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Old 02-15-2011, 09:59 AM   #1
bagofbones
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First timer - Floor tile, uneven concrete, over thinking

Hello everyone. I've been reading this forum for sometime without action. I've now taken the first steps to actually doing something. Any insight you could offer will be very appreciated.

Plan:

16x16 cheap sanibel HD tile in two bedrooms and connecting hall way and bath, foyer, living room and kitchen. Approximately 1100SF. Floor in starting bedroom is level but not perfectly flat.

Progress:

Pulled carpet, baseboards, repaired and painted walls and patched carpet tack damaged concrete. Everything to avoid the floor.

I want to start in a little used bedroom to learn, experiment and work out my initial acts of stupidity. I have run a straight edge everywhere and have multiple low spots however from 1/16 - 5/32 over 3x5 feet are the two main dips. Towards the door and out to the hallway it dips to 1/4" over 4ft by 4ft. The lowest dips are almost under the drywall edge at 9/32.

I've bought Mapei thinset (white) from Lowes and LevelQuick/Primer from HD. I've been reading this forum for months and SLC had me questioning my skills in reality which led me to learn using thinset the day before tiling up to 1/4" will work which led me to start over thinking and ultimately doing nothing.

Starting Questions:

1. Thinset or SLC for the bedroom or something else?
2. Recommendation for feathering/smoothing.
3. Is it acceptable to tile 1/2 of a room at time?
4. All of my cuts seem to be straight or 90s. Will a tile cutter, 'cut it'?

Thanks ahead of time.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:56 AM   #2
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Hi, Ben!

1) Thinset those low spots. It will give you some practice mixing the thinset, and save you from dealing with SLC for those small areas.

2) Use a long straight board? Really, treat this like a big tile: burn the thinset onto the floor, add more to exceed the depth of the dip, then strike off smooth. Smooth is not a quality you want to get tangled up with. Just get the floor flat, deal with minor pits later as you tile. Grind off any ridges with a mason's stone.

3) Yes. However, when time comes to grout, you will want to do the whole room if possible.

4) Yes. Some porcelains are harder to snap-cut than others, so ask for a test drive.
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Old 02-15-2011, 01:31 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice.

I went ahead and mixed a 1/3 bag of thinset and dumped most of it in one problem area. Spread it around with a large flat trowel, got the screed and almost immediately had palpitations at the way it was looking as not only had I not put enough down to screed it, my drill conked out when starting to mix the second batch. I went over all the lumpy obvious bits with the trowel and flattened as much as I could. I think I took off more than I put down in the end as I can see the original concrete at some spots. And oh the mess. I got the stuff everywhere.

I think I brought it up 1/16 in the worst area.

Attached are a couple of pictures to see if I'm on the right track.
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:34 PM   #4
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That doesn't look too bad. Get a mason's rubbing brick to smooth the ridges down and flake up any on the slab.

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Re-measure the area and add more thinset if needed.
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:50 PM   #5
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Thanks for not saying I did a terrible job.

Do I need to wait 24 hours now to sand and add the next layer?

Is there a technique you could share on how to apply the thinset? I used a large flat trowel and literally dumped the thinset out on the lowest spot and spread it (too thin in this case). I pushed hard initially to get it into the concrete and smoothed it off similar to drywall mud. Am I on the right track?
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:11 PM   #6
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Sounds like you did fine. Thinset is stickier than drywall mud. It may be easier to use a wetted stick of wood, or a magnesium flat trowel. Eithere way, it's better than before.

Another method is to wait until the thinset firms up a bit, then use the edge of your straight edge to "saw" the high spots down. If the thinset pulls with the straight edge, wait a little longer.

You can add more thinset at any time the previous batch is firmed up. Sanding will never be easier than now.
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:35 PM   #7
bagofbones
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I reapplied the thinset using your tips and it worked out fairly well. I got the floor flat in that section. I've attached a rough layout of what I'm doing.

I want to move from the bedroom out to the first hallway however there is a low spot in the transition of 1/4". Hallway by itself is relatively flat but not level with the starting point of the bedroom, which is level until you approach the door. If I run a straight edge from the top of the bedroom to the mid point of the hall, it's level. I understand flatness is more important than level but I started level so in my mind, everything will have to flow from that point, right?

If I fill that lowspot, how will that affect the transition of the hall to the foyer - will everything have to come up? As they are both flat (not quite level), I'd hate to have to mess with it.

Could you offer any advice on transitioning from the bedroom to the hall to the foyer?
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:50 PM   #8
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Not at all sure I understand the question, Ben.

Is it the case that you simply have a low are that you've bordered in red that includes a bit of the north bedroom and the north end of the hall?

Is the foyer the room on the west side that's pretending to be a large "hallway"?

If everything else is relatively level and flat, seems like all a fella needs to deal with is filling the low area.

What am I missing?
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:42 PM   #9
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"Is it the case that you simply have a low are that you've bordered in red that includes a bit of the north bedroom and the north end of the hall?

Is the foyer the room on the west side that's pretending to be a large "hallway"?"

Yes.

My concern is that there will be a lip I'll have to account for going into the bathroom and foyer (both have linoleum for now and in the time allotted cannot address those areas yet).

Is it wiser to use SLC for that larger area from the bedroom to the hallway?

I'm sure I'm making this harder than it really is.
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:19 AM   #10
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16x16 tiles really want a flat floor. Create a temporary threshold going into those rooms, then remove it when you are ready to tile them.
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:43 AM   #11
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Threshold as in caulk a piece of wood down or something?

Even with 16x16 I'm ok to 1/8 correct? I only fixed the dips of 1/4".

So, I block off the doorways and pour the SLC for that larger area. Which product do you use to seal off the walls?
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:35 AM   #12
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1/8" is OK. You'll be using a 1/2" square notch trowel, so you'll have plenty of thinset.

What you use at the other rooms depends on how long before they get tiled. Caulking somthing to the floor sounds OK, so long as you can clean up the caulk later.

Use Sil-seal (foam tape) along the walls to provide an expansion gap. Use caulk to fill any gaps where SLC can flow.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:16 AM   #13
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Thanks Bob.

My drywall in some areas doesn't meet the concrete. When I apply the foam should it meet the concrete or can the SLC flow under somewhat?

Will the thresholds pull up easily after say a week, even though the SLC is on it?

I'll have to go buy a 1/2" trowel. I only have a 1/4x1/4 and 1/4x3/8.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:17 AM   #14
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Apply the foam to keep the SLC from flowing under your walls.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:02 PM   #15
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I dry set my tiles and from left to right the the gap is only 1 1/8" either side. Would you cut strips of tile that small? Or move your pattern over leaving a bigger tile cut and subsequently just need to cut for that side?
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