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Unread 10-04-2020, 07:18 AM   #18
ss3964spd
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Location: Fairfax, Va
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You can bond the mud bed with thinset mortar, Mike, using off the shelf bagged products. Since Depot appears convenient to you Custom's Versabond will be fine, and will also be fine for setting those 18X18's. Burning in is simply using the flat side of your trowel, or any other rigid flat tool, to forcibly press the mortar onto/into the substrate, followed by adding mortar on top as required.

Trowel size; if your mud bed is flat, and it probably will be, and your tiles are also close to flat, but there's a chance they won't be, then a 3/8" slant notched trowel would be great. Not likely you'll find one of those at Depot, though, so next up will be a 1/2" square notch - which will be fine, but might result in more mortar squeezing into the grout joints.

Check your tiles for flat by placing one face up on the kitchen counter, probably out of eye sight of Mrs. Mike, and then place another face down on the first. See how much they "rock". Repeat with several from different boxes. Remove all evidence from test area.
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