New Project Question [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : New Project Question

01-19-2003, 05:08 PM
Hello Tile Pros. I am a potential newbie tile laying weekend warrior seeking some advice. I have been lurking recently looking at older posts gathering some insight. Here is my quest.

I want to tile a T shaped area. Approximately 700 sf.
I have entry hall that leads into kitchen. This portion is over basement. The kitchen is open then into family room which is on slab. So kitchen and family room is top of the T.
Currently linoleum in hall and kitchen. They are over an unfinished basement. 2x12 16" center floor joists. About 30 ft span from front door to backside of kitchen. Split in 15 foot spans with metal beam support in the middle. Floor joists have the little X shaped wood support boards in the middle of each span to keep from warping I suppose.
11/32 OSB flooring glued and nailed with some type of thin backer board over it that the linoleum is glued to. Carpet in family room.

We are looking at 16x16 unglazed porcelain tile at Lowes. (Rialto Italian? same type comes in 12x12 and 6x6)

OK sorry on the long description but wanted lay out background information.

Questions (1st battery)

1. I am guessing that I need to remove the linoleum and existing thin backerboard and glue/nail new 1/2" backerboard to kitchen/hall for floor support and to concrete slab to level it with kitchen and to bring the wood portion to about 1 1/8 thickness.

Does this sound right? Or do I not need to add to floor thickness?
I said glue but I think I've read thinset.

2. Am I going with overkill with porcelain PEI 5? I cannot find any information on this tile on internet to see ratings other than PEI.
I want a heavy floor to withstand dropping stuff on it and breaking chipping. This tile is colored through.

3. Mortor. Salesperson suggested ultra flex 2 mortor. And that I would get about 60sf per 20 dollar bag. Is this good stuff and is coverage about right?

4. Saw. The earlier recommended wet saw (TM-75) it was mentioned can handle up to about 12x12. Is there one recommended to handle 16" tile in a single rip? Also with a flip up sliding tray to allow free hand trimmings. Lowes had one for $600 (QEP 60060) and recommended a $75 buck diamond saw blade with has small cuts in the blade about every 3 inches or so and claimed it would help keep the blade cool and last much longer.

5. Am I asking too many questions on my 1st post? If so I apologize.

Derek in Omaha, NE

Sponsored Links

01-19-2003, 07:03 PM
Lets start with your floor configuration. we need the infamous BB camp computer here. with a 15' span, we are definitly going to have to do some beefing up of this floor. Lets see what bob has to say. Hold back on those reins just a lil while longer OK :)

01-19-2003, 07:16 PM
Todd, have you seen the Deflect-O-Lator ( It's only in beta version, but it could be used to check that floor. :)

01-19-2003, 07:20 PM
OK, after checking the deflectometer,it says you are marginally good for ceramic tile as far as your joists go.
You have 1 layer of 1/2" OSB and while we like to see a plywood subfloor is the 3/4" range for a first layer.I believe we at least need to get a good stiff plywood layer on your floor.
My reccomendation is to remove your Vinyl and underlayment.And install a layer of 3/4" Exterior grade Plywood due to the large format tile.To this you can add a 1/4" CBU -Utilicrete is a good one.
As far as Ultraflex 2 goes.It is a good product and your coverage will be closer to 50 s/f per bag with a 3/8" notch trowel and a thin buttering on the back of each tile.Mapei makes a Morter one step above this called Kerabond/keralastic and it is as good as it gets.
Ultraflex will be just fine for residential use though.

Porcelain is an excellant product and there is no such thing as overkill.It is always a good idea to get the best you can afford when dealing with something that will be there for the life of the structure.

QEP is in my opinion plastic junk and i find it hard to believe they have the audacity to ask 600.00 for the product. Avoid segmented blades with a tile saw.whoever gave you this information is dead wrong.
I have put in 16" tiles with a saw rated for 12's and had no trouble at all.Perhaps a Felker FTS150 would be appropriate without getting to spendy. A tilemaster will do the larger tiles that much easier but i believe the price differance may put you off. A good 4" grinder with a diamond blade will also be helpful.

Keep asking questions . and we'll do our best to keep answering them and get you through your project like a pro. Todd

John Bridge
01-19-2003, 07:30 PM
Hi Derek, Welcome.

I think you mentioned gluing backer board to the concrete. That would not be the thing to do. If you need to bring the concrete up to a higher level, you'll have to use something that contains portland cement, either deck mud or self-leveling cement, depending on how much fill you need.

01-19-2003, 07:52 PM
The problem is the backerboard has no structural strength,and 1 layer of 1/2" OSB isnt going to cut it. The 3/4" Plywood after removing the 1/4" Underlayment and vinyl should bring you to about 1/8"over the concrete. Now adding the 1/4" CBU on top of that you are 3/8" Higher than the existing cement. AN SLC poured in this area will bring everything to level Plus, give you a nice flat level slab.Your existing concrete is not perfect i'm sure.
Now while this gives us a cold joint where the slc and the cbu meet, a small piece of antifracture membrane will take care of that.

01-19-2003, 08:35 PM
OK, Great. Thanks for the welcome and feedback.

After getting rid of existing flooring, 3/4 exterior grade plyboard nailed with ringed roofing nails. Then 1/4 Utilicrete, thinset and nailed. Gotcha on the concrete. Should I thinset the plyboard to the OSB? Or just nail?

This really gives me a direction to think on my material.

On the saw I was looking at the FTS-150 after I found other postings related to the quality of QEP. Found one at tile-saw for $560 + shipping seems to be decent price. But I will shop around some more.

The concrete is about 16ftx16ft square with three air vents in it. So self leveling cement would probably be best.
So once I get the slab floated it does not require any board, just adhere the tiles to it. OK. That will save me some plyboard laying too.

Thanks for the replies. This will probably be an early spring job but plan to start hoarding material and LEARNING/READING and checking this forum often beforehand.

BTW, In the hallway there is 9x8 laundry room, 1/2 bath and closet.

Also going to take a little 4 hour beginner course at local community college. Just to see what they can offer on trowling out the thinset and such.

Again Thanks!


01-20-2003, 08:55 AM
Be sure to cmon back and ask more questions Derek. Try to keep everything on this thread(it will make things easier for us.Please go to the library and read about SLC ok :)

01-20-2003, 12:27 PM
11/32 OSB is about 3/8" thick. Is the 11/32 a typo?

Any plywood nailed over plywood does not need thinset, although you may want to use a construction adhesive.

The gist of the advice is to get the framed floor up to snuff, then raise the concrete to the same level.

01-20-2003, 01:02 PM
bbcamp, the 11/32 OSB must be a typo.....otherwise the floor would be something akin to a trampoline.:D

If this was my house, I would take up that OSB and start fresh from the floor joists with 5/8" or thicker T&G Sturd-I-Floor plywood. The actual thickness of the floor plywood depending upon matching the kitchen finish floor with the finished floor in the family room with the minimum amount of work on raising the height of the concrete slab.

Besides disliking the idea of tiling on top of OSB:(, you have to consider the amount of space that the kitchen cabinet toe-kicks will have after you are finished. Toe-kicks should have about 3.5" of space above the finished floor.

Also, I would go with the 12x12 tiles. For a DIYer they would be much, much easier to work with. Like Todd said, back buttter the tiles with an adhesive towel.

As for the tile saw, you might want to rent one. You will want to dry tile the layout and so your cutting will be 1 day or so.

01-20-2003, 02:04 PM
I'm almost done with a project using 16"by 16" stone tiles in a diagonal pattern, which I cut using a tiny little $100.00 FTS-50. This saw is only "rated" at 12 inch tiles.

What I did:

1)Throw away the little plastic fence and "guide". They bind up and are hard to use.

2)mark your cuts with a pencil and guide them in freehand, it's actually very easy to do.

3)build up a pile of tile behind the saw until it is level with the cutting surface. As you cut, the tile being cut will be supported by this pile of tile.

As for that special blade you can forget that. Even when cutting a diagonal bevel cut (22.5 inches long, .75 inches deep) my blade barely got warm. As long as there is water flowing over the blade it will stay cool.

gratuitous tired saw picture:

01-20-2003, 05:31 PM
Sorry about the confusion on the flooring.
Just got home from work.

It is 19/32" Potlatch Oxboard APA rated sturdifloor. (??)
I said OSB, it looks like oriented strand to me. But aint a wood expert.

Problem is I have two other rooms carpeted over the basement ajoining the opening off the hallway, set of stairs beside the hallway and one door entry from kitchen into carpeted dining room I prefer not want to touch.
The house is a basic two story with unfinished basement. About 900 SF on each story then the family room is on slab even with 1st floor.
Cabinet toe kicks are at 4 1/2 inches right now.

SLC is self leveling concrete. ? Still working on acronyms.

Aaron, thanks for the saw input. I will keep that in mind as well.


01-20-2003, 05:40 PM
Derek, you will have to add some plywood and then some 1/4" CBU. Toe-kick height is not an issue. Buy a cheap $70 tile saw.....who knows you may do some more tile work in the future. Still think you should use 12x12 tile.:)

01-20-2003, 05:48 PM
Pete, Is the 19/32 I mentioned OK or, marginal or not recommended for subfloor?


01-20-2003, 06:34 PM
There really is no need to back butter a 12x12 tile . A 16x16 on the other hand a light back butter will insure proper amount of mud.
I saw the 11/32 but considered it a mistake.i have never ever seen a first layer of flooring below 1/2". yours however is closer to 5/8".
SLC= Self leveling cement.

Garret has some very good recomendations as to dry laying your tile.Gridding the floor and double and triple checking your grids will accomplish the same thing. All your cuts can be made before you set trowel to floor .This is helpful when renting a saw.If you plan to take your time doing this and or have more tile work to do,purchasing would be best. Save your packaging material, clean the saw up ice and sell it on ebay when you are through!!

Ok now with the change lets do
5/8" exterior plywood over the OSB.Thinset 1/4" utilicrete over thisYou should then be able to get away with aproximatly a 1/4" SLC pour for remaining area.Figure 22-23 s/f per 50# bag for coverage unless your concrete has alot of valleys in it. (check the floor with a straightedge. Now you have a fully prepared floorarea all at the same height and flat.
ou could also consider pouring the entire area with SLC eliminating the 1/4" utilicrete.For this you would need additional SLC and 2.5 galvanized wire lathe stapled to the plywood.

01-20-2003, 07:10 PM
Derek, 19/32 is marginal. I would glue and screw some more plywood down (3/8"). Then go with 1/4" CBU. While tileguytodd doesn't think back-buttering 12x12 is necessary, I suggest that if you are a newbie tile setter that you do it. If you want to know why, please ask.

01-20-2003, 07:15 PM

Thanks for reply. I think I get the basic drift now that you folks have been kind enough to respond to my questions.
I will digest it all, talk to the boss (wife) do some more measuring, thinking and deciding on the job.
Will get back with ya'll.
And I am absolutely sure I will have more questions. ;)

Thanks Again,


01-20-2003, 07:23 PM
Sorry Pete G. I posted while you were.

On the 12" buttering issue I am guessing since I am rookie that the extra butter is to compensate for inadequate mortor on floor at initial trowling. But please let me know.

This is my attempt to gather as much knowledge as I can. As for us, me & wife, this is very large and expensive undertaking.


01-21-2003, 05:52 AM
Derek, an additional aspect you might want to consider is using another floor covering in the family room, such as a floating hardwood floor. That way you have more freedom as to floor height because the two wouldn't have to match on the "T" and from an interior design perspective might also be better. Keep all of your options open and don't let the tail wag the dog.:D

01-21-2003, 07:29 AM
While a wood floor may look nice,I was under the impresson we were doing a tilefloor throughout.
I would not discourage the use of a wood floor,but seeing as this is a tile forum,i'll just say that
"a tile floor installed properly is at minimum 3 times more cost effective thn any other type of flooring on the market"

Theres my 2 cents :)

01-21-2003, 07:49 AM

Where did you get this quote: "a tile floor installed properly is at minimum 3 times more cost effective thn any other type of flooring on the market".

01-21-2003, 08:08 AM
Well garrett i cant be certain because i remember it from a long time ago. It may have been in Flooring Magazine or it may have been in a floorstar retailers quarterly.The figure was used by retailers for many many years and first came to me in about 81 or 82(see, now you went and made me date myself)

If you think about it though lets use the cost of a vinyl like sundial solarian cost in 82 about 4.00 per yard. About a 10 year floor
20 yards 100.00 with incidentals 10 years later that same floor was 15.00 per yard 20 yards 350.00 with incidentals now this year that floor will run you about 20.00 per yard 450.00 with incidentals.Thats 900.00 in 21 years.
180 s/f of tile& materials back in 82 260.00 or so. that floor properly installed would still look good and not need replacing.
Or refinishing like a wood floor.The numbers figure everytime.Try it!!

One of the biggest factors is that cost of ceramics have not gone up near as much as the other flooring types and labor i am sad to say has not raised much either in the last 10 years.Vinyl used to be installed for 3.00 a yard now its 9.00
in 1990 i was getting 4.00 a s/f now i am lucky to avg 3.00 a s/f(of course i do much larger jobs!!!! :)

01-21-2003, 08:47 AM
What you said about a tile job looking good after 20 years is true from a technical viewpoint, but a number of threads here deal with removing a perfectly good tile installation that's 30 years old because of color or fashion taste changes. No doubt 30 years from now some today's tiles will "look old."

For a DIYer probably the cheapest long-term floor to install is 1.5" oak strip flooring. The "look" will be still be popular a 100 years from now based upon historical analysis. Red and white oak mixed #2 strip flooring sells for about 80 cents a square foot here in Oklahoma (at least it did a couple of years ago). Figure another $1.20 a square for tools, nails, and polyurethane. A wood floor with 5 coats of polyurethane that is well maintained will look good for a long, long time.

The tile floors I recently did costed me about $2 a square foot in materials.

01-21-2003, 12:56 PM
Did we take into consideration maintaining that floor for 20 or 30 years. (just curious) ;)

01-21-2003, 01:10 PM
Well, maintaining the floor means placing plastic sliders on the bottom of the feet of all furniture, not moping it with water and not dragging the kitchen stove down the hallway. :D Polyurethane gets harder with age so the protective coating should last at least 20 to 40 years, depending upon the traffic and abuse. I did my hardwood floor about 10 years ago and it still looks new.

So, from my DIY perspective, I would say that ceramic tile and hardwood strip flooring costs are about even.

01-21-2003, 01:38 PM
Sorry Derek, didnt mean to derail your thread.Me and garrett both get one of these:topicoff: :)

Ok anymore questions Derek we are here for ya!! :)