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Unread 03-16-2018, 09:18 PM   #1
HughM
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Retro Fit Tile on Porch with SO many Issues!

Hi, I am new to your forum, and will appreciate input on my DIY challenge. I have removed some very slick scrap marble from a porch/patio area and want to replace it with porcelain tile. What we have there now is a rough, uneven concrete substrate.

About 2/3 of the 10.5 x 20 surface area sits on top of an underground storm cellar and the remainder sits on top of the ground. It has no useful slope at all. We live in NE Oklahoma and can have winter temps down to sub zero.
We have a deep crack that runs the depth of the area, located basically where the cellar area meets the dirt base. The house’s entry door is on the side the sits over the ground, and we have 1 ½ “ of space under the door threshold. We have considered raising the door threshold up by 1- 1 ½ “ in order to create a minimal slope for our 10.5’ deep porch floor. If we do this, we will have a new height of about 2 ½-3 inches at the threshold for a mortar bed and tile, otherwise we have 1 ½ inches.

We also need to replace a section of the porch where an old sidewalk met the porch. In this area, the porch substrate basically crumbled away and was removed with the old sidewalk. Our idea is to pour a new sidewalk over a 4" compacted ¾” gravel base, and also replace the missing section of the adjoining porch at the same time. Then we would like to install porcelain tile on the porch/patio surface. Here are some of our questions-

1. In pouring the sidewalk and adjoining porch repair area, do we need to prepare the edges of the old porch in any way for bonding with the new concrete? I have read to undercut the old concrete when patching so would we use a similar approach in pouring new concrete to adjoin the old? Any other prep needed of the old concrete? Or perhaps we should not be bonding at all to the old concrete as it is a part of the cellar and maybe an expansion joint is a better abutment?

2. We want to create an expansion joint in the area where the crack between the two different bases is. How can we do this best? Silicone in the uneven crack and then an expansion joint in the tile as close as possible? Or should we try to use a crack isolation membrane here?

3. When laying tiles on the rough concrete substrate, what methods might work here and what products would be best? I have read lots of information on different application methods but don’t know how to adapt to our specific issues of uneven surface, no slope to minimal slope, limited height space, 2 different bases, cracked area, and budget concerns.

4. We are considering a removal of that portion of the concrete substrate which is over dirt, and starting over with a new slab on this portion of the porch. It is very tempting as we could expose the side of the cellar wall, perhaps create a better defined expansion joint between the cellar wall and the dirt base, add waterproofing to the cellar’s exterior wall, etc. However, we are hesitant to take it out because a 7’ length of the house wall here actually sits on top of the same marble top that we just removed. It looks like the previous owner built the addition right on top of his patio and we are guessing that the footing here may be an old concrete porch. And all this for the fix of a slick cracked marble top. ARGH!

We live in a rural area and the local contractors aren’t a good resource for knowledge in finding the best solutions to our porch issues, so we thank you for guidance you may provide. We realize that our porch has a number of deal breaker (aka tile breaker) problems, but we have to work with what we have and find some sort of compromise remedies. And in doing so, we would like to use the right products in the right way, the first time, if we can afford it!

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Unread 03-16-2018, 09:49 PM   #2
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Additional note about pics- the mortar bed from on the old tile is not completely removed in the pics, but we are working on it.
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Unread 03-18-2018, 06:53 PM   #3
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Welcome, Hugh.

Tough situation for the remodel you have in mind. Lot to consider.

First consideration is your lack of slope. Unless you can remedy that you'll just be putting lipstick on a pig. Raising the door threshold, if you can successfully do that, would seem the easiest choice, but consider that the tile industry standard for slope in your situation would be a minimum of a quarter-inch per horizontal foot. That would require something more than 2 1/2-inches in increased height (presuming you're currently somewhere close to level) in your substrate at the house. Add to that your tile and a couple inches (my personal minimum) of height between the patio height and the door threshold and you've got a substantial change there. You'll also want to consider removing the lower portion of your wall sheathing so you can flash your new waterproofing up the exterior walls a bit and tie that into the waterproofing membrane you'll install under your tile installation.

All doable, perhaps, but will need some serious planning and careful execution.

1. I would be careful not to attach those two concrete sections. You'll want to leave a movement accommodation joint there and honor it up through your tile and/or whatever covering you use on the sidewalk. You will forever have some differential movement between those two sections.

2. There again, I would anticipate that you will always have some vertical, as well as horizontal, differential movement between those two concrete sections. I can't tell why the crack/joint is not a straight line where the two sections currently meet, but I'd want to look into that before making a decision on the treatment in the tile installation. Best case would perhaps be a repair that resulted in a straight joint there that could easily be honored up through your new sloped mud and tile installation.

3. The addition of the new sloped substrate should eliminate the existing rough surface and could be easily bonded to the current surface.

4. Can't speak at all to the potential issues in removing the existing SOG and I'm not at all sure what benefit that would be unless the current concrete is unsound and really needs replaced. You could lower it to make room for a proper slope away from the structure, but that would leave you with sections at different heights and still no slope in the existing above-grade concrete.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-18-2018, 07:51 PM   #4
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CX,
Thank you for your insights, I think your points hit on all of our biggest concerns. And yes, I understand that creating slope would need to be our first objective. Our existing substrate is basically level as it runs away and out from the house (east to west). However, there is some slope down in the run from the north to south. Do you suppose this might help our situation any if slope could be a combination of east / west as well as north /south? Would it allow us to raise the threshold any less?
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Unread 03-18-2018, 08:13 PM   #5
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Very difficult to get a sufficiently flat slope for tile when creating a compound slope like I think your suggesting. If you think you can get the required slope with the flatness required for the size tiles you anticipate using, I wouldn't see a problem with it.

Far easier said than done, though.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-18-2018, 09:40 PM   #6
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Ok, well short of dynamite (tempting!) we don’t see any options besides trying to create slope as best we can and then hoping for a decent result.

Could I also ask for input on the process and products-

1. Correct product for creating the sloped substrate and bonding agent? And if it has a minimum depth requirement, can we then switch over to a different product for a thinner substrate as we near the lesser substrate depth?

2. Is there a resource for info about how to properly apply the new substrate and achieve a nice flat surface?

3. Suggestions for products in creating the movement accommodation joints in the concrete substrate and in the tile?

4. Could you recommend a waterproofing product that would be cost efficient and consistent with minimal height concerns and compatible with other products being used? Redguard? And does this go directly on top of the new substrate?

5.. And then what product should we use to apply the bond coat for the tile?

Thank you again!
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Unread 03-19-2018, 08:45 AM   #7
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Hi Hugh,

Looking at the pictures I don't see how you would get sufficient slope on that without coming up to the level of the inside floor or higher. I know it's expensive, but my long-term approach would be to remove all the concrete and start over.
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Unread 03-19-2018, 12:22 PM   #8
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John,
I wish we had the budget to tear it all out, but the cost to pour a new cellar top sends the dollars way up. We could demo the portion that sits on the ground though, is that what you meant? I had originally thought this might work in that we could also expose the cellar wall and make a more defined movement joint next to it. Just didn't want to tear out something unless it needs to go.
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Unread 05-23-2018, 07:19 AM   #9
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CX & John- One more question?

I've been busy working on this project- had to think for a LONG time on how to address the many details. The past month has been spent on addressing the negative grade in the landscape surrounding the porch and house and it is beginning to look much better.

As for the patio/porch area, I am definitely planning to raise the door threshold to create the required slope needed on the floor surface.

Next, I'd like to create that porch slope with a mortar bed (dry pack?) and then top that newly sloped surface with thin brick pavers which are sand set.

My question is- Will the mortar bed be a stable substrate in this exterior environment?

Thank you again for your help!!!
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Unread 05-06-2019, 03:02 PM   #10
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Porch Paver Install

We have spent the past year studying and figuring to formulate a plan for laying our brick porch area. Thanks to your previous advice, we installed French drains to divert water and elevated our door threshold to make room for slope. Now we’re ready to begin the install. Could you please review our ideas and let us know if you see errors? We have no experience with mortar or pavers!

The base is concrete, very rough, with previous mortared tiles removed, and the mortar continues to be crumbling off gradually due to time and weather. Slope will need to be created with mortar as the old surface had been installed level and failed. We plan to sweep and dampen the concrete base with water, then apply Ash Grove Pro Mortar Type S, mixed with Ash Grove Pro Bond Acrylic Admixture, diluted 1:1 with water. The mortar will be applied with a trowel, in a thickness ranging from 2 ½ inches to ½ inch. We’d like joint spaces to be ¼” in order to look similar to a sand base laid walkway with 3/16” joints. Joints will be filled with mortar as the pavers are laid, troweled flush, and tooled with a slight concave. Our pavers are Endicott’s split pavers with 1 ¼” height.

Our slope is minimal due to threshold limits at just a bit more than 1:8. The admix is chosen to help with bonding to the old base of mortar and concrete and to provide some resistance to freeze and thaw. Isolation joints are needed for 2 substrates as a part of the base is a top of an inground storm cellar and the other part is a concrete slab over dirt. We will also use isolation joints next to the house and around ventilation pipe penetrations from the cellar. Joints will be filled with backer rod, then tar paper, and then sealant. We will use a brick pattern that is a modified running bond, at either 1/3 or 1/4 offset to increase random appearance and help hide irregularities in our work.

Here are some questions-

Is the acrylic bonding admix a good idea? Is a dilution of it at 1:1 admix to water okay?

Is a joint space of ¼” fillable and toolable?

Is our dampening of the base (and an overnight soaking of the pavers) a good pretreatment or do you have other suggestions?

Can our mortar be trowel applied at the thickness of 2 ½ inches or is a dry pack method necessary for this depth?

We will only be able to install small amounts of brick at a time so should a previous workdays mortar be dampened with water to help the new mortar bond?

In using a bricklayer’s method, do we also back butter the pavers and how much of the paver surface should be buttered?

Other suggestions??? And thank you!!!!!
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Unread 05-06-2019, 06:19 PM   #11
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Welcome back Hugh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh
Our slope is minimal due to threshold limits at just a bit more than 1:8
Not sure what you mean by “1:8”. Is that slope 1/8” per foot?
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Unread 05-06-2019, 07:29 PM   #12
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Hi Hugh. I'm afraid you'll have a hard time keeping the bricks flat and inline when setting them into fat mud, especially in the thick 2+ inch areas.

If the bricks are consistent in thickness, I see no reason why you can't mud the whole area with dry pack, let it set, then pop chalk lines and thinset the bricks down. I would let the bricks set and then grout it.

Portland cement and water can be used to bond the dry pack to the old slab but I've found that thinset bonds better. Like I did in this pick.
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Unread 05-06-2019, 07:30 PM   #13
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Welcome back, Hugh. I've combined your new thread with your original thread on this project so folks can see what you're working on and what's been previously asked and answered.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh
My question is- Will the mortar bed be a stable substrate in this exterior environment?
Sorry we missed that question last time, but if you'll add a geographic location to your User Profile it'll remain permanently in view and aid in answering such questions as that.

I'm seriously concerned that you don't intend to create a flat substrate before you begin laying those tiles. While it's possible in some cases to wet-set tiles as you propose on what appears to be a very, very un-flat substrate, it's not for the faint of heart and I fear you're likely to be very disappointed. What is the facial dimension and thickness of your tiles?

Let's get an answer to that and to PC's question about your slope before we go on.

[Edit] What Davy slipped in while I was typing is what I think you need to do.
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Unread 05-08-2019, 09:27 AM   #14
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Once again, you all have stepped in and pinpointed those details that are essential to this project. Thank you. Slope and the right method! So I went back to reconfirm our slope, and experienced a change of heart. The knees don't bend, the person taking measurements may not be doing it correctly, the list of tools needed is getting very costly, we lack critical skills, and we decided to try calling in a mason. The last time we did that he was way too expensive to even consider. Ha! Today we think there is cost and then there is reality!

So maybe this mason will want the job. And hopefully he will be able to do the job very well. Would it be okay to verify his plan with you all? Do you have any suggestions for us in this consultation?
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Unread 05-08-2019, 09:54 AM   #15
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Certainly acceptable for you to ask any questions about your new plan here, Hugh. Whether we'll be able to help is always a mystery.

With what sort of "mason" are you discussing this project?
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