installing different thickness tiles [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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09-21-2001, 02:19 PM
I have 1/4" thick and 1/2" thick tiles that I am using for a border. What do I do to make them the same height?


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John Bridge
09-21-2001, 04:19 PM
Hi Paul,

It would be neat if the border tiles were the thinner ones, but sounds like it might be the other way around.

1/4 in. cement backer bonded down with thinset? Otherwise, you're going to be doing a lot of back-buttering, buddy.

John Bridge
09-24-2001, 06:24 PM
Tall Paul sent me some very nifty illustrations he did of his project. Took me better'n five minutes to download the email, but it's worth it. I've loaded the images on the site so you can all have a look. (don't worry about the tile project; just check out the imaging -- nah -- kidding).

The text won't be there, so here's the deal. The glass tiles are thicker than everything else. He's come up with three options. I've already spoken via the email. What do you think?

Paul can take it from here.

09-24-2001, 07:05 PM

Nice job on the graphics!
I like option #1.The less backbuttering and messing around with different size trowels,the easier and neater the installation will be.

If you can do this project as well as you did those diagrams then it should turn out beautifully.

09-24-2001, 07:19 PM
I vote for option one also...those graphics were great! How'd you do that?

09-24-2001, 07:45 PM
Thanks for the input.

John likes Opt. 3 if I can find someone to cut (better) or grind (less appealing) the glass to the desired thickness. I tend to agree because I can use the same backer thickness throughout.

But then he mentioned taking 1/2" thick Hardi-backer and routing a groove for the thick glass. I love this idea! Being that I have never laid a single tile in my life, I thought routing a groove in the backer would not be an acceptable method. But I guess it is o.k.?

Hey Bri (Ditra kid) - how about using 1/4" backer under the field/inner 1" sq, then Ditra under the glass, then 1/4" backer under the outer 1"? A lot of work, but it will save me in the total height of the whole project. I am concerned about this because I don't want the tile to be higher than the carpet.

Drawings - Microsoft's Word, Excel, or Power Point. They all have the same features. Excel tends to work best because you can set the rows and columns into a square grid pattern (see the layout view).

Again, thanks for the input.


09-24-2001, 08:14 PM

As much as I love to use and promote Ditra,I don't recommend it under the glass inserts.Ditra is not meant to be used with small tiles.The small square "columns" that Ditra has are surrounded by hollow areas that won't allow for much support for a 1" wide tile.

Technically it's not a good option.Practically,it could work but why take the chance?

Grinding the glass down to 1/4" may be expensive and risky.Those glass listelli are pricey to replace.

Hey,great design on the border.Kind of job that I look forward to doing once in a while.

09-24-2001, 09:04 PM
I don't think the Ditra is a good idea's not thick enough for this application, which means you'd need to use more thin set under the mosaic..and that's more difficult to level up..not to mention it's messy. You might want to use 1/4 Hardibacker under the's easier to cut into narrow strips...but you'll probably have to pre-drill it so that the fasteners don't split the small pieces.

Rob Z
09-24-2001, 10:29 PM
Tall Paul

Impressive computer work!

I'd go for option one, also.

Do you have the clearance for the thickness of a mortar bed? If so, then you could inlay a 1/4" thick strip of lattice corresponding to the area where the 1/2" glass tile will go. Once the mud is floated, out comes the strip of lattice, leaving a 1/4" deep channel.

This assumes you are ready/willing to do mud work. If you are ready to tackle it, all of us will be ready to guide you. John will be very excited to have created another "mud man".

Guys, what do you think about the mud option?


09-24-2001, 10:40 PM
Hi Rob
I like where you're going there, but would 1/2 mud be strong enough? At least the backerboard is held together with fiberglass...what do you think?

09-24-2001, 11:24 PM
Ron, Rob, Bri,

Complete Rookie question coming.

First - what is the difference between 'mud' and thinset? I think I need to use thinset (white?) under the glass because the glass is translucent (anything other than white would look bad)

Second - What is 'floating the mud'? What is lattice?

Third - What else can I ask to educate myself?

I understand the concepts of how and why the backer is needed, but the terms of the items and techniques I don't.


09-24-2001, 11:38 PM
Hey Paul
I think Rob was suggesting to trowel in (mud)sand and cement into the area where the boarder will go, to the desired height, using a strip of wood 1/4 inch thick down the center(where the thicker glass would go). Once the cement was dry, you would remove the wood strip, and you'd have the extra room for the thicker glass. I think it's a good idea if you had more room(depth), but I think your backerboard solution(option#1) is the easist way to go. Don't worry about asking more questions..that's why we hang out here!

Bud Cline
09-25-2001, 05:25 PM
For an experienced tile guy I agree with Rob but in this case Bri's approach is foolproof.

The white thinset IS the recommended product for the glass installation because of the see-thru feature you suggest. You would want to use plenty of the thiset and allow the product to purge around the glass tiles giving you a consistant appearance thru the glass tiles (no air pockets or bubbles). This purge would then have to be removed soon after the tiles were in place.

MUD: Unfortunately for this term is very confusing for a non-pro. MUD as John uses it, is a mixture of sand and cement used in place of the cement board you know of. This has been done for centuries.

Thinset is also referred to as MUD, but is a totally different product and concept.

Fresh concrete in its preset form is also referred to as MUD, as is joint compound used on walls to finish sheetrock joints.

The list goes on..........

Rob Z
09-26-2001, 06:56 AM
Tall Paul

My posting from last night is no where to be found! Oh well...

The mud that we are talking about is also known as dry pack and thick bed mortar. It is a mix of sand and cement, mixed much drier than other "muds" that are used in construction. We say it is "floated" when we spread it, pack it, and screed it into its final flat and level shape.

Lattice is a flat molding, usually 1/4" thick and in several stock widths.

As for educating yourself, I suggest buying both John's book and Michael Byrne's book. They are excellant references. Both are listed on John's homepage.

Let us know if you have more Q's.


09-26-2001, 01:51 PM
TallPaul, I just gotta know. I work a lot with Excell. Where did you get all the patterns? Did you insert from Clipart? How many rows did it take to make Option #1? Five?


John Bridge
09-26-2001, 03:23 PM
Rob, How come you're the only one who loses posts around here? Are you falling prey to the "clear" button? Change brewski brands. See if that helps. Works wonders for me. ;)

Bud Cline
09-26-2001, 05:41 PM
Kinda funny...

my email account (compose) with my ISP has identical buttons at the bottom of the message page as the buttons on this forum. The only difference is they are reversed.

I have accidently dumped a bunch of posts here, and that's a real pisser, especially when I have just completed a great manifesto.

09-26-2001, 06:44 PM
Hey, that's what musta happened to all my best stuff!

I've written lots of them manifestos myownself, and I can't find a one of'em on here.


09-27-2001, 11:15 PM
Hey Dano,

Your profile says you live in Upland. I live in Monrovia. Small web!

The 'fill patterns' are actual pix of the individual tiles and carpet that I scanned in. I only used the actual rows and columns (cells) for the top view layout. The profiles are 100% drawn graphics (drawing toolbar). Therefore, I was not limited to the number of rows to use.

If you want, I'll email you the file so you can mess around with it. After a little why, it becomes very easy to draw in Excel. In case you can't get my address from my profile, it is


09-28-2001, 10:33 AM
TallPaul, the World gets even smaller, I work in Monrovia.

We are in a new building on Fifth ave, near AAA and directly South of the Holiday Inn. I shop at the Mountain Big Box. Went over to CV Tile the other day. They have a nice store and lots of customers. I noticed their tile setting products were cheaper than the Big Box. Hmmmm.

Send the file my way and thanks.



09-20-2002, 06:21 AM
Originally posted by John Bridge
Tall Paul sent me some very nifty illustrations he did of his project. ...

I'm "unauthorized" to view this ist just me again??

Can anyone click through this link?


John Bridge
09-20-2002, 06:31 AM
Have you noticed this post is a year old? ;)

09-20-2002, 06:46 AM
Originally posted by John Bridge
Have you noticed this post is a year old? ;)

thanks, John....yes, I did, but patterns have no expiration date ;)

08-03-2006, 08:40 AM
Need help in deciding the best way to handle a 4" by 13" decrotive boarder. I am using 13 x 13 tile on the walls with 1/4 grout lines. I am thinking of 1/8 grout btwn tile and boarder and no grout on boarder end to end. Does this sound like the best thing to do? The boarder is very elaberate and I can't get any grout on it or I will not get it off?

08-03-2006, 10:58 AM
You sure pulled an old one out of the archives here Jared. ;)

A picture would help us measurably. If that's not possible tell us, can this border be masked off prior to grouting? And where is it located? Backsplash, shower, etc. Location will certainly play a role in determining whether the end-to-end joints should be left open to collect whatever else in the way of dirt and grime may be heading it's way.