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Unread 02-21-2007, 11:19 PM   #1
jeffrey
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straight lines and thinset in grout lines

i get to do several tiling jobs a year. there are two things that i continue to be frustrated by:

1: getting tiles to line up straight. if it is mosaic (tiles on webbing), or larger tile with or without built in spacers on edge, no matter how much i try to get them lined up i will eventually find a row of tile that is bit over from the row below. even with the 4" tiles with built in spacers. (i wind up cutting off the spacers occasionally to get them back in line). i don't know if it is something i am doing, or not doing, or just that the tile (and built in spacers) are slightly different sizes, and that this problem is inevitable. comments?

2. the other thing is being able to set the tile without spending what seems like a lot of time cleaning out grout lines. if i try a smaller notch, coverage isn't good, if coverage is good thinset winds up in grout lines. not everywhere, but enough to slow me down a bunch. eg, with 2" tiles (12" sheets), 3/16" v notch didn't give great coverage, but did give some thinset in grout lines. 1/4 x 1/4 square gave better coverage, but more thinset to clean out. even with trying to clean as i set, i wind up spending a couple of hours with a utility knife cleaning grout lines on a 9x9 floor before grouting. is this to be expected? again, comments?
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Unread 02-21-2007, 11:30 PM   #2
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Sounds like tile work to me, but I can't speak for the other folks.
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Unread 02-21-2007, 11:59 PM   #3
jeffrey
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dam, i am hoping for some soon-not-to-be secret tricks. for sure the tile could be straighter, but i am at a loss as to what more i can do. maybe tiling is just not my thing.
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Unread 02-22-2007, 12:06 AM   #4
Forry
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Have you used wedges? Or Tilespikes? Helps get things straight.
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Unread 02-22-2007, 12:20 AM   #5
Mike2
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Jeffery:

#1. Check your tiles carefully for uniformity in size. If they are irregular as many are these days AND you are setting them too tight, your lines will be off. Open up your spacing in that situation.

#2. Some cleanup time is to be expected. Don't let this go beyond 24 hours as it gets harder and takes longer with each passing day. Too much trowel and/or mixing your mortar too loose will add to this. Flat troweling the mortar into the substrate first before combing it out with the notched side may very will improve your coverage problem with the smaller trowel sizes.

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Unread 02-22-2007, 01:43 PM   #6
DennisL
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One of my mistakes - Trowel Angle

As a DYIer, I realized that I was combing the thinset at different angles in different passes, rather than the 45 degrees recommended. This led to varying amounts of thinset in the area to be tiled and either too much oozing up or not enough coverage. When I learned to be more consistent with the trowel, it became better, though far from perfect.
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Unread 02-22-2007, 05:29 PM   #7
Scooter
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Thin mosiacs are hard. I live with the thinset in the joints and use a 4-in-1 tool to clean out the joints a few hours later.
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Unread 03-03-2007, 01:14 PM   #8
jeffrey
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thanks for the responses. for some reason, notification of responses doesn't seem to work for me on this board. took a while for me to get back here.

i use the flat of trowel to apply the thinset and then go over with the notched side. i try to keep the angle consistent, but perhaps it is not as consistent as it could be. on the concrete floor i just did, i got the impression that between the floor and the ditra, it wasn't a flat surface, to the width of the trowel bridged over some areas while working properly over others. using 2" tiles meant that too much thinset in the 'dips' came up between the tiles. in retrospect i should have gone over the 'dips' with the narrow side of trowel.

as for the narrow joins and wider spacing: that makes sense. next time i won't depend on the edge bumps to set the spacing. i'll start out with a bit more space, giving me room to compensate for wider tiles when i need to.

re: wedges or spikes. i have used spacers, especially on walls and when spacing is wider. in this case i made the mistake of assuming that since the 2" tiles were on a mesh, this would help keep the spacing even. of course, this wasn't the case. and at that point i didn't have the right size spacers with me. plus, that would have been a huge amount of spacers (2" tiles). i tried using the edge of a carpenters square to line up tiles, but that didn't seem to work too well for me. also, i think that the undulations in the floor made getting the tiles lined up more difficult. is this correct?
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