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Unread 02-08-2010, 01:43 AM   #1
Higher Standard Tile
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How clean do you set tile?

When you are doing floors do you have to do any scraping of the joints the next day before grout?

I leave my work reasonably clean, no globs of thinset and such but usually have a little prep work the next day before tile.

After I set a section, if any thinset is sticking up in the joint I use my knife to scrape it out, and then sponge the section.

The old days of 8 x 8's with 1/4 " joints were no problem but 20" tile with 1/8 joints seem to require a little more clean up as your setting.

I've seen guys who look like the never had to scrape a joint and they don't ever touch the tile with a sponge while setting, and it looks spotless. I just wonder what type of coverage they are getting.

My theory is I'd rather have to do a little cleanup knowing that I have good coverage. But I'm sure some guys get great coverage and their setting work is spotless. What do you do?

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Unread 02-08-2010, 06:30 AM   #2
John K
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Yeah the 20's are hell sometimes. I believe it depends on how flat the floor is. If the floor wavy and I'm practically mud setting with medium bed. Then there is definately cleaning joints the next day.

People will say. "You should have gotten the floor flat before you started setting". Not always possible.

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Unread 02-08-2010, 06:39 AM   #3
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I'm pretty messy while installing but almost always have perfectly clean sponged joints. All the thinset ends up on my pants, hands, hair, shirt, inside my ear, etc..
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Unread 02-08-2010, 07:32 AM   #4
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I keep a stack of Popsicle sticks, sponge, and bucket of water handy to clean out the joints as I am setting tile. Joints are fairly clean but next day I always catch any questionable excess by cleaning out the dried thinset in the joints with a CBU scriber. Like John I would rather know by the excess that I am getting very good coverage.

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Unread 02-08-2010, 07:59 AM   #5
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You can see how clean my joints are in the work in proggress thread.Those pics of fresh thinset are from yesterday.Ill post more tonight ofg keepin it clean today.We use a toothbrush.I've been doin that since I worked on the Outrigger in Maui back in 2000 on my first travertine job.

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Unread 02-08-2010, 08:43 AM   #6
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While my clothes get pretty messy, one thing I have learned to do over the years is try to keep my joints as clean as possible. That does usually involve a toothbrush shaped scrubber and a pointed sponge.

It can definitely be a pain to keep up with it, having to pull spacers out, wipe them off, put them back in, re-adjust tile. But I have found it is easier to spend a little extra time keeping the joints clean than having to clean them out later, especially if I am using modifies thinset.

There are times of course were this becomes hard to do, like when setting small mosaic tiles. Sometimes you have to wait till just the right time for the mortar to set up enough so the tiles don't slide around when you clean the joints. Of course if you finish setting at 6pm, and don't want to wait around till 8pm, then it becomes an issue. Been there.

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Unread 02-08-2010, 08:59 AM   #7
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I'm terrible - one issue is that I work by myself, and if I have to do a tub surround and bathroom floor in the same day, I can't be taking all the time in the world to clean up.. I'd say it takes 2 times longer to clean the next day as apposed to cleaning as you go... one thing I did that helps is switch to ardex x5 - you almost don't need any spacers when doing walls because it sets up so quick, having no spacers makes clean up much easier
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Unread 02-08-2010, 09:05 AM   #8
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I keep my tile and joints as clean as possible, while I'm working. I find that it also helps to keep my tools and hands clean while I'm working. In addition to have a sponge handy at all times, I keep a cheap 1" chip brush in my bucket and use it to sweep my joints as I'm setting. I use scissors to trim the bristles of the chip brush to about 5/8" so they are stiffer and the wooden handle ensures that it's always floating on the surface of the wash bucket somewhere.
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Unread 02-08-2010, 10:17 AM   #9
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I'm the same way. I don't want a mess on my tile or in my joints.
I keep a bucket of water with a sponge near me and my margin trowel is always there.
if some thinset comes up in the joint I hit it with the trowel and take out the excess and then sponge the tile clean.

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Unread 02-08-2010, 10:26 AM   #10
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I agree with muddman Greg,

I keep a sponge with water handy at all times. My tile, my hands, the walls and tools all stay nice and clean. Sometimes I get work done too.

For when DIY isn't such a good idea...
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Unread 02-08-2010, 10:27 AM   #11
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Its faster to sponge or brush a joint clean than it is to knife hard thinset, and sweep or vaccuum. There are times when I will miss a joint and find it the next day. Usually from working my way out of a room, it'll be a joint around the corner or such. Always makes me laugh. Try hard to keep my stuff really clean but theres always that one spot!
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Unread 02-08-2010, 10:49 AM   #12
Higher Standard Tile
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I typically use my knife or margin and a sponge as I go, I used the toothbrush idea too. Works good.
One thing I've found is cut your sponge in half, then you have a sharp edge that can get in the joint.

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Unread 02-08-2010, 11:02 AM   #13
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I keep a bucket next to me with some half sponges and margin and keep everything as clean as I can as I go but still have to knife some joints the next day. Some tiles and patterns are worse than others but I always have grout joints to clean the next day.

I don't think I believe you guys who say they don't have to clean joints the next day.
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Unread 02-08-2010, 12:50 PM   #14
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I try to stay as clean as possible, but there is always something that will need a scraping the next day. You know, a little piece around a floor register that if you touch it when wet, you'll have to dig it out...or a mosaic cut. The cut down paint brush is a great tool!
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Unread 02-08-2010, 12:52 PM   #15
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I clean as I go too. Actually I almost don't need to, I tend to use the smallest trowel I can for a given job; that helps. My joints stay pretty clean but I wind up with blobs of thinset on the tile sometimes. Those are easy to scrape loose.
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