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Unread 07-29-2022, 09:21 AM   #1
SSTS2006
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Largest tile size for this slope

Hi guys,

I'm doing an estimate for an all glass conservatory. It was built over an existing concrete slab porch area and has a drain near the center.

I'm assuming the cement slab is sloped 1/4" per foot. The drain is about 3 feet off center the long way in a room that measures 21'x14'.

What size tile do you think would be the maximum usable size?
I'm thinking of nothing larger that 12"x12" ?
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Unread 07-29-2022, 11:47 AM   #2
John Bridge
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Hi Ryan.

You'll be splitting the tiles near the drain if you have 1/4 in. per foot or better. Seems you'll be making the room rain proof. Have you considered floating the floor flat and doing away with the drain?
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Unread 07-30-2022, 10:04 AM   #3
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Hi John,

Well, I told them how much self leveler it would cost to do that and they didn't seem interested. I suppose I could do it with mud, but that labor cost would be pretty high, plus what about a bedding mortar going to feather egde? I suppose there must be one that allows it. Ditra over that might work well. I'll suggest that. The current floor isn't torn up yet, but I figured it was around 2 1/4" to the slab surface from the top of the tile by the drain.

The conservatory is already entirely enclosed.
There's actually more to the story.
When they built the conservatory on this slab they ran hydronic tubes on top of it and had the tile installer install bedding mortar over the top of them and then tile on top of that. Around 1995 I'd guess.
It's a disaster along the perimeter where the heating tubes are close to the surface.
House built: 1921
Concrete slab poured around 1955.
Conservatory built and hydronic heat "installed" around 1995.
New owners now. I told them I'd remove the concrete slab and install the hydronic properly. But they don't live there in the winter and don't care about it being a 4 season room. Plus with all the windows it does do a good job of letting in the sun. Even in the winter I'd guess. They're getting all new windows.

They've narrowed down the choices (of which I gave them 5 including tile/paver pedestals) to installing directly over the slab or installing over an uncoupling membrane. I told them I don't recommend not installing over an uncoupling membrane, but you know how people are cheap. If you saw the house you'd easily assume they'd do everything the right way and keep it 4 season.

I'm gonna suggest the hand installed mud option to flatten it out. I was also gonna get an estimate from a gypcrete contractor. They just really don't wanna spend much money.
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Unread 07-31-2022, 02:24 PM   #4
John Bridge
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Well, if they don't want to spend the money to do proper job I'd move along.

Deck mud is cheap as compared to other products. I would never consider SLC for something like that.
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Unread 08-03-2022, 10:49 PM   #5
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There’s a lot of truth in John’s words. A desire to be as careful and frugal with your money isn’t wrong. But when it gets in the way of a proper job, that’s where I draw the line.

My two cents is to only offer options to the customer that are proper in your eyes and in the eyes of the industry. If they desire something less, it’s not worth pursuing. Best of luck.
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Unread 08-04-2022, 05:02 AM   #6
CaliGrown
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John and Bubba are wise on this one!!

Deck mud’s dirt cheap and your best option to make things flat and true. Bonded with a thinset slurry you can featheredge deck mud if it’s a tighter mix, say 3:1 vs 5:1 with a 60# sand at the tighter areas.

Best of luck with the bidding. Some of the best jobs are the ones you don’t take on
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Unread 08-08-2022, 03:03 PM   #7
SSTS2006
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Started the demo today and I think that's all I'll be doing on this job.
They have many water issues like gaps in the structure that are letting water in, missing gutters, and in ground sprinklers that are too close, etc. etc. that have lead to the slab being soaked in some areas. I'm gonna check with a moisture meter tomorrow.
There was material below and above the tile that was literally wet that I came across as I demoed today.
They told me they now wish they just demoed it.
$14,000 to demo, plus repairing the areas of the house the conservatory is attached too.
Compared to getting all new windows, floor, etc. Well, at least you will have a nice conservatory.
Only took 5 hours to do what you see. The deck mud used to cover the hydronic tubes is more dust than anything.
Not sure I uploaded good pics or not.
I told them if you can fix all of it maybe we can install tile next spring or summer. But I don't think it'll all get fixed or dry out before then. Overall only a few hairline cracks in the slab.
I've never done a demo job like this. It's always interesting when things are done wrong. You never know what you'll find.
They might be a god candidate for a pedastal system. ??
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Unread 08-08-2022, 07:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher
Bonded with a thinset slurry you can featheredge deck mud if it’s a tighter mix, say 3:1 vs 5:1 with a 60# sand at the tighter areas.
But only if you never need to justify the method after failure.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-10-2022, 08:59 AM   #9
SSTS2006
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Quote:
A desire to be as careful and frugal with your money isn’t wrong. But when it gets in the way of a proper job, that’s where I draw the line.

My two cents is to only offer options to the customer that are proper in your eyes and in the eyes of the industry. If they desire something less, it’s not worth pursuing.
Oh I should have done this from the beginning. Give one option. Two at most. And I'll probably only give one from now on.

After demo it turns out the concrete is barely sloped at all. I say barely because it varies. Not surprisingly the GC who built this seemed to find the cheapest of every tradesman for the job.

Today, after suggesting a calcium chloride test (at minimum) and waiting to do anything until the gutter and some sprinkler issues are taken care of the clients and I decided to part ways. And thank God for that. I probably wouldn't have gone back anyways. I think they (actually it was all her) just wanted fast answers. She didn't understand that it's a process.

When they had me look at their master shower to redo she asked if I knew a "reasonable" general contractor ….I knew I was in trouble.
House is on Lake Michigan. I can honestly say I get more trust and less frugality from my middle class clients than the wealthy ones. It's too bad too, because they just moved here. It's wiser to get a list of good tradesmen even if they're slightly more expensive.

Here's the #'s on the demo if anyone is curious.
Took a total of 14 hours spread over 2 days and 2 hours on the third day. I should have done a volume calculation because I would have ordered a dumpster. But instead I put it all into buckets and hauled it to the dump. That's 5 trips to the dump.
Still, not bad for time.
I charged $800 and thank God I didn't charge less. I should have charged more, but I generally demo bathrooms and showers. I just don't do a whole lot of floors that big anymore.
The total charge for dumping the material is about $80.
I can make more demoing a full bath, shower surround, or walk-in shower. Assuming I don't change the amount I'd charge for this next time, which I would of course.
Also, it's getting close to where I will have to hire a company to do all my demo. Just wait till the potential clients see what they charge. ha!
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