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Unread 12-16-2013, 02:39 PM   #1
rjperket
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Do I need to cut an expansion joint?

Hello All,

I am renovating a bathroom and decided on tile flooring with a wire heating system underneath.

The Situation:
I had a plywood subfloor, I covered that with plastic lath and attached using staples at 6" intervals. I installed the free wire heating system over the plastic lath. I primed the subfloor, plastic lath, and heating system with latex primer, and poured 4 bags of levelquik SLC to 1/2" depth.

After finishing, I realized that I had not included any room for thermal expansion at the perimeter. The SLC runs from one side of the room to the other straight from bottom plate to bottom plate except on one wall where the 2X4 studs have 2X2 furring strips to accomidate plumbing.

The floor dimensions are roughly 5'X9'.

The question is, do I need to cut an expansion joint (or joints) into the concrete to prevent deflection that will cause cracks in my tile?
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Unread 12-16-2013, 04:44 PM   #2
Lazarus
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With as small an area that you have, I would just be sure to leave "expansion room" around the perimeter. Gap the tile to a quarter inch or so from the studs and use "backer rod" or at the very least, a siliconized caulk at the walls....
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Unread 12-17-2013, 12:52 PM   #3
rjperket
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I'm wondering about expansion joints in the underlayment. Do I need to cut expansion joints into the self leveling compound to ensure that it doesn't crack or cause other problems?
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Unread 12-17-2013, 12:57 PM   #4
Richard Tunison
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I personally would use an oscillating tool with a flat diamond blade and remove 1/4" of the slc at the perimeter. Hopefully your wires don't come that close.
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Unread 12-19-2013, 10:01 AM   #5
rjperket
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Thumbs up

Thanks for the advice.

I did cut in the 1/4" joints at the perimeter. I used a grinder with a masonry cutoff wheel instead of the oscillating tool which was messy (a lot of dust!) but it was cheap and what I had on hand... I'd suggest using a shopvac next to the wheel if you can manage it and the grinder at the same time. Really cuts down the mess.

I took the guard off the grinder so that I could get right next to the wall which was effective (but probably not very safe) and I used a 1" wood strip as a guide to control the depth of the cut. Only went through two of the discs to do a 1/4" around the whole substrate.

After I was done cutting, I filled that gap with two layers of 3/8" backer rod and some caulk at the top.

I'll try and add some pictures later.
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Unread 12-19-2013, 10:44 AM   #6
Richard Tunison
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Good job!
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