am I just a sloppy worker? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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01-22-2003, 09:09 AM
here's a question for you pros - I read a lot hear about mixing thinset, etc in buckets. On the few tile projects I've done, I've used clean, empty 5 gallon buckets (have to admit I've used the dreaded orange bucket for this on occasion). Usually the thinset or grout I mix in each batch is only enough to fill the bottom 1/3 or 1/4 of the bucket. Then when trying to scoop out the stuff, I use my trowel. the problem is that I don't get a whole lot per scoop, eventually some gets on the inside wall of the bucket, my trowel handle gets some of this on it. Basically gets messy - seems like too much thinset, etc in places where it shouldn't be. Seems if I had a better way of scooping out the grout or a much wider mouth on the bucket this would be easier. Am I mising something here, or am I just a sloppy guy?

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Cami A
01-22-2003, 09:21 AM
Now you know why three gallon buckets are a prized possession...

I recommend sucking up to your local independent bakeries and eateries. They usually have a nice stash of non-orange buckets. ;););)

01-22-2003, 09:25 AM

It's just sloppy stuff. You get a feel for it in time. Your thinset may be a hair loose. Try working with a margin trowel or even a flexible 4"putty knife close by to keep the inside of your bucket clean...and the cardinal helpers get a toe stretching if they let my trowel handle get thinset on it. I tell them it's like a secret service man throwing himself in the path of a bullet. Don't let my hand get to a thinset covered trowel handle. Maybye I've become a tad self-important.
Also have a bucket of water and sponge near you.

01-22-2003, 10:43 AM
Yes, you are sloppy and you (and us, too) will get over it.

The margin trowel has a nice offset on which the trowel can hang from the bucket. I agree with Trask, I am absolutley anal about cleanliness, and have a cleaning bucket and rags nearby. The trowel stays clean.

The fact is that the mixing bucket does get dirty. I mix and set from the same bucket in small doses. When the thinset is done, a margin trowel or a putty knife down the sides cleans it off, and the remants go into the cleaning bucket until the end of the day. Little splash of water, hit it with a rag and we are ready to mix up a new batch. I usually have a couple of 5 gallon buckets filled with water first thing in the am for this purpose.

I use only 5 gall buckets for the works.

scott anthony
01-22-2003, 03:44 PM
Yep Scooters right their.

After you master the art of keeping clean, and it is an art, you become anal for sure.
I mix my grout in a 3 gal, thin set in 5, when I pour the thin set on the floor I scrape off the top edge with the trowel just after the pour. Always mark out you spread line so you are never putting down more than you need, unless you work off a grid than that takes of itself. Always keep a sponge and water in the next room.:cool:

John Bridge
01-22-2003, 06:51 PM
I seem to repeat this a lot. Use white thin set only. It looks much better than gray when it gets under your fingernails and ground into the callouses on your hands. Depending on the color of your hair, it doesn't look too bad up there either. :D

01-22-2003, 07:34 PM
thanks for the info. I was feeling a little foolish for asking the question, but you guys helped. Seems I have the anal part down, the mess drives me nuts, 'cause it seems like in no time that once the thinset "escapes" from where I want it, it starts appearing everywhere. Bugs me completely to have it on the trowel handle.
One other question though. I have a margin trowel - bought it after reading here. Found it incredibly useful. I like the scene Scooter painted - scrap it, then a little water wash. Doesn't the bucket have to be VERY clean between batches? Seems like I remember reading that a little thinset left causes the next batch to set up quicker. Can you scrap the bucket adequately - especially on the bottom ? I was rinsing my messy bucket in my friend's backyard last weekend in 20 degree weather - thinking there's gotta be a better way, but really worried about getting it clean.
John, you have me sold on white. I've still got gray thinset on my fingers 3 days later

John Bridge
01-22-2003, 07:47 PM

It depends on how fast you go through the batches of thin set. We dedicate a bucket as a thin set bucket. When it gets encrusted to the point that it's not a good thin set bucket anymore, it becomes a mud bucket. Mud buckets become scrap buckets. Eventually, they wear out and recieve a burial with full honors at the land fill. I place my hand over my heart as Albert gently tosses them off the back of the truck. ;)

01-23-2003, 02:07 AM
We have an intermediate stage for mediocre cruty buckets. They are relegated to sponge duty. They sometimes make it a long time at this level but once in a while a star returns by shedding the residue of old. With this they may be first string again.
My crew also is required to appease the gods on a tba basis. If the day did not go well and we were forced to stay late ,the bucket must pay for our poor carma and it is promtly left as a sacrifice to harden in the cold Oregon rain.

01-23-2003, 07:59 AM
Thats Sacrilige Trask!!!!! Poooooooooor bucket, what did it ever do to you but help you to make money and do a fine job for a homeowner , and to treat that fine tool with such indignity!! hrrrmph.The absolute least you coulda done was stand in the rain drinking a beer with it while toasting a fallen comrade ;)

01-25-2003, 08:50 PM
Buckets are an expense not a tool in my books. If the day is late and the bucket is full, it is in the trash by morning. I found a local company that sells them for a buck a bucket!

01-26-2003, 08:42 AM
I was on a large commercial job for the whole summer and I STOCKED up on buckets.At the end of the day my helpers would raid the job and walk out with stacks of buckets as tall as they were,this makes it easier in the winter time to let them be trash.Also dont be afraid to stop on the side of the road and dig through garbage piles,some cities give these buckets to residents for recycling(j/k).

01-26-2003, 02:33 PM
My DH, Gary mixes his thinset (and grout) in a LARGE plastic 'dishpan-like' tub. I know it's not what the pros use, but it works for us. We don't use an electric tool to mix it, just a "bicep-erator." ;) It has always seemed to work for us.

Gary was a brick tender for a couple of summers and they mixed their mud in a wheelbarrow, maybe that's why he prefers that shape. (is there a 'smiley' for 'shrug'?)

And it helps give us credibility, we actually did dig through a neighbor's trash to get it, that and an exquisite LAVA LAMP!!!