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Unread 02-24-2015, 11:32 AM   #1
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Edges of tile hollow sounding pre-grout (newbie asking)

Ok - so, first of all, I'm a rank newbie. Most of my advice was from a few friends I have that are "handy men" and have redone their houses to great ends. That said - I hope this is a safe place where I won't get flamed for the many errors I will already admit. :-)

We are laying 12x24 tiles and using pre-mixed mortar (strike 1). Most of it was fine, but in several spots, especially at the edges of the tile, there are hollow sounds. There's only one place that the tile really "moves" when pressure is applied down on it.

I have not yet grouted.

Is there a way to "patch" or strengthen the mortar bond and fill the space in the corner spaces? Also, I've found that the premixed mortar seems to really contract when it dries. There are many spaces between my tiles where the mortar has completely "dried up". Is this normal?

I'm praying that a "reboot" of the floor is not in order (as I have already put up my tile wainscoting - that will no doubt at some point make its way into a post as well...)
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Unread 02-24-2015, 04:31 PM   #2
jadnashua
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I do not know of any mastic (sometimes called thinset) from a bucket premixed that is designed for use on tile that big. It sits in the bucket for probably over a year without hardening, and between the floor and a big tile like that, it's hard to say. Read the fine print on the material...I highly doubt it says it should be used as you did.

In reality, you can probably get the tile up, scrape, soak, and wash the existing mastic off of them, and reuse the tile. What you really need is a good cement based mortar.

But, before we get too far, what is underneath the tile? A slab, a wooden subfloor, cbu, or what? If not a slab, what is the makeup of the subflooring and have you run your floor deflection through the 'Deflecto' tool in the blue bar above?

Most pros won't touch mastic except maybe for use on a wall, but then, only for smaller tiles that will afford an opportunity for it to dry out.
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Unread 03-02-2015, 09:45 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply! Well, I've taken your advice - and at least checked the tile after a month on the cement subflooring. I easily pried one up. So - they are all coming up. I'll be re-doing the floor. The tub of junk I used doesn't really discourage using larger tiles - just warns that the dry time on larger tiles is longer. But, since it's been a month - I think I've given it plenty of time to do its thing.

So, the tile's coming up and I'll redo with cement-based mortar.

I'm gambling a bit by keeping my 12x12 tiles on the wall with this stuff, but definitely doing the shower with the cement-based stuff. (as planned)

Thanks again for your quick response... I'm both happy and sad that you are right. :-)
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Unread 03-02-2015, 10:35 AM   #4
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Hi.

First of all, you aren't going to get flamed here. This is the nicest forum I've ever visited. You might get a gentle <facepalm>, but no real insults.

Secondly, some advice: Slow down. I understand the desire to get work done, your room is in shambles, you may have a SOWMBO (Significant Other Who Must Be Obeyed) who is pushing you too fast. All well and good, but by now you have seen how much time and money that mistakes can cost. You're in a decent bit of luck that you can salvage your tile and you don't need King Kong to pry them up.

I know this might sound preachy, but I don't mean to preach, just help.

Tile, whether it is on a floor, wall, or ceiling or somewhere else, is a "system". It relies on proper structural support of the substrate, proper substrate, proper waterproofing, proper cement, proper grout, etc. This is basically in the order of construction, and not a complete list (I left out proper slope to a drain, for instance).

I'm just making the point that it's a system you are building, not just "gluing" stuff to whatever. I went through the same learning process when it came time to tackle a tub surround, and this site was invaluable.

There's a lot to learn, but you can find out everything you need with about a week of reading, here and elsewhere. Clear up any contradictions here, the advice is good and sound. Taking the time now to know exactly what you need to do, at every step, is key to a successful project.

Welcome aboard.

PS - do NOT take any advice from the boobs at the Big Box hardware stores. Just... don't.
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Unread 03-02-2015, 10:41 AM   #5
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Thanks, Gerry!

Luckily, I'm just doing a tub surround with my "shower" tile. Had a plumber to make sure I'm on the right track with all of the plumbing and tub install.

At this point, I just want to get past the learning curve of floor tiling. I took a short class, but it was woefully inadequate - and actually, they recommended the mastic. (grr)

So, I am trying to slow down - and do it right this time... small steps!
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Unread 03-02-2015, 10:51 AM   #6
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Even with "simple" floors, there's more than meets the eye...

OK, work your way backwards:

What does the tile sit on? (thinset cement)
What does the cement sit on? (I don't know)
What does that sit on?
etc.

I'm leading you, possibly, to deflection calculations. I'll leave the rest to you.
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Unread 03-02-2015, 12:07 PM   #7
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Since you're on a slab that now has mastic residue on it, you may have some significant remediation to do, considering it's been a month. It may all clean up with warm water and a sponge, but it's hard to say until you get all the tile removed.

First, don't use any chemicals to remove the mastic. Use warm water and a sponge, or a scrub brush if you think you need it. After all the mastic is removed, you can assess the slab and see if any further remediation is needed.
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Unread 03-02-2015, 06:50 PM   #8
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So - question - I've started taking up the tiles. I'm finding that the edges are dry, so I've had a little damage to a couple of the tiles. Am I asking for more problems if I "prime" the floor with a little water to get the edges to "goo-up"?
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Unread 03-03-2015, 11:56 AM   #9
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It sounds like a good idea if you're thinking to soak the tiles a bit in water. The tiles will be fine...the mastic will hopefully give up easier. Try a small area before you unleash the flood.
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Unread 03-04-2015, 08:55 AM   #10
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Just my 2 cents and you may be doing it already, but if you use a stiff putty knife and a few tap with a hammer you may be able to separate the tile from the mastic in the corners. If that doesn't work I think you're on the right track with a little pre-soak.
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