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Unread 05-03-2006, 01:20 PM   #1
eburr
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Cutting small tiles with backing

Seems like my master bath has been a mess forever. We finally decided on a floor, a 'basket weave' pattern of small marble tiles with a backing to keep the pattern in line. It wasn't long after opening a box to check the tile out, that I started wondering how in the world do you cut this stuff? The little tiles are maybe 1 X 2 inches. Is there a trick cutting this type of tile? Sorry if this has been discussed, but I couldn't find it searching. I've attached a pic of the tile.

Also, If this tile is going on a slab, is regular thinset the only thing I need between the slab and tile?

Thanks for any help,
Ed
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Unread 05-03-2006, 01:35 PM   #2
maddfrog
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Nice tile

That's nice looking tile! What is it and where did you find it?

I recently did a small bathroom with an octagon-and-dot pattern. The octogons are about 1 1/2" and the dots are 1/2" or 3/4". I cut most of the sheets as a whole on the infamous $88 dollar wet saw with few issues. You just need to be careful to support the last tile because it wants to flex the matte material away from the blade. (that'll make more sense the first time you cut a sheet)

For cutting around the toilet flange, I used a utility knife to cut a rough opening by removing tiles from the matte. I then used nippers to shape the edge of the remaining tiles into a circle.

I also had some odd spots that where I need to lay individual tiles (across the door threshold, under a heat register, etc) I did most of them on the wet saw as well, one tile at a time. Those were the most difficult.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 01:49 PM   #3
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How did you support the last tile? Tape? Did you use regular thinset? Thanks for the info.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:01 PM   #4
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Ed,

I've done a fair amount using that basket weave, even did my bath ceiling w/ it. The sheets are rather stiff and tightly fit so they cut nicelt on the wet saw. The balance of the smaller pieces are fit one at a time to complet the pattern as you cut around the perimeter of the room for example. My biggest problem has always been in making the pattern fit. Some wont "key" into the next quite right. I did an entire floor that had this problem and believe it or not we ended up soaking all the sheets in a big tub and setting them one at a time Check several boxes and dry fit them to see.
Nippers or "biters" are how I cut most of the little buggers.

If the concrete floor is in good shape (no big cracks and clean)you could direct bond to it with a quality modified thinset. Your puttin a goodly amount of time and energy into this though so you could look into a flat sheet crack isolation membrane. Noble Co. makes one I like that thinsets to the concrete to help isolate movement in the floor and prevent you tile from cracking.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:15 PM   #5
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I appreciate the reply.
That isolation layer sounds like a good idea. We have a few cracked ceramic tiles in the entryway of the house. Does Lowes or Depot carry that type of stuff, or do I need to look for a more specialized store?

Thanks,
Ed
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:25 PM   #6
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Lowes carries the protectowrap brand so they can probably get the AFM membrane, HD carries ditra or can get it if they dont have it. You are better off ordering ditra from tile-experts
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:26 PM   #7
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Word of advice on cutting those tiles on a wet saw...

On one of my first jobs, I was doing a border by cutting some of those sheets into sections. Toward the end of the day before setting the border, I thought I'd "be smart" and get a jump on the next day by going ahead and doing my cuts. So I did the cuts, stacked them up and carried them inside to await the next day. Morning comes and I set up to start setting the border. Start picking up the first strand and the tiles simply fall to the floor.

A wet saw works great on them. And you CAN do your cuts the day before. But after taking them off the saw, lay them face down without stacking so they can drain and begin to dry. It seems really stupid to me now and if I ever see anyone else make that mistake, I'll just have to shake my head and mumble something like, "Rookie..." At the time, though, I didn't consider that being wet too long before setting would cause the adhesive to break down.

I'm sure you already thought of that, but just thought I'd throw it out there.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:30 PM   #8
eburr
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The water breaking down the adhesive never occurred to me. It is one of those things that makes sense but you don't think of until it is too late.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:39 PM   #9
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The adhesive issue may depend on how the tiles are attached together. Mine were 'glued' together with dots of latex or something similar and I didn't have any issue with them coming loose when wet. Certainly something for you to keep an eye out for, though.

As far as 'supporting the last tile', I meant while cutting, not laying. The last tile tended to want to 'twist' within the sheet because it was only attached to one other tile. I used a table saw push shoe to keep it lined up properly as I finished my cut.

Who makes the tile? Where did you get it? I have another bathroom to do...
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Last edited by maddfrog; 05-03-2006 at 02:51 PM.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 03:39 PM   #10
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Sorry - didn't reply to your whole first message. The tile is Walker-Zanger. It is kind of expensive, but we really liked it. They have a showroom here in Dallas - We got it from the showroom, but through my cousin that works for a general contracting firm - they get a 30% discount. We are mixing it with a white subway tile that will go in the shower and on the walls (48" up).

Ed
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Unread 05-04-2006, 07:54 AM   #11
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Sounds nice

That should look great. I thought of subway tile for the walls as soon as I saw the floor tile. Nice traditional-retro look.
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Unread 05-04-2006, 08:38 AM   #12
eburr
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My father in law is coming to help me tile this weekend with his $88 wet saw to use on my little marble tiles.
Should I:
A. Give it a try
B. Buy a new blade for it
C. Rent a saw
D. Buy a better one and sell it later

Thanks,
Ed
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Unread 05-04-2006, 09:11 AM   #13
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I'd give it a try

A lot of folks around here have used the $88 special with good results - including me. I'd give it try and see how it works before you bother with anything else.

I doubt a new blade will make much difference unless the old one has been seriously abused. There are a few articles around the forum about 'sharpening' a tile blade...
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Unread 05-04-2006, 12:16 PM   #14
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I'd give the 88special a try before I bought or rented. As far as supporting the tile and cutting small tile in general on a wet saw, I use a sheet of Lexan clear plastic and fasten it to the cart, Then i cut a saw curf in it and the little tiles don't fall or tip into the gap where the blade runs through the cart.
I've had decent results just laying the mosaic sheets on thin flat piece of tile or limestone and cutting through both the mosaic sheet and tile at the same time. This may not work on the 88special though.
Someone mentioned Ditra...don't use ditra on mosaics. I've done it and it can be very problematic at best. There sheet is designed for 3x3 tiles and larger. Stay with a trowl appiled or flat sheet membrane. I like those that thinset down, but there are plenty that are self adhering that work well also.
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Unread 05-04-2006, 12:34 PM   #15
eburr
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thanks for the information.

I like the idea of putting the clear plastic under the mosaic.

I bought some Red Guard at HD. Hopefully that will work well.

Ed
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