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Unread 07-23-2014, 06:33 PM   #31
D123
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CX, I'm sure that works -- except it didn't for me the last time around -- and I suspect that my 'technique' was lacking. I used a wood float and tried to 'work it' into a pack but when cured, a lot of the pre-pan was soft enough to fall appart with a paint brush (while brushing the sand off the top). This time, I applied a lot more effort (still lacking technique I'm sure) and got much better results. If I were learning the trade, not just remodeling a bath, I'd likely learn how to do it with a float. That's why I was guessing that the guy who started this thread, might have had a similar experience. Thanks and cheers.
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Unread 07-23-2014, 06:55 PM   #32
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Quote:
pound, screed, pound, add, pound, screed, pound
The "add" should be at the front of this list not the middle. Once you pound then you cannot add more unless you dig it back up and start over.

Add the mixture evenly and higher then you plan to go..once packed down you should still be higher,then screed that off, again avoid adding after you pack.

You should not have to turn a 2x4 on edge or have problem with drying out.

4.1, 5.1,6.1,3.1 it really does not matter much it should still work, as long as you dry mix it together first making sure that all the cement particles are touching sand particles, I shoot for about 4 or so to 1 myself. Too much cement it gets lumpy and hard to work(and tear up your hands as well), too little you run the risk of having sand spots that didn't have any cement to hold them together. If you avoid those two things you should be fine.

Use good sharp sand( biggest you can get that that does not have rocks or pebbles in it.) Big sand will only pack down so much then kinda stop solidly. small sand or play sand will just keep sinking the more you pack it down.This is really important when you dont use pre-made DIY screeds since you would be making rails out of mud to guide of off and you want then to be solid.

Also don't play with it too much or the surface will be sandy..er then normal.

Steel trowel or even magnesium for final pass will bring the cream up and make the surface harder. If in a sloped shower I sometimes use my steel pool float so as to not dig into the mud. But remember there is nothing wrong with skim coating it with thinset after it dries to touch it up and get a harder surface if need be till you get the hang of it.

Truth be told it does not have to be pretty to work well, as much as we strive for perfecting the "art of mud". After you do a few hundred of them you kinda quit worrying if it has a divot of two in it that will be filled with thinset anyways. Has to be level on edges,have good slope and be solid that really all that matters
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Unread 07-24-2014, 01:17 AM   #33
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Jim, Thanks for the insight. I've read a lot of web comments on the topic and yours is the first one I can recall to address the detail of getting a packed, 'thick enough to screed' layer in one shot -- that and your note about using coarse sand.

As 'advertised' in many web comments, I used 'play sand' from HD and found its uniformity easy to work and mix -- though I'll admit it has been hard to pack uniformly. HD also has bagged 'all purpose' sand for outside use but word says it contains small aggregate which I'd thought would be hard to work and get a good surface (like using concrete mix + sand).

I think my 3rd pre-slope will cure good enough to use, but now it sounds like I should shift to the outdoor sand for the top pan layer. I gave up on the 'pitch sticks' product (terrible) for the pre-slope so will stick with my multi-length drain-to-edge screed sticks on thick-pack mud then trowel. Bonding tile to a sandy surface seems like a bad idea.
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Unread 07-24-2014, 08:33 AM   #34
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I'm still sticking to my original thought about the OP's 'mud' was way too dry to begin with. There is no way in hell 6 cups of water mixed with 60 lbs of topping mix and 25 lbs of sand was wet enough to do anything. I use almost that much liquid when mixing my thinset. Also, I'm having a really hard time figuring out why so many people have problems with deck mud. It ain't that hard to work with....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim
Truth be told it does not have to be pretty to work well, as much as we strive for perfecting the "art of mud". After you do a few hundred of them you kinda quit worrying if it has a divot of two in it that will be filled with thinset anyways. Has to be level on edges,have good slope and be solid that really all that matters
This is a very good statement.
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Unread 07-24-2014, 08:01 PM   #35
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Well the thing is every box store I have went to does not carry good sand..maybe your is different who knows.

I get mine at the brick yard, alot cheaper too..a buck a bucket , they also have silica sand that I have found works pretty good..might want to try that.

A little sand on the surface wont hurt anything..the thinset will suck it right up and make it part of the thinset, you can always skim it with thinset before hand if you want though.


good point Bill
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Unread 07-24-2014, 08:11 PM   #36
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In a pinch, I've used the all purpose sand from Home Depot and it seemed to work fine. It has some small grits of sand but also has some larger grits too, up to about 1/8 best I remember.
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Unread 07-24-2014, 08:17 PM   #37
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I suspect they have different sand for different parts of the country, even if it has the same label it doesn't mean that the company that packages it doesn't have different local suppliers.

I mean I doubt they are going to spend the money to transport sand across the country. I sure wouldn't
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Unread 07-24-2014, 10:50 PM   #38
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Now that my 3rd pre-pan attempt has cured, it's much much better though I will thinset-seal the surface. I do have a bit of sand and a few small softer spots (clearly less-well packed) but will be ok.

I do believe that, with experience, it would get easier but still easily recognize the lack of a good recipe -- for both the ingredients and the procedure -- for the first-timer. While there may not be a need for hard rules, some insight as to both good rules about the details, AND the why they exist can go a long way toward getting it right the first, or at least second, time.

Thought: 60 lbs topping mix (3:1) + 25 lbs sand ~= 70 lbs sand. At ~100 lbs/CF, this is about 0.7CF sand. At 5:1 ratio, (and using my own guess of 1/2-part water for 1 part sand), that mix would need ~0.07CF water which is about 8-1/2 cups if I did my estimates right. So, 6 cups only sounds a little dry IMHO.

Good suggestions and thoughts about sand. Tnx.

One question. On the top layer (above the membrane) if I have minor flaws, can I fix them with thinset or whatever tile mortar I'm using or does this add an unwanted layer preventing normal moisture travel from the tile above? Tnx.
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Unread 07-24-2014, 11:05 PM   #39
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Nope skimming top mud bed with regular thinset wont trap moisture, remember you will be doing it when you set the tile anyways.

generally we(or rather I) don't bother skimming with thinset, just set the tile, however in some cases I will skim it and that is if due to the way I plan to tile the shower it would involve me working directly on top of the mud. a skim coat will help protect it from damage,

I don't do many traditional showers these days but still do alot of mudbeds, most mud I do now gets waterproofing directly on it and uses bonding flanges in lieu of clamping drains. especially in high end jobs because mud beds are so much more accurate and level then foam pans that are only true if the floor is perfect or the drain is perfectly centered...

The mix I use for small jobs. in a five gallon bucket add two shovels sand,one portland,two more shovels of sand, dry mix it together with mortar mixer
http://bucketmortarmixer.com/ , then about 2/3 coffee can(water adjusted depending on how wet the sand is already since the brick yard stores it outside), mix till it looks good
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Unread 07-24-2014, 11:09 PM   #40
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Dave, you want that final mud bed ready to tile when you finish placing it. You don't wanna be having to "fix" that one with thinset mortar.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-25-2014, 01:46 AM   #41
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Mud Working Time

Thanks for the feedback. I'm now more comfortable with making/working the mud but, for the tile layer, (and from my pre-pan experiences) I'd like to decrease my working time to get a more consistent pack and screed since I'll still be slow (relative to most all of you) even when this shower is done.

Because I'll need to mix up to ~1.5cf, I'd thought perhaps ..... pre-mix-dry several batches (with known amount of water to add) then pack them one after the other: fast-wet-mix, pack, screed and repeat. Mixing smaller batches is faster than large quantities. With my earlier attempts, packing well and getting an accurate screed takes more time than I'd thought. Some suggest 30 min max for the whole install, and I suspect that is really true, but I have a hard time getting good results in that time.

Another idea is pre-mix dry in smaller batches (to get a good mix) and then wet-mix each and leave each in buckets where the exposed surface area is smaller so it will won't start to dry as much -- and then dump, pack, screed and repeat so as to avoid delays in wet-mixing. Perhaps pre-mix a slight bit wetter for the 'batches-in-the-queue" -- except maybe that isn't worth the added risk of cracks.

I've read of many variations used by pros, and I'm sure they probably work well for each, but I'd also guess that something like the above might be more "forgiving" for a novice. Yes, might need to skim-coat for protection. Just wanting to avoid chipping out a top layer with a membrane installed. Again, thanks for the feedback.
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Unread 07-25-2014, 08:31 AM   #42
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I guess I just got lucky...... 1) I used aprox 3 bags of topping mix + about a bag and a half of general purpose sand. 2) dry mixed it ALL inna wheelbarrow. 3) put the hose on it to wet it. How much water? I have no clue, but it was a hell of alot more than any 8 cups or whatever. I'd guess over a gallon or so. It was nice and moist and packed well. Not too wet. 4) Hauled it in with a 5 gal bucket. Many trips back and forth. 5) I spent well over an hour shaping and packing the top layer. No problems at all. I did both layers this way with no help at all.
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Unread 07-25-2014, 08:36 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave
Just wanting to avoid chipping out a top layer with a membrane installed.
If the proper ratio of sand and topping mix are used with the right amount of water, you shouldn't have to 'chip' it out if needed. Hit it with a hammer and it will come out fairly easily....
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Unread 07-25-2014, 09:07 AM   #44
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Mixing deck mud,concrete,grout,mortar and plaster is more of an art.You get a feel for how much water to add depending on weather,temperature and application.
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Unread 07-25-2014, 09:20 AM   #45
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agree.
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