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Unread 06-03-2021, 09:17 PM   #1
shaneatlas
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Movement joints with 33% offset planks?

Hi all!

I am in the middle of a flooring project and have a question that I could not find (clearly) answered here, so I would appreciate any insight. I like to do as much as I can and learn as much as I can, but don't have the confidence to actually lay the tile in this project.

I am having 60" x 12" wood-look porcelain planks installed over a ditra membrane over plywood with schluter all-set. There is one area that I need to put a movement joint because the length of the field is about 50 feet (it's a 25 foot hallway and a 20 foot room — photos attached). There are also 3 skylights above the hallway.

I discussed this with about a dozen installers and none of them had any idea about movement joints in the field. They all were confused and said it's not necessary. But everything I read says I should do it, so I got the Schluter Dilex movement joint (photo attached) to go under the doorway, right about halfway in the field. But i'm torn about using it because all the installers say it's not necessary and it will not look good. It will disrupt my 33% offset pattern

I also got Silicone Caulk for use in expansion joints (matched to my grout color) because I read that was an alternative installed with some backer rod.

What are my options?

Can a movement joint be installed effectively into the 33% offset pattern with the planks?

I have read conflicting information about installing movement joints ("staggered," "saw-tooth," or "zipper" joints) that way.

I think this is more ideal than the DILEX trim because it would not interrupt the pattern so it should be less noticeable. But I want to make sure the joint is done right.

I also saw an interesting installation of a straight movement joint that breaks a pattern, but where the installers didn't reset the pattern, so it's less noticable (see attached photo). I think this may be the next best option if a staggered joint is not ideal.

Thoughts?

Of course, if any of you think I don't need it, let me know haha.
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Unread 06-03-2021, 10:00 PM   #2
Kman
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Welcome to the forum, Shane.

I think I understand correctly that the long edge of the tile runs the 45', and it goes through the doorway. Correct me if I'm wrong.

So does the door split the run about equally?

If so, definitely put a joint there.

And you'll definitely want a couple in that room if the sun coming through the skylights hits the floor.

My hallway is very similar, almost as long at around 40'. I didn't use silicone, but I picked a point about halfway down the hallway, and chose the joints closest to that point to fill with caulk. I covered them with tape during grouting, then filled them with latex acrylic caulk after the grout was dry.

Is it ideal? No, but I think it's as good as you'll get without cutting the tile somewhere along the way.

I didn't want silicone because it often dries a little shiny, and I didn't want the silicone to stand out. I challenge anyone to find the expansion joints in my floor.
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Unread 06-04-2021, 12:47 PM   #3
shaneatlas
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Thanks for the quick reply! Correct, the door splits the run just about half way. The hallway is about 25 feet and the room is about 20 feet.

The skylights are not in the room, they are above the hallway. I'm not sure how direct the sunlight is, but I have felt the floor when the light is shining on it and it doesn't really feel any warmer.

So if I understand you correctly, you did the staggered movement joint and just filled the grout line with caulk instead. My grout lines are just 1/16th, so I guess the tile should be installed with more space (thicker "grout lines") for the staggered movement joint under the door?
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Unread 06-04-2021, 02:38 PM   #4
jadnashua
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How often is that door closed? IF it's normally closed, you might just keep your layout, but make a cut that would be under the door straight across and use either a caulked joint, or an engineered expansion joint. When closed, it would look 'normal' from either side.
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Unread 06-04-2021, 02:57 PM   #5
shaneatlas
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thanks for the reply, Jim! The door is closed about half the time. Are you recommending a straight-cut joint over a staggered for any particular reason?
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Unread 06-04-2021, 05:26 PM   #6
jadnashua
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You can make that gap any size to optimize the functionality...when the door is closed, it would be invisible. Much easier to install. I'd recommend an engineered one versus caulk as it should be permanent...caulk, especially on a small grout line that wanders around the tile's edges will be a major pain to cut out and replace cleanly when the time comes. You could make it into a feature if you ran a tile at 90-degrees the width of the door jam, and put an engineered joint on either side to make it symmetrical.

FWIW, 1/16" grout lines require REALLY exactly consistently sized tile. Industry guidelines is 3x the difference between the smallest and largest tiles...most are not sufficiently consistent to support that at that length. Not saying it can't happen, but it would be rare. The industry guidelines on how flat the surface is, is difficult to attain, as well. Do not expect to try to flatten things with thinset...it usually doesn't work. You need flat, level may be nice, but isn't critical.
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Unread 06-04-2021, 07:00 PM   #7
shaneatlas
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Thanks again for the reply, Jim! From what you're saying, I think I'll go with the Schluter DILEX movement joint and continue the pattern like in the attached photo with the red arrow pointing to the joint. I think this will be less noticeable than restarting the pattern.

Regarding 1/16th joints and these planks, the job is halfway done and there hasn't been any issue so far. The planks are rectified and seem pretty straight, and my floor is far from flat, but there has been almost no lippage issues. The grout lines are actually somewhere between 1/16 and 1/8th though.

Since you mentioned flattening things with thinset... going on a slight tangent, I was a little disappointed to see that my installer was breaking some of the rules I learned about in this "Trowel & Error" NTCA-approved technique video I found enlightening. I'd link to it but I'm not allowed to.

Basically, my installer put spots of mortar to lift the tile on certain parts of the plank to adjust for the unlevel floor and said it's the only way unless I were to level the whole floor with a very expensive application of self-leveling compound. I asked so many installers and they all seem to do it this way? This definitely reduced the mortar coverage and there are voids of air under the tile now

After we paused to move furniture around to do the other half of the floor, I applied Feather Finish floor patch to smooth out any valleys in the plywood and flatten (level?) the floor as much as possible before they continue the job based on some helpful YouTube videos. I'm hoping this will reduce the need to do those spot mortar applications. I don't know what else to do at this point, I'm a bit disappointed, but hoping for the best. My tile installer has been doing this for literally 40 years, so it can't be that bad?
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Unread 06-04-2021, 07:05 PM   #8
Tool Guy - Kg
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Hi, Shane.

Movement joints are one of those often ignored things that you don’t need until you find out too late that you did need them. Of all the remodeling folks I’ve ever met, more people than not don’t know about them, what the industry has developed for a standard, the consequences of not installing them, nor think that their perceived ugliness is worth installing them. And the surge in plank tiles over the past several years has made them more unpopular than ever. Of the relative low number of folks that know about movement joints, they’d so rather not ‘ruin’ the look of staggered plank tiles that they choose to stick their fingers in their ears and hum loudly when someone talks about needed joints.

The technically correct answer is to have a straight joint over a staggered joint because it allows for movement to occur more freely than a staggered joint. The staggered joint still allows a certain percentage of movement, but the degree of movement depends on, among other things, the tile assembly methods, materials, and amount of stagger. These last few items are not easy to test and certainly vary from job to job. So most folks “in the know” will say that staggered joints will allow some movement, but can’t quantify. Therefore, they recommend the straight joint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shaneatlas
Basically, my installer put spots of mortar to lift the tile on certain parts of the plank to adjust for the unlevel floor and said it's the only way unless I were to level the whole floor with a very expensive application of self-leveling compound.
Well, either you use self-leveling cement to flatten things out before you install any tile...or thinset mortar to flatten things out while installing the tile (definitely not recommended). But self-leveling cement isn't really any more expensive than mortar. Well, it's more expensive that the mortars on the cheaper end of the spectrum. So, your installer using thinset mortar while installing the tile is consuming more mortar than would be needed than if you had flattened it out to begin with. But that "spot bonding" to level the tiles is distinctly a poor idea that leads to broken tiles down the road due to air pockets under them. I wish you the best luck on this part, as the ship has already sailed on much of your floor.

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Unread 06-04-2021, 07:12 PM   #9
shaneatlas
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Really appreciate that explanation, Tonto! Makes complete sense, thank you! I am going to use the manufactured joint without resetting the pattern like in my post from a few minutes ago

Regarding the leveling, I don't really have a choice at this point because the job is halfway done and I didn't see it until it was too late Ignorance is bliss lol

It's upstairs so there shouldn't be as much traffic and heavy stuff banging around... what can I do at this point hopefully the spot patching I did will help?
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Unread 06-04-2021, 07:19 PM   #10
Tool Guy - Kg
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What can you do? It wasn't your responsibility to do anything or catch anything in the first place. It is the installer who is the "expert" if they are being paid professionally to set tile. It is their responsibility for installing tile in a manner that is of workman-like manner. Spot bonding is far from that. Your patching is likely to help. Hopefully, it is enough.

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Unread 06-04-2021, 07:28 PM   #11
shaneatlas
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Agreed! Sigh

Thanks for your insight
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