Hula Girls Bathroom Remodel [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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08-17-2007, 01:50 PM
Luckily I just stumbled upon this site when I did! I've got 8 sheets of 1/4" HardiBacker sitting in my driveway - waiting to get thrown up onto our bathroom before we put in Kerdi and Ditra!

I just happened to read a few posts about folks NOT recommending hardibacker under kerdi. I've read some FAQ's and looked around and I can't seem to find a reason why. Can someone please let me know ASAP?

Here is our plan:

We have solid 1/2" T&G fir walls in the bathroom. We are planning and open shower with floor to ceiling tile in the entire room. We planned to cover the walls with 1/4" hardibacker and the floor (over 3/4" solid fir floors) with 1/2" OSB. The shower corner (using the 48" shower pan) will have kerdi on both walls floor to ceiling. The rest of the bathroom will have one band of kerdi (3') from the floor. The entire floor will be Ditra.

Should we NOT use the hardibacker on the walls? If not, why? If we do use it, what will be the problems we can expect?

We can still take the hardibacker back and switch out for 1/4" ply or 1/4" drywall. Please let us know if we need to do that. We are scheduled to get the walls up on Sunday!

Many thanks!


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08-17-2007, 02:02 PM
I've successfully installed Kerdi on Hardi Backer, it's not difficult, you just have to work a little quicker because the Hardi SUCKS water like a sponge. You have the thin down the thin set and wet the Hardi with a spray bottle or wet sponge right before spreading the thin set. I would recommend 1/2" Hardi in the shower areas, not 1/4", it's more rigid.

Don't put Kerdi over plywood, it's not an approved substrate. Actually you can use 1/2" Hardi right over the studs but be sure you have a flat surface before the Hardi because it will follow every curvature in the wall.

I used a wide laminate roller to do the initial roll out of the Kerdi then used a 6" drywall knife to finish it out.

You can also use sheetrock instead, with Kerdi it's waterproof. I like to use Hardi Backer in case there is a leak BEHIND the wall so it won't destroy the wall behind the tile, it just gets wet.

Are you using the Kerdi drain? What kind of shower floor are you planning?


08-17-2007, 04:19 PM
You really want to reconsider. What would it take to cut the wood on the walls out of the shower area, just use drywall and then put the Kerdi on it? I'd also reconsider the walls up to 3' outside of the shower. CBU to those dimmensional lumber panels move a bunch - you'd be better off with cutting it out and using drywall. Note, unless you have a special situation, you don't need Kerdi on the walls outside of the can tile directly to drywall.

08-17-2007, 07:00 PM
Thanks Bob and Jim!

I may not have been clear on what we are working with. We live in a home with single wall (solid 1/2" - maybe 3/4") T&G douglas Fir walls. We do not have studs to work with. So on all but 1 wall we have the fir walls and planned to cover it with 1/4 Hardi. Since the walls are VERY sturdy as they are, the Hardibacker isn't there to cut down on flex, it's just there to protect the solid wood walls behind it.

Jim - as for cutting out the walls well...we really can't do that as they are mostly structural and if they aren't structural, they have another room or closet or hallway attached to them on the other side. Again, single wall - solid wood. So we don't have much to play with. They need to stay. So if we have the hardi under the kerdi you don't think we need to put any kerdi outside of the shower? Keep in mind there are no doors or curbs to this shower. Just a curtain and we all know how well those don't work!

We do have 1 wall with studs that we put in for the remodel. Do you guys think that the 1/4 hardibacker is too thin for that? Should we go with 1/2" Hardi?

Bob - for your questions on the shower. We are using the Schluter shower kit. 48" pan with the drain. No curb - just an open floor. Which brings us to the question of how to join kerdi to Ditra. Will a taped joint do the trick? (The kerdi is used on the floor for in the shower kit and the ditra we bought to use under our tile floor for the rest of the room.)

Thanks again!

08-17-2007, 07:05 PM
Hi Denise welcome. On the stud wall you need to use 1/2" Hardi. At the floor juction you can use Kerdi band or just cut a piece of Kerdi to seal the joint between the Kerdi floor and the Ditra. Be sure to overlap it atleast 2".

Rob Z
08-17-2007, 09:11 PM
Hi Hula Girl,

Since I was a carpenter long before I became a tilesetter, I am really interested in how your house is constructed with the T&G Doug Fir walls and no studs. Can you post some pictures and more info? CX will be interested, as well. :tup1:

Regarding hardi...Bob already mentioned that Hardi sucks the moisture out of thinset. I have tried to sponge Hardi before setting tile and still had problems. Bri told me that he rolls SLC primer on Hardi to seal the porosity and eliminate the problems with thinset. I tried it and it works well. If I ever had to install Kerdi over Hardi, I would do the same thing to give myself more time to get the sheets installed and flattened.

08-17-2007, 09:26 PM
Let one of the pros chime in, but I think that you'd need some plywood on the walls first...the planks will move too much to hold the cbu. This would mean normally, at least 1/2" ply, then the cbu, then the tile. This will make the tiled portion fairly thick. If you can't make that work, then you may want to rethink tiling the walls. 1/4" stuff just doesn't have enough of what you need, nor is it common to be able to find any 1/4" stuff that is okay to tile on.

08-17-2007, 10:44 PM
Welcome, Denise. Please go to the UserCP above, find Edit Signature, and enter your first name there for us so it will appear in each post and we won't hafta search for it. :)

Are we to assume this project is somewhere inna Sandwich Islands?

I'd like to hear a bit more about that construction and maybe see some pichers before I weigh in. We like pichers. :)

I'm not at all inclined to accept that they are half-inch T&G wood walls with no support, but I'll wait for confirmation.

What's the reason for choosing quarter-inch CBU instead of half-inch? Seems like you'll end up with a lot of raw backerboard edges with your plan if I understand it at all, and with half-inch you'd at least have the option of using mud-cap trim if you pick the right kinda tiles.

Are any of these walls exterior walls?

Is the house air-conditioned?

My opinion; worth price charged.

08-19-2007, 12:41 PM
Aloha guys - wow...lots of questions.

I think I already put my name in my siggy...but we will see if it works. Sorry.

We are in Hawaii. On Oahu actually. This house was built in 1951 in the traditional 'plantation' style. Which means - post and pier, single wall construction. We bought it as a foreclosure in 2000 and have been working on it ever sense.

I've taken some pix to proove the single wall/ 3/4" T&G. Load bearing walls are tied in inside the attic. Our load bearing walls follow the hip of the house so we are free to work with moving a few around. We re-joist walls in the attic if need be.

The floor is 3/4" T&G fir support with 12" OC joists under the house. Makes it fun for plumbing I gotta say.

We are working with one exterior wall. It has Hardi-panel siding on the other side and we can't/don't want to cut into it.

The walls are 6" wide planks. With 1/4" hardibacker over 3/4" solid walls am I hearing that you DON'T think it will be rigid enough to hold 18" tile? How can that be? These walls don't move much. Much less than drywall gives. We have a tiny room and if we keep pushing the walls in we won't have much to work with.

I'm going to get 1/2" hardi backer for the stud walls instead of the 1/4".

Pictures below - see page 2 for the construction CU's of the walls, T&G and roof/attic tie ins. Ok, why can't I add a URL? I've got a picture blog set up....grrr... :complain: Ok, going to try and set up the URL of my project pix blog in my siggy... :noid:

Ok, link to pix blog is in siggy. Added a google sketchup layout of the new bathroom plan on page 2 for you guys to see as well.

Rob Z
08-19-2007, 12:46 PM
Hi Denise,

I am interested in your pictures. I was born in Oahu, but have never been back. Mom and Dad were there from ~'63-'66, but then events in SE Asia took Dad away and I came back to Ohio with Mom. I don't remember any of it. :D I was six months old.

08-19-2007, 12:54 PM
What's the reason for choosing quarter-inch CBU instead of half-inch? Seems like you'll end up with a lot of raw backerboard edges with your plan if I understand it at all, and with half-inch you'd at least have the option of using mud-cap trim if you pick the right kinda tiles.

Are any of these walls exterior walls?

Is the house air-conditioned?

We went with 1/4" over the 3/4" walls becuase we thought the solid wood walls were sturdy enough and we don't want to loose too much space inside the room.

We are using Schulter Rondec on the outside corner and Dilex EKE on the inside corners if that's what you meant with the mud-cap trim comment. Not sure if that addresses your comment or not. Sorry! ;)

One wall is exterior (with siding on the other side)

No A/C! We live in Hawaii! The trades are blowing and we are happy and cool!

Rob Z
08-19-2007, 01:22 PM
Very interesting!

08-19-2007, 09:52 PM
Mmmm. Looks like I was stationed on Oahu 'bout the same time ol' RobZ was gettin' hisownself born there. :shades:

Reason I axed about the AC, Denise, was to verify that you didn't wanna use any sheetrock in there at all. Didn't nobody have no steenkin' air conditioning when I was there, but I figgered some of the rich Haoles might have it now.

I also wasn't questioning the method of construction, only questioning the use of half-inch T&G boards. I know that just ain't the case. But walls of single-layer nominal 1" boards doesn't surprise me at all. Our barracks was of similar construction and we didn't even have glass in the windows like the rich folks. We had screened openings with wood shutters we could close when the monsoons came.

If you've got a good way to trim the edges of those quarter-inch CBUs, that's a good thing. I think I'd still rather see you use the half-inch and not fasten it all that well, though. Those board walls are gonna be movin' around a lot. And tile doesn't like that much. My very favorite treatment for what y'all are doing would be to hang felt on the walls, staple up some lath, and mud the whole thing where there will be tile.

Do you know what was used as a drain plane under the Hardi siding onna outside? And what the used for fasteners, since I presume you don't have a whole lotta nails coming through the walls onna inside?

And how do you plan to fasten your Hardi on the inside?

Interesting project, for sure. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

Kirk Grodske
08-20-2007, 05:38 PM
Looks like the exterior walls are standard framed walls and the interior might be the 1x single walls. Way too wobbly to hold tile. Take the 2x4 walls and cover both sides with 5/8 drywall and then Kerdi and that will be strong enough to with stand the standard bumps.

On the interior thin walls, definitely lath and plaster those before Kerdi and tile.

While you don't want to give up room unnecessarily, you also don't want to waste time and materials having to re-do failures dues to cracks and movement.

Good luck. I am interested to see how it all turns out.

Rob Z
08-20-2007, 09:23 PM
Hi Denise,

I was there 42 years ago!

08-20-2007, 09:28 PM
Me, too! And I had more hair than either of the guys in that picher. :D

Then. :(

Rob Z
08-20-2007, 10:35 PM
The USCG barber apparently didn't work with the barber the Army had. :D

Dad was my barber for many years...electric clippers on the back steps.

08-21-2007, 01:42 PM
So where exactly where you guys on the islands? There are so many military bases now - Hickam, Schofield, Kaneohe Marine Base, Pearl Harbor, etc. I don't know them all!

Here is the updated plan:

Interior wall (3/4" T&G) will get 1/2" ply + 1/4" Hardibacker.
Exterior wall (with belly band and 2X2 studs holding up hardipanel siding) with get 1/4" Hardibacker only.
Interior wall (16" o.c. studs) will get 1/2" hardibacker.
Shower floor under Schluter tray will get 3/4" ply.
The rest of the bathroom floor - under tile (3/4" T&G with 12" o.c. joists) will get 3/4" ply.

We are going to use Rondec on the outside corners and Dilex-EKE on the inside corners. For floor to wall joints we will leave a gap and caulk it.

That's where we are so far. Once we get going on things I'm sure I'll have 10,000 more questions!


08-21-2007, 04:28 PM
I was at the Coast Guard Air Detachment (don't have none of those no more) on the Naval Air Station on Barber's Point.Exterior wall (with belly band and 2X2 studs holding up hardipanel siding) with get 1/4" Hardibacker only.Ain't none of what y'all are doing gonna fall into any standard categories, of course, but that's the only one that troubles me. Hardi says you can use quarter-inch over wall studs with 16" spacing, but I think that's a little optimistic. And I can't tell what kinda spacing you've got there at all, of course.

My opinion; worth price charged.

08-21-2007, 06:23 PM
CX - the exterior wall is 12" o.c. and the 1/4" will be going over the 3/4" T&G.

Luckily our neighbor is a general contractor and he just remodeled my neighbors house (on the other side of us). He said 1/4" over the exterior wall will be fine. (He helped up do the siding so he knows what we've got up there.)

Gotta say it's great having a contractor next door! He gets us some pretty good deals on stuff too! :tup2:

08-24-2007, 01:55 PM
I've updated pictures - link in my siggie.

I've gone and laid out the Ditra/Kerdi in Google Sketch-up so I can see how much coverage I have. I think we might try to run long sheets instead of cutting up so many pieces and using the band. This way, we will have one long sheet over the shower pan that runs up the wall = 1 less strip of kerdi band. In theory. :loaded:

Question 1: Can you use the kerdi band to join kerdi and Ditra? We will have our shower pan butting up to Ditra so that's how I had planned to join the seam. Am I right?

Question 2: Thinset confirmation - Please check all! Thanks!
Between plywood subfloor and shower pan = unmodified thinset mortar.
Between showerpan and Kerdi = unmodified thinset mortar.
Kerdi seams = unmodified thinset mortar.
Between kerdi and tile = unmodified thinset mortar.
Between Hardibacker and Kerdi = latex or acrylic modified thinset mortar.(this is as per Hardibacker specs, but is it OK for Schulter? Will it dry???
Between plywood subfloor and Ditra = unmodified thinset mortar.
Between Ditra and tile = unmodified thinset mortar.

Question 3: Schluter layout - Please take a look at my pix blog, last image on page 2 is a .jpg of the Ditra/Kerdi layout for the room. Any suggestions? Comments? Ways to make it easier? The different colors are done so that I can see what roll the materials come from (the shower kit or the cut to order rolls we got).

Question 4: What to do with the window!
We have a small window sill that is about 4" outside the shower pan area. While there will be a shower curtain there, we are unsure how to deal with the lip of Hardibacker. We could cut a new sill from wood and paint it. Or we could rip out the sill that is there, cut a sheet of metal under it (copper or the like) and over the wood+hardi but then we have to tile over it. Or put wood over it or something. We don't have any bullnose or 1/2 round tiles to work with. At this location in the room, we are tiling with our own hand-made tiles. So we could save this for later and make some interesting tiles to cover it. But we don't want water to drip down between the sheet of hardibacker and the wall. Is a wood sill the best bet for an area so close to the shower? Seems to be the easiest, that's for sure.

Question 5: How do I change my thread title to say "Hula Girls Bathroom Remodel"?

I'll try to get some CU shots of the sill. Right now there is no floor to stand on over there so I need to wait a bit.


08-24-2007, 05:01 PM
1. Yes.

2. Schluter has no published application for Kerdi over CBU or Fiber/Cement Board (Hardi), but if they did, it would call for dry-set mortar (un-modified) The only application you have that calls for a modified thinset mortar is the installation of Ditra over plywood. Everything else should be dry-set mortar according to Schluter's requirements. The mortar over the plywood must say it meets A118.11 on the bag. You can usually just buy one good-quality dry-set mortar and mix it with a liquid additive to make it a modified meeting that standard, if you want.

3. Use whatever layout gives the best coverage is all I can say about that.

4. How 'bout you post a picher here of the window area. Your site takes days to load on my end and I don't see any such picher anyway. Put one on here that's big enough to see the area in issue, eh? We like pichers. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

08-24-2007, 05:50 PM
How do I change my thread title to say "Hula Girls Bathroom Remodel"?

You just ask. :)

08-26-2007, 12:26 PM
Ok, we are using Premium Plus Standard Thin-Set Mortar under the Schluter tray. We've drilled the hole and will put putting the tray in shortly.

I just read the thread on the 3/4" tiles popping up and I'm really, really, really worried. Our entire bathroom floor is going to be river rock. The range in size from 2" to 1/2". IS THIS GOING TO WORK OVER THE SHOWER PAN AND DITRA???

Sometimes, too much information freaks me out! I would expect Schluter to say something about min tile size to be used on Ditra and the shower pan, but I don't see that anywhere on their site or their printed materials.

Rob Z
08-26-2007, 12:35 PM
Hi Denise,

Schluter has long stated that 2x2 is the smallest size that should be used over Ditra. I keep both Ditra and Noble TS or CIS in stock for just this reason. Sometimes I am told to use Ditra, which is fine, and then the architect or designer or homeowner brings in small tile to the job. I have to switch and it's no big deal. :tup2:

You mentioned a shower pan...what type of pan are you planning to use.

08-26-2007, 01:00 PM
I'm using the schluter shower pan 48"X48".

08-26-2007, 01:00 PM
Also, where is the info that 2X2 is the smallest size to use over Ditra? I've got all their paperwork and I've never read that.

08-26-2007, 01:09 PM
That size restriction for tile over Ditra is in the Limitations paragraph near the top of every page of installation methods in my Schluter Ditra Installation book, Denise. It's the 2004 version, though.

On the shower tray, do keep in mind that we have heard of only one "failure" of one of those foam trays in all the years we've been discussing Schluter products on this site. And we still have absolutely no idea what caused that failure.

But if you're concerned about using one of them, you can always make your own mud floor and eliminate that possible problem. I recommend that in most every case anyway.

I also wonder if there is some confusion about their products. You would not normally have any Ditra in your shower.

My opinion; worth price charged.

Rob Z
08-26-2007, 02:33 PM
I interpreted Denise's comments such that I thought she was going to install Ditra and River Rock in the rest of the bathroom, as well.

IF not, and you are only doing the shower, then I concur with CX and you can solve your problem by skipping the 4' x4' and doing a mud base with the Kerdi drain. :)

08-26-2007, 02:42 PM
I coulda easily missed that part, Z. I'm just passin' by the computer whilst waitin' for some cee-ment to git it'sownself ready for finishin'. :)

But he's right, Denise, you really don't wanna be using that river rock stuff you have over Ditra anywhere. There are alternative products, just not with exactly the same characteristics.

My opinion; worth price charge.

08-26-2007, 02:47 PM
Ahh...bugger...getting conflicting news here...

I called Tile - the schluter experts :king: and asked David. He said that the 2X2 limitations are generally for commercial applications. But he feels river rock over Ditra and the shower tray are fine.

The shower pan is in. We are now going to kerdi the tray...

Rob Z
08-26-2007, 03:00 PM
Damn The Torpedoes!

Full Speed Ahead! :D

Denise, while I have a lot of respect for David and his business, I would defer to Schluter's guidelines on this one. They wrote 'em and they warranty the product, not Tile-Experts and not JB Forum.

We are doing a job with River Rock right now, and I can't imagine some of those small pieces sitting on top of the voids in the Ditra. No support at all.

I don't have any experience with the styrofoam tray, however.

08-26-2007, 03:32 PM
River rock works fine over the tray (covered with Kerdi). :tup1:

that said, based on my experience sample of one and perfect 20/20 hindsight, I'd prolly opt for mud if I was doing it again. :shrug:

Rob Z
08-26-2007, 03:47 PM

Do you think that River Rock (with small pieces) would go over Ditra with no problems?

08-26-2007, 04:58 PM
Damn! This is NOT easy work. A BIG :bow: for you guys that do this for a living. I guess that's why you charge so damn much money! :) Rightfully so!

The tray is in and covered with kerdi. We have not done the walls yet. Just a strip down the corner and from tray to wall. We are going to leave it today and let it all set up right now and then come back and do the rest once the plumber has done is stuff. (Might be a few days or so. We will put in the rest of the walls and then get back to doing Kerdi/Ditra) I can't even look at the bathroom right now...I'm too tired.

I think the consensus right now is not using the river rock. I really can't be worried about the tray, the kerdi, the ditra AND the river rock tile! I'm going to call Schluter tomorrow and get their input on river rock on the pan. If they say ok, we might use it. But we have concern then about matching the floor tile to the river rock as they join together and it's a barrier-less shower/bathroom.

Blah. This is not easy! :cry:

Thanks for the heads up on this. Better to know now than after it's in and popping up. :uhh:

08-26-2007, 05:53 PM
I think the consensus right now is not using the river rock. I really can't be worried about the tray, the kerdi, the ditra AND the river rock tile!Denise, just to clarify a few points here. Your use of river rock over Kerdi on the foam shower tray is not being questioned here. There should be no problem with that. It's those small river rocks over Ditra outside the shower where the question lies.

I'm going to post a link to the 2007 version of the Ditra Handbook. CX mentiones this in post #28. Note that every single installation method described in that handbook states the following: Limitations: minimum 2" x 2" (50mm x 50mm) tile.

However, I know of unique situations where Schluter reps have waived that 2" x 2" size limitation. Therefore I would not consider it an absolute hard and fast rule. So, you need to make that call to the Schluter hot line, explain your circumstances to get a final ruling. And let us know what that is. :)

08-27-2007, 12:39 PM
Wow...thanks guys for all the responses. It's been a long weekend. I won't even tell you what I did with the plumbing hook up to the shower. But lets just say that SOMEONE labeled the cold copper pipe as the HOT copper pipe and I'll leave it at that. :turkey: Oh and don't use white bread in wet pipes UNLESS it can come out of a faucet. :crazy:

So I made the call to Schluter and they confirmed over Ditra, min 2X2.

Over the shower tray she said they don't have a min - just not clear glass tile. I confirmed with her - river rock in varying thicknesses of 1/4" - 1/2" and min size of about 1" - 3" and she said it was fine over the foam tray.

So today we get to shop for tile and hope that we can return 4 boxes of river rock. We will keep enough of the river rock to put over the tray and keep our fingers crossed that we don't have issues with it. My concern was the difference in thickness from the floor tile we will get to the river rock. If we need to, we may put a boarder inside the shower tray to start that transition on the downslope so no water collects outside of the shower.


On a good note - the kerdi over the tray has set up really nice. It's firm and seems to be really stuck in there well. Later today we will finish putting in the rest of the OSB ply floor next to it and then cover the tray.

Any suggestions on how to protect the Kerdi shower pan? We still have to put kerdi on the walls and work around the shower tray. I was thinking of 2 layers of cardboard + 1/2" plywood on top? Too heavy? There will need to be foot traffic to do the walls, but I'll try to minimize it as much as possible.

Thanks again! Much Mahalos!

08-27-2007, 06:50 PM
Found some tile that we both like to cover the bathroom floor. 3X3 solid body porcelin tile from DalTile. Of course NO ONE in Hawaii has this stuff in stock (unless it's in white, tan or beige) :crap: . So we have to air frieght it in. Cost to ship 45 SF? $250. Cost of the tile itslef? $240. :x:

Oh well. We will try to sell the river rock for about $100 - $125. Neither one of us is willing to go with anything that is in stock here in Hawaii so we are willing to break the bank on this.

Any suggestions on how to protect the kerdi covered shower system try while we do the rest of the bathroom?

chuck stevenson
08-27-2007, 07:09 PM
Scap sheetrock and cardboard will help protect the Kerdi. I sometimes use moving quilts when moisture is not a problem.

08-27-2007, 08:10 PM
I use old worn-out tarps and scraps of plywood or sheetrock or some Masonite I keep around for just that purpose.

But for Kerdi showers, I just don't do the floor until the whole shower is nearly finished, grout and all.

And there are other membranes you can use to lay that river rock on your floor. Have you looked into that as an option?

My opinion; worth price charged.

Rob Z
08-27-2007, 09:02 PM

CX has a good suggestion. Noble CIS is a great alternative because there is no size limitation for tile or stone. I can think of four jobs we did this year where originally Ditra was spec'd for the floor by the designer, but once I saw mosaics were also involved I invoked the TileMan's Preogative :D to change membranes and we installed Noble CIS.

The only question is whether Noble is sold that far out into the ocean. :)

They do have an online store.

08-27-2007, 09:10 PM
They [Noble Company] do have an online store.No, no, no, nevermind that. Just ping our friend Eric (e3) the Noble rep. Tell him there's fishin' available where y'all live and he'll figger out a way to bring y'all some of what you need. :nod:

And if you promise him some really good cee-gars, he'll bring it even quicker. May not even charge you for it. :D

08-29-2007, 03:05 PM
did some one say fishing!!!! and cigars!!!!
We do have dist.with membrane in HI., and Dal is one of them...

08-30-2007, 03:42 PM
Well, we orderd the porcelain tile from DalTile anyway. Turns out the husband was worried out setting the toilet on the river rock as it was and is much happier with the procelain/river rock in shower combo that we have going now. :tup1:

Here's another question for you all: If you have 18" X 18" 1/4" porcelain wall tiles going up from floor to ceiling over Kerdi, would you recommend the extra bonding power of modified thin-set and a longer wait time?

Or still go with unmodified?

The kerdi is, of course, bonded to the hardibacker using unmodified thin-set as per their instructions.

:fish2: ??? Oh yeah, we got some mighty fine fishing out here. It's a good day for some ocean fishing too - calm trade winds, partly all come on out here! I'll put you up in my spare bedroom, you can use my car and all I want in return is for you all to Kerdi/Ditra and tile my bathroom! :clap2: Deal? :nod:

chuck stevenson
08-30-2007, 05:05 PM

Eric will do that. Not!

Did you notice (click on) the link below his signature?

I have been following your project and seems like you'll are doing a good job.

09-02-2007, 01:40 PM I sit...again...waiting for the plumber who is now 2 hours late. Why is it that plumbers NEVER can show up when they say they will? It's been 2 weeks of this! my earlier question about the size of my wall tiles and using latex modified thin-set and letting them dry longer? Any comments on that? Is it worth it or will unmodified work for us regardless of tile size/weight?

Thanks! Hope you are all having way more fun on a 3 day weekend than I am!

chuck stevenson
09-02-2007, 01:44 PM

Your plumber working on Labor Day Weekend?

I hope he is not charging you Holiday rates.

09-02-2007, 01:55 PM
No...he's just doing this on the side. And he's a friend of our contractor/neighbor so this is all cash under the table. :loaded:

09-03-2007, 01:51 PM
Allrighty! We are scheduled to start with the tile fun on Saturday! That means we will finish up the woodworking for our closet, re-frame the door, scrape some paint over the door and put up the Kerdi and finish on Thursday/Friday with the Ditra.

My Father-in-law will help us tile (he's a full on DIY'er, built 2 homes on his own and is a general engineer.) all day on Sat and Sunday which is great. Before that day comes I want to make sure I've done all I can to get all the equipment and materials we will need.

Some questions:

1. Trowel Size for our 18" X 18" tiles and grout max? We bought them years ago and all the box says is "Fieldstone Porcellanato." The place we got them from is gone so we can't ask them. I actually think they are ceramic tiles but I'm not too sure what that Procellanato is.

2. Even though the tiles are big I think we will just go with the unmodified thin-set. Although we could try Versabond for the extra hold it will give us if you folks think it's work it. This would only be for the 18" wall tiles over kerdi. We will also be doing half walls on straight hardibacker. So will versabond be a better bet? Or would you still suggest we go unmodified over the kerdi and then versabond over the hardibacker?

3. We will be putting river rock on the shower pan. Again, trowel size suggestions on that?

4. Pre-sealing the river rock - I know we will need to seal the river rock, but should we do that before we lay it and grout it? I'm concerned that the thin-set/grout will dry on the rocks and be there forever! But I'm also worried that if we pre-seal the river rock that the grout/thin-set won't stick. I've looked in the liberry and at other threads on this and haven't found anything that relates to my situation. If there is a place someone can direct me to on this issue, that would be great. My concern is sealing too much of the rock and thus, preventing a good bond with the thin-set/grout. The tiles vary in thickness so it will be hard to seal them uniformly. Luckily, it's only 16 sf.

5. Our floor tile is 3 X 3 Daltile full-body porcelain in 12 X 24 sheets. Do I need to seal that at all? It's unglazed. I will be picking up that tile tomorrow and while the do recommend modified thin-set, we will use un-modified since it's going over Ditra. I will find out trowel size when I pick up the tile as well. Any other words of wisdom with this tile?

6. Sanded and unsanded grout.
For the river rock we are going to use sanded grout - of course. Now I've seen posts about latex grout as well??? Jeez. Yet another decision. Any reason why it would be beneficial to use that? The river rock is on the schluter shower tray (over 1/2" ply 12" oc) so if we should use any special grout to help deflect any movement of the styrofoam, please let me know asap as I may have to special order it.
Since the Daltile is going to be laid with the river rock I wish just going to use the same grout for all of it. Should we switch to unsanded grout with the 3X3 tile? Or is it ok to keep the sanded? Would I even want to keep the sanded grout?
For the 18" wall tile we planned to use unsanded. That ok?

7. Wear and tear on the Ditra. We will be doing quite a bit of walking on the Ditra as we lay all this tile. We planned to do the walls first to avoid the mess on the floor tiles and to allow the wall tiles to dry as we do the floor. I'm assuming this foot traffic will be fine on the Ditra, correct?

8. Do we even need to seal the wall tiles? They are glazed. I didn't even think about that. :twitch:

I think that's all. If there is anything this tile noobie has missed out on, please let me know and I thank you kindly for all the help! You guys just let me know whenever you need a place to crash for some serious fishing in Hawaii!


09-03-2007, 02:10 PM
Hi Denise.

Looks to me like the thin-set question was hashed out on page 2 beginning with your post #21, so I won't get into that.

But as to the grout, this is going to depend upon what tile spacing you choose. Sanded grout is for spacing 1/8" or more, unsanded 1/8" or less.

Most brands of cement based grouts today come pre-modified. You'll actually see modified printed somewhere on the package. Go with one of those. Custom's PolyBlend is one commonly used. A few brands like Hydroment are available in unmodified form allowing one to add liquid admix if desired. We can be more specific once we know what brands you have to choose from. :)

09-05-2007, 05:22 PM
Need some advice - I went back to the place where we got our river rock looking for installation specs (as in recommended trowel size for the thin-set). All I got was a snappy sales rep that said I need to hire and professional. unprofessional money seemed good enough for you at the time...but I digress. :tongue:

So, for the river rock. Variations in size from 1/2" to 3" and in thickness from 1/4" to 1/2". Installation over the schluter shower tray. Trowel size for the thin-set? Since we have such a variation should we go with 1/4" U-notch to give us a lot of play room? Or will that give us too much and we will make a mess of it all?

Please help!

Mahalo. :tup2:

09-05-2007, 05:33 PM
Because of the mortar wanting to come up between the rocks I like to set these with the biggest v-notch I can find. (which is usually a 1/4") you need to make sure the mortar is everywhere and is a full spread (no little notch marks on it) lay the tile in it and beat down with a grout float. Don't walk on it and grout with sanded grout.
Good Luck

09-06-2007, 04:00 PM
Thanks -

I've already got a U-Notch 1/4" trowel. Is that OK to use instead of a v-notch for the river rock.

And on the 18X18 wall tile - is 1/4" trowel too much? Should we stick with that standard 3/8 v-notch and skim coat the back of the tiles? We are going with a 1/8" grout line size. That ok for walls or should we shoot for 1/16"?

Thank you guys!

chuck stevenson
09-06-2007, 04:13 PM

A 1/2 X 1/2 U or Square notch trowel could be used for your 18" tile. Consider 9 spotting as well as your burn in technique.

1/8" spacing is much more forgiving than 1/16"

09-06-2007, 04:21 PM
Please explain 9 spotting. Thank you! :dunce:

chuck stevenson
09-06-2007, 04:29 PM
If you have JB's book, it, or 5 spotting is in there.

In a nut shell, spotting is a dab of thinset, about the size of a marshmellow, that helps the wall tile adhere as well as make up for walls out of plane.

Here is a link.

09-07-2007, 01:48 PM
Trowel size on the ditra over plywood? 1/4" square notch ok?

The 1/2" X 1/2" seems like an awful lot of thinset for the tile. We have a limited amount of space to work with in terms of shower fixtures coming out of the wall. So can we get by with 1/4 X 1/4 on the wall instead of 1/2"?



09-07-2007, 03:30 PM
I just saw that Ditra to floor wall junction need the 10" kerdi band. :suspect: All we have is the 5" and it's going up against kerdi on the walls. Will that be ok? Grrr...

Just called Schluter and they said since it's up against Kerdi that a 5" band is ok. This was Marcy that told me so. So if it fails, it's her fault. :rofl:

09-21-2007, 01:19 PM
Well, we have been moving along on the bathroom, but the end still seems so far away. Right now I'm facing the "curing time" issue where everything seems to need 48-72 hours to cure! Agh! :complain:

Anyway, I'll post some pix so you all can see progress. Right now, it's just little old me doing the work as the husband has to get back to the work that earns us money.

I've got the walls and floor grouted. I can seal wall grout today and have another day to wait on the floor. I will seal the floor and the river rock (2nd application) at the same time.

I'm currently working on placement/installation of our hand-made tiki tiles. We make these here and can only fire 35 in our kiln at a time so this will take us a little while to do. They are starting to give the bathroom a nice tropical look and feel to it. I installed the first batch yesterday and will seal them today. The problem I have noticed is that since they are hand made, they are not square. Which gives me grout lines that are uneven. This is totally fine with us and is a look we wanted. But it begs the questions of whether I should switch to sanded grout now for their grouting. I'm seeing openings of less than 1/2" but greater than the max 1/8" stated on the package. I also see openings smaller than 1/8" as well. I've used unsanded on the wall tile for the 1/8" grout lines already. The grout color is the same for the wall tile and hand-made tiles. Will switching to sanded grout in the same (so they say) grout color be drastically different? Is it advisable to take the color change risk with grout lines as big as we have?

Please let me know what you all think. I'll try to post some pix of our progress now.


09-21-2007, 01:27 PM
Picture time!

Picture 1 - Here is the river rock shower just after grouting. I sealed it first and then grouted. It's much lighter now, but I will seal again and hope it will darken a bit (I got the enhancer and sealer).

Picture 2 - Me putting up the tiki tiles - wall is grouted and cured for 3 days.

Picture 3 - CU of tiki tiles so you can see the grout line spacing. Should I switch to sanded grout and will the color be that different? I don't mind much of a shift...but not too drastic. And will it be a bear to get into the really small lines? I'm thinking of using a pastry bag since the tiles are so rough.

09-21-2007, 01:51 PM

I can't give you any advise on your grout question, but wanted to tell you your work looks GREAT !!! :clap2:

I love the homemade Tiki tiles. How were these made? Your own design? Materials? Glaze? Firing? Spill. :)

09-21-2007, 02:02 PM
Aloha Chris - thanks for the kudos! This project is really a killer. My hands have never hurt so much! Who would have thought?

Anyway, the tiki tiles are made by my husband. He's an artist and works in illustration and sculpture. He sells the tiles and other tiki-esque things (mugs!) at Van Tiki (

He does all the sculpting in our little studio and I help glaze and fire. We have a kiln as well. is a nice link to detailed explanations of how he does the work....Van Tiki Tiki Tiles ( Scroll down to see the long post with all the pix.


chuck stevenson
09-21-2007, 06:52 PM

You and your husband are artiisans.

Thanx for sharing the links.

09-21-2007, 07:11 PM
hey denise,

:tup2: i've been following this project over at TC, it's really lookin great. love those tiles!!!! good luck with the grout. :D i'm a tiki nut/ artist who is also in the middle of a bathroom remodel. i just finished a tiki mosaic in the shower i'll be posting pics soon (it's called 50's bathroom remodel). sorry, not trying to jack this thread, i just thought it was cool another tiki fan was doing a remodel, I can't wait to see the finished work!!!!!

aaron (TikiKirby)

09-24-2007, 12:28 PM
As I was sealing the grout on the floor last night, I noticed a few places where there was an air bubble or something and I have a tiny hole in the grout. There is one location on the river rock like this as well.

How would you pros deal with this? The grout has been sealed. Would you let it be? Scrape out some grout and regrout that area? Try to just patch it as is? Try to use grout colored caulk to patch it?

I'm not too worried about the spots on the floor as they won't be getting a lot of water. But the spot on the river rock is our shower floor. So that is a major concern.

Please advise.

Thank you!