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Unread 09-22-2007, 05:37 PM   #1
KimK
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Cleaning Thinset Out of Joints Question and another....

Hello,

Newbie here who has asked some previous questions and your advice has been much appreciated! Got a great cheap drill at HF for mixing mortar thanks to your tips so no more mixing by hand!

Have some more questions, but am I supposed to go back to my original post and add the question to that post since it relates to the same tile project?

First question is about cleaning thinset out of the joints before grouting. I searched the forum, but could not find the answer I am looking for. A few spots have mortar very close to the top and I read that it is best to have about 3/4 the height of the tile clear of thinset. While laying my ceramic tile (12 X 12 with 1/4 inch joints using Versabond), I used the spacers to clean out any excess thinset from between the joints. Since I am a newbie and quite a bit to learn, many tiles were placed down, not even, then lifted, and put back. After doing this the edges would get a good bit of thinset on them. Cleaned the edges best I could with a damp microfiber rag, but many edges have minimal thinset on them. I will be using bone grout made by Custom, and the Versabond was white. Already purchased the grout removal tool.

Do I need to scrape any Versabond thinset off of the edges if it is very minimal?

And another question about getting rid of cat urine odor on concrete and wood subfloor. I do rescue and had a neutered foster cat who sprayed in my house before he went on to his new "single cat" home. He was here a good while, so he hit lots of territory. In the several spots he hit the most it seeped through the baseboard and onto the concrete just beyond the edge of the vinly tile. Other neutered cats marked over him.
I searched the forums here and Nature's Miracle seems to be recommended but that product never worked well for me. I had put down several products, then put down Zinnser BIN as was recommended by HD, but then scraped that up. Most odor is gone but I want to make sure it is eliminated. Found an old post that recommended Microban which is sold by jondon.com and I did send them an email as they sell many different odor products.

Any product recommendations for eliminating all traces of cat urine on concrete slab and wood subfloors?

Thanks!
Kim
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Unread 09-22-2007, 06:36 PM   #2
Mike2
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Depending upon grout color, any thin-set on the tile's edge may become quite noticeable. Especially if you used a gray mortar. If it's up near the top edge of the tile, best to make it be gone.

Don't know much about cat urine other than it's often necessary to trade one smell for another. Pine-Sol seems to work but it isn't exactly a bouquet of roses either.

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Unread 09-22-2007, 06:58 PM   #3
Jaz
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I find that a utility knife works well to remove mortar from between tile prior to grouting.

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Unread 09-22-2007, 11:16 PM   #4
Grout Girl
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Hi Kim,

Yes, I would probably get the thinset out beforehand. Alot of times you can get away with a minimal amount if the grout closely matches the thinset.

But there is a chance it could end up being obvious in the end anyway...then you may be faced with having to scrape it out and regrout...depending on how particular the homeowner is. Over time, you get a feel for what is necessary prepwork and what is not.

You might find it worth the time to just run a utility blade along the side of the tile to get any thinset off tile that is near top of joint where it could show through the grout.


Just like Jaz said...I too have found the utility knife to be the best route.
The only thing I would add is to take it easy before you have the rythmn and feel for the knife because it's easy to get going too fast and end up knicking a corner of a tile or scratching tile (especially marble/limestone). Even ceramic/porcelain. I've seen it happen many times. But yep...I like to use the knfe too more than any specialty tool.

Carefully work with different ways to angle the knife and you'll find yourself coming up with little tricks to work that thinset out from the spots it likes to show thru grout. I think you are right about the level of thinset. I would say if it is 1/16" or less from the tile surface, it will probably show through. If you use the tip of your utility blade in a smooth and direct fashion you can knock the level down. Sort of skimming the top of the thinset level.

You'll get a feel for what shows through and what doesn't over time. And if the grout color closely resembles the thinset color the less you have to really worry about it.


And...For thinset on the surface of the tile.....
A damp cloth (the ones that feel like a towel) works very nicely for thin to moderate amounts of thinset. Home depot carries those clothes in the cleaning section.

For heavier thinset, a chisel...just be careful.
It doesn't take too much force to get heavier chunks off. Often times you barely have to put your chisel to the tile to knock thinset globs off.


Everyone does it differently. Some people like to just grout and see what shows up later and get it out. I like to get it completely prepped first and since I've become pretty quick with the knife and cloth...it's not such an issue. Also I find I can use my cloth as a "sweeper" to completely get rid of debris on top of the tile before I grout. Sort of bringing it all back with me as I go leaving a clean surface where I've been. Then it's all ready to go, you know?

Hope that helps!
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Unread 09-22-2007, 11:23 PM   #5
Grout Girl
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By the way...all of my answers above are dealing with thinset once it's dried.

My boss has the setters use a wet sponge to gently clean thinset while they're setting. I know one setter who gently cleans the joints with a brush. That makes for some very nice prepwork!!! Well, no prepwork I should say.

It took more time on his end of things and I don't know any other setter who does that! I think you have to be really careful too.
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Unread 09-23-2007, 03:28 PM   #6
KimK
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Thanks for the advice so far!

Before asking my question I did try using a utility knife, but am really afraid of slipping with that, so did buy the grout removal tool. Easier to use than the utility knife (at least for me), but was still concerned about damaging some tile edges. Wherever I had thinset between the joints I cleaned it out with spacers, then a wipe with a microfiber cloth to clean off the top edge. Still small amounts remain on the edges in some places. Very minimal, so may not be a problem at all.

Any advice on treating for odor would be appreciated...

Thanks,
Kim
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Unread 09-23-2007, 04:34 PM   #7
Lazarus
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Easiest thing I've used to clean out fresh thinse is a wooden dowell or a piece of popsicle stick, cut in a "V" shape. Yeah, I use a utility knife also when needed. Just scoop any "pooky" out of the joint and finish up with a sponge......
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Unread 09-23-2007, 05:15 PM   #8
cx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim
Have some more questions, but am I supposed to go back to my original post and add the question to that post since it relates to the same tile project?
Yes, Kim, we prefer you have a project thread and keep all your questions there.

This part of the same project with the tiles from different dye lots?
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Unread 09-24-2007, 11:45 AM   #9
KimK
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Question Thanks and Another Question....

Thanks for the tip Lazarus. A dowel or popsicle stick seems like it might be easier than using the spacers. I have now been using a microfiber cloth to clean off the edges, as well as a spacer....but at first was just using a spacer. So quite a few edges to clean small amounts of thinset. I have been wiping the tops clean since the start, but was not wiping the top side edges as well.

CX....Same house, different tile project. The different lot tile is going in the foyer, kitchen, DR, LR. Currently working on a different tile for my lower level, which is on concrete, after removing previous vinyl tile and as much cutback adhesive as possible.

Which leads me to my next questions! Last area in lower level to be working on is the most difficult because of a very large embroidery machine (home based embroidery business). Machine is 1600 pounds, 16 feet long, and it rests on large rubber feet as well as wood support blocks. The machine will need to be jacked up, replace rubber feet with wheels and then moved. So was planning on tiling in front of machine, then moving it onto the tiled area, and tile where machine was and behind machine, then put back. I was told this would not be a problem with the new tile (by HD). I am hoping to do this myself with the help of a few strong friends/neighbors. Hiring an embroidery technician to do it is an option, but a very expensive one. Might also be able to hire a moving company to come in and move the machine 5 feet.

How long should tile be down before even considering moving the machine on top of it?

Best way to protect the new tile floor from scratches and damage?

Thanks!
Kim

Last edited by KimK; 09-24-2007 at 11:51 AM.
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Unread 09-24-2007, 12:42 PM   #10
Bellsfloors
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Kim,

I also use the popsicle trick to clean out fresh thinset and follow up with the sponge but ussually still have to do a little cleanup of dry thinset the following day. I have found that the "backerboard knife" you find at Lowe's works quite well for this. The tool has a plastic handle and an anchor shaped look to it as the tips are carbide and cut well into dryed mortar. I use this the following day so to catch the mortar before it takes it full set and is much easier to clean then if you waited several days. I have also taken a doodlebug scrub pad and dry buffed the edges of the tile to remove mortar from inside curvatures of the tile for the less camoflauging grouts.

Now a word of caution:
Any type of knife to clean out grout joints can do damage to the surface of the tiles and yourself if it gets away from you. Also if you use such tools in a waterproofed area you must use extreme caution not to damage the membrane and cause a possible leakage area.
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Unread 09-24-2007, 04:27 PM   #11
Lazarus
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Kim~~Because of the weight, I'd give it at least 48 hours to cure.
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Unread 09-24-2007, 09:43 PM   #12
KimK
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Thanks Tracy....so the backerboard knife would work better than the grout removal tool? Unfortunately the thinset I need to clean off the edges has been down for much more than a day.

Thanks Laz....so 48 hours? I thought you all would tell me much longer. Do you think I will have a problem with the wheels scratching or cracking the tile while moving the machine?

Thanks!
Kim
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Unread 09-25-2007, 01:10 AM   #13
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I believe you indicated this was on a slab. If so, 48 hours should do the trick....give it more if possible. Try tapping on the tiles with the plastic end of a screwdriver. The sound you get should sound like you're tapping on a concrete slab. If it sounds at all hollow, let it cure longer as it will most probably fail when you put the weight on it. As to scratching the tile, if the rollers are rubber, shouldn't be a problem. For insurance, I'd put some plywood over the area that it's to be moved over.
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