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Unread 02-25-2014, 07:17 PM   #1
Tilehelperdan
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Unusual mud floor; Anyone seen this before?

House was built in early 1960's and the floor is original. Area in question is a foyer over a crawl space. Tile was a patterned slate; it was poorly bonded but not cracked. Pulled the tile to find this.

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Okay, the slate was mud set. Neat but nothing too exciting. The mud bed is obviously unusable, so we set to tearing it out. This is where things got interesting. We found the mud bed to be 2 1/2" thick with no subfloor under it. Nothing. Lath over joists then mud.

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The way the lath was attached is interesting, too. All the nails were driven half way then layed over. I assume this was to pull the lath as tight as possible.

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The mudbed is immensely strong and appears to have been a fairly rich mix. A hammer and chisel won't even chip it and the demo hammer is slow going.

Anyone ever seen anything like this? Any ideas on why? All of us were stumped. I can't see this being a positive in regards to saving height; the floor was still so thick the wood floors abutting it were put in on sleepers. The rest of the house has dimensional lumber subfloors, including a powder room which was tile.
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Unread 02-25-2014, 07:30 PM   #2
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Why did the customer want to pull out the slate? With a mud bed like that it was obviously built to last. Natural slate doesn't go out of style IMO.
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Unread 02-25-2014, 08:27 PM   #3
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Cant say I've ever seen anything like that. Did they put down a scratch coat first, then came back and applied the top layer of mud?
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Unread 02-25-2014, 08:31 PM   #4
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I've seen that done in a handful of homes around here dating from the 30's to mid/late 50's. It was basically a rich concrete scratch coat that is anywhere from 2" to 5" with a an equally rich fat mud brown coat. The stuff is brutal to demo!
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Unread 02-25-2014, 08:43 PM   #5
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Yep, the imprint in the mud shows that they beat the slate into it. Before thinset days.
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Unread 02-25-2014, 08:56 PM   #6
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Should of left that down!
Cx, what does your book say about that? Does that meet industry standards?
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Unread 02-25-2014, 09:28 PM   #7
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I saw no sign of a scratch coat. It looked like one solid bed. I really want to know the reasoning behind it, though.
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Unread 02-28-2014, 09:42 PM   #8
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That's a new on for me too. I'm bumping this also hoping someone can say "why".

BTW, what are you doing messing around with tile, Dan? I thought you were gonna be an engineer or something high-fallutin' like that.
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Unread 03-01-2014, 07:41 AM   #9
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I too am curious. How did they get on it, how did it last so long, why would you do this. Lots o' questions. They also buried conduit in the mudbed, so the electrician had to swing by when that was found by a demo hammer. All the floors in the house are wonky. Everything is on sleepers or three layers thick.


Machinist, Brad. And I was. It was an interesting and profitable venture but I had no passion for it.
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Unread 03-01-2014, 08:44 AM   #10
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I have never done it without a subfloor underneath, but otherwise the method was commonplace back in the day. Mud was spread only as far as one could reach, tiles were laid over a pure cement slurry or dry cement sprinkled with water (two or three coursed depending on tile size). They were then beat in and checked with a straightedge. The next pull was then floated.

The deck mud is not hard packed and troweled as it is placed. It's left a little fluffy, so that it reaches up and makes total contact when the tiles are beaten down into it. The method is especially effective when setting slate and other uneven stone.

I'm guessing that there would normally be a subfloor, but maybe on this job the project was behind schedule, and some ingenious tile setter came up with a work-around?
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Unread 03-01-2014, 11:39 AM   #11
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Seems like the lack of a subfloor would be an advantage when beating in uneven tile - the more you beat, the more mud could be forced through the lath - allowing you to get it level even when starting with extra mud ?

the problem might be that your already level areas would get pulled down when working adjacent tiles?
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Unread 03-01-2014, 06:32 PM   #12
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I think a scratch coat of fat mud was allowed to dry and harden before the deck mud was floated over it. Deck mud would go right through the lath otherwise.
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Unread 03-02-2014, 06:36 PM   #13
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Around here that scratch coat is actually concrete.
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Unread 03-02-2014, 09:04 PM   #14
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Saw this type thing in an Old banks entryway once...It was interesting because they had actually sloped it also..The tile was soaked and Beat into the mud..we tore the tile out as it was pretty rough...There was one area of mud we had to tear out as it had broken up...we refilled it and used a bonder, then we skimcoated everything with keralastic and set new tile...It was the first I had seen that but i had heard of it from an old timer....
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Unread 03-03-2014, 08:05 AM   #15
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As a kid I remember my dad bending his nails over. He always said it was to keep the next guy from cussing him too much. Sometimes he would bend the nails to tighten up the lath, that was on walls. Could be what they were doing on this floor.

I hope that's on the bottom floor. If not, looks like a chunk of mud could go thru the ceiling down below.
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