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Unread 05-13-2021, 08:34 AM   #16
RightUp Sam
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According to HD guy, there is no cutter or saw that can handle even 36". He said you have to use angle grinder, which is a bit hard for me to believe, knowing that wood plank like tiles are so popular these days.
What I'm about to say may not be safe/appropriate for everyone. TAKE THIS ADVICE AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!

I own a little tile saw from HD. I believe it was about $120--they also sell a model from the same brand--the brand is "QEP"--for about $80 (at least they did when I bought mine). It's basically their cheapest tile saw, but it's a fairly decent saw and I did just fine with it--the body is plastic, you fill it with water, and the saw blade sticks out the top and brings the water up with it as it spins.

Over the top of the blade is a plastic arm, for safety. The arm attaches at the "top" of the case/body, basically creating a stop so you can't cut really big tiles with it--they hit that brace at the end of the body and can't go farther.

Here's what I did: I needed a wood saw. I took the tile blade out and replaced it with a wood blade. Because the arm won't allow you to cut material more than about 1/2" thick, I removed it--and the "stop" at the end. I now have a pretty decent little wood saw that can cut materials of just about any length. (I actually flipped the arm up while cutting tile much of the time, too, because otherwise I couldn't see my actual cuts as I made them. But I do woodworking as a part-time business, and am a pretty confident DIYer when it comes to wood, too.)

I see no reason why this same "remove the arm & stop to cut long materials" method can't be used while cutting tile, as well. It just means you have to be very, very, extremely careful.

Get some rubberized push bars for your tile, and keep your hands away from the blade.

Set some plywood or something on top of bricks/blocks around the saw to support the tile as it feeds away from the blade, to keep it level on the cutting surface, too. That way your push bars can just push, they don't have to hold the tile flat or anything.

I have some pretty grisly photos I can show you of the time I was too lazy to use a push bar: the wood bucked (never had that happen before), and my thumb came down on the spinning blade. Luckily I have fast reflexes so the cut didn't go that deep, but it was nasty and painful--I still have a scar on my thumb, and the tip of my thumb is still tingly when I press on it (this happened in November). The only good thing about it was it reminded me to go get a tetanus booster, which I did the next day.

Again, take this suggestion at your own risk. I am not recommending you do this, specifically; my recommendation is to rent a larger tile saw from a store whose employee knows what he's talking about. (We rented a very large tile saw from HD for the large-format tiles I used on my dad's bathroom floor, and it worked very well.) But if you have no other options, and you have some sticks or push bars that you can use to move the tile while keeping your hands away from the blade...then it is at least something to consider.

And when your project is done, if you have no further use for the saw you can sell it on FB or whatever for @$30 under retail and get a good chunk of the money you paid for it back.
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Unread 05-13-2021, 03:39 PM   #17
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Done! Inconsistent heights are the same though.

I think I'm less worried about 1/8" difference here 'cuz cement board can probably handle it. Not sure about 1/4"-3/8" lowest points near the tub. I was thinking of shimming under the cement board, but not sure if it's better to level out with mortar. Someone on HD forum asked question about leveling and HardieBacker rep wrote that leveling should be done on top of the board, not under. I'm not sure why that is...
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Unread 05-13-2021, 03:54 PM   #18
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That is because the CBU (Hardiebacker in your case) must be properly fastened with mechanical fasteners firmly against the subfloor with only a thin layer of thinset mortar between CBU and subfloor, Jean. Same method is required by all CBU manufacturers. No way you can do any leveling or flattening while doing a proper installation of the CBU and all such work must be done on top of the CBU.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-13-2021, 05:01 PM   #19
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So confusing!! Lol. There are many contradicting answers. Here is one from HD which says to put leveling compound before putting thinset and backerboard.

Anyways, can I use these to even out those dips?
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Custom-B...FPQT/100678072
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Henry-34...2063/202046251

Thanks!
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Unread 05-14-2021, 12:18 AM   #20
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That video contradicts manufacturer’s instructions. Please pay attention to what the manufacturers say, not what Home Depot’s magical marketing and video production teams think they say. I counted at least 6 errors in watching that video.

If you want rock-solid answers, this forum is bursting with helpful folks who go out of their way to educate themselves and don’t mind sharing their knowledge.

No, don’t use either of those two pre-mixed products for filling in low spots under tile. Please use a cement-based patch.

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Unread 05-14-2021, 10:07 AM   #21
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Jean, the only questions you ever want to ask someone in an orange vest start with, "Where would I find the.........". And even then, take the answer with a grain of salt.

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Unread 05-14-2021, 11:37 AM   #22
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Hahaha, thank you! Unfortunately, it is not just HD. I found other forum answers and YouTube videos from pros leveling out the plywood.

Anyways, I will create another post just to deal with this issue to get more input from you guys. I tacked on this issue to this thread because previously I was told to use a single thread for the same project, but I think I will get more answers with specific thread topic.

Thank you so much for your inputs. I really appreciate it.
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Unread 05-14-2021, 12:06 PM   #23
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Please don't start a new thread, Jean. A moderator can change the title to something more generic any time you'd like to suggest one.
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Unread 05-14-2021, 02:59 PM   #24
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Prepping uneven subfloor

Thank you so much everyone for all your help and sharing awesome, invaluable skills with this newbie.

Here is my update to this thread. I'm now concerned with preparing the floor.

Mods: Could you change my thread title to "Prepping uneven subfloor >>> was: Tile cutter vs wet saw, buy vs rent"?

==========================
After demo'ing the old tiles, I am finding the subfloor to be uneven and have some questions on how to prep before tiling.

Tiled area is about 3' x 9', done is early 80s in CA on 2nd level. It had metal mesh with cement type of stuff as underlayment.

I will be using 8x24 ceramic tiles over 1/2 inch HardieBacker cement board.

Around the tub area, it dips to about 3/8 inch all along the tub. There is about 1/8 inch difference in some parts where plywood pieces meet.

Questions:
  1. How should I deal with the unevenness on the subfloor? (I really don't want to tear up the plywood and redo that). I am getting conflicting info on when to fill those valleys. I contacted Hardie customer service, but I haven't gotten an answer yet. Some had said leveling should be done on top of the CBU. If so, would modified thinset to be used under the CBU be enough to support the CBU along these valleys? I can't quite understand why filling these in before laying down CBU is bad. Is it because it could crack while screwing down the CBU? If so, should I fill it with extra thinset and lay down CBU before that extra thinset dries out?
  2. I want to avoid using self leveling compound (seems like lots of tools and special shoes required). What else can I use? Someone mentioned cement based compound, but I am not sure what that might be. Could you suggest a specific one for me and I will try to find an equivalent one around the area?
  3. How smooth should the subfloor be? Do I need to pull out all the staples? Sand off any leftover cement? There is also some thin white stuff (maybe some kind of primer?). Do I need to sand this off?
  4. There is a 1/4" groove in one plywood (about 1/8" deep). Not sure why this is there. Should I fill this with something before putting the cement board? If so, with what?
  5. This is more of a curiosity. Why would 1/4" backerboard be recommended for floor and 1/2" for the walls? I would think 1/2" would be more stable for the floor. I read CBU is not for structural support, but then when would you ever use 1/2"? Is there any drawbacks to using thicker board as long as height is not an issue?
  6. Unrelated to this topic. I read that thinset powder also does expire. Is this true for modified thinset? I have Mapei Ultraflex 2 opened about 4 months ago. I could not find anything on the packaging about expiration for opened bag. Also, visually the powder looks the same as before (no clumps). If there could be any issue, how can I test for it? If I mix some, let it dry, apply water and check if it gets muddy again? Would that be the right test?

Thanks much!
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Unread 05-14-2021, 05:06 PM   #25
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How about Jean's Bathroom Project?

1. Jean, please install the CBU per the manufacturer's instructions. If your floor required flattening after that, use a cementitious patching material (not thinset mortar) made for that application.

2. See #1. At Homer's you'll find Henry products. One of them will work for your subfloor flattening over the CBU. Henry's 549 is one such product.

3. Reasonably smooth. You can pull the staples or drive them flat with a hammer. the residual thinset mortar should be ground down.

4. It'll fill when you install the CBU.

5. You can use the thicker CBU on the floor if you want the height.

6. If you're talking about thinset mortar, that is incorrect. All bagged thinset mortars have a shelf life, usually one year from manufacture if un-opened. A bag that has been opened for four months should be discarded. Use it if you want, but all bets are off.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-14-2021, 08:59 PM   #26
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Thank you for your answers and your patience with me. :-)
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Unread 05-16-2021, 10:26 AM   #27
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What to do around backerboard edges near walls

Good morning.

What should I for the gap between the wall and cement board? Per installation instruction, I left 1/8-1/4" gap. There is instructions on taping and mortaring on CBU joints, but nothing about what to do on the gap against the walls. Should I just fill this with mortar? Or do I need to tape this while ensuring tape height will not exceed the tile+mortar height?

Thanks
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Unread 05-16-2021, 11:53 AM   #28
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The "nothing" in the instructions is exactly what you wanna do with that gap, Jean. For absolutely sure you don't want to fill it with thinset mortar or any other similar material. The purpose of that gap is to provide movement accommodation and you absolutely want it to remain open. And you want it to be closer to 1/4" than to 1/8th" all around the perimeter of your tile installation.

It will normally be covered by your wall's baseboard or similar trim.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-16-2021, 02:52 PM   #29
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Thanks CX. What about around the tub? Do I just fill with caulk after tile goes down? Also, this is the area I will be adding the leveling compound. I take it, the compound shouldn't go all the way to the tub, but leave 1/4" gap?

I did leave 1/4" per some online instructions, but Hardie instructions said 1/8", so I was a bit concerned, but sounds like it will work out.

Thanks!
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Unread 05-16-2021, 04:49 PM   #30
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The 1/8th" gap between tile and tub will be fine and in a small room you could get by with your 1/8th" for your CBU and your flattening compound.

You would use a flexible sealant in that tile gap. You don't really want to fill it, but that's usually closer to what happens. The perfect sealant joint there would look like this:

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