cottage cheese ceilings [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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05-29-2001, 11:21 PM
I just noticed that we're allowed to ask questions that pertain to "anything we can think of" on this site so I was wondering if anybody had any suggestions about removing a popcorn/cottage cheese ceiling. I was told there are other alternatives to scraping it, like covering it with something else, but nothing definite. If I had to have it scraped, does anybody have any idea what that would cost?


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Sonnie Layne
05-29-2001, 11:42 PM
A lot, but that's just an estimate.

I've done a lot of it. Only thing to do is make a mess, but it goes pretty quickly. There is a thingy I've seen for sale that (kinda) catches the crud in a trough as you scrape it, but I just get after it with an 8 or 10 inch mud knife and let if fall on the drop cloths. Afterward, if you want a flat surface, you'll need to skim coat it once or twice with a thin topping compound, then prime, paint and stare at the ceiling with a glass of cabernet and ponder the existence of the person who invented "acoustic" (where did that come from????) texture.
Nothing magic, just messy as you can imagine.


John Bridge
05-30-2001, 04:38 AM
And dusty. The "mud knife" is a drywall finishing tool. The cabernet is okay, too.

05-30-2001, 07:53 AM
Don't get excited this is a simple job.The acoustic texture is nothing more than drywall-mud thinned down with either water or latex paint and sprayed from a Blatt gun.It is very susceptible to moisture.
Because of this all you need to do is fill a spray bottle with water, spray an area until it is saturated then scrape with a wide plastic putty knife.It should come off with ease and take little time to do it.Cover your floor with a plastic drop cloth.
If done properly this texture is very pretty.I do textured ceilings and uniformity is the key."Popcorn" results from improper adjustment of the Blatt Gun or a mixture that is too thick for the oriface selected on the gun and in my opinion, is very unprofessional.
Preperation will depend on what you plan to do with your ceiling.Spray texture requires less prep-work than painting.

Bud Cline
05-30-2001, 09:46 AM
All of these removal techniques assume the ceiling has never been painted of course.

The texture material used to create "popcorn" ceilings is available in three "curds"; small, medium, and try to hide the big screw-ups.

Daisy, just put on your hat and facemask and go for it, not at all difficult.

05-30-2001, 11:22 AM
On some ceilings,where staining might be an issue, I've painted it with Kilz,used bright white ceiling paint(latex) to mix the texture and sprayed it on.Talk about a WHITE ceiling!!

Bud,the "popcorn" I was referring to wasn't the sized texture aggregate that is suppose to be used.It was where someone just used mud.Looks like crap when they do that.The only way to make that look right is to knock the high spots down with a flat trowel.This gives it a stone look.Pretty when done right.

Keith Alford
"Do it Right or Leave it Alone"

[Edited by kalford on 05-30-2001 at 01:25 PM]

Bud Cline
05-30-2001, 11:54 AM
Keith there are probaly as many texturing techniques as there are beers.

Just for fun, here's the website of a close friend of mine in California that is in the drywall finishing business. His site has some samples of techniques he uses. Thought it might be interesting to some.

This guy is a real success story. He and his wife Deb left Texas a few years before I did. He took his broadknife and pan and went to work for a couple local contractors by himself while Deb got on the horn and began networking, now see what they have done. He has now started construction on their first restaurant scheduled to open in August. I'm just a little jealous.

05-30-2001, 04:18 PM
You got that right! I guess the imagination is the only limit.I'll definitely look at that site.

Talk about humble beginnings. I like to hear success stories like me a glimmer of hope.

BTW, On the rare occasion I do get to enjoy a beer,I prefer Busch in the small long-neck bottles,ice cold on a hot day after digging up a stump or somethin.

John Bridge
05-30-2001, 05:22 PM
Oh Daisey?

Please come back and salvage this thing for us. We're drinking substandard beer!

05-30-2001, 07:28 PM

SLCkaboom not only works on tile, it works wonders on ceilings.

05-31-2001, 12:22 AM
Thanks for everything, Guys! I'll be sure to update my site with pics of that project as well. Probably won't happen for a few weeks, but at least I'm prepared....I think. If not, ya'll will be sure to hear about it! :-)


05-31-2001, 04:58 PM
Did you see that Kalford has to drink "Busch"?

Send that poor boy a case of Labatt Blue!!

Hell, while your at it send a truck my way!!!!!!!!!!

They do have it in Miami, but it isn't cheap.

About the only thing that is, is floor thin set. It's tough for a poor salesman to make a living. I can hear all those violins playing for me now.
I did see a tile house selling floor thin set for $2.79 a bag. I just wish some of my distributors would learn that old axiom " sell it at a loss and make up for it in volume"

John Bridge
05-31-2001, 06:34 PM
Hey, what's this Labatt Blue stuff? Sounds like more of that foreign swill to me. I drink only domestic brands -- you know made in America -- Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Modelo, Cruz Blanca, Corona, Tecate, Tres Equis . . . er, uh, wait a minute. What was the question?

05-31-2001, 07:29 PM
Labatt's Blue? Popular stuff around here...but I wouldn't wash out my grout sponge with that stuff. Too many great Micro-Breweries around here making beer that actually tastes like something.
$2.79 a bag? that an empty bag?

05-31-2001, 10:05 PM
Sounds like some sort of animal enema!
Is that "thinset" suitable for ANY substrate at all!?

Keith Alford
"install it cheap...install it cheap......install it cheap.......................

06-01-2001, 04:19 AM

I can't believe my eyes, MICRO BREW'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wouldn't wash your grout sponge with Labatts Blue!!!!

And I thought you were the consumate professional, It sounds to me like you have been spending to much time in Toronto,in the trendy section. Instead of down at the local pub with the other working stiffs.

If Bud reads this, he may just have to kick your ass.

Bud Cline
06-01-2001, 06:51 AM
"What'd he call me I didn't hear him"?

John Bridge
06-01-2001, 05:57 PM
Hey Keith,

Seems your question got lost in the melee.

Here in Houston, Home Depot carries a Custom's thin set that sells for around $4. I've never tried it, but you have to know there are a bunch of people out there using it. I use Custom's Versa Bond, which sells in the medium range -- around $15.

06-01-2001, 07:47 PM
I'm a TEC man myself.I get SturdiFlex for $13 - $15 a bag.
I was sold on it after an installation in a bathroom a long time ago. The GC had set the toilet flange flat on the slab so I couldn't tuck the tile under like it should be.I cut it around the flange but the toilet(cheap) was really narrow and you could see the cut under one side.The GC called me and asked if I would fix it for him.It's close to my house so I told him that I would take care of it the next morning.I went to the house,pulled the toilet,got my hammer(20oz.) and my floor(brick) chisel and started to remove the tile.Now this tile was a whole tile with the hole cut in the center for the flange which measures 7" across.That doesn't leave much tile to chisel up!
I started chiseling..and chiseling......and chiseling........AND CHISELING!! It took me 20min. to get that PARTIAL tile chiseled up good enough to set another one!!
I've removed tile before but never with that much difficulty.I checked the stats on each product, TEC, C-Cure,Mapei, Laticrete(yuk) and VersaBond.
The top three were TEC(1) C-Cure(2) Mapei(3) in terms of bond strenth when mixed with water.The rest fell way short with Laticrete being the weakest.

Keith Alford
"Set it With TEC and Forget It"

[Edited by kalford on 06-01-2001 at 09:53 PM]

06-01-2001, 08:36 PM
You have alligned yourself with a fine company.

Not only do they have good products, but they also have quality people.

When I was in Michigan, their full flex product was the product of choice. Real creamy product that works.

If it works why switch, right?

Any body setting tile to O S B out there?

Let me know, please. We know it's being done every day, and we want to talk to you.

John Bridge
06-01-2001, 08:39 PM
Oh yeah. I like TEC also. Around here, though, only one tile company carries it. The Customs products are sold by tile companies and at Home Depot as well. My business (most of it) is remodeling, and being able to swing into the "Home" comes in mighty handy.

But you're right. The TEC stuff won't come off your trowel if you don't wash it every 15 minutes or so.

Sonnie Layne
06-01-2001, 10:51 PM
oh hell,

one of my clients is leaning toward random slate vertical layout for a double shower, kinda like a slate roof after a tornado. (sorry you canadians wouldn't know about that, wot eh? hahaha) Anyway, they're wanting a vertical layout with irregular "slabs" hung on the walls. I've discussed capillary action, but they just laugh and say "Sonnie, you'll figure it out". Idea started out one evening for a garden wall fountain, then one said "Wouldn't that make a cool lookin' shower?"
Aside from a terrible waste of water; oh maybe we could do as I've seen before, if you're just in the shower to enjoy the water, you can recycle it, I see nothing wrong. I'm certainly not afraid of it, but I think rather than "hanging" the mini-slabs I should imbed them in mud. Hmmm now I've a question about the size of the lath for the walls supporting such a structure and the thickness of the mud if I follow that thinking.

Closest thing I've done to this was build a "wet wall" facing prevailing winds in a lawn area in rural East Texas. Built of concrete blocks, steady water trickle down the face, as the wind came through, the back yard was, well.... close to Jamaica as I could create. That rested on foundation, however. This time I'm talking shear strength of the substrate am I not? And of course the ever important water proofing. Help me think this one through. I'm so damned busy I can't sleep to dream about it.


Bud Cline
06-01-2001, 11:01 PM
I think TEC would be my all around choice also. I don't always have a say in the products used though.


To install directly over OSB is to participate in a "Planned Failure" of your installation.

Just my opinion. I would install on OSB just after I finished the installation on particle board. "NEVER"!!!!

Sonnie Layne
06-01-2001, 11:50 PM
They said Labatt Blue
La Blew Blatt!!!

John Bridge
06-02-2001, 07:29 AM
It's a shame. Don't know about Dallas, but here in Houston the best lath is sold by Home Depot. It's fairly heavy gauge and galvanized. The tile companies pass off whatever is rejected by Mexico. There is no choice. Sometimes it's heavy, but mostly it's not.

Do a scratch coat, then skim thin set onto the backs of the pieces. Now load each piece with gobs of mud and push it in until it's where you want it. Support it with wadded up cardboard.

They put up field stone walls like this, and they hold up. Your slate will do just fine.

06-02-2001, 08:16 AM
Is it just me or is this becoming an advertisement forum for the big orange box store.

Sure they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, but what about the independant who built this industry? Not just this one, but a myriad of others who, can't compete and have guys like you who not only leave them behind but spout their virtues.

Remember when Builders Square started the program, buy it this week end, use it, and bring it back for a full refund.

Well all the box stores had to jump on board or be left behind, (as you can imagine the manufacturers just loved this)so they joined in.

My wifes cousin worked at a Depot in the San Diego area, and the day after Christmas they had people bringing back their Christmas trees. Tinsel hanging off and everything.

After about 20 refunds, some body said what the heck are we doing.

The Depot has to sell Christmas trees?

The family or the church group that has been selling trees on the corner lot for years, now has to compete with that.

Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

06-02-2001, 09:05 AM
Ok..start yelling..but I think TEC is Crap. The full flex is great stuff..but it's $30 a bag..give me a break...and I've totally given up on their grout...the grout colourant industry is flourishing because of that stuff. I've never had a problem with Mapie...ever.

06-02-2001, 09:18 AM
Mapei is another great company, International in scope.

A real leader in the industry.

I have heard of some problems with T E C's grouts, could you expound?

And please let me say that grouts are the most problematic products for manufacturers, due to color variations, application and clean up practices, human errors both in the plants and in the field.

Water is the biggest enemy.

06-02-2001, 10:20 AM
Never had a problem with grout joints being 10 different shades with any other product except Tec and sometimes(depending on the colour) custom from Home depot. I've said this before..if the chemists who make this stuff think we've got lab conditions everytime we grout, they're dreaming. I don't have time to explain to clients why their grout joints look like hell. I just won't use it anymore.

06-02-2001, 10:50 AM
Your right, your right, your right.

It is the toughest scenario, the job is done, you want your money, the home owner wants the shade she chose in the show room under the flourescent lights.

And then to top it off, the grout has a mottled, multi color look.

It can get ugly.

Unfortunately their is no easy answer.

How can you create every working condition? In Canada, Florida, Washington state, Australia, Alaska you name it.

Don't you wish it was like it used to be? Just white and Gray?

God, I'm starting to sound like you guys.

I'll never forget the time....................

Bud Cline
06-03-2001, 10:23 AM
Had the same problems with TEC grouts but just a few times. The worst was at a job that included a stand-up shower, a Jacuzzi deck, step, apron, and surround, vanity top and backsplash, and floor.

The walls were grouted at the same time, the floor was grouted at a different time but all at once. There was only one batch made for the walls and one for the floor. Floor was sanded, walls were unsanded.

This was a farmhouse using well water (hard I'm sure), rural wells around here can go to 15 grains of hardness.

When talking to a TEC Tech about the problem he had a million reasons as to why it was not the fault of the product. i.e.: water source, atmospherics, room temperature, dry mixing of product, acclimation of product, water quantity ratio, mixer style and RPM speed of mixer, contaminated mixing bucket, spreading technique, cleaning technique, air movement in room, glaze flashing on tile edge. This guy left out nothing. But it absolutely was not the product.

He suggested a light acid wash using Sulfamic. Nothing worked though. The customer hates me now. I finally tired of going there to correct it. No way I was going to gouge and regrout all that. By this time stain was the only thing that hadn't been tried and this is because she insisted she had chosen the color she wanted and didn't want it to change.

John Bridge
06-03-2001, 11:38 AM
Now don't accuse me of being touchy on this issue, because I am. Unlike some of the other people who run tile sites, I don't recieve money from any product manufacturer or product seller. I recommend certain products and product sellers because I think they are good.

I enjoy trading stories about the "pros" at Home Depot, and I've advised people not to attend their seminars. But if Home Depot has the best deal on a product I need, especially if the product is superior to any I can get elsewhere, well buddy, I'm goin' to the Depot.

I'm a mud man. I use a lot of lath. The tile companies in the Houston area have chosen to sell inferior lath -- it wouldn't reinforce adobe. Home Depot has good lath at about the same price. It's that simple.

There was a time when tile companies tried to cater to tile installers. They sold excelent tools at reasonable prices, for example. And they prided themselves on ALL the products they sold.

Nowadays, the people at tile companies don't even greet you when you come in to place an order or pick up material. The tools they sell are overpriced and made in Red China. No one knows or cares about anything except selling tile.

Don't feed me any of this baloney about being loyal to the poor tile companies.

That said, if you read any of my literature, you'll notice I still advise people to shop for their TILE at tile supply stores. Tile stores do sell quality tile -- usually.

Sonnie Layne
06-03-2001, 11:57 AM
Didn't quite make it clear... I'm supposed to overlap the slate, imagine a vertical roof installation. I'm thinking the overlap would need to be an inch or so, with mud, thinset and grout raked out below the lap so that capillary action won't draw the free water up and behind everything. Can I get a mix sticky enough to hold each succesive layer into place?

Thanks for the other info, however, I'm assuming you back butter each piece with thinset first, then the mud so you have mud to mud contact in adequate thickness to bond and the skim of thinset is adhering the slate to the mud???

This project is at least two months away, but I'm trying to get the details right so I can make some profit.


06-03-2001, 02:16 PM
Have yall used TEC grouts lately or was the trouble from a long time ago? I use the Accu-color and haven't had a bit of trouble with it. I did have a problem with efflorescence in the C-Cure grouts but I understand they have made some improvements.
I'm not loyal to TEC just because it's TEC.I go with what works best.I don't hesitate to grab a bag of Mapei or C-Cure if TEC isn't available.

[Edited by kalford on 06-03-2001 at 04:43 PM]

John Bridge
06-03-2001, 02:42 PM

Now I get the picture. Wow! I wouldn't want to own it, but I'd sure like to see it. Don't worry about the capillary properties. That can work to your advantage. You being a horticulturist, you could figure a way to get moss and ferns growing out of all those overlaps. Geez, a little algae and the thing will be neuveau proto. Why, you'll be on the cover of Stone Magazine (that's Stone, not stoned).


I really think Bri's grouting problems have a lot to do with that impossible Canadian weather. It never warms up in that country.

Back when all the tiles were made from relatively soft terracotta type clay, there were no grout problems unless it got rained on. I started having problems around the late seventies -early eighties when they started making monocottura tiles. I wondered how they got those babies so hard. Now everything seems to be going to porcelain, which is harder still. Where's the water supposed to go?

06-03-2001, 02:52 PM
Great question.

Thats why it is so critical to allow the grout to begin it's initial set before you clean up.

Try allowing a haze to begin, so you aren't leaving more water off your sponge on a already wet grout joint. With all this water on top of the joint you can get color pigment floating and removed with the sponge.

What do you think does that sound reasonable?

Sonnie Layne
06-03-2001, 03:20 PM
Well, I'm thinking of fashioning some wire clips that could be embedded into the mud above and behind the slate to be supported, but that would necessitate allowing each course of mud to dry, so now I'm reasoning that the wire "hangers" could be attached to the lathe, scratch coat around them, leaving them exposed, then as the slate is laid up, I could bend the wires around the base of the "tiles/mini-slabs" to hold them in place until set. Whatcha think? A roll of 12 ga gal. wire is nothing to buy. Labour intensive, but the client doesn't care about all that. And, by the way we're discussing a solar tube shooting straight into the area, I've already thought about some teensy maidenhair or even several of the pteris ferns that could survive happily on a ledge above the 6'6" level, out of the way of cleaners, etc.
Heck, we could even build in a well drained container filled with chips of slate (enough for the roots to grab hold) and plant a Kentia in the corner, eh?

I could fashion the wire clips of copper and hope for a future verdi gris stain on the slate, eh? No?

your bud,

John Bridge
06-03-2001, 03:48 PM

The verde gris stain would fit right into the picture, but no.

Slate is soft and easily drilled. Bore two holes in the top of each piece about an inch in and hang the stuff with nails driven right into the backing -- through the scratch coat and everything. Then put a little butyl or silicone around the nail heads.

The mud thing still goes on, of course. It's just that when you get the piece in place, nail it.

The mud will hold it ultimately. You'll probably have to grout everything with a blow bag. How massive is your cake decorating tool?


Of course, I've thought about that a lot, and I've tried waiting as long as possible to begin the wash cycle. We've tried mixing the grout with a minimal amount of water (which makes it extremely hard to install and opens up new opportunities for voids).

The fact is, though, you can't do that, given that most of the trendy tiles nowadays have pits, wrinkles, and other depressions in their surfaces. If you don't get the grout out of there while it's wet, you might as well start kicking your lunch pail down the road.

06-03-2001, 04:07 PM
With respect to the question posed 6/1, concerning setting tile over OSB. (Just read through this, been busy trying to make some "dinero") Your kidding...right? Let me put it this way, works as well as using pressboard/particleboard. Of course, if your looking for a very easy tile removal job shortly after the installation, you've picked the right product.

Let me tell you a story with an ending full of sweet justice. I had a retail store contact me last summer about looking at "some problems" a customer of theirs was having with 1200 sf of 12x12 ceramic tile installed one month earlier. The installation was pier/beam with appropriate support and spacing beneath. (2x10, 16" oc, nice and beefy)

The retail store owner, lets call him "numb-nuts", decided he would increase the support already provided by 3/4" EGP plywood with an additional layer of subflooring. You guessed it. He had an installer add a layer of 5/8 OSB over the plywood. Then his "tile installer" went out with Customs Masterblend mixed with water and installed the tile.

The tile had been installed for less than two weeks when I saw it. In all the traffic areas, the grout joints were cracking/crumbling and many tiles "crunched" when walked on.
I had a very difficult time removing a tile to discover the problem. VERY DIFFICULT! I actually had to bend over and pickup one of the "offending" tiles from the floor. I also had to fight gravity standing back up.

On the back of the tile was not only all the thinset, but an abundance of "strands/flakes" from the OSB. The entire installation was basically a "floating floor" temporarily held together by the remaining grout joints.

NOW, the SWEET JUSTICE!!! My BID for this job was rejected because it included installing 1/4" CBU over dryset mortar for $1.25/sf, labor only. The store owner thought he'd save or make an extra buck by having his store guy install the OSB at .40/sf. To add insult to injury, I showed the customer the information on the instructions supplied on the back of the Masterblend bag listing OSB as a "limitation" of the product.

For some reason, this store never calls me anymore. (Must be my aftershave)

John Bridge
06-03-2001, 05:06 PM
Well Latney, I've never smelled your aftershave, but I honestly think it might be because you call him numb nuts.

For the non-pros among us, Custom Master Blend is a basic thin set, not modified, and not good for much of anything (except in mud-set work).

Bud Cline
06-03-2001, 05:12 PM

Now I'm lost again with this slate thing. John has a good idea I think with nailing the slates to the wall.

However, I'm having trouble visualizing this thing of art and masterful design. How on earth are the inside corners going to be done?

What type of shower valve will be used and how is that going to work with the standard trims (escutcheons)?

And what about the door? Is there a typical shower door? I guess there, the slate could be stopped at the door frame.

Then if you nail the slates how do you cover the nails of the first slate?

This sounds like a great project but I'm not able to logically think this thing thru to a functional end.

John Bridge
06-03-2001, 05:52 PM
Well Bud, I guess we're going to need to instill a little culture in you. The guys who ordered up this shower aren't concerned with mundane things like shower doors and corners. And the valve will be something simple, maybe a wood plug shoved into a rusty pipe coming out of the wall. And maybe not.

And by the way, Sonnie mentioned the other day that he wasn't getting a lot of traffic on his board. Wouldn't it be a great idea if we all just hopped up to Dallas and bombarded the thing? Let's go to Sonnie's board.

When you arrive, go to the bottom of the home page and click the discussion board link.

06-03-2001, 06:10 PM
John, I'm sure it has nothing to do with aftershave, I don't use any when I'll be sweating all day anyway. This was one of those stores that would call me for the jobs their installers would not or could not do to a customers satisfaction. Or they would call me for something like this where I'm suppose to "work a miracle" for their minimum repair charge.

I don't know of any organization that endorses OSB as a suitable substrate for tile, regardless of the thinset used. The fact the tile installer didn't know this is bad enough, but this guy runs the store and represents himself as a professional in the floorcovering business.
These are often the kind of individuals trying to tell me what my services/expertise/experience are worth.

Pay what its worth, do it right the first time, and everyone is happy. Why is this message so hard to comprehend by most retailers?