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Unread 06-08-2021, 09:40 AM   #1
Bearwithmeplease
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Unfinished basement: 3 different concrete pours

Hello Tile Superheroes, we're really appreciating this forum and the wealth of information we've gathered. Figured we're ready to post a couple specific questions.

Quick background: our house was built 6 years ago by the original owners and contractor family members- very well done on the bones, not so great on the fine details. The basement is essentially unfinished. It was partly finished when we purchased, but we've since demo'ed it. Pictures show what it looks like now from what I'm calling the north and west corners.

There is about 750 square feet, that will become our laundry room/storage area and mother-in-law suite (read: we have several walls to put up first). Then we are going to tile it all. We've purchased the 6"×36" plank porcelein tile that my mom liked. We're planning on using two coats of red gard everywhere.

***So first questions: is it best to go ahead and level/flatten out the whole area before we put in the walls? If so, what about the red gard, should that go on before the walls go up? ***

Now for the funky stuff. There are three different pours. One main one that covers 80% of the floor and has a slight slope downward to the SW wall, less than 1/2" over 25'. **that doesn't have to be leveled better, right?** there are some local mins and maxes we'll fill and grind down.

The second biggest pour is near the east corner. A large crack can be seen between the pours, and there is a sizable step up towards the smaller area pour. **Is it feasible to grind down 75sqft with an angle grinder and diamond cup wheel?** And what do we do with the crack, just use crack filler and proceed as normally, or does it require special treatment?** this is all supposed to be open floor area in the final layout, so we need essentially no lippage here.

The third pour is in the south corner, where they were going to do a built in shower- it was very badly done. That corner is easily 1/2" lower than the west corner. **What should we fill that area with?**

I included some pictures showing our laser level lines on the east and south areas to show how high and low they are relative to each other.

Thanks in advance for all of your help,
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Unread 06-08-2021, 10:18 AM   #2
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Welcome, Amanda.

Keep in mind first that your ceramic tiles care not a whit whether your floor is level, they care only about flat. And your 36" tiles will care a great deal. The tile industry standard for substrate flatness for tiles that size is no deviation from intend plane of more than 1/8th" in ten feet, nor 1/16th" in two feet. That's a very, very flat floor.

The construction joints (those between the individual pours) will need to be honored all the way up through the ceramic tile installation, regardless any other considerations.

The crack shown in your South Corner photo needs to be checked for ANY difference in height between sides of the crack. If there is a difference, any difference at all, you're gonna hafta deal with that in the same manner as the construction joints.

Were I doing the project I'd want to do all the framing prior to dealing with the floor surface so I could deal with each tile area separately as far as flattening is concerned. You may need to do a good bit of grinding and filling to accomplish the goal, or you might want to use a self-leveling product in one or more of the areas. I'd recommend you first at least do the layout of the framing to get a better idea what it's gonna take to make each of the areas suitable for the tile installation. That may influence some other decisions.

And do carefully evaluate that crack.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-08-2021, 10:55 AM   #3
Bearwithmeplease
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Thank you CX, I was hoping we'd get your input on this.

So I've heard this term a lot, "honoring the joint up through the tile", but I'm a bit confused about what this means in a practical sense. Does it mean that no tile can straddle the joint at all? Just perhaps a caulked grout line? Or if you straddle a tile, what all is needed in the intermediate levels?

I've admittedly skipped the literature about construction joints thinking that it was a different thing than what we had going on. Of course, ours had to be right in front of the doorway.
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Unread 06-08-2021, 11:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanda
Does it mean that no tile can straddle the joint at all?
Yes, Ma'am, that's just what it means. Your tile layout must include a movement accommodation joint, or "soft joint," immediately above the construction joint and must be at least as wide as the construction joint. It can be filled with a flexible sealant or a mechanical joint filler made for the application. Your tiling substrate must be separated at that type of joint as well.

While there are methods of "relocating" movement joints over some types of concrete joints, you cannot do that with a construction joint.
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Originally Posted by Amanda
Of course, ours had to be right in front of the doorway.
If you could move your wall to just a bit, a doorway is an excellent place for a movement accommodation joint in the tile surface.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-08-2021, 12:57 PM   #5
Bearwithmeplease
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So I pity the horse I'm kicking, but are you saying that two of our options are 1) honor the joint up to essentially a good-sized grout line (filled with something similar looking to the rest our grout, but flexible) and 2) place a wall and doorway over a construction joint? That's okay to do?

I've attached anther picture to show more clearly what we're working with near the back door.

And on another note, we were hoping to have continuous tiling through all of our doorways(now where there isn't a joint). So wouldn't leveling each room separately after framing out complicate that a bit in the doorway where it could be unlevel?
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Unread 06-08-2021, 12:58 PM   #6
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Picture I referenced and then forgot to add.
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