and looked at the problem, and even sat and stared at it slightly side ways for a while. Then I notice the drip. Humm says I, what is dripping? Upon further investigation I find the second stage pressure regulator is going from a frozen state to a thawing state, thus dripping. So the problem is the regulator is freezing up.

Okay, so finally, does anybody know anything about propane fueled engines and what to do when a regulator freezes?

[Edited by Bill on 09-09-2001 at 05:02 PM]

Rob Z
09-08-2001, 08:27 PM

If even 1/10th of that would have happened to any of us, we'd have cussed and quit and headed for a 12 pack by noon. You are persistant!

Let me go and reread all this to see what's up with the mastic.


John Bridge
09-09-2001, 03:53 PM

I don't know anything about propane engines. I don't even know anything about car and truck engines anymore. Does the thing have any kind of a computer on it?

I routinely go over vinyl glue and paper backing that doesn't want to come up. Give it a water test. Let a small puddle of water lay on it for half an hour. If that doesn't loosen it or dissolve the glue, it's safe to go over it.

Of course, I'm the guy who doesn't worry about a little thin set left on the floor either . . . . :D

I guess it's ironic. The few delaminations I've suffered over the years have been on bare slabs and once over a terrazzo floor. You won't have any trouble.

Bud Cline
09-09-2001, 09:57 PM
Frozen regulator? Guesses, only guesses.

Wrong orifice (too small).

Clogged inline filter. (One of those tiny little guys that looks like a bunch of brass grains fused together.)

High humidity.

09-10-2001, 07:39 AM
I took the grinder back today and the shop didn't charge me for it.

They assured me they would have the scarifier next weekend. Having a day to cool off, I was able to explain that I would be looking for a rental company that provided equipment that worked, and a company that provided service to it's customers. Didn't burn any bridges but they know I was not happy.

When the machine did work it was pretty effective at removing the thin set. I did get the "high spots" knocked down and will follow John's advise and set tile over the rest of the thin set.

If I can get the pics digitized I'll send a few to John for posting.

I'll moving into the wall painting/base board stages for the next few weeks, but will be back with tile questions soon.

Thanks for all the help!

09-16-2001, 10:42 AM
Hi all:

I am still fighting a lot of dust from last weekends project.

I ran huge fans in the area, blew it down with a leaf blower 6 or 7 times, continued ventilation for hours. Since then I have wiped down all the walls, base boards, windows, etc. I have mopped the floors a couple of times and still am getting dust in the other parts of the house.

Is there an encapsulant that I can spray on the floor to lock down the fine dust and surface of the remaining mortar, that won't interfere with laying the new tile?

Thanks Bill

Rob Z
09-16-2001, 07:25 PM
Hi Bill

It seems to me that I read somewhere NOT to use sweeping compounds as these things will be bond breakers for thinset.

Before you go get a tub of the stuff from Home Depot, let's see if anyone else has heard of this.


09-17-2001, 01:15 PM
Right you are Rob, usually the sweeping compounds contain oils that will get into the surface. Try for plain old sawdust or just wet it down LIGHTLY as you go.

09-17-2001, 03:04 PM
Guess I wasn't real clear on my last post.

I removed the tile, well in advance of the time I am going to replace it because I have a full time job and this is a weekend only project. I am also going to paint all the walls prior to laying tile.

As such I have to live in a house with an empty room for a few weeks. I have cleaned the room several times, by blowing it down while moving massive amounts of air (the rest of the house sealed off) and by wet mopping all surfaces a couple of times.

Still I am finding dust through out the rest of the house. I assume I am kicking up dust while walking thru the room and the fine powder is being pulled through the AC system and deposited in the rest of the house.

If there is some type of encapsulant I can use to lock down the dust that won't interfere with the new thinset I'd like to try it. If not, I'll live in the dust!


John Bridge
09-17-2001, 03:15 PM

Close the register to that room and plug the space under the door. If no door, seal the opening with clear plastic.

Change your filter. (Duh.)

Also, if you've sucked a lot of dust through the system, you should vacumn the coils of the evaporator unit.

09-17-2001, 03:18 PM
Hi Bill
I hope I don't get yelled at for this...but you might try mixing some thin set, fairly wet, and skimming the entire floor with it. It will soak into the porous concrete, and help hold it together, reducing the amount of dusting off the surface. You'll end up with a great surface for tiling.


09-17-2001, 07:29 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. The room is in the middle of the house. I have to pass through to get from the bedroom to the kitchen/Family Room/Front Door. We sealed it off for the demo, but don't think I can convince Amy to go outside every time she wants to go to the kitchen, out to the car or to watch TV:-). Don't need those kind of domestic problems!

I have electrostatic filters in the A/C and I cleaned them last weekend after I finished the mortar removal. I have a HEPA filter running 24/7 in the bedrooms so they stay pretty clean. I cleaned the A/C coils two weeks before this project started because I had been negligent and allowed the drain line to become clogged with slim and of course soaked the carpet. Probably a good idea to do that again soon. Clean the coils not soak the carpet.

Bri: Thanks for the suggestion on thinset. Don't think I want that much work. Interesting idea though.

Guess I'll stick with the $4 rugs. If they can effectively hide a 10K tile job they can probably cover enough surface to keep the dust down for 3 more weekends.

Hasta la bye bye


09-21-2001, 02:20 PM
I need to order tile, thinset and grout and latex bonding agent.

I have 1250 sq ft of floor to tile, so I am ordering 1500 sq ft of tile, to account for the 15% extra needed for diagonal placement and the borders.

I asked two different suppliers for prices on thinset and latex.

One told me to mix 1 gal of latex per bag of thinset and the other told me to mix 50/50 (?). I guess he 50% latex to water.

One guy told me to order 28 bags of thinset and the other recommended 26. The issue with 26 or 28 bags only really matters if I have to order a gallon of latex for each bag of thinset.

So what is the proper way to mix the latex with the thinset?

Do I need 28 gallons, 5 gallons or some other amount?

09-21-2001, 04:12 PM
I'd leave the liquid latex in the store and buy polymer modified thin set. Just add water.


John Bridge
09-21-2001, 04:15 PM
Hi Bill,

For 1200 square feet I would figure about 20 sacks. I would start with 15 and work up from there. Of course, the thin set I buy is not returnable.

I've done it both ways and am convinced the modified thinset is the best value. I like the way it mixes also. Seems to me it has more "cling" than the admix version.

However, it takes more than a gallon of admix per sack of thinset, that's assuming a 100% deal, which is what all manufacturers recommend. I've watered it down before, but hey, we're not saving a lot of money that way and why compromise?

I would say you can mix 2-1/2 to 3 sacks with 5 gallons of latex (5-gallon buckets being the way to buy -- better price and you get the bucket to boot).

09-28-2001, 04:12 PM
I bought the tile and the thin set. The tile is the Marazzi, 18x18" off white "Isola". I bought a polymer modified thinset (Ultracrete). The price of the modified thinset worked out to about the same as the mixing the standard with latex if mixed as per the manufacture's instructions, so it seemed an obvious choice.

Total shipping weight was 6865 lbs. The $50 delivery charge seemed like a real bargain. They deliver to the drive and have a forklift to move it to the garage.

I still need to select the grout. This should also be a polymer modified? Do all grouts need to be sealed after install? Do you have any recommendations on sealers?

Install begins Oct 15th, so ya'all will see lotsa questions tween now and then.

John Bridge
09-28-2001, 04:23 PM
Hey Bill,

Hope we see lots of pictures, too.

Most grouts these days are modified. They can still be sealed. A few of us around here recommend Aquamix products. It's the only thing they do. They don't make sheetrock, for example.


09-30-2001, 07:18 AM
I'll be taking my digital camera, so we promise lots of pics.

John Bridge
09-30-2001, 05:16 PM

Instructions for how to post the pics are in the FAQ at the top right corner of the page, but if you have any questions, please email me.


10-29-2001, 01:09 PM
The tile installation is done. I'll post pictures as soon!

My entire team, Julie, Joan, Amy and myself want to thank you for all your support and patience during this project. Your technical knowledge was indispensable but more importantly your enthusiasm and encouragement made the difference between "thinking" about a project and "completing" a project.

Many thanks!!!

10-29-2001, 05:14 PM
Yes, your ears were probably burning the entire week. Bill and I referred to this thread often. Also, John your book had a lot of good info as well. We couldn't have done it without you all! THANKS.

P.S. I am moving soon and we are going to look for a house with lots of old yucky linoleum and needs to be replaced with tile. If I'm lucky I'll get to try tiling the bathroom walls around the tub in the next house too! You'll be hearing from me again.

John Bridge
10-29-2001, 05:30 PM
I'm so glad we were able to help you folks. And I'll tell you, we got the best end of the deal. It's been fun, and we're looking forward to your next project. Send the pics and I'll have them up here tomorrow afternoon.


Rob Z
10-29-2001, 09:02 PM
Looking forward to seeing those pics!

John Bridge
10-31-2001, 03:59 PM
I made a directory for these pics and then locked myself and everyone else out of it. Help, Dave!

Anyway, I'll just post them here. They make take time to load, but they are worth the wait.

I'll tell you, it's a good looking crew (excluding Bill, of course) :D

Julie, Bill and Joan

Seems the administrator has dictated that I can't post all the pics in one post. Please see follwing post. Who the hell is "administrator," anyway?

[Edited by John Bridge on 10-31-2001 at 06:06 PM]

John Bridge
10-31-2001, 03:59 PM



Excellent looking workmanship, wouldn't y'all say? Great job, crew. I don't know the young lady in the final picture.


10-31-2001, 04:03 PM
Congratulations on a great job! One question tho, is that cat now a permanent attachment to the floor?

10-31-2001, 06:28 PM
John & Jim:

Thanks for the kind words. That Black cat is Boo! He's an old guy but he's still quick enough that he didn't get stuck in the thinset.

The gal in the last picture is Amy. She not only pitched in on the tile installation but she has been patient and tolerant of the entire project beginning on Labor day and finishing, well we'll post the official finish when it happens. As you can see she was busily working herself into a corner in that picture.

Abby was found in the picture with the two good looking members of the crew. She's the furry one in the middle.

I mentioned before how much we all appreciated your help, assistance and encouragement. I'll echo that again here.

I also want to say a BIG thanks to those two attractive helpers, my sisters Julie and Joan. These two ladies (and I do mean ladies) worked my tail off. The hard work was valuable but the real benefit was their positive attitudes, sense of humor and dedication to making sure the job was done and we all had fun doing it. I thank God I didn't have to pay them a salary commensurate with their value.

John Bridge
11-01-2001, 05:31 AM
It's a good looking job. The transitions came out really well.

I particularly like the shot of the master bedroom, but Bill, do you think you could spare a few bucks for a new bedspread?

11-01-2001, 11:07 AM
Err...would you believe it tore during the project. Ah well never mind.

How about, if the headboard and foot board where there you'd never see the bed spread.

Not buying that either. Okay, okay a new bedspread it is.
I would hate to have anything distract from that beautiful tile work.

Bud Cline
11-01-2001, 12:57 PM
Great looking job guys....feels pretty good doesn't it?

11-10-2001, 06:41 PM
I began to re-install bi-fold doors and discovered that I was wrong when I estimated that the bottom brackets would attach to footer above the tile. Now I need to cut a notch in the tile.

I bought a "Remgrit" tungsten carbide 1 1/4" hole saw hoping to drill a series of holes that would provide enough room to attach the bottom brackets. The endorsement claims, "Carbide grit cutting edge easily cuts holes in ceramic tile, fiberglass, marble and slate."

Not my tile! I was not able to complete a single hole.
I also bought a tile cutting bit for my dremel, another $10 bucks but don't really want to burn it up too, if it's not going to cut the tile.

Any other suggestions?

John Bridge
11-10-2001, 06:49 PM

All the bifold door brackets I've come in contact with attach either to the floor or the door jamb (vertical surface). I don't really know what you mean, but I assure you, there is no reason to cut into the floor tile.

Is it possible the doors need to be shortened?

Rob Z
11-10-2001, 06:49 PM
Hi Bill

Porcelain tile is pretty hard to cut or drill, as you have discovered.

Can you cut the bottom of the doors to shorten them, and install the brackets on top of the tile? The brackets can be screwed into the door jamb.


11-10-2001, 08:01 PM

If the doors had plenty (excessive even) clearance above the previous floor (common), it is sometimes possible to cut only the portion of the outside doors that is above the pivot hardware (depending upon hardware style, of course) and raise the hardware above new finished floor.

Some doors won't tolerate it, but it actually makes a nice fit when it works.

Otherwise, still plenty easy to cut the bottoms (or tops) of all the doors and re-drill for the pivots.

Bud Cline
11-10-2001, 09:57 PM
All bottom brackets I have ever seen attach to the jambsides. They are "L" brackets.

There is then a metal pivot post that threads into a nylon bushing in the bottom of the door. These threads are the up/down adjustment for the door.

The "L" then also has a left/right adjustment, but this "L" doesn't have to touch the floor to work.

John is correct that there is no reason to penetrate the tile.

The bits sold for use in Dremel type rotary tools to cut tile are only for wall type tiles with a soft back. They won't last too long cutting soft tile and won't touch hard or porcelain floor tile.

There is also a diamond coated bit available but I can't see it lasting in porcelain either so I've never paid the price.

If you do cut the doors (at the bottom) be sure to remove the nylon bushing first, you may then have to re-drill the hole to make it deeper. Don't laugh, I've cut off a few of those nylon bushings over the years getting in a hurry.

John Bridge
11-11-2001, 08:28 AM
A week ago I cut off the brass floor bolt on an entry door with my brand new undercut saw. I wondered where all the brass shavings were coming from.

11-11-2001, 08:46 AM
It seems you all have a good understanding of bi-fold doors and how they attach. These are no exception. There is a L-bracket which attaches on the side (vertical surface). In most situations that would be a door jamb.

In this case I have hand plastered walls. They have a 2x4 bottom plate 2x4 and are hard plaster above that. The door is recessed about 6" from the corner so I don't have access to the corner structure. The new floor elevation is too high to attach to the bottom plate without removing some tile. I am positive the plaster wall is not durable enough to support the L-bracket.

I considered scabbing in a piece of lumber but it could only be about 3/8 thick to fit in the gap between the tile and bottom plate and that is probably not strong enough either.

Somehow I need to cut out a small section of tile "in place". I sure don't want to have to pull this tile and re-cut the entire piece.

This goes into my "lessons learned" files which is going to pretty fat when this job is in the bag :-).

John Bridge
11-11-2001, 09:01 AM

Get longer screws. Go through the plaster into the studs. There are two of them together on both sides of the opening.

Repeat: Do not carve out the tile.

11-11-2001, 09:43 AM

I am BEGGING you not to cut the tile!!! The idea of longer screws sounds like a good one. WOuld some kind of anchor help?

Any decision yet on the baseboard?

Our packers come tomorrow so I will be out of touch for a while. Washington, DC here we come!

Bud Cline
11-11-2001, 10:41 AM
The possibility exists that three inches back from the corner there are no studs in the wall at that location.

There will however be a "bottom plate" of wood, (or should be) that is part of the wall structure, this is the member the wall studs rest on.

The "L" can still sit on the floor leaving a gap between the "L" and the door bottom for the pivot adjuster pin that threads into the door bottom.

I would now consider drilling new holes in the verticle leg of the "L". Drill these holes in a location that would allow long screws to pass thru the plaster and penetrate the bottom plate in the wall.

Ideally the screws should penetrate the bottom plate near the center. But where exactly is the center at this point?.

You would want to allow for the cumulative thicknesses of the tile, sub-tile surface, and maybe some additional subfloor material, so the screws would have to be directed in a downward fashion to assure they will hit the bottom plate.

In addition some adhesive could be used on the wall. If construction adhesive is used and allowed to dry a few days, this should work.

Altering (damaging) the new floor tile precludes the installation of a different style door in the future. It's a lot easier to repair the wall surface than it is to repair the gouged floor tile.

Rob Z
11-11-2001, 11:03 AM

There are many types of fasteners that can be drilled into and secured into plaster or drywall, even if there are no framing members behind. A trip to Home Depot will help you find one that will work for your application.

Since the weight of the door is holding things down, and since the door is only pivoting on that bracket, it won't need to be as secure as if you were hanging book shelves on the wall.

When you cut the bottom of the door off (if they are hollow core doors), then you may end up with no bottom rail left in the door. If so, you will have to remove the skin of the door panel of the rail filler material and glue it back in. This is a piece of cake if you have access to a table saw. Let us know if there is a gap in the bottom of the doors after you cut them, and we'll help you get them fixed.


Where are you moving to in DC? I live in Northern VA. Maybe we'll be neighbors!


11-11-2001, 01:24 PM
I was able to raise 3 of the 4 doors without much trouble. The one I started with, was still a problem because there was no lumber in the wall where I needed to set the L-bracket. I cut out a section of the plaster and inserted a piece of 2x4 about 6 inches long and set it with 4" screws on angle. I then had a solid structure to secure the L-bracket. I was able to fill the gap with plaster repair material. The final door is now up.

Sure have to agree with you guys on the point not trying to cut the tile!

11-11-2001, 01:35 PM
Hey Julie (All):

As you can now see I didn't (couldn't) cut the tile.

I finally gave up looking at base boards and HD and Lowes. All there Material was terrible. It's all bowed because they stand it up to save space. I looked at several sticks at each location and EVERY SINGLE one was damaged in one way or another.

Yesterday I went to 3 lumber yards and found much better materials AND all 3 were cheaper than HD or Lowes and all 3 will deliver the materials at no charge!!!! I narrowed it down to 2. Both are 5 1/4" x 9/16. Only Slight variations between them and I think I will go with the more simple pattern.

I will have it delivered some time this week. Will prime and paint Thursday evening and Friday evening and install next weekend (I hope).

John Bridge
11-11-2001, 04:18 PM

You really had us going there, buddy. I knew all along you weren't contemplating cutting into the tile. You sure had us going, though. ;)

Julie D
11-23-2001, 07:26 PM
Hi everyone,

Bill glad you got the baseboard - am sure by this time it's all installed and looking great.

Rob, we are moving to the Northern Virginia area. My husband (military type)and I are heading that way next week to narrow down the possiblities. Woodbridge or Manassas areas looking pretty good right now. We'd like the Fairfax area (shorter commute) but that's pretty pricey for lowly government employees! I am hoping for a "fixer-upper". I'd hate for all this newfound knowledge to go to waste!

John, sorry about the duplicate profile. It's been so long since I've had access to a computer (process of moving) that I forgot my password and my e-mail address has changed. I couldn't find a way to get my old password -so I started over.

Rob Z
11-23-2001, 08:26 PM
Hi Julie

Welcome to NoVA! You'll love the traffic!

I don't live far from Manassas. If I can be of any help, or give any advice or answer any Q's you have, don't hesitate to call.

Is your hubby going to work at the Pentagon?


Julie D
11-24-2001, 07:18 AM
Hi Rob,

Looks like we'll be neighbors. I can't wait to go looking for houses. Most people want move-in condition, I want lots of linoleum (hate it - love tile) and old yucky walls (like to paint too!) and an unfinished basement. And of course, if I find my "dream" house, I'll be back with LOTS of questions!

We've been enjoying the tiny town we lived in since we knew we'd be heading to the big city and the traffic. People here think there's traffic if you're 3rd in line for the light.

The other half will not supposed to be working in the Pentagon but in Crystal City, however, he doesn't report there until April and you never know what will change between now and then.

John Bridge
11-24-2001, 04:28 PM
One of my older brothers tells a story about the town he went to high school in -- Kent, Washington.

You know how when you enter a small town, they usually have a sign listing the elevation and population? Well in Kent they had a group picture. No traffic jams.

Rob Z
11-24-2001, 04:36 PM
Lots of Navy types in Crystal City.

Happy house hunting!

11-25-2001, 07:45 PM

Baseboard shopping was fun. The style I bought was 1.24/Lf at HD & 1.28/Lf @ Lowes. Found it for 0.99/Lf, then 0.89/Lf at two successive lumber yards and then bought it at 0.60/L at 84 Lumber. Great price poor service. The lumber was supposed to be at the yard in 24 hours but it took 8 days. On the upside since it was a "special order" then had to buy 24 pieces and they didn't want to keep the 8 extra so they just threw it on my truck. I ended up with 384 LF.

I spent most evenings last week priming with 2 coats of Benjamin Moore primer then two coats of BM "super white" enamel. I spent all day Sat & Sun installing baseboard. I am about 95 % complete with the initial install, with detail work remaining around 3 sliding glass doors and then all the "finish work" including spackling the nail holes and caulking the joints, gaps etc.

Had hoped this project would be finished by Thanksgiving, now Xmas, or New years. Way to much project creep.

John Bridge
11-26-2001, 03:47 PM
What's really great is getting a new major project going before you've finished the previous one. Three projects at once are even more fun. [Quit hitting me, Patti. I'm just kidding.]

12-12-2001, 02:08 PM
Hey John, did somebody tell you 'bout those new Decora outlets and switches?

On a more serious note, I am plenty disappointed with the "color matched sanded caulk" I used in the expansion joints. I haven't even finished caulking all the joints because I wanted to see how this stuff worked and have not liked it a bit.

It remains "tacky" after 3 to 4 weeks and attracts dog hair like metal filings to a magnet. The stuff continues to track out of the joint onto the edge of the adjoining tiles. Very slight amounts, but it gives the appearance that the joint space is getting wider all the time. It also looks dirty as the joint gets wider.

The caulk was made by the same company who made the grout (Mapei - I believe) and the tube indicates it is to be used indoor for expansion joints and sealing.

Can I caulk in most of the joint and fill the top 1/4 to 1/8 with grout? Other options?

Bud Cline
12-12-2001, 03:15 PM
Bill you've got some bad caulk there for some reason. The problems you describe are not typical especially if it has Mapei's name on it. You should talk to your supplier.

You won't be able to grout over the caulk because the caulk will continue to cure/dry and receed somewhat over time.

Seriously, contact Mapei, I would bet they wouldn't want that stuff on the market or in the hands of consumers.

John Bridge
12-12-2001, 03:46 PM
Don't get me started, Bill. I just finished the dresser I started building a couple years ago, the drywall is coming apart in my master bath, nine-tenths of the interior of the house needs paint, there is some screen work to be done, the back yard looks like a sanitary fill . . . Don't get me started.

Bud's right. We wouldn't tell you about the sanded caulking if it wasn't good stuff. I've never personally used the Mapei, but I understand their products will keep pace with the other major brands. Call the rep and have him come out and show you how good the stuff is. If the rep won't come, give us his/her name and we'll slander him/her all over the Internet. (No, we won't, I guess. :D)

Rob Z
12-12-2001, 04:08 PM

The new title is great. You are the envy of all the DIY'ers in the shallow end!

I have used Colorfast sanded caulk, for what that's worth. It works pretty well, and matches great.

Dave Ashton (one of our regulars) just had a nightmarish caulking story...it turns out that the caulk had been frozen (probably) before it was sold to him. The caulk seemed to turn to goo after a few weeks and ran into the shower like a slimy blob. He sent me pictures, and it wasn't pretty.

12-13-2001, 01:14 PM

I appreciate the input and will see if I can talk with a Mapei Rep futher about this. I have two grout lines running diagonally thru my living room dining room area that are each about 25' long. I'll live with them "open" before I deal with this mess any further.

Happy Holidays to all of the Pro's who helped with this project and to all the DIY'ers!


Bud Cline
12-13-2001, 04:21 PM
Hey Bill, you and yours, have a Happy Holiday Season.