1/32" spacers? countertop wood trim? rounded countertop? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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04-11-2003, 10:06 AM
Question 1: what can/should I use for 1/32" spacers? I've seen mention of toothpicks? Other?

I'm getting ready to install 12" x 12" granite tiles on my kitchen countertops.

The guy at HD said I should use 1/16" spacers, but after perusing a number of postings here, I would prefer to use 1/32" (I don't want to start another 'war' on this topic; I'd just prefer thinner grout lines). ;)

Question 2: what can/should I use for wood trim around the countertop?

It seems I should use hardwood (am thinking of oak). Recommended size, suggesting routing? Means of attachment?
Do before or after tile?

Question 3: Is it possible/practical to use wood trim on a rounded section of the countertop?

I plan to extend one leg of the horseshoe countertop by about 6 - 8 inches (I'll replace the substrate section to do this). Given that I'll be trimming with wood, should I keep the edges straight, or is there some trick (short of constructing my own wood steamer) to trimming a rounded portion with wood?

P.S. This is my 1st post to this forum. What a great place, and a wealth of information!

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04-11-2003, 10:36 AM
Hi Twiddly!

1) The guy at HD was right. 'Nuff said. :D

2) 3/4" thick by whatever you need to cover the plywood and CBU and tile edge. Any wood would do, but I think the harder (denser) woods will hold up better. You can nail or screw into the plywood and cabinet frame. If you use screws, counterbore so you can insert plugs to hide the screws. Fill the nail holes with color matched putty. Dry fit all your materials so you can guage the height, then install the edging before you install the tile. Hammering and screwing on the countertop may loosen the tiles. The routing detail is up to you, but rounded edges hold up better (IMHO). Apply your finish first, and apply masking tape to protect the wood when you grout.

3) Doing a round edge using straight materials will be a challange. You can cut the radiuses (just the corners) from thick(as thick as the edging is wide) stock and join them to the straight segments, but that's wasteful and difficult with out a bandsaw. You can do 45 degree corners if you don't want a sharp 90 degree corner.

Hope this helps!

Please come back to this thread with other questions, so we can keep track of your project better.


Brian Briggs
04-11-2003, 10:40 AM
1) I use flat toothpics
2) Oak works well, the size will be detarmined by the thickness of the stone, the adhesive and the substraight. I recommend tiling first and the get your wood cut.
3) I have seen people bend wood by cutting slots in the back and wetting the wood. It would probly take some practice to get it right.

I product that I have used in the past was faux coral. They make it in decorative strips and you can even get it flexible. It installs just like wood and looks like real coral. Go to www.fauxcoral.com and check them out.

04-11-2003, 12:34 PM
If you got your granite from Home depot, it isnt calibrated enough to do a 1/32 joint,besides the fact that a 1/32 joint is not acceptable for a natural stone product.I can see you having severe problems lining up corners with granite from HD with anything less than a 1/8" joint.do as you will, dont say i didnt warn you though.................:crap:

04-11-2003, 01:00 PM
I got the tiles from Carpet Exchange; they seem to be pretty uniform.

04-11-2003, 01:03 PM
oops, poor resolution before.

Brian Briggs
04-11-2003, 01:06 PM
Even the ones I get from my suppliers aren't always true and square.

04-11-2003, 01:45 PM
You said you use flat toothpicks for spacers. Do you trim your tiles first to ensure uniformity [beyond necessary standard cuts]?

Any tricks you use to smoosh the grout into that little space?

04-11-2003, 05:26 PM

If your stone is calibrated properly you can do a 1/32" joint. To check how consistent they area just find a flat surface and dry lay a 4' or so square of tiles butting them together. This will give you an idea of how accurate they are cut. If you find they are inconsistent go with a larger joint (say 1/16"). If you decide on a 1/32" joint you should work the grout into the joints. Donít mix your grout to thin or you will loose the color. Mixing your grout with latex additive would help hold the color better. Also caulking the joint between the wood and the stone is a good idea.

If you decide to install the stone first you will need to use some straight edges to get the stone flat so installing the wood after will not be a headache. If youíre talking about trying to bend wood around a very small outside corner radius youíre not going to have to much luck. One possibility is ripping the wood down into thin enough strips that it will conform top your radius and then glue them all back together in a jig. Another option would be to clip the corner off at 45 degrees to eliminate a sharp 90 degree edge. Oak, Maple, Cherry and most other hardwoods would work fine. You could glue and screw the wood (hiding the screws with some wood plugs made from the same material) or glue and biscuit joint it to the plywood.


04-11-2003, 06:11 PM
I'm still in the process of demo'ing the old ceramic tile from the countertop. There's a lot of ridges from the old adhesive on top of the wood (no backerboard).

1) Should I sand down this stuff to get it nice and level?
2) It's 3/4" plywood. I assume I should put down backerboard?

P.S. God I love this place. Wish there was a forum like this for all my projects!

John Bridge
04-11-2003, 08:26 PM
Hi Twid, Welcome. :)

If you have a way of ripping thin layers of oak you can laminate them back together after they've been bent to conform to the radius. I like to install and finish the wood before I set the tiles. The wood MUST be finished, though, or water and cement will permanently discolor it.

Brian Briggs
04-12-2003, 07:39 AM
I change my recommendation on the wood after the tile. I have done a handfull of these counters doing it my way (the old "my way") and I can see why the suggestions to do it first (except with slab).

04-12-2003, 08:04 AM
OK, if I do the wood first, how do I accurately measure the height, so that it will be flush with tiles? That is, how much height should I calculate for the thinset under the tiles?

Also, I like the idea of using screws and plugging the holes. However, I've not done that before. What tool(s) do I need? Is there some attachment for my drill, or is it more specialized? Any recommended links or books on this type of woodworking?

04-12-2003, 08:21 AM

After you solve the radius dilema...

Prefinish the wood (including top coat). A spar varnish will give you the best long term results (especially by the sink and dishwasher). I would seal all sides, cement staining of raw wood would require lot's of sanding & sometimes bleach.

I'm in agreement with the suggestions to install the wood edge 1st (gives you a good reference point for the stone). Predrill, nail & glue to the plywood edge, and fill holes with matching putty.

Tight joints: 1/16", but if your stone will allow it, and you insist on 1/32" joints - there is references on this site for those (Tavey ?) spacers. Toothpicks work, but sometimes break at removal (yes, then can be knifed out - granite has been known to chip).

Grout: I suggest a slurry to get in those tight joints or it will never make it to the bottom. When it sags (and it will, especially at the corners - that means its working its way down), apply a 2nd application before wipe down. By then your grout has started to firm up (in the joints & bucket). When cleaning, the less water you use the better, and less loss of color you will experience.

As far as your 2nd post about the ridges from the tearout, if they're not too severe, can be taken up in the installation of the CBU (as it should be thinsetted to the substrate).

Sounds like a great project!

:) :) :) :) :) :)

04-12-2003, 08:30 AM
Allow about 1/8" for grout.

There are drill bits that will drill and counterbore the hole at the same time, or you can use two bits. There are also "plug cutter" bits that will allow you to make your own plugs out of scrap pieces. The wood will match perfectly if you aligh the grain. You sand these plugs flush, then finish the wood with stain and varnish.

You can also get premade plugs, but you have no control over the color and grain match.

Premade wood button head plugs are also available, but these leave a rounded head. You would have to be careful where you put them to avoid a sloppy appearance.

09-01-2009, 09:42 PM
I just did a bar top with 12x12 porcelain tiles and I installed a Maple nosing edge all the way around it. I personally like the look of Maple over Oak. I routed the exterior top and bottom edges of the Maple with a 1/4" radius router bit and then sanded it with #220 sandpaper. I stained it with a Minwax stain and then applied 3 coats of Clear Gloss Polyurethane, steel wooling the surface of the poly between each coat. It looks great and very durable.

I followed someone's advice on the forum and set up a jig in the drill press and drilled small holes in the Maple nosing at a 45 degree angle every 6 inches. These holes accommodate 1 1/2" finishing nails which I drove in and set slightly under-flush which fastened the nosing to the 3/4" plywood base. I used PL Premium Adhesive (or you can use Titebond) between the ply and maple. It is rock solid. Then just fill the small nail holes with a matching putty.

Caulk your edge between the tile and the finished wood with a matching latex caulk. (do not grout this joint, it will crack)

09-01-2009, 10:52 PM
Thread's more'n six years old, Drummz, if you didn't notice.

And would you please put a first name in a permanent signature line for us to use? :)