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Unread 03-09-2020, 12:29 PM   #1
RobinR
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Pretty bad floor job - thoughts?

I hired a really nice guy who had done work for a friend. There were lots of red flags and I pulled the plug after I saw the floor install. I should have stopped it earlier. There was lipage all over, parts of 4 tiles touched the tub and the tiles that met the hallway were higher than the wood. I pulled those tiles up immediately knowing I would want to reset them and was pretty horrified by how little coverage there was (3-4%). ALMOST pulled them all up immediately but talked to a couple buddies, decided maybe the thinset had skimmed over and that the grout would maybe lock it in place a bit. I was about to finish my wall tile and decided to pull/recut the tiles touching the tub so I could thinset it all at the same time. Same story - maybe 5% coverage. The first tile I touched near the toilet wasn’t attached AT ALL. If you look close in the last picture it shows the light grey which is the only part that is actually thinset - the white on the tile is kiln wash I guess? The floor was laid in October and the area that I show here hasn’t really been walked on at all - it is the corner away from the tub where I have been (slowly) tiling. Kinda pointless to show him and I don’t want him to repair it or do work in my house ever again, but I am irritated by major problems (this actually is not the worst thing he/his plumber did). I sorta want to tell him the pretty obvious things he did wrong so that he won’t do it to someone else! My VERY uneducated opinion is that he didn’t lightly wet the concrete board and the thinset dried too fast (notice the cracked thinset) but more importantly he didn’t use directional troweling, only applied pressure from above rather than moving it back and forth (so very little way to collapse ridges) and didn’t back-butter. Does anybody see anything else? I couldn’t attach a video but the tiles on the back wall came up to - I’d pull one and the tape I put on to keep the dust out (I knew it would be awhile till I got back to grouting) just pulled the adjoining tiles right up too.

Ironically, the tiles I have been walking on are more “stuck” than these. I’m sure I’m looking at similar coverage so I know in my heart I should just pop these guys up and learn to tile my floor. Can anyone convince me it is a good idea to replace these few and then go ahead with the grout?! If not, I could really use advice. They set the tub ridiculously high and so if I remove the cement board and use Dietra that will fix my problem at the door but leave WAY too big of a gap to caulk at the tub. Conversely, the cement board plus thinset plus tile gets me above grade at the door. My tiles will pop off easily and won’t require cleaning but getting thin set off of the cement board seems like a pretty big chore. Ideas?
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Unread 03-09-2020, 12:39 PM   #2
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I know you probably don't want to hear this, you'd probably be better off just taking up everything. There's a large to very large chance he didn't put the cement board down properly either.
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Unread 03-09-2020, 01:58 PM   #3
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You are correct - he only screwed it down. I learned that bit after it was done. That said ... the builder put super thin wall tile straight on the subfloor 30 years ago and it had survived! I know I’ll sleep better if I just do this right but a little unsure how to go about it. My walls are finished and primed and I hate the thought of messing them up. I’d pull it all and go for the Dietra if it wasn’t for how high the tub is set. The tile doesn’t have a matching trim piece so I can’t cover it.
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Unread 03-09-2020, 02:01 PM   #4
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Having a second layer of plywood never hurts, but if your current subfloor is in good shape, you could just go back the way it was done before, except for, you know, done correctly.
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Unread 03-16-2020, 09:50 AM   #5
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“Can” I tile over old thinset?

I’ve just popped off all of the tiles on a bathroom floor - the now-fired contractor was super thoughtful about the work he would cause me; for the tiles that were actually attached at all, only 6 of 90 require MINIMAL thinset removal.

Thanks Kevin for the gentle nudge on another thread that I did need to remove them.

Current situation: Cement board on floor (not taped or installed correctl). Thinset on top but adhered well to the cement board. Slight ridges throughout where the thinset in between tiles mounded up.

Main Question: my local tile guy surprised me and suggested that I could just fill in the open spaces, put a thin layer of thinset over that, back butter, re-install and be done with it. I took a stab at knocking down the ridges to get close to level and it is doable. This method wouldn’t be perfectly level of course but it would be a hell of a lot more level than the walls he left me to deal with! On a scale of 1-10, just how bad of an idea is this?

2nd floor kid’s bathroom - TINY. I will have an issue with being too high at the hallway so would need a transition solution. I want it to be right/“perfect” my husband wants it to be done - yesterday. In the interest of staying married I’m willing to settle for good enough!!! This is replacing thin wall tile the builder set directly on sub floor 30 years ago that never failed, so sometimes good enough will last? I certainly wouldn’t do this if I was a pro, but do I need to start again? If I do rip out, that means self leveling then Ditra. I think I’d be using self leveler on about 30% of the floor and schluter said it would be ok to proceed with a wood floor installation. I think I can get those things done, but ... as a newbie and a worrier it will take time. Again, really interested in staying married.

Thanks for the advice!
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Unread 03-16-2020, 10:17 AM   #6
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Hi Robin, we've merged your two threads so all contributors have easy access to the history of your project, which often helps when answering questions. Let us know if you'd like the thread renamed.

New mortar over old isn't the best idea. Can you tell at all how well the existing mortar is adhered to the plywood? How high are the left over ridges?
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Unread 03-16-2020, 10:54 AM   #7
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The contractor did not install the cement board with thinset - just screws, which is obviously wrong. The ridges are probably up to 1/8 high - I would definitely need to knock them all down which could lead to valleys (not as low as all of the uncollapsed ridges). Wondering if the incorrect cement board *might* be better/firmer than the old installation that was directly on the subfloor?

The thinset does seem to be well adhered to the cement board. The only areas that came up during tile removal were on the very edges of the boards (the seams weren't taped so one of those areas pulled up.
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Unread 03-16-2020, 12:59 PM   #8
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Hey there Robin!

Sorry to hear of all the hiccups you've experienced with this installation.
I don't know if you were using our products or someone else's, but for what its worth, we wouldn't recommend going over old tile mortar with new.
Will they bond to each other? Possibly, but then you'd have two layers of a product that is meant to be applied in a thin application, plus the worry of that kiln release residue that is likely adhered to the old mortar in spots.

As far as the cement board goes, keeping it as-is will be a bit of a gamble too. The mortar underneath is meant to help fill gaps between the cement board and the subfloor. If this step is skipped, you can eventually (or even right out of the gate) have movement in the board over these gaps potentially causing cracked grout or even debonded tiles in some cases.

It would be our suggestion to get that cement board up and start fresh, that way you aren't worried about the possibility of redoing floor this again for a third time in the future.
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Unread 03-16-2020, 01:58 PM   #9
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Thanks Holden -

The floor thinset the contractor used was just custom products, but I did use Mapei’s ProLite on two of my walls and loved it! Went to Ardex X77 on the third as I am slow and wanted more open time. I had to build up in spots (again, I know - huge non-no), but when your contractor actually REMOVES 4 hours worth of shimming before putting up the wallboard you do what you have to do. I didn’t go past 1/4 inch build and hope it will be ok. Certainly not Mapei’s fault if it isn’t.

The one thing I did right was force him install Wedi and I am comfortable it was done right. He wasn’t going to waterproof at all and that system seemed the most foolproof for a first timer - and this guy gave new meaning to the word fool.

Appreciate the nudges to make me do it right. Time to learn more!

Two questions -

1. Any suggestions out there as to a good self leveler to use over wood?

2. The kiln wash that did transfer does worry me about good adhesion - even when I backbutter. Is there a way to remove it or prepare the tiles is some way?

Robin
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Unread 03-16-2020, 02:38 PM   #10
RobinR
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New pics -

Well, it looks like he did put some sort of adhesive on here? Not much and certainly not effective - very brittle. Has anyone seen this? Is it in anyway legit?

I will clearly have to clean up the OSB being careful with it. Does anybody worry about Dietra right over it or do I have to add a second layer? Would prefer not to as I have a height issue at the door.

Thanks for thoughts to this and the questions above!

Robin
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Unread 03-16-2020, 05:29 PM   #11
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Looks like "Liquid Nails." Lowest common denominator......
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Unread 03-16-2020, 05:30 PM   #12
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Wow! Just hit 8000 posts!
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Unread 03-17-2020, 09:40 AM   #13
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Robin,

Like Laz said, that definitely looks like liquid nails or some other construction adhesive. Best bet would be to scrape it off the wood as best you can. It will be tough to get it off without damaging the OSB.

I'm not going to speak for another manufacturer's membrane, but most uncoupling mats can be used directly over plywood and/or OSB. You may want to reach out to the company directly if you want to make absolutely sure.

That kiln release residue can be tough stuff, and sometimes you will have to actually scrub it off the back of each individual tile with a brush. Time consuming, I know, but you have firsthand experience with how much of a bond breaker that stuff can be....
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Unread 03-17-2020, 11:01 AM   #14
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Are those.....drywall screws?
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Unread 03-17-2020, 01:44 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ss3964spd View Post
Are those.....drywall screws?
It's okay, Dan. He used Liquid Nails.
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