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Old 03-19-2019, 04:32 PM   #46
otrex
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This tiler is not a very good tiler. I am noting poor mortar coverage on a lot of tiles and allowing the mortar to sit in the pail for much longer than the pot time would allow. Doing my best to keep watch over everything, but not impressed with his level of care. It looks good, but I hope these tiles don't just fall out in a year's time.

I will do my own tiling for future projects - if this is the Homestars top-rated tiler in my area, I can most certainly replicate or improve on his results. I say this not as an insult to those tilers who have lots of experience and care, but rather as a condemnation of this particular tiler's set of skills and the now-suspicious 98% rating he has on Homestars.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:09 PM   #47
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Grouting Questions

I have a couple pressing questions about grouting that I need to ask, as the tiler is back tomorrow to grout.

Just for context, we are going to be using Spectralock Pro Premium Grout.

i) Tiler claims he should grout corners. I disagree and insist upon caulk only at changes of plane. Who is correct?

ii) Tiler has pushed spacers flat-backed into each joint and is intent upon leaving them there, some of which are not exactly pushed down as far as they should be. I believe they should be removed before grouting. Are spacers best removed before grouting?

iii) If answer to the above question is "Yes, remove spacers", how do you dig them out without chipping tile? What tool do you use?

iv) Is installing this grout something I can do myself (I am a "careful amateur")? If so, with this "pro" doing sloppy work, I think I should probably fire him and complete it myself.

Thanks for any feedback you can provide. I have only a few hours to decide how to proceed before he returns.
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:09 AM   #48
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Hi, Kevin.

Good timing.

i) You are correct. The tile industry specifically says to use a sealant at the change of planes and between dissimilar materials. If you need back up, ask your tiler to show you which method within the TCNA Handbook (or whichever manufacturer’s method) they are using and where it says to grout the corners. While grouting corners with cement-based grout usually only causes an aesthetic problem of an unsightly corner crack, epoxy “ups the ante” to a bigger potential problem. Because epoxy has great tensile strength, the corner may not crack if there’s differential movement between the walls. It may hang on tight enough to force a crack to the tile itself. But make no mistake on what I’m saying: just because you grout the corners doesn’t guarantee a failure. But it makes it more likely. While some pros are ok with grouting corners in a shower with cement-based grout when they build showers with strong substrate corners (like mud wall substrates), no pro will advocate epoxy grout in the same scenario.

ii) Yes, they are supposed to come out. Grout is to be filled into uniform depth joints.

iii) Needle nose pliers and gently wiggle them out. A cheap pair of pliers can be ground or belt sanded to a narrower nose, if needed.

iv) Absolutely doable by any careful amateur. We will happily talk you through the steps if you decide to part company with your pro.

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Old 03-20-2019, 06:03 AM   #49
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In some regards Spectralock is easier for an amateur because of it's color consistency.

Use the "mini's". Mix one of them up, apply, clean, clean again, etc. Admire work. Mix up another mini an hour later, or 2, maybe 4, or the following day, the color will match.
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Old 03-20-2019, 11:20 AM   #50
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Thanks to both of you for your replies. Today is D-Day for the final argument with this fellow. I just cannot let him grout no matter what - he's going to make a bad problem worse when he half-asses it. It's a tangentially-related problem, but he told me he would charge $500 for grouting 120 sqft if I supplied the materials, to which I replied that he could just take $500 less and leave the job, but he refused. Today I'll try to come to terms, and if not I'll just fire him and pay what I think is a fair deduction. He has made other mistakes in this job that he refuses to correct, so the law is on my side once that occurs. He's also demonstrated a tenuous grip on reality from time to time... so I think this just gets worse from here if I let him continue.

Thanks for the offer of assistance; I think I am going to try grouting it on my own and I appreciate the opportunity to ask you more questions as I prepare. I don't mind employing myself, although I do realize that would automatically mean my boss is a bit of an idiot.

A couple of questions your responses raise:

i) They don't sell the minis in Canada, so I had to buy some fulls. The Laticrete calculators says I need 2 minis for the walls and 2 for the floor, so my plan was to split parts A & B into 4 ziploc bags, then portion out the Part C into 4 bags as well. This should give me the 4 minis that I need, and then I will just use up one at a time to ensure I'm not trying to grout too much in one pass.

Anyone see any issue with this strategy?

ii) Some of these grout spacers are buried deep in the 1/16th joints on the wall. Last night I took 2 hours and pulled out all the ones that were not flush with the back of the wall, but the others are deep and set in thinset. Getting needlenose in there is nearly impossible, it seems. Am I at risk for chipping the small ceramic subway tiles? Is it better just to leave the buried ones buried if around 75% of the remaining depth of the tile edge is available to take grout? It takes a lot of force to remove them, and some of them don't want to dislodge with any reasonable amount of force. If I dial my strength dial up to 11, I fear damage.


Thanks again, everyone. Really appreciate the feedback.
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Old 03-20-2019, 11:52 AM   #51
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Like Bubba said, it's always best to remove the spacers but if you can't and they are fairly deep, then you may have to take a chance on them.

Laticrete wants you to mix the whole batch of grout at once although I have carefully measured them before cutting them in half. I always used plastic drinking cups that are transparent enough to fill them with the same amount. Then I just cover the tops with duct tape until I needed them. It takes 6 drinking cups, enough to cut the part A, part B and part C in half. Mark the cups so you don't get anything mixed up. Or, if you have a small scale, you can do it by weight. That's not what they recommend but sometimes you'll waste a lot of grout or spread too much at a time if you mix a whole batch.
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:25 PM   #52
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Part, if not all, the consistency is because the quantity in each pouch of part A and B, and the carton of C, are all carefully measured by the factory. So if you intend to split the fulls careful measuring will definitely be necessary.
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:35 PM   #53
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Yes, I have a digital scale for this purpose.

I shouldn't claim this as my own unique idea - I think it was on these forums where I found the suggestion to split ingredients up by weight and then use ziploc bags to ensure they are still in good condition when I come back to mix additional small batches. My fear is my first batch, if done to half-full size, would be so much grout that I couldn't get it all down before it was time for the first wash. And getting this grout was so difficult that I fear trying to source it again if I waste a bunch.

I did also pick up a rubber gum float since my understanding is that it's easier to work with, especially with Spectralock and especially with bevelled subway tile. The bevelled tile makes me nervous because it's unclear to me how I referee the depth of the grout without risking starting to fill up the bevel too. I guess just carefully scrape with the edge of the float as I clean excess grout away?
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:40 PM   #54
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I just eye balled it, of course a scale would be even better. As Cx would say, it's not rocket surgery.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:26 PM   #55
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Ooh, a plot twist. The tiler waited until 3pm to tell me via text that some of the work he was supposed to do was actually something that I agreed to do (cut tile for toilet, remove spacers etc). I told him he was responsible for those jobs and that he further had refused to do the grouting yesterday when he magically discovered it would be epoxy (after telling him several days in a row before).

He responded by saying he would no longer come today and instead would arrive tomorrow and now would now agree to do the grouting despite many threats/refusals yesterday. Yikes. I just cannot let him do the grouting. My understanding is that this grout is tough to remove, and I am pretty sure he's going to half-ass the job and want full pay. What would it cost to remove 120sqft of hardened epoxy grout? Probably more than he's being paid for the whole job.

So, if someone threatens you that they will not do the work properly and then later tell you that they'll do it anyway, does the law allow me to halt him and just pay him for what he's completed?
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:12 PM   #56
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The tiler started threatening me personally and so he made it academic: He is fired. His main point, unbelievably, is that I seem to have so much knowledge about tile that I should have stopped him from making those mistakes. I don't even know where to start with that one...

So, I guess we're going to find out if I can cut tile for a toilet flange, tile the top of the drain, clear thinset and spacers from grout lines and then grout with Spectralock. Oh dear...
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Old 03-20-2019, 08:12 PM   #57
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Kevin, it sounds crystal clear that you did the right thing in letting him go. Threatening someone is clear cause to separate yourself from harm. Look up the word assault in a legal dictionary.

You will do just fine on all aspects of your project. Nothing is rocket science. But you need to follow directions that some installers find impossible.

If I had realized that your grout lines were so narrow, I would have recommended an “O” ring puller. Find one at the box store. It’ll resemble a small screwdriver, but the rounded shaft will terminate to a pointy, bent hook. It’s good at grabbing rubbery spacers. Otherwise leave the really buried ones so as not to chop the tiles. One of the left two will work...

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The other stuff we’ll talk you through as you’re ready to discuss.

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Old 03-20-2019, 09:32 PM   #58
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A couple of tips that I got from a factory training class...

The catalytic process of curing that occurs in epoxy speeds up with increased temperatures. You can slow the process down in the bucket if it's chilled, but it also makes it stiffer, so harder to spread until it warms up.

The curing process itself creates heat, and when clumped in the bucket, traps more of that heat, speeding up it curing even before you can spread it.

Once mixed, take some of the grout out and leave it in small piles in the area you will be grouting. The smaller piles won't heat up as fast, and will extend your time available.

Follow the cleaning procedure carefully. It's a real pain to clean off epoxy residue on the tiled surface after it has cured.

Get yourself a big pack of microfiber cloths. Only use them a few times between rinsing, and use both sides, then abandon them. You can't rinse all of the epoxy out of it, and after a couple of uses, you'll be respreading it around on the tile which is why you need new ones, and a fair amount. You'll want to either have several rinse buckets, or have someone dump and replenish your supply with fresh, clean water. Otherwise, it's really tough, since even after rinsing, you'll be starting with some already polluted water. Cleanliness is your friend and time saver here.

See if you can find some large scrubbing pads designed for use on non-stick pots and pans. They make quick work of flattening and loosening the epoxy both over the grout joints and any that may be left on the top of the tile. Don't press much and use circular motion. You don't need a lot of water, but you do need some. The pad will help to put the excess grout into a slurry that is much easier to clean off when you have some water there. Unlike a cement based grout, while you never want to flood the surface, it isn't a big problem if it may be a little wetter than you might have thought. You can lightly squeeze excess water out of the pad...add a little if it's not making a slurry when scrubbing. You could use the grout float lightly on top of it to keep it flat so you don't press into the joints which will more evenly clean them after your initial install with the float.

With your sponge cleanup after using the pads, only use each side or edge once before you rinse. Finish up with the microfiber cloths. With the microfiber cloth wet, but wrung out, lay it flat, lift at two corners on one side, and pull it across, keeping as much of the cloth in contact with the tile as possible. Let the weight of the damp cloth and the large surface work for you.

Those were tips received at a Laticrete training program.
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Old 03-20-2019, 10:07 PM   #59
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Excellent, thanks guys! Appreciate the support team helping to make this chore a bit easier. I am sure I'll re-read your answers a couple more times, and probably have a few/lot more questions before I'm out of the woods and into the shower.

Okay, I'll look for one of those tools. Looks like they'll help hook those spacers. How much force can I apply without risking breaking the corners off the tile? My tiles are 6.5mm thick at the thinnest corner portions. That's about 1/4" thick.

I think I'm going to start with the floor tile. It is 10mm thick porcelain with a lot of places where the thinset is piled high in the grout lines. I'm going to start with a warm soap and water rinse to remove loose thinset on top, but then I need to remove these hunks of thinset (or at least get them down a bit so the grout has a chance to grab onto something).

Since this is spaced at 1/8th, maybe this will be good practice for the walls when I have to deal with 1/16th.

Am I best using a grout chisel tool for the floor? I am afraid to use a screwdriver for fear of chipping. I know it doesn't take very much pressure to create spalling on porcelain.

If I can do a good job on the floor tiles, then I'll move to the wall, and get my daily dose of cursing in.
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Old 03-21-2019, 12:50 AM   #60
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Porcelain is actually pretty strong.

Depending on how old the thinset is, a putty knife's edge sometimes can cut things fairly easily. Something fairly thin that's not tapered that could get wedged in there is less likely to damage an edge. A utility knife often will work, but you've got to be careful not to damage any waterproofing (don't remember if this is a surface applied membrane or a conventional liner - don't need to worry with a conventional liner much as it's buried a long ways below).

Cleaning out thinset is best done during initial cleanup before it cures! But, the stuff is still pretty soft (well, most of them) for the next day, maybe two.
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