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Unread 10-06-2020, 07:56 PM   #31
jadnashua
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I'm not sure how a 4-ply panel would resist warping properly...generally, you want something with an odd number of plies so the two outer ones are going the same way. This pre-stresses it to lay flat and provide the desired strength along that axis.

You want to ensure the panel doesn't have a D-face. The difference between Exterior glue and Exposure 1 is the duration of time it is expected to be able to resist moisture with exterior lasting longer than exposure 1 does. Normally, this isn't an issue inside. Moisture resistance for the glue is important as the extra moisture in thinset will be there for a few days before it either wicks away or evaporates (a little bit of both usually happens).

Most grade stamps I remember on ply indicate not only the glue rating, but also the quality of the plies...you don't want a D ply on your plywood's exterior surface but exposure 1 stuff could have one internally, so exterior rated tends to be better, since it will have at least a C-face as its lowest quality face both interior and exterior.

Now, unfortunately, that didn't clear up your question!

So, without examining the grade stamp, can't say whether it will be suitable.
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Unread 10-06-2020, 08:45 PM   #32
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Jim, I can't recall the last time I saw nominal half-inch exterior glue plywood that had more than 4 plies. Seems to be the norm these days.

I agree with Jim that I'd wanna see a grade stamp to know what grade that Plytanium material is. Just because it says sheething in the advertisement does not necessarily rule it out for your application. I'm a bit skeptical, though, because an ad right next to it is for what appears to be the same material except it indicates it's sanded. Unfortunately, I don't find it as easy to identify that sort of engineered wood panels these days. Gimme a grade stamp instead of a fancy new name, say I.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 10-06-2020, 09:48 PM   #33
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Plywood usually has an odd number of plies, not sure how those with four would be oriented internally to gain max strength along the long axis. Anyway, a grade stamp should define things once it's properly decoded. The stuff used to be easier!
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Unread 10-06-2020, 09:55 PM   #34
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I suppose you are probably referring to this:Plytanium Plywood which says it is rated as BCX, weather exposure "Exterior," and the checkbox is listed as "for use with floors."

I will go to the store tomorrow or Thursday afternoon to check out the stamp on that plywood linked above. If the stamp on the wood matches those specs (exterior and BC), I assume that is sufficient then?

Put down the new plywood, then the self leveling concrete on top of that. Got it! It's going to be a fun weekend...
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Unread 10-08-2020, 02:51 PM   #35
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Well, my Lowe's trip to pick up 1/2" plywood for the layer on top of the subfloor was horrible. There was no 15/32" exterior, BCX plywood left that wasn't covered with tons of mold. This is what they forklifted down for me. I went through about 10 or 15 panels before I gave up. I understand that wood panels have mold, but this seemed a bit excessive. This wasn't the worst panel either.

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So I had to get the next step up which was exterior, ACX (admittedly not a TON more expensive for a small room), but it is 5-ply and someone mentioned earlier that an odd number of ply's (plies?) was better. Unfortunately, today is the last day I have my wife's minivan to transport 4x8' pieces of wood from the store. Soooo, the wood isn't perfectly flat, but after looking at 30ish pieces of plywood at the Lowe's, none of them were very flat, so I picked the flattest ones I could find. Oh yeah - and I learned that twine - even lots of twine - is inadequate for keeping your trunk lid tied down when carrying 4x8' plywood. Gotta get me a bungie cord... hahaha

I read the article on underlayment in the Liberry. I will:
-Place the panels so that the strength axis (longitudinal) is perpendicular to my joists - which is the same direction as the current subfloor plywood panels.
-I will place the plywood panels so that they are 24" off center from the long seam of the current subfloor panels.
-The plywood is 8' and the room is 8' wide (& 5'6" wide at the tub). So i guess the plywood will just span the width of the room, where it can.

If I stay exactly 24" off the subfloor panel edges, I will have about a 1' x 8' strip on the entrance side of the bathroom (the first seam is 3 feet in - if that makes sense) and about a 2' x 5'6" strip on the other side. Unfortunately, if I center the plywood boards this way, it also leaves a couple-inch wide strip in the back of the closet, which is 2' and a couple inches from the middle of the nearest visible seam.

So my question is:
1) is a 1 foot x 8 foot strip of plywood on the near side of the bathroom too thin? If so, what should I aim for? I can take some off the next plywood panel if this strip needs to be wider.
2) The plywood is a bit warped. I am sure it will flatten when I screw it down. Is that ok? I don't know if I can easily get any flat, non-moldy plywood that meets the specs listed previously in this thread. I have seemingly exhausted my options at the local big box stores.

As always, thanks for your help thus far.
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Unread 10-09-2020, 05:54 AM   #36
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Some skanky looking plywood there, Pete, can't say that I've had that challenge with panels from the Depot that's a mile from me, and the BCX sheets I've bought have been pretty flat, too. Had I known you were going to be jamming those 4X8 sheets into the back of a minivan I'd have offered my pick up. Or, I'd have just gone to watch.

Regardless, the ACX sheets you picked up should be fine. When you go about fastening them down with appropriate screws try to work from the center of the panel out if they're not laying pretty flat.

While shooting for a 24" overlap of the underlying panels is ideal I wouldn't worry at all if I could achieve at least an 8 inch overlap, and didn't. If at all possible place any narrower pieces away from heavy traffic areas; under the vanities, in the closets, etc. If you need to adjust your overlap spacing to do that, I would.
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Unread 10-18-2020, 05:39 PM   #37
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Alright, it's been a couple of days. Got some work done.


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I have removed the toilet flange, removed the water-damaged plywood subfloor under the toilet, added a bunch of bolsters, and replaced the damaged floor there.


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Then I added a 1/2" plywood to the existing 3/4" subfloor following the oft-cited directions in the Liberry article.

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This is the old plumbing wall, with the obtrusive stud in the middle, which prevented me from adding my Delta MultiChoice R10000-UNWS.

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I replaced the stud in the middle with two on the sides, added furring strips, and got everything all in a plane and plumb (again). I did my math (god, I hope it's right) and added 2x4s between the studs at the calculated depth. I secured the multichoice valve and all the plumbing. Added some 1/4 turn ball valves to the plumbing access behind the tub. This was my first time doing soldering.

I am at the point (I think) where I need to level the floor. Originally, we were thinking about going with hardie backer on the floor, but after doing all the plywood which took me an entire weekend with my dad, we decided to go with an uncoupling membrane instead of the concrete fiberboard. The floor is crowned, high point in the center, and low around all the edges. So I was going to put the self leveler down before the uncoupling membrane.

Before, someone mentioned Ardex Backerboard, but that was before we were planning on using uncoupling membrane.

Does anyone have any recommendations for what is a good self leveling compound (for a novice) for before placing the uncoupling membrane on top of my plywood? I have access to Home Depot and Lowes. I've watched plenty of "failed SLC videos" on YouTube and so I am trying to avoid that.

Thanks again for your help so far.
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Unread 10-18-2020, 10:57 PM   #38
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I realize in the previous post I said "level" the floor. I am just trying to make it flat for the uncoupling membrane. Not necessarily level.
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Unread 10-25-2020, 04:42 PM   #39
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Gonna bump this thread.

Just a quick summary:
2 layers of plywood down (3/4" original subfloor and 1/2" nominal on top of that).
The floor is crowned, about 3/8" low on the left side and 5/16" low on the right side. Tile is 20"x20".

The plan:
-Self leveling compound on top of new plywood subfloor to flatten out floor
-Uncoupling membrane on top of that
-Tile on top of that.

I was having trouble figuring out which self-leveler to use. HD has Henry 542 Liquid Backerboard, 544, 555, 565.

From what I can tell:
-542 works on plywood or concrete floors, does not require metal lath
-544 is for concrete and terazzo floors. Not plywood.
-555 and 565 seem pretty identical, both require metal lath

So i was thinking about using Henry 542. Unfortunately, HD needs to special order it, and it won't be here for about a week. In the instructions it says, "if necessary, sand down to bare wood." And I have seen other online resources indicating that sanding is important or even necessary no matter what floor you have. I have brand new plywood. So, questions:

1) Would you sand the new plywood subfloor prior to priming?
2) Does this plan/product seem sound?
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Unread 10-25-2020, 06:40 PM   #40
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To ensure a good bond, if there's crud on it (say paint, drywall mud, adhesives, etc.), they want it clean of those contaminants. Otherwise, on new material, you should be okay, but I'd still call their tech support...seems like you'll have enough time to get an answer from those that designed it!

WRT any of these self-leveling cement products, they aren't like water...more like pancake batter and if you've ever made pancakes, the stuff doesn't spread to the edges of the pan. Even water on say a freshly waxed car, ends up with beads rather than sheeting off. That's an extreme example, but similar to what happens with slc. To get flat, it often needs some help. The issue with any of these is how much time do you have to achieve that otherwise, it's like trying to get a partially frozen puddle to lay flat again. It will try to have a meniscus (rounded edge) on it unless you spread it to break the surface tension. Best to measure out your water and have helpers, as to get a good result, you need to keep mixing, pouring, and maintain a wet edge. You'll need something to help spread it out, too. I don't know whether they recommend their porcupine roller to help break the surface tension or not; on some slc's, that can help immensely. I used a different Ardex product, and ended up using a snow rake to help move it around, as it had a long handle. The stuff will run anywhere there's a hole or gap, so watch that ,and you will want to use something like sill seal around the perimeter of the walls to provide a small resilient gap and help prevent it from running underneath the walls.
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Unread 10-27-2020, 01:33 AM   #41
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Thanks for the reply.

This is more of an informative post. No questions at the moment, just putting down what the plan is for the week.

I spoke with the Ardex/Henry Rep today. I'll just throw the information down that he gave me in case anyone else looks at this forum who is using Liquid Backerboard.
-Henry 542 and Ardex Liquid Backerboard are the same thing. Ardex is more expensive because it comes in a 50 lb bag, whereas Henry 542 comes in 40 lb bags.
-Henry 542/Ardex LBB is the right SLC for a crowned plywood floor and will give me the nice flat surface I am looking for to place uncoupling membrane on top of. He said it has "better coverage" than Henry 555 or Henry 565.
-For my floor he said not to use a gauge rake as the floor is crowned, it won't help to set that up. He recommended a smoother or spiked roller as you mentioned to break the surface tension. He said he had better luck with a smoother in the past, but that was his own personal opinion.
-As for the mixing drill, he said that they don't typically use a dedicated concrete mixing drill in their workshops, just any 1/2" drill will do as long as it is faster than 650 rpms. I asked about using my 7.8 amp 1/2" Dewalt Hammer Drill, and he said it would be fine as long as it can rotate more than 650 rpms (it rotates at 2700 rpms). I may still rent a concrete mixing drill from HD to prevent the wear and tear on the hammer drill).
-No metal lath is required for these two products.
-He recommended using screws as depth gauges to identify a level height to which to pour the SLC. I was going to use small wire nails to set the depth, which he said was fine.

So I ordered Henry 542 Liquid Backerboard from HD who is shipping it to me within a couple of days.

--

That was about the entire conversation. So my plan for this week is to prep the subfloor:
-I am going to make sure that all the screws are appropriately deep and lightly sand away (with my oscillating multitool) any of the bits of wood that came out with the screwing process.
-Vacuum everything thoroughly.
-Fill the 1/8" gaps between all the plywood subfloor panels with Henry 549 featherfinish.
-My wife purchased the edgeban foam borders, and so we will put those down with caulk to prevent the SLC from leaking below the walls/into the toilet hole.
-We will seal any holes we come across with caulk prior to SLC.
-Then I will measure and set the depth 1/8" higher than the highest point (the middle/long axis of the room) and everything else will match that height. I'll tap small wire nails in to identify how high the self leveler needs to go.
-Priming: The day before SLC, I'll use non-diluted Henry 554 primer, paint it on with a roller brush, and leave it to dry overnight, planning on doing the SLC the next morning.

For the SLC:
-I have my soccer shoes, a mixing area outside of the door with a couple of plastic drop sheets down. x5 HD 5-gallon buckets. One with water. One to put the drill/mixing paddle in (also has water) in between mixing. 3 buckets to mix SLC in. 2 people mixing, and 1 person pouring and spreading. I have a squeegee/smoother attached to a broom handle for spreading it out and breaking the surface tension. I will pour until the nail heads which indicate my depth are just covered up.
-The floor is about 76 sq. feet, 3/8 inch at the lowest point. Each bag covers 25 sq feet @ 1/4". If I was raising the whole floor by 3/8", then I would need 4.5 bags. I bought 6 bags so that I would have more than needed (I hope). I have a tendency to ruin things the first time I try them, so buying an extra couple bags gives me some room for the inevitable error.

And that is all, I think. SLC is planned for Sunday. So I will update on sometime near then, hoping that I am one of those guys who is singing SLC praises and not one who is trying to figure out how to chip the SLC off after a bad application!

Thanks again for the reply.
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Unread 11-23-2020, 02:51 PM   #42
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I am going to break this up into two posts - the first is an update with things that I have done since the end of October, what went well and what didn't. Then the second post with some questions.

So last we left off, I was prepping the subfloor for self leveling concrete. Queue super long post.

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A brief recap: 3/4" subfloor - required a 2x4' patch repaired due to water damage. I added a nominal 1/2" plywood layer on top of that. Problem was that the floor was significantly bowed - down well over 3/4" on the left side of that photo by the closet. Probably closer to an inch. High point in the middle of the bathroom. Low points on either edge. My wife wants large format tile, so I thought I should make is as flat as possible.

Floor prep: I sealed the seams in the plywood with Henry FeatherFinish. I used the edgeban system around the perimeter, which I liked, cutting it to length and caulking it in place. A miscalculation on my part meant that I ran out before getting the whole way around the bathroom. I used Frost King 1-1/4" x 7/16" white high density rubber foam weatherstrip tape for the rest. It worked nicely for the small part that I didn't get to cover with the edgeban. The edgeban toilet ring was too large to use so I made my own dam out of the weatherstripping.

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Edgeban toilet ring, too large...


I called Ardex and they recommended their liquid backerboard (Henry 542) is what HD had available with free shipping. I calculated 76 sq ft for the bathroom (see calculations above) and purchased 6 bags, got my dad to come help my wife and I so that we could mix and pour quickly, keeping the wet edge like the rep suggested. I tapped in wire brads to the height the SLC needed to be poured. Vaccumed thoroughly and primed with Henry 554 the night before.

On the day of the SLC, we got started, following the directions and rep's instructions to a T. Bad news, my Dewalt 7.8 amp 1/2" drill just about burnt out halfway through the second bag. Smoke pouring out everywhere. It forced my wife to run to Home Depot real fast and buy the first thing we could find that would work, trying to get things done before everything set. So she found a Ridgid Mud Mixer in the Tools aisle (expensive... sigh...). Little did I know that there was an actual mortar mixer in the tiling aisle for significantly cheaper than the Ridgid Mud Mixer, but here we are.

Some things I learned about the self leveler:
1) I had tapped little wire brads into the wood at a height all throughout the room that meant "if you raise the floor to this point, it will be level here." It was 1/8" over the highest point and everything else to match that.
Well... stupid me... if you cover up the nails with SLC during your pour, you have no idea how much SLC is OVER the nail heads.... Might be 1/4" might be 1/2". Also, they are REALLY small and kinda hard to see. If I could do it again, I would use larger nails or screws and set the nails/screws so that I am pouring to a certain point on the screw and NOT covering the top of the screw. Then cut the screw/nail heads off after it sets.
2) You get what you pay for. My $100 Dewalt drill couldn't cut it for mixing SLC. The rep told me that he used drills like that in the past and it was fine, but I should have purchased the more robust drill ahead of time. If I was a better planner, I could have purchased a mixing drill ahead of time and left the it in the box. If cheaper drill works, then return the unused mixing drill later. But if cheaper drill fails (which it did) the mixing drill would be available right away if needed. I planned poorly here, and it screwed up my second bucket, and my ability to maintain the "wet edge." It cost me a pretty penny because there was no time to find the right tool, just an available one. That being said, I now have a seemingly pretty reliable drill for mixing all the mortar later.
3) And I knew this before hand: self-leveling concrete is finicky. I think there is probably a goldilocks zone with spreading it out. You need to make sure you break the surface tension so that it flows, but if you move it around too much, well I found myself causing more problems trying to get things perfect. After a couple of minutes, you have to just not touch it anymore I think, or you will screw up it's intended flow. Pour it, smooth it around quickly, then let it be. A spiked roller might have made a bigger difference here. If I do it again later, I will buy one.

So here is the result of my first attempt. 4 bags.

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It wasn't a total failure.

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The grid lines are flat and level. Everything else is a dip that needed to be filled in.

So, I used the rest of the 2 bags and filled in the dips. This resulted in a PRETTY flat floor. I would find out later that there were two areas which were not perfect.

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Dips filled in

After the SLC set, my wife and I cut the edgeban off using a flush cut saw and oscillating multitool. Weatherstripping cut to level with a utility knife. The edgeban really is just a piece of molded sytrafoam, so it makes an easily-cleanable mess cutting it to level.

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Next was the Ditra. 1/4 away from the walls. Measuring it out, I should have used smaller pieces instead of trying to use the fewest pieces possible running it the whole length of the room.

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This would become a problem later. When I measured it out, I used the long piece in the middle as the reference to where everything else needed to fit. I ended up laying the long piece down and then having to go back into the far corner to do that little piece by the toilet. I should have started in the corner and worked my way outwards. Anyways, not a big deal. My thinset choice was Mapei Uncoupling Membrane Mortar. I should have added the maximum water instead of the minimum or middle (they recommend a range), because it was a little too stiff and not as runny as in the Schluter Video. I wasn't getting good coverage when lifting and checking, so I had to do it again following the Schluter instructions. The reason I should have avoided that 11' long piece is that when I wasn't getting good coverage, it was challenging to roll up that whole piece halfway to either side and re-do it. Smaller pieces would have helped here. But I think I ended up with good coverage and got it all down. Added KerdiBand over the seems closest to wear the sinks are.

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The Kerdiband adds a tiny bit of thickness in those areas. I'm not sure if this matters. People in the past said we needed as flat a floor as possible, but there was definitely some added thickness over the area where the kerdiband went. <shrug>. Not a lot though. I pushed it down with a drywall knife like in the videos. I figured it would be mostly covered up by the mortar anyways.

On to tiling: My wife and I laid out our tiles with 1/3 tile spacing. The tiles are so big that we found we would have to cut several tiles with notches and such (as opposed to just rip cuts), so that made the decision easy to purchase a tile saw instead of a manual tile cutter. I got this 7" Ridgid tile saw at HD. I don't know if this decision was overkill, but the saw worked way better than I expected (given all the other problems I have run into).

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I read several forum posts about what kind of thinset to use for the 20"x20" porcelain tile. Schluter recommends their own modified thinset or unmodified thinset, but no modified thinset from other manufacturers as theirs is made to set appropriately on top of Ditra. Most unmodified thinsets at the HD/Lowe's say not to use them for large format porcelain tile, so I called Schluter and they were happy to find me a nearby Floor & Decor which sells Schluter All Set. I bought a couple bags of that and got to laying out the tiles.

I learned that I am very slow at tiling and extremely messy. I enlisted my wife again to help me. She would back-butter the tiles for me while I was troweling out the All Set and making the ridges. Setting the tiles into position was challenging. The thing I was most surprised by was that when I went to check the coverage, which was good, it took a TON of force to lift those tiles back up after they were down. I am pretty sure that is a good thing. I used the Lash tile leveling system. It worked... oookaayy. It took a few to realize how hard I could squeeze the tool before it would snap the thing off. It took me a bit to get into the groove of set the leveling system, troweling the mortar, make the ridges, backbuttering the tile, setting the tiles, wiggle the tile, setting the spacers, mallet the tile, check everything, set new levelers on the open edges, and ratchet down the levelers. In all this, there is mortar on just about everything including my 3-year old kids somehow (). Mortar keeps squeezing up between the tiles each time I set one and when it gets into the leveling clips, its painful.

<moving onto the next post now>
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Unread 11-23-2020, 03:15 PM   #43
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Just some photos of the tiling process so far...

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mortar on everything...

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cleaned up a little

So here are my questions, as I am trying to proceed here into the closet.

1) How on earth do you get the mortar to stop squeezing up in between the tiles and getting all stuck in the leveling systems??

Next, I have a question about the closet doorjamb.

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Here is the doorjamb. I cut away the baseboards that are on the front and the back of the doorjamb. But I left the doorjamb itself alone here.

So, question 2) Would you undercut the doorjamb (again, this is a closet) and then place the tiles underneath the entire thing (doorjamb/baseboards)? Right now, I have it with the doorjamb left in place and the tile cut AROUND the door jamb, but UNDER the baseboards attached to its front and back.

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this is the opposite side of the one above

If I keep it this way, I think the tile needs to be cut a bit outwards because it is right up against the doorjamb, and it should be 1/8-1/4" away. It just seems weird to have it cut underneath the baseboard but around the door jamb.

3) is it too late to cut away the door jamb anyways? The ditra isn't underneath there if I cut away that wood.

Question about mortar/grout

4) Like I said before, the mortar is really squeezing up into the spaces between the tiles. In some cases, filling several inches of the space completely, which is bad. How much room(height) does there need to be for the grout? Should I be removing this squeezed up mortar all the way back down to the bottom of the tile? If I scrape most of it out with a 5-in-1 tool/pain scraper, is that sufficient?
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Unread 11-23-2020, 03:32 PM   #44
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Under cutting the jambs produces a cleaner look, Pete, I'd strive to do so. Won't matter if there's no Ditra under it, IMO, it won't be walked on.

I get the challenge you're having with the tile, and it's compounded by needing to fill the Ditra at the same time you're setting the tile. Two things I did to combat the challenge and compensate for my lack of skill; 1) prefilled my Ditra (Heat) and 2) first burn a thin layer of mortar onto the back of the tiles then comb the mortar onto the back of the tile. Combing the mortar onto the back of the tile allowed me to then take a 4" putty knife and strike the mortar off around the tile perimeter at a bevel. Pretty much eliminated mortar squeeze out and made dealing with the leveling system much cleaner.

Of course, do it the way I did also eliminated any hope of getting it done reasonably quick, but a price I was willing to pay.

Yes, you'll want to remove the mortar down as deep as you can, but at least 2/3rds the thickness of the tile itself. Careful with the 5-n-1, don't chip the tile. You might want to wait for the mortar to set up for an hour - it'll come out of the joints cleaner.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 11:05 AM   #45
CommanderCut
1st Time DIY'er
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 40
Thanks for the advice ss3964spd. I undercut the door jambs like you said. May have made one a little too high by accident, so I will get to deal with that later.

Alright... floor tiles installed and grouted. I made a few mistakes along the way, but overall I am happy with the way that it looks.

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I will say this - I am blown away by how easy you all make it look to keep things clean during this entire process... I have found mortar just about everywhere, on every tool, on everything (mortar in arm hairs... ow). Can't seem to keep my hands & arms clean during the backbuttering process... heh.

The other thing that I have discovered as a new DIYer, is how little foresight I have... So the next question may not fit in this forum, but I thought I might ask to see if there was some easy advice someone might have. We were finally getting ready to install the vanities that we purchased (4 months ago). When I opened the box, I discovered that the bottom drawer reaches almost all of the way to the back of the vanity, and it is clear that these vanities were created with wall-plumbing in mind, not coming-up-out-of-the-floor plumbing like mine.

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Where the hot/cold come out of the floor right now, the bottom drawer won't be able to close all the way. Here is what I was thinking about doing.

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Two 90 degree bends and an in-line quarter turn shut-off valve with the valve sitting above the drawer? It will be a tight fit, but it should fit behind that drawer.

1) Is there a better/more obvious solution? (besides "return the vanity and buy a new one, duh")
2) Am I violating an important/basic rule or code of plumbing by doing something like this?

FWIW, my wife and I went to the HD and were unable to find a vanity that we liked that would accommodate the floor plumbing better than what we already have. Perhaps we need to be more flexible...
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