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Unread 07-28-2021, 08:52 PM   #1
ITY
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Tiling over cultured marble shower walls. I know. I know. But what about when...

Tiling over cultured marble shower walls.

I know. I know.

But what about when simply removing a sliding shower door that is now in the way of ingress/egress into the bathtub, for assisted bathing, and all that needs to be tiled over is where the sliding door frame used to be?

The cultured marble was installed in the '70's. It was then tiled over in the '80's, and has not presented a problem since.

A number of techniques were used to inspect for any problems... removal of the floor covering, removing the soap dish and using remote light wands, mirrors, and scopes inside the wall cavity, removing the escutcheons around the plumbing and doing the same. No water, leak, mold, or dry rot issues found.

The subfloor is concrete slab, as an FYI, but the focus of this question is on the walls.

I essentially wish to complete the tile job that previously stopped at the shower door, and extend the tiling for the remaining 5.5" past the last vertical row of tiles, to completely cover the cultured marble that is now visible with the sliding door removed.

A photo of this small project/problem is attached below. I apologize for not knowing how to make the photo appear inline with this text, as I have seen done in other threads on this forum.

From searching the JohnBridge forum, it sounds like I would need to use an epoxy adhesive, instead of a thin set or modified thin set, due to either the plasticizers in the cultured marble or gel coating surface that might cause adhesion failures with thinsets.

The current tiles that haven't failed in 35+ years appear to be adhered with thin set, but I wasn't there when the tile was installed, so I'm only going based on what was revealed when the shower door was removed.

Regardless of whatever worked in the past, I'm willing to accept the recommendations of the experienced members here who have stated in other threads that the best practice in adhering tile to cultured marble with the most promising long term result will be found with using epoxy adhesives.

The two brands of epoxy adhesives that were most often mentioned in the results of my searching on the JB forum for guidance on sticking ceramic tile to existing cultured marble are:

1. Laticrete Latapoxy 300 3 Part Epoxy Adhesive
2. Mapei Kerapoxy 2 Part Epoxy Adhesive

The problems with these products are numerous in my application.

A. All In.

Both of these epoxy adhesive products are packaged in such a way as to include all constituent components to make the multi-part mix at time of use, but no way to divide the individual components into smaller increments to make only the amount of product needed for the job, and/or only the amount of product that can be applied by a novice within the worktime alloted. It's all in, or nothing doing.

B. Big Bucks.

Both of these products exceed $110 bucks in the smallest sizes available.

C. Coverage

The coverage range of the smallest size available ranges from 35 square feet up to 275 square feet, depending on the notch trowel size and brand of product selected. My total project, for both bathrooms, is less than 7 square feet. The bathroom shown is comprised of a 5.5" wide strip that is 5' tall times 2 sides. 1/2 x 5 x 2 = 5 square feet for one bathroom. The second bathroom is a 2" strip x 6' x 2 sides. 1/6 x 6 x 2 = 2 square feet. 5 + 2 = 7 square feet total. Not 35 square feet, and certainly not 275 square feet.

D. Redundant Dunce Factor (DF)

A novice like me, who insists on doing things as right as possible, and will redo them over and over until they are done right, has a high measure of DF that needs to be accounted for. I honestly don't think I can vertically set and tape off even as little as 7 square feet of pre-planned, pre-cut and pre-fitted flat and radius bullnose tiles... especially spread over two bathrooms... within a worktime of 45 to 60 minutes. Just look at how long it is taking me to write this question (measured by multiplying the time it is taking you to read it by 10). And notice the 2 weeks it took me after joining this forum to read enough Librerry posts before even beginning to ask this question. I have very high DF. I need a product that can be used in small enough increments will allow me to take one step at a time, 1 square foot at a time.


So what alternative adhesives should I consider in this situation?

I'm open to any and all ideas.

I'll throw out a few random ideas just as examples of what I've been considering, as I pile more dirt onto the mountain that to most might still just be a mole hill.

Custom Building Products Simple Mat?

JB Weld?

3M Epoxy Adhesives?

Liquid Nails?

Regular nails?

To get a sense of the weight of the tiles, as that is likely an important consideration for a vertical wall setting, the following may be useful to know:

Original tiles are 4.25 x 4.25 glazed ceramic with white body / bisque, made in USA by American Olean (AO)

AO was acquired by Daltile, and of course, 35 years later, Daltile doesn't offer the same color ceramic glaze any longer. And, Daltile stores are very difficult to obtain alternate colored product from, in this particular classic wall tile line, post pandemic. Special order. 3 month wait. No guarantees. $9 per square foot, but have to buy in minimum box quantity, so it actually costs hundreds of dollars per square foot for the 7 total square feet that I need to cover.

Enter Home Depot, which has every piece and profile shape I need, in stock, in multiple locations, available by the individual piece, for $1 or $2 per square foot. Many of the pieces are still Made In USA, and still have the lightweight white body / bisque, weighing in at about 2.5 lbs per square foot.

The special pieces I am after are radius bullnose edges and corners, that will wrap around the cultured marble edge, consistent with how the existing tile wraps over the top of the cultured marble surrounding the tile.

The radius bullnose edges harken back to the days of full thick mortar bed set tiles, before the modern times of flat radius edges over thin set, or no radius edges at all, using metal trim instead from the likes of Schluter.

So, in case the question was lost in the effort to explain the project, I'm looking for the best adhesive, multipart or single part, double stick tape or epoxy, thin set or glue, to adhere a few wall tiles over cultured marble where a metal shower door frame used to be.

Thanks for reading. Thanks in advance for your answers and thoughts. And thanks for such a wonderfully informative forum on tiling.
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Unread 07-28-2021, 09:54 PM   #2
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Welcome, Ity.

I'm not seeing the photo in your post. You want to use the paper-clip icon above the Reply dialog box to attach photos from storage on your computer.

I think I understand your project, but I'll wait for the photo to be sure we're all on the same page.

One other thing to consider is calling MAPEI and asking a rep about using their Eco Prim Grip over that manufacturered marble surface so you can bond your tiles with thinset mortar.
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Unread 07-28-2021, 11:04 PM   #3
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Got the picture in there that time.

Using "Manage Attachments" and the red close box when done uploading the attachment apparently didn't work.

Using the Paper Clip icon, and scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the pop up window after uploading the attachment, apparently does work.

Since there were two differences with each attempt, I don't know which difference made the difference, but I thank you for your suggestion to use the paper clip.

The picture is now up, and I look forward to your feedback.
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Unread 07-29-2021, 08:03 AM   #4
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Hi Ity,

I would rough up the exposed cultured marble with sand paper, use a tack cloth to remove all dust particles and hit it with thinset and tile.

P.S. No warranty from this end.
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Unread 07-29-2021, 10:13 AM   #5
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Thanks John. No worries. No warranty is expected. Only sound advice from experienced perspectives is sought.

@CX, in reviewing that ECO Prim Grip primer that you suggested, the application instructions mention using it over cementious substrates, and underneath self leveling underlayments.

In the same bathrooms, there are concrete slab floors, and the intent is to install new tile over them. Tiling the floors is another subject for a different thread, but thinking in terms of economy of product, would the bucket of Eco Prim Grip primer be useful for both the 7 square feet of wall as well as the 43 square feet of flooring when combining both bathrooms, for a total of 50 square feet of surface area to be primed?
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Unread 07-29-2021, 11:28 AM   #6
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Ity, it's my understanding that the Eco Prim Grip is to aid in bonding to difficult surfaces. Don't know why you'd need it for properly prepared concrete, but I suppose you could use it there if you wanted.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-29-2021, 03:24 PM   #7
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As CX suggested, I did reach out to Mapei Technical Support, and found Denise to be very knowledgeable on Mapei products. She was also quick to ascertain the situation I explained (the tiny area needing tile versus the indivisibly large quantity of epoxy adhesive components).

Interestingly enough, she also recommended ECO Prim Grip.

As far as the thinset, she recommended Mosaic & Glass Tile mortar (Mapei Adesilex P10), simply because it is sold in small quantity (10 lb bag).

This seemed to make sense to me, since glass tile, with a smoother backside, is likely harder to stick than ceramic tile, with a porous bisque.

For grout, she recommended UltraColor Plus FA, because Lowe's sells it in 1 lb sample cups, and she felt that I'd only need two cups.

I really appreciated her professionalism and advice.

Still, I wanted to run the mortar and grout recommendations by this group, because there are other manufacturers out there, including othe sponsors of this forum.

From reading over the last couple of weeks, a grout called Prism has steadily emerged as recommended most often, not only over other cementious grouts, but even over single part grouts like Fusion Pro or Mapei's FlexColor CQ.

For the given application, where grout joints will be 1/16", what are your thoughts on grout? (See photo in Post #1 for existing grout appearance)

Thanks in advance!
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Unread 07-29-2021, 04:23 PM   #8
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If those MAPEI products are easily available to you, that's what I would use. The FA in the grout stands for fine aggregate and will work quite well in tight grout joints.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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