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Unread 09-23-2006, 02:36 PM   #1
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Question question about deck mud

Yesterday I did the preslope for my shower and I mixed the mud per directions in the calculator and to the consistency John says to. I found it kind of hard to work with and to slope since it was so dry. Tomorrow I hope to install the liner and do the top deck. Question - Why does the deck mud have to be so dry and what would be the harm if it were mixed a little wetter to allow for easier troweling?? I'm gonna go the way you guys say but it just seems like it would be easier a little wetter.
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Unread 09-23-2006, 02:40 PM   #2
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Hi Fran.
You can gently vaccum the loose sand off of your prefloat and skim it
with thinset to lock together the top layer and keep it from crumbling.
You can mix your deck mud a little bit wetter but it should not be much
wetter than sand castle sand. If you can visibly see water glistening
its probably too much. If you clump a handfull in your hand and your
skin doesnt get wet its definitely too dry.
Jack Hamilton


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Unread 09-23-2006, 02:41 PM   #3
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I find it harder to work when wet cause it doesn't "carve" as easily. i pack it very tight with a wood float or sometimes a mag. Then shave and carve at it. It's not really a trowel show as much as it is shaving and carvin'. Fact most of my deck mud work is done with wood floats and screeds/staight edges. the steel trowelonly comes out when I'm done and I wanna put a smooth shell on it.
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Unread 09-23-2006, 03:11 PM   #4
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I carve it with screed sticks maybe 12-16 inches long, maybe a stick 20-24 inches to reach the corners. I also like to go over it right at last with a steel trowel to slick it on top. Always keep one end of the stick pointing toward the drain.

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Unread 09-23-2006, 03:32 PM   #5
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Wet mud is like trying to sculpt with Jello. The stuff sticks to everything and refuses to say put.

The steel trowel will smooth things out.

Any dips can be filled in later with thinset before the membrane is put in place.
"Sir, I May Be Drunk, But You're Crazy, and I'll Be Sober Tomorrow"
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Unread 09-23-2006, 05:41 PM   #6
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Hello Fran,
In addition to the accurate explainations above, there's also a scietific reason not to add more water to your mortar than you need. The cement molecules need water to "hydrate" and begin their growth. When this happens, the cement molecules sprout tendril-like structures which become intertwined, which is what makes the cured cement rock hard instead of reverting back to powder. Imagine a bed of ivy and how it binds onto itself. These tendrils also grow into the pores of the tile and stone that we set. Some material, like porcelain and glass, give the molecules very little purchase and that's why we need to use mortars which are modified with acrylics or other binders to assist the cement.
You need enough water in the mortar for this process to complete itself. But too much water means that the water molecules are displacing the cement molecules and forcing them farther apart. Wider distances between cement molecules means a weaker "bond" between them. It's a balance between too wet and too dry that we are trying to achieve.
Hope that helped a little?,
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Unread 09-24-2006, 09:07 AM   #7
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Thanks to all of you.
I understand and think maybe my mud on the preslope was a little too dry but it seems to have hardened fine and I'm about to install the liner, put up the Hardibacker, do the lathe for the curb and do the top deck mud. Probably not all today as it got a little drunk out last night and I think I'm going to be in need of a nap a little later this afternoon. Besides, it's Sunday and probably about 5 this afternoon a little hair of the dog will be in order.
Thanks again,
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Unread 09-24-2006, 12:14 PM   #8
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Fran, did you see this article?


Your mud should look like the pictures.
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Unread 09-25-2006, 11:12 AM   #9
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Thanks John, and yes I did. That was what I was trying to imitate but I think I was a little too concerned about not getting it too wet and subsequently got it a little dry. But it is done and since it's only going to be contouring the vinyl and going to have 1 1/2" more mud on top I'm not too concerned. I've been walking on it and it seems to be holding up fine.
Thanks for the help.\
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