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Unread 01-20-2010, 08:48 AM   #16
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Like Brian said, burning in is important to do in a very thin and even skim on the back--you shouldn't be adding any measurable thickness of thinset to the tile. The purpose is to make the back of the tile sticky so that thinset sticks better. It should not be slippery.

The only reason you want to make anything damp is to either get dust off of it or to prep a surface that sucks up water. You pre-dampen your wonderboard so that it doesn't suck up the water out of your thinset prematurely. But you don't want it wet. If anything gets wet, it will turn the thinset into a slippery mess. I wonder if that's what happened with your tile (in addition to the possibility of too wet of a thinset)--if you are wetting the back of your tile before laying it, it might be creating a slippery layer of muck under your tiles. Freshly laid tiles should be firm and relatively hard to move without pushing, tapping, or wiggling quite forcibly. No need to pre-wet the tiles unless they are really porous or really dusty (in which case you would wipe off the dust with a damp towel and let the tiles dry).

And "peanut butter" is quite a relative term. Are you talking Skippy, or the natural stuff? The natural stuff is very liquid, whereas a cold jar of Skippy is quite firm due to the hydrogenated oils in it. I'm thinking that thinset should be about the stiffness of hydrogenated peanut butter in a cool room.

Also, your question about thinset under tile: your tile should lie on a layer of thinset from which the air has escaped but no thinset has squished out of the sides. The purpose of the notched trowel is twofold: it measures out an exact thickness of thinset so that the layer below all tiles is the same, hence all tiles will be level, and the notched lines allow the air to escape when you lightly set the tile down and give it a slight push to knock down the trowled rows of thinset. Allowing the air to escape gives you full contact with the tile. The tiles should not be touching the cement board! Therefore, a 1/4x1/4" trowel leaves approximately a 1/8" layer of thinset beneath the tiles. A properly troweled and tiled surface should not have any measurable amount of thinset squishing out from underneath the tiles. The only time you need to squish thinset out is if you have the occasional tile that is too high (bump on the floor, or because you troweled it on too thick), then you really have to wiggle and push on the tile to squish a little out, and it can be quite a mess.

Assuming your floor is flat to begin with, it is your troweling job and the evenness of your troweled thinset that makes a flat tile floor. Make sure your trowel lines are completely full of thinset. If they are hollow on the top then they're not full. Don't double trowel any areas unless you have a good bead of thinset on your trowel, otherwise you are removing material from what was originally the correct thickness. Also, if the teeth of your trowel have not scraped against the substrate, then layer will be too thick.
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Unread 01-23-2010, 01:57 PM   #17
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Worked! Thank you! Now next question re: transition

Thanks for all the advice! I just mixed the thinset much thicker and use the same trowel and it was dreamy how much easier and quick and (almost) fun it was to install those tiles. Very slick. They did not move around on me, I did not get any thinset squishing out, and I did not make a mess. So onto the next two questions:

1. I am now doing the perimeter tiles and using the wet saw a lot. Even with a brand new diamond saw blade for ceramics that I purchased this morning, I am getting lots of small chips on the top face as I cut the tiles. It is not a big deal where the tile edge will be under baseboard, but against the tub I would like a nice smooth cut so I don't have to use quarter round to hide it. How do you eliminate or reduce the chips? It is happening all through the cut, not just at the end. I am cutting with the tiles facing up and the appropriate amount of water as indicated on the wet tile saw reservoir. Unfortunately there is no guide on this saw so I just push through with my hands and try to maintain even pressure and not move the tile side to side.

2. I purchase a Schluter Reno-U transition for the doorway. Do I grout the side of the tiles that run along the transition? If so, do I butt the tiles right against the transition strip, or leave a small gap for the grout?

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Unread 01-29-2010, 01:50 PM   #18
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Seeking clarification on grout sealing Tilelab Surfaceguard

Sorry to be so nit picky but I have had hiccups every step of the way so far and I don't want to learn the hard way again, so I am seeking clarification of the following instructions from my Tilelab SurfaceGuard Penetrating Sealer:

Apply SurfaceGard using a new mop, lambswool applicator, sponge or brush. Allow it to penetrate for up to 5 minutes. Immediately wipe off any excess. If first coat has been absorbed, apply a second coat following the same procedure. Polished or dense surfaces usually require one coat. Grout and other porous surfaces usually require two. Conduct a test to see if surface is completely sealed after 2 hours by applying drops of water on the surface. If it penetrates immediately, apply an additional coat. If a residue is visible on the surface after drying, remove it with a sponge or white polishing pad 60 minutes after application.

1.Re: "Apply SurfaceGard using a new mop, lambswool applicator, sponge or brush." Why do you need a sponge if it comes in a spray bottle? Do you need to rub it in? Do you just rub it into the grout, or also the ceramic tile?

2. Re: "Immediately wipe off any excess." Wipe it off with what? A dry sponge? A damp sponge? Light wipe or scrub it?

3. Re: "If first coat has been absorbed, apply a second coat following the same procedure." Does this mean, IF there is no excess after 5 minutes, or IF water penetrates when doing the test 2 hours later?

P.S. what about a grout pen for applying sealer? Does that work?

Last edited by dlavis; 01-29-2010 at 02:22 PM.
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Unread 01-30-2010, 10:26 AM   #19
Brian in San Diego
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If you haven't opened the TileLab stuff yet, I would return it. There isn't much support for TileLab products around here. Seems to be more support for Miracle, AquaMix and StoneTech products. It would be perfectly acceptable to start a thread (or peruse the threads already out there) in the Cleaning, Restoration and Sealing Forum regarding your sealing for the tile.

That being said I think the TileLab product probably uses a generic "one size fits all" set of instructions for their products. What they are trying to get at is that you want to apply the product evenly and you do not want it to dry on the surface of the tile. So once it's applied you want to wait the amount of time specified and then wipe it up and buff the surrounding area with a clean dry cloth. I recommend microfiber cloths. If any sealer is allowed to dry on the tile without wipe up it leaves a hazy kind of "film" on the tile. If that happens apply more sealer, let it sit a minute or two and while it is still wet wipe it up. If the sealer soaks completely into the grout then I would apply a second coat before water testing it.

Hope that helps.

If that doesn't work, I'll always think it should have.
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