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Unread 09-12-2020, 07:29 PM   #1
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Tiling Balcony in Apartment Building


This is my first post, although I have used this forum a lot in the last year and a half, as I purchased my first home and have been doing all the work myself (most of which has been for the first time...) You guys and Sal DiBlasi on youtube have basically taught me tiling, so thank you.

*Also, apologies in advance for the excruciatingly long post! I was trying to be as thorough as possible, and before I knew it I had written a history of the universe...

Anyway, I have recently completed all the interior tiling for my home. This was 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a kitchen, and a living room; all in the same continuous pattern throughout; 6x24 porcelain tiles staggered with somewhere between 25 and 33% overlap. Also, I tiled the bathroom walls and a marble backsplash in the kitchen (mostly running bond, but with a section in herringbone layout for decor on a "coffee station" like a feature wall...)

Now, I am up to the last area I need to tile: the balcony, and I have a few questions for you guys, which I've divided into two parts.

Part 1: Removal:

Firstly, I live in a condo on the 11th floor of an apartment building in a temperate island location. Always between 70 and 90 degrees (Fahrenheit.) The floor on this balcony never gets direct rain (it's covered overhead and on both sides,) but it's exposed to a good deal of sun pretty much every day; and if once in a blue moon it really pours (and if the wind is unusually crazy,) part of the balcony could get wet.

The previous owner installed flagstone tiles on the balcony. Poorly (as with almost all the other work done in the place, as a point of fact...) The floor is dramatically uneven/unlevel and there are hollow spots galore. They also installed a few tiles so that they stick out past the edge of the balcony's edge, which will make them more problematic to remove.

Also note, that the "wall" that separates the outdoor space (balcony) from the interior space (living room) is glass sliding doors.

My primary concern for removal is keeping flyaway hazards to a minimum while I'm chipping up the tiles so that they do not damage my window or go flying off the balcony. (The space below has no people or property that could be getting damaged, by the way. It's mostly grass. But I don't want to make a spectacle, nor do I want to be reckless as I'm working.)

Further complicating the process is the fact that I can't remove the railing, and will need to be using my sledgehammer and chisel (on the edge pieces anyway) by sticking my arms through the bars... This makes it hard to put up a ledger board or tarp, as they will be blocking my ability to use the hammer and chisel.

Here are some of my ideas for reducing the chances of problems. Any additional suggestions/input would be greatly appreciated.

1. Padding the glass with heavy drop cloths to protect from chipping. Simple enough. Maybe multiple layers.
2. Applying gorilla tape to the tiles (especially those installed near the edge of the balcony) in the shatter-impeding asterisk-method often used on windows for storms, so that when I'm hammer-and-chiseling them off, if they crack randomly, the tape will keep them from shooting apart in bits.
3. I'm also thinking I'll tie both the hammer and chisel using paracord to my wrists or to the railing to keep them from dropping in the event of an accident...

Part 2: Installation::

The subfloor on the balcony is concrete, and if the rest of the house's subfloor is any indicator, it will likely have chips and cracks. Decent condition, but not great. I installed Ditra for uncoupling indoors, but would prefer to use a simpler/cheaper method for outside. Was thinking planipatch (if needed) and aquadefense or hydroban (for crack isolation.)

The dimensions of the balcony are about 7ft deep x 15 ft wide.

I planned on installing the same tiles in the same layout as the adjacent living room, so that the pattern continues seamlessly to the outside area, like it's an extension of the living room. However, I'm also trying to consider necessary movement joints for this layout, and I know you're supposed to have a movement joint every 8-12 ft for outdoor installations...

My three considerations regarding this are:
1. I could do the same staggered layout entirely, but include a zipper joint near a central point of the layout, which could be caulked with grout-matched silicone.
2. I could frame-in a separate rectangle within the main layout, and within that space, install the tiles in herringbone format. This would give me a straight line movement joint, but would also look like a decor choice instead of a clumsy pattern interruption. The problem with this is that there would be a lot of cut tile edges in a very visible area, which would probably require a good deal of touch-up paint.
3. Do I even need an in-field movement joint for this? Obviously the perimeters will have movement joints... But at 15ft for the longest stretch and the space being partially enclosed and not a "true outdoor space," I thought an additional caulked movement joint might not even be necessary... I'm certain there won't be a proper movement joint built into the subfloor anyway, so how much of a difference will it really make..?

I have been in contact with several of the local product reps in the last year, and they've been moreorless helpful with other questions.., but I've gotten either no response or very vague answers for this particular topic.

Thanks again.

Last edited by OkThanks; 09-12-2020 at 07:38 PM.
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Unread 09-14-2020, 01:07 PM   #2
John Bridge
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Hi AC,

I would remove and re-install the glass door. You'll need a movement joint between inside and outside, and under the door would be a great place to have it. Also, it'll solve you problems in protecting the door.

Why can't you remove the railing?
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Unread 09-14-2020, 01:57 PM   #3
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Consider renting a demo hammer as it should make quick work of removing the tile. It shouldn't eject as many chips, or at least as far as a sledge.

Noble makes a good crack isolation membrane that I'd consider to go on the surface. Note, once you've got the tile up, you need to verify that none of the cracks are at different elevations, only spreading cracks.
Jim DeBruycker
Not a pro, multiple Schluter Workshops (Schluterville and 2013 and 2014 at Schluter Headquarters), Mapei Training 2014, Laticrete Workshop 2014, Custom Building Products Workshop 2015, and Longtime Forum Participant.
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Unread 09-17-2020, 04:15 AM   #4
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Hi, appreciate your replies.

"I would remove and re-install the glass door."

Removing the doors is really not an option, and would be so much more work than any of this other stuff... The glass doors are quite literally the entire wall of my living room; four 10ft tall pieces that span the length of my main living space. Removing them would mean I'm suddenly living outside. My dog might like it, but my wife not so much.

"Why can't you remove the railing?"

1. The rules for my building describe in bold letters in multiple sections that the railings are not to be removed, altered, etc.., under any circumstances. 2. The railing also appears to be embedded deep into the concrete subfloor and would be a huge pain to remove anyway.

"Consider renting a demo hammer as it should make quick work of removing the tile."

Yeah, I've been thinking I might rent one to speed through the bulk of it if the sledge isn't cutting it... The biggest problem is really the pieces at the edge of the balcony. I'd like to have as much control over how those flagstone pieces break (and in which direction) as possible.
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