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Unread 01-12-2020, 09:06 AM   #16
Dan White
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So I ended up cutting a groove in the wall and recessed the ground wires into that. The hex screws that hold the wire in stick out but I'm pretty sure the thinset will be deep enough to cover that.

I'm picking up the tile on Tuesday and am thinking about how to tile this wall. I am using 12x24 tiles and want to stagger them a 1/2 tile left and right instead of stacking the tiles vertically. My plan was to screw in a ledger board at the bottom so I can tile vertically with 3 whole tiles. Then remove the board after dry and fill in the bottom row with cut pieces. My biggest concern is getting everything level so the job comes out clean. I realized that any ledger board I use is not going to be 100% straight and level so I'll be needing to shim the tiles resting on the ledger board to get them level? Also, is it best to start at the center of the wall and work left and right, going vertically and then horizontally? I assume it is not a good idea to do a whole row at a time? At the top of the cinder block it sticks out from the sheet rock about 1.5 inches so I was going to plan to tile up maybe to 1/4" below the top and then cover later with something like aluminum angle iron.

Any missteps above?
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Unread 01-12-2020, 09:31 AM   #17
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You're gonna need tiles that are exceptionally flat to do a 50 percent offset as you plan, Dan. The tile industry, and likely the tile manufacturer, recommendation will be for an offset of no more than 33 percent to reduce potential lippage to an acceptable level. If you have the tiles in hand, you can check them for flatness and make your decision based upon what you find, but you're gonna wanna check them all or at least a large sample before making that decision.
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Originally Posted by Dan
I realized that any ledger board I use is not going to be 100% straight and level...
Why not? I generally favor rips of plywood for such ledgers and they'll be very straight. You should be able to level them as exactly as you expect to level the tiles. With slight variations in the tiles, you might still want to use some thin wedges to level the tops, but it should be very close just setting an edge on your ledger.

You can do it in any order or sequence you like, but there is no reason not to set a full row and then go back to your starting point and set another if that's what you'd prefer to do. Also no reason at all not to set partial rows and stack them as you go. Just keep everything level as you go, whichever method you elect to use.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-12-2020, 09:43 AM   #18
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I used inexpensive MDF window/door casing for my ledgers, Dan, they are very straight. I think the biggest challenge you'll have with any ledger material is securely fastening it to the block walls.

Though I was very careful to get them level I still needed to do as CX suggested; use small wedges between the ledger and tile to tweak them. I set a single row at a time, used the longest level I could, wedged were necessary, then set the next row up.
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Unread 01-12-2020, 09:58 AM   #19
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Good project to use to "justify" your purchase of a laser level, Dan, if you don't already have one and are in a position where justification is required.
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Unread 01-12-2020, 10:20 AM   #20
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The 1x4 or 1x6 MDF Dan mentioned comes in 10 ft lengths and works well for a ledger board. Tap-con screws placed every couple ft will hold it in place. I would set the ledger board so that I have full tiles across the top and then cut in the bottom row after the ledger board is removed. The laser CX mentioned would really help keep everything level and straight but we used a water level for years when we needed to level up large areas of tile, a mud bed or even for setting forms for concrete.
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Unread 01-12-2020, 10:34 AM   #21
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Yep, water level don't lie.
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Unread 01-13-2020, 09:52 AM   #22
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Thanks for the various replies. I hadn't thought of using plywood. I did look at the MDF casing at Home Depot and the longer pieces looked curved to me. In any event I'll choose either of those two and will expect to do a little shimming.

CX I think you're right. This is a good time to give in and invest in a quality laser level. That's the kind of thing you find uses for if you own one.

Here's what I was going to do to mount the ledger as level as possible: Drill slots in the ledger vertically and insert a tapcon type screw with a washer. Predrill holes at the approximate correct spot on the wall. Mount the ledger and tighten just enough to hold it against the wall. Tap the board to get it perfectly level with the laser. Screw the tapcons in tight. The washer will keep the screw head from sinking into the slot.

Oh, also, will the tile box specify what kind of trowel depth/notch I need? I'm assuming 1/4 x 1/4 or something similar.
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Unread 01-13-2020, 10:18 AM   #23
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The tile box may, or may not suggest a trowel size, Dan. But for 12X24's, if they and the wall are flat, you'd want a 3/8" to 1/2" notched trowel for mounting those. Since you block wall isn't smooth, lots of little nooks and crannies, the 1/2" will be the way to go.
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Unread 01-13-2020, 02:23 PM   #24
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Little more complicated than I generally go for, Dan (White), but that would work just fine for setting your ledgers. You'll still want some thin wedges on hand when you set the tiles.

And yes, you'll find uses for that self-leveling laser that you never even knew you had.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-13-2020, 05:05 PM   #25
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Might be too late but ... have ypu considered building a new stud wall in front of the concrete block? That would allow you to install a couple if electrical outlets, and a couple of inches of insulation.
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Unread 01-13-2020, 06:24 PM   #26
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Schluter has a video showing them using Kerdiboard up against a block wall. They used a bunch of piles of thinset (a bit closer than say you'd get with a studwall in a grid), and then used a long level to embed it onto the wall and keep things both flat and plumb. Kill two birds...add some insulation, and get a flat/plumb wall. The waterproofing may be a benefit, too.
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Unread 01-14-2020, 02:59 PM   #27
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Thanks for the suggestions. I have plenty of outlets already and want to keep the tiling as simple as possible. Picked up the tile today.

Seems I judged the mdf casing too quickly. It looks pretty straight so I'll give that a shot. I know it might not screw in flush to the cinder block wall but I'll just have to try and see.

That 1/2" notched trowel that was recommended - assume that is a 1/2x1/2x1/2 all the way?

I also haven't tiled in awhile and while looking at spacers I'm finding all these doodads like Lash products for keeping tiles even. I used a rubber mallet and a straight edge last time I think. Any reason to mess with those things?

I'd kind of like to use 1/16" grout lines but I recall that thinset would fill the gap and make a mess, almost impossible to get it out in order to grout. Maybe my thinset was too thin back then? I'm reluctant to use those tiny little spacers... maybe 1/8" is a good compromise.
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Unread 01-14-2020, 05:14 PM   #28
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Dan,

Given the block wall it'll probably be a good idea to burn a coat of mortar into the block, given all the nooks and crannies, and also onto the backs of the tile, with the flat side of your trowel as you set them. I sponged off the backs of all my 12X24's before burning in a thiiin coat. I don't recall it being mentioned, but if the blocks are clean and free of paint, it also wouldn't be a bad idea to make them damp with a sponge so that they don't draw the moisture out of the mortar.

IF you decide to do the above then you could probably get by with a 3/8" notched trowel (I used a 3/8" slant notch trowel), which will help prevent mortar squeeze out in the joints. I set my wall 12X24's with a 1/16" joint, but my rectified tiles were, uncommonly perhaps, flat and consistent in length and width.

If you do have too much mortar in the joints resist the urge to clean it out immediately, opting instead to wait for, say, 45 minutes. The mortar will have firmed up a bit by then and will be much easier to remove.
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Unread 01-14-2020, 05:55 PM   #29
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The goal with setting any tile is to get as close to 100% coverage as possible...the larger the tile, the harder that is to do since with the tile being rigid, and you can only press on it so hard, the force/area is quite small. Make sure the notches are all going the same way and slide the tile across them to try to flatten them out. Keep in mind, with a square notch, there's essentially a big gap between those notches with no thinset...you have to move it there, and really, the only way that happens is if you slide the tile back and forth.

I'm a big advocate of using a trowel very common in Europe - a slant-notched trowel. After combing those leaning towers, they fall over and fill in between the bare spots on the surface, leaving a much flatter bed of mortar, and making embedding the tile much easier and quicker.

Tile leveling systems can make things go faster. The very slightest difference across that 24" can make for lippage. Removing a tile to readjust gets much trickier the larger it is to do by breaking the suction without cracking or chipping an edge. Takes some skill, not brute force.

Industry standard calls for the minimum grout joint to be 3x the maximum difference between the smallest to the largest tile's dimensions. On a tile that large, unless they're rectified (and possibly, even then), it would be unusual (but possible) it could support a 1/16th in gap...you'll probably find it needs to be quite a bit larger or have bigger trouble with lippage.
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Unread 01-19-2020, 04:12 PM   #30
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So I've been looking into laser levels and had to step back. Makes your head spin. Anyway, they all talk about "level plus/minus 5/16, or 1/8 at 30 ft" depending on the model. My background is in engineering, so don't think I'm an idiot, but what exactly does this mean? For instance, if I set the level 10' from a wall and project a level line horizontally, say 15' to the left and 15' to the right, is it saying that over the 30' of length that the left side might be as much as 1/4" higher or lower than the right side? But, it might also be perfectly level or off one way or the other less than 1/4"?

If this is the correct interpretation am I crazy or are the units with a 5/16" tolerance dangerous to use? That seems like too much error for tiling a wall. An eighth or less over 30 ft seems OK to me.

Am I off base?
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