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Unread 03-01-2015, 10:03 AM   #1
SSK
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DIYer, marble questions for small bathroom

New to the forum, but have been reading through it and it is a great site.

I am redoing a small bathroom (5'x6' floor) with tub surround. Now this is not my idea, but the wife wants to do 2" hex Carrara marble on the floor and 3x6 Carrara subway tiles on the tub surround. I would love to do something less technical like porcelain. However, if I disagree with her (because "I always... disagree with her ideas") then I have to visit a different forum for marriage counseling instead of tile advice.

I have done other bathrooms and kitchens before, and try to read as much as possible and take my time. Not afraid to over-engineer and pay extra for better products if it means a good installation. The floor is sound with two layers of ply-wood and hardibacker taped. Shower is Durarocked, taped, and Red Guard applied.

I have been reading up on marble, and there is a lot of conflicting opinions. I understand that it will patina, which I explained to the wife and she says that is fine. I understand that it can stain and etch so there seems to be some necessary precautions.

So I have many questions so I do not mess this up.
1) What mortar to use? Is a good quality white modified thinset correct?
2) What grout to use? I am afraid of using a sanded grout because I am told it will scratch the marble. Equally afraid of using a non-sanded because of possible shrinkage with 1/8" grout space. And the epoxies sound like pretty hard to work with and easy to mess up.
3) Does it make sense to seal before grouting to avoid staining issues?
4) What sealer do you recommend?
5) Honed or polished? I like the look of polished but I would think the honed would hide scratches better especially for the floor
6) If I did go with honed, then can you use a sanded grout?
7) I have never worked with small tiles or mosaics or stone. So I will have to do a lot of small cuts for the edges. I have a cheap tile saw that has worked in the past for porcelain/ceramic. Not sure how to cut the small tiles to finish of the edges.

Probably a lot more questions. But any help, cautions, and advice is appreciated.
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Unread 03-01-2015, 10:31 AM   #2
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Hi SSK, have ya got a first name we can use?

1. Yes, Versabond is popular.

2. For the 3x6 on the walls, I usually make the joints 1/16 and use nonsanded grout. For the mosaics on sheets, you can use nonsanded, just make it stiffer than usual. Or, make a sample board and use sanded on it to see if it scratches. It usually doesn't if you spread the grout lightly.

3. I would use a light colored grout, something in the white tones so it matches the stone fairly well. A contrasting grout can cause staining problems even if you seal first.

4. I like the Miracle brand sealers, Aqua Mix and Stonetech are also good.

5. I would let your wife decide that. Unless you have a dog house for me too.

6. see #2

7. The saw edge is usually smooth enough as is. Instead of cutting each piece individually, I like to draw a line across the whole sheet and run it thru the saw. It really depends though but you can experiment with that. If the glue that holds the tiles on the net is water soluble, the tiles can come off the sheet while cutting. I' ve turned the water off to the saw to avoid this although it's not good for the blade and is not recommended.
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Unread 03-01-2015, 10:57 AM   #3
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Thanks very much. I will do a test with the sanded, and see if it works out. If not I will go unsanded. I have not gotten the mosaic yet, but if it is 1/8 spacing it sounds like I would still be fine on the floor without shrinkage/cracking using unsanded? I will go with 1/16 in the shower to give me the unsanded option there. So it sounds like the difference between hone and polish is just aesthetics, no difference in wearability?
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Unread 03-01-2015, 04:43 PM   #4
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The polished will be a little more slippery on a shower floor. If the sanded doesn't scratch the stone, which I doubt it will, I would use it instead of nonsanded. The sanded will have more strength and the joints usually stay full without washing out. Looks better in my opinion.
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Unread 03-01-2015, 07:15 PM   #5
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If you can get a sample of that tile...try placing it in a bucket of water overnight and comparing the color to a dry one. Some stone easily absorbs a significant amount of water and changes color as a result. If that is the case, it is not a good candidate for use in a shower...maybe a countertop, yes, but in a shower, no. See if you can get the water absorption rate from the supplier. Marble is a much higher maintenance item in a shower verses say porcelain tile. Lots of things can etch it. A sealer may help a little, but it really helps more with staining verses something like etching. Even your choice of soap or hair products can be more of an issue. The manmade stuff can be good, but, the natural product does look nice - at least in the beginning!
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Unread 03-01-2015, 07:16 PM   #6
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It may be worth searching threads for "marble shower floor" or "marble shower staining" before going too far with the marble plan. I used white carrara on the walls, but opted for ceramic on the floor because of problems I had read about. I think there are two primary issues. 1. If your shower floor doesn't drain efficiently / completely, you can get water staining (often localized). 2. Not all marble is equal...some is more porous / stains more readily than others. The stuff you buy at Home Depot is likely to be inferior to the stuff you buy at a "real" tile & stone store.

FWIW I'm quite happy with my carrara subway shower walls and I'd do it again. the only thing that would give me pause is the price. I paid about $10-$11/foot for mine - I felt it was worth the 2x price compared to the HD stuff. Doubt I'd do a shower floor with it after seeing what can happen, but I do love the look when it works.

BTW: I used the epoxy grout (SpectraLock) and it worked fine - I think too much is made of it being hard to use. Read and follow the directions and you will be fine...I did get some "picture framing" (epoxy leaching into the stone and discoloring it) but it went away in a week or so.
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Unread 03-02-2015, 09:04 AM   #7
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See this recent thread as an example of marble staining issues:

http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/...d.php?t=115661

I don't mean to suggest that marble shower floors are always a problem - I'm sure many have been done successfully and without issue - but I think it's worth knowing the possible issues.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 10:48 AM   #8
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Thanks again for the comments and suggestions. On the good news the wife has rethought this one. This is not our dream house, and probably will sell in a few years. The extra work, maintenance, and cost did not make sense. She wants to make it "classic", so probably just go with white subway tiles for the shower.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 01:29 PM   #9
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Subway tile Questions for Tub Surround

Planning to do simple white subway tiles for tub surround. Have a few questions for layout. I know the answers are on this site somewhere, but there is so much information. Really need a more advanced search feature. Sorry for asking things that have been answered before.

From what I have read in the corners I should leave a gap (no grout and no butting of surfaces). The gap should be filled with a silicone caulk.
1)What size of gap?
2) How do you create the gap? Are both tiles on the two wall faces equally spaced from the corner or does one tile tuck under the other one?

I am planning to tile to the cieling.
3) How to you finish where the ceiling and tile meet? I assume leave a small gap and caulk again. I assume up there a painters caulk is fine. Same question is how much gap?

Tiling around the edge of the tub. From what I have read I want to make sure that the bottom row is laid out so that it extends beyond the edge of the tub. I did not do a great job of cutting my backerboard at the edge and have a pretty big gap. So I definately need to get as much tile as possible around the edge.

4) Since the edge of the tile is curved does that mean the bottom row should be a partial tile to allow for a curve at the edge. Or since it is a staggered pattern do you keep the bottom straight and cut the curve in tile at the edge below the 1st row? I have seen both but that was with a square tile layout.

Thanks again.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 01:40 PM   #10
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SSK it'll help if you'll keep all your project questions on one thread so folks can see what you're working on and what's been previously asked and answered. We can give it a more generic title any time you'd like to suggest one.

And, once again, please change your signature line to a first name for us to use. If you actually go by initials, please pick a couple of your favorites for us.

1. About 1/8th" or one grout joint width, whichever is larger.

2. One generally tucks under the other.

3. You assume correctly. See #1.

I don't understand the second question there. How large is the gap? Is the CBU lapped over the tub's tiling flange? What method of waterproofing are you using? Photos would be helpful.

4. Sorry, don't unserstand that question, either.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 01:48 PM   #11
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You might find this Subway tile tutorial helpful.

http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/...ad.php?t=85869


The pros may have different answers, but for the inside corners I did it so one wall "tucked" behind the other wall. I think 1/8" gap is the minimum, but you don't have to be that precise on the wall getting covered by the adjacent tile. The tiles doing the covering will be visible and you want the space to be uniform so the silicone looks even for the whole joint.


Adjust your layout so you don't have a sliver tile at the top (Ceiling) or bottom (tub). You also probably want to be careful with using a full tile at the top or bottom because your tub or ceiling is likely to not be perfectly level and straight...so to avoid an uneven gap you would want to use the lowest point (tub) or highest point (ceiling) as your reference and be prepared to cut the rest of the tiles to fit.

Other suggestions that others have had are to make the first row a 1/2" or so less than a full tile to allow you to contour the bottom tile around the (rounded) edge of the tub. Maybe that's what you were talking about with "extending the bottom tile beyond the edge of the tub"

Not sure I understand the last question, but someone else will probably grok what you are saying.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 02:43 PM   #12
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You got my question correct. I have seen the contour done both ways. But I guess it depends if you use a full tile at the bottom. Since I am going all the way up I would probably not have a full tile at the bottom. So image 1 is the first row contoured, and image 2 is the tile below it contoured (although poor photo). I assume that image 1 is a better approach unless you have a full tile at the bottom.

Because the tub flange is not flush with the studs I brought the cbu down even to the top of the flange. I have 4mm plastic sheet behind the backerboard and it overlaps the flange. From the diagrams I have seen this is appropriate. Then you have to cantlever the edge of the tile from the cbu down to the tub. I also Red Guarded all taped joints. The part that I did not do well was the contour of the cbu around the edge of the tub. I cut this square. However, if I do like in image 1, I would think I will have no problem.

As for the Red Guard, I read you should not do a moisture barrier and Red Guard combined, so I did not Red Guard the entire wall. The argument was that if you get moisture behind the cbu then the only way to dry out would be to be absorbed back through the CBU (along with dripping through the weep holes in the caulk). If you Red Guard and moisture barrier you trap it in. Is that correct or would it be even safer to Red Guard as well?

Ok, I will change the signature and I will keep everything to one project. That will take me some getting used to. I am a frequent contributer to some other forums and we always keep it to a single issue per thread (or related issues). Always telling people to start a new thread for a new issue to the project. Different mind set.

Thanks again.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 03:00 PM   #13
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I read that thread and it was very helpful.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 03:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
I am a frequent contributer to some other forums and we always keep it to a single issue per thread (or related issues). Always telling people to start a new thread for a new issue to the project. Different mind set.
Naa, same mind set, different definition of the issue, Pete. In your case the issue here is your bathroom project. You start a project in your kitchen, we'd want a new thread for that issue, eh?

Some projects here go on for hundreds of responses, which would involve many dozens of threads the way y'all do it on your other forum, and all the previous data and history would be too scattered to be of useful reference. That would result in either poorly or incorrectly based responses or in repeated Q&A to get the information necessary for informed responses. We've tried to streamline that a bit here and find it works well for us and our all-volunteer army of helpers.
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Unread 03-06-2015, 03:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
If you Red Guard and moisture barrier you trap it in. Is that correct or would it be even safer to Red Guard as well?
You want to avoid the dreaded 'moisture sandwich' so with your barrier behind the CBU, you don't want anything on the front of the CBU.

With that in mind, I would also NOT caulk the tub to tile joint. Theoretically, moisture that reaches the barrier ought to work its way down to your tub flange and evaporate. Set your tile a grout joint thickness above your tub and leave 'er be...if ya buy inta dat theory.
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