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Unread 04-19-2021, 10:52 AM   #1
iraseattle
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Planning out first tile job - hearth extension

Hi,

We recently moved into a house where some items were mid-renovation, including the hearth extension, (pic 1). I thought I should get some input before making a massive mess of things. Roughly speaking my plan was

1. Self leveling underlayment to get an even base to work with
2. Dry fit tiles, cut to size
3. thinset
4. tile
5. grout
6. ???

Questions:

0. Does this sound like a reasonable plan?
1. The fireplace floor will be slightly lower than the tile, which I plan to be flush with the wood floor. Any concerns there?
2. The concrete is very uneven but seems solid (picture 2). I was planning on pouring some self leveling concrete to get an even base to grout off of and make my life easier.
2a. Should I be concerned about the self leveling concrete (and mortar) coming directly into contact with the exposed subfloor (picture 3) ? i.e., do I need to put up some barrier?
3. The trim around the floor was not placed perfectly in line with the subfloor, so it juts out a bit (picture 3). Can I place mortar directly on small areas edges of exposed subfloor, if necessary?
4. As far as I can tell, both ceramic and porcelain tiles are fine for hearth extensions. Anything I should be concerned about re: material? In the future I would also like to add some tile around our entryway, so something that could work for both purposes would be good.

Thanks!
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Unread 04-19-2021, 01:33 PM   #2
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Welcome, Ira, congrats on the new crib.

0) Yes.
1) No.
2 & 2a) The wood sub and finished floor will expand/contract at a much higher rate than will the self leveling compound. The self leveler will also do its best to flow into any voids. You should first seal any gaps where the SL could migrate into, and you should also some space between it and the wood to allow the wood to expand.
3) See above. You'll want some expansion space between the mortar and wood.
4) No concern. But once you get the the point of grouting, the joint between the tile and wood needs to be flexible. You can caulk it with a color matched caulk, or use a trim profile that allows for expansion.
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Unread 04-19-2021, 01:34 PM   #3
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Welcome, Ira.

0. Sorta.

1. I would avoid SLC unless your wood floor surrounding that hearth area is absolutely, perfectly level, which it is likely not.

What you really want to use is a mortar referred to in the trade as deck mud. If you'll visit the Shower Construction thread in our Liberry you'll find an article describing how to make and use that to create a near-perfectly flat surface at exactly the correct height for your tile installation. The materials are dirt cheap and will provide the best tile backing surface you can get.

2. Not really, other than being able to clean out the firebox more easily. Not a factor to my thinking.

2a. Yes, you should. Can't tell just what hardwood you have there, but some of the more common ones, such as Red Oak and Maple, will stain black when exposed to Portland cement and you cannot remove the stain. I would want to seal any bare areas with some urethane or similar before I started any cementitious work there. And I would protect all the wood edges with some blue masking tape during the process.

3. You don't want your bonding mortar or grout to directly contact your wood floors at all. You want to use a flexible sealant in the joint between tile and wood.

4. Porcelain tiles are ceramic tiles, Ira, just a more dense, higher fired variety and that's what I'd want in both your proposed areas.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 04-19-2021, 01:48 PM   #4
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Didn't think about the finished floor being level, good point cx. If it isn't, SLC might be a challenge.
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Unread 04-19-2021, 05:24 PM   #5
iraseattle
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Thanks for the replies folks! It does seem like using deck mud + a notched guide that references off the floor will be the best way to get things to the correct height and level with the floor. The floor seems reasonably level, but it seems that this method will be easier in any case.

Sorry for the stupid question, but I'm not getting exactly what should be happening at the wood-interfacing edges. Should I basically be pouring deck mud with around a 1/8" spacer from the floor/subfloor, tile + grout only on the deck mud, and then fill the gap around the wood edges with flexible sealant? My only worry is that the little subfloor protrusions under the hardwood floor will make this annoying or lead to a bigger-than-desired gap from wood-to-tile.
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Unread 04-20-2021, 06:56 AM   #6
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That's correct, Ira, you'll want to create a gap between the deck mud/tile and the wood.

I would first want to remove those bits of subfloor that protrude beyond the edges of the hardwood. An oscillating tool would probably be the easiest, and least likely to damage the hardwood. I'd then use some 2" wide blue tape, stick it to the top of the hardwood and fold the rest down against the cut edges. Next , line the perimeter with your spacers, something about the thickness and width of a common paint stirring stick. Whatever you use you won't want the top edge to be any higher than the top of the hardwood so they don't interfere with your screed, but you do want them to be higher than the top of the mud bed so you can get them out.
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Unread 04-20-2021, 09:16 AM   #7
iraseattle
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Thanks for the clarification, Dan.

New plan of action is:

(1) Trim back subfloor that protrudes beyond hardwood.
(2) Tape
(3) Line wood-edges of perimeter with spacers
(4) Layer of thinset to bond deckmud to concrete
(5) Deckmud, leveled with notched guide that references off of floors
(6) Remove spacers, before deckmud is dried (?)
(7) Dry fit tile
(8) Thinset Mortar
(9) Tile
(10) Grout
(11) Flexible sealant around wood-edges.

My only big worry left is that the hardwood edges don't extend perfectly to where the concrete, so there will be a gap when I trim back the subfloor. I guess I'll deal with that when it happens, and if there is a gap can I just fill it with a thin strip of concrete backer board?
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