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Unread 04-22-2022, 05:57 AM   #1
Lou_MA
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Being fair to client and myself

(CX - if you see this, how do I delete now duplicate thread in pro chat hangout?)



Looking for input how to do right by client and myself. Long backstory below.

(One photo is before work. Other is what it looks like now, with the front section wetted down…it dries to the back section look.)

Existing house, new owners. I was contacted by GC to do a full shower in late summer, I received a deposit.

GC asked me if, in the meantime, I could tile over a pebble shower floor in another bathroom. Clients were considering full demo but just really hate the pebbles and covering them up is all they want.

I don’t normally go over other people’s work but it seemed (haha) pretty straightforward so I said I would. I made it clear there would be no destructive demo / prep. I’d simply be prepping and setting over existing tile. So I wouldn’t be fixing existing problems. Or adding new ones for that matter. Was 100% clear that I couldn’t offer any warranty on workmanship, that existing issues may persist, get worse, and / or impact how well my work holds up. Everyone signs off even with those caveats.

I hit the pebbles quickly with my grinder to give them some tooth. Wash floor with Miracle Tile Cleaner. Clean water rinse. Let dry. Float with 254 Platinum rapid. Which…doesn’t dry, even after a full day.

Carpenter on site had built the house and says I think prior owner used something funky for sealer, let me get in touch with him. HO says yeah, I applied tung oil regularly. And right before the house sold (a few months ago) I put a couple coats of urethane over the whole floor.

I scrape up the still-soft 254 and can get it almost completely up. But now the floor looks like shit because I had hit all the pebbles with a grinder. And where they’re not covered with 254 remnant, the grinder left a different surface sheen. Plus, the urethane is starting to flake off.

I told GC the urethane and tung oil is a whole other ballgame and I don’t feel comfortable proceeding with tiling over it. No amount of wire brushing, acid washing, grinding, primer, etc is gonna make me feel comfortable with a long term install.

This job was bid at time and materials. And I’m squeezing it in between other projects. I plan on billing them for materials but I’m eating all of my time.

What else would you guys do? Would you demo and re-do the floor at your cost? The whole shower? Is it on me cause I didn’t check for bond breakers like urethane? Tbh, didn’t cross my mind that anything other than standard prep would be needed. Water wasn’t beading up on grout and it simply looked dirty.

I’m kind of thinking not charging them for labor allows me to leave the floor as is. The other part of me thinks well, that just means I messed up their floor for free. It doesn’t seem right to leave them with a floor in worse condition than when I started but it also seems like one of those “we didn’t know about it until we started, it’s a T&M project, and it’ll cost more to fix”.

It’s complicated by fact that I only allocated a few days to this project, so even if I wanted, I couldn’t fix this for months. And this is their only functioning bathroom so it couldn’t be taken out of service right now anyways.

I’m at a bit of a loss what to do…
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Unread 04-22-2022, 07:07 AM   #2
CaliGrown
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I feel for ya Lou...

Way I see it is, tile over tile is a band-aid approach and you made that clear to 'em initially. Since you're T&M but lack the time, its imperative to make things lean toward your favor.

I don't have experience with polyurethane over tile or any idea about tung oil.
Once you've got it ground down to the point where water will absorb.

I'd skim it over with custom's speed set mixed fairly stiff and that screeded off will dry within an hour or less with good ventilation. Would use the same mixed a tad looser to set the pan tile and be able to grout within two or so hours.

If you don't have any faith in the "bondability" due to the poly and tung oil, if its a traditional pan. Knock the pebbles off with a sds max roto hammer and wide chisel. Patch the pan divots with speed set or rapid set mortar if its deep voids and tile away.

Don't take a loss for your labor, bill 'em accordingly. You're already going above the majority of the rest, either way you know and they know that its a lipstick on a pig ordeal.
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Last edited by CaliGrown; 04-22-2022 at 07:11 AM. Reason: blah blah
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Unread 04-22-2022, 07:52 AM   #3
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Duplicate thread deleted, Lou.

I'm still not understanding what the contaminates on the floor had to do with the 254 not setting up properly. Not bonding properly I can understand, but not curing? Something doesn't compute there.

Have you considered taking a wire cup brush to that floor to clean off some of the contaminated/contaminating material from between the stones?

Have you considered one of the primers, such as MAPEI's Eco Prim Grip, or Custom's Multi Surface Primer, to see if they will bond to the floor you have?

The relationship with the homeowner in this case would seem to me to be something for the GC to concern himself with. Sounds like you're contracted with the GC and it should be a lot easier to 'splain the situation to him. Since you've committed to try to fix the floor, I'd wanna give it your very best shot, of course, but the GC should be the one most concerned at this point.

But, then, The GC is always the one should be most concerned with customer relations, eh?
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Unread 04-22-2022, 07:57 AM   #4
Lou_MA
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Thanks Chris, really appreciate the feedback.

With the HO admitting to regularly applying tung oil, I have zero confidence any amount of grinding will be suitable. I just feel that the oil is fully seeped in.

I’m really hoping to avoid any kind of destructive prep (like knocking out pebbles) just because I didn’t do the original work. I have no idea if it’ll be a can of worms, or if I’ll be on the hook for existing issues if they happen to appear after I’m done (current owners have only used the shower for a few weeks before I started…certainly leaves the potential that existing issues wouldn’t have shown up yet, but could later, and be attributed to me).
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Unread 04-22-2022, 08:01 AM   #5
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CX - I agree, the “not bonding” and “not setting up” are two different issues in my mind as well. I’ll be contacting my Laticrete rep about the latter.

I did take a wire brush to a small area. Urethane flaked off but the surface below was still heavily oiled.

My understanding is that no primer is rated to go over oil. I’ll double check though. And that in addition, eco prim grip wasn’t suitable for a shower floor (again, will check)

Edit: Mapei, CBP and Laticrete all gave a resounding NO when asked if any of their products were suitable for going over tung oil or urethane.

Eco Prim Grip IS rated for shower floors.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 03:09 PM   #6
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I wouldn’t proceed until it’s made clear the floor is not tileable with anything other than a taillight guarantee. Which means I wouldn’t do it period. To me this wreaks of one of those jobs that comes back around and bites you in the end. I would think some more tung oil should cover up the scuff marks.

I’d make it clear it needs to go. I’d comp labor up to this point and let them decide progress moving forward. If they push remark that tung oil is not a appropriate sealer for stone, period.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 04:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou
Edit: Mapei, CBP and Laticrete all gave a resounding NO when asked if any of their products were suitable for going over tung oil or urethane.
Not surprised.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 05:02 PM   #8
Lou_MA
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Jeff - I feel like such a hack but I left the floor as is. But didn’t charge them anything.

Was honestly at a loss what to do.

Nothing was rated to go over what they had.

Didn’t feel like I could grind down far enough to get past the oil, and even if I could, that carried additional risks like puncturing the liner and me legitimately being on the hook for a non-functioning shower (as it stands now, it looks bad cosmetically but functions just as well as before).

Didn’t even want to try hitting it with an enhancer as it probably would’ve absorbed unevenly and left a blotchy mess.

BUT I also didn’t feel like I owed them a new floor (or shower) out of my pocket. This was a T&M project where they knew tiling over wasn’t ideal. Maybe I’m wrong here and you guys would’ve stepped up - ?? Just not a great situation for anyone.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 06:57 PM   #9
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I also don't understand why the 254 wouldn't have set up. It's possible that it wouldn't stick but it should dry from the top surface, no?

Since you hit it with a grinder, I feel like you owe them a new floor. I'd hit it with a grinder again. If any of those primers are rated for wet areas then maybe I'd use one of those.

But you were already not giving a warranty so why not try covering it with a 2x2 or something?

That's how I see it. No good deed goes unpunished.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 07:00 PM   #10
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Have the GC put some Tung oil over what you've got now, Lou, and you'll have the same floor as before, but with a less slippery surface, eh?

Tell him to call it a feature.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 07:25 PM   #11
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CX - the marine grade urethane would have to be removed first, but yes, having them apply more tung oil would be an option.

Your opinion on whether that would darken the pebbles uniformly? I ground off the sheen on just the tops of the pebbles when I went over the floor with a grinder.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 07:28 PM   #12
Lou_MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim
Since you hit it with a grinder, I feel like you owe them a new floor.
That pretty much sums up why I feel like a hack leaving it.

But I just think I’d have to grind away such a ridiculous amount of material to even have a hope of getting to uncontaminated substrate. I tried applying hydraulic cement to float a small test area of the area I had already hit with a grinder, and even that stuff didn’t stick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim
I also don't understand why the 254 wouldn't have set up. It's possible that it wouldn't stick but it should dry from the top surface, no?
my Laticrete rep agrees. Said regardless of whether it did or didn’t bond to a contaminated surface, it should have set up. Said it may have been a defective bag. I sent him pic of bag stamp info.
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Unread 04-22-2022, 07:31 PM   #13
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Wouldn't even guess at that, Lou. But if you're planning to try anything else, I'd try that before using the oil. Once you put oil on those bare stones I think you're done with any plan B that doesn't involve removing the floor.

Do you know what's under the stones?
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Unread 04-22-2022, 09:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX
Do you know what's under the stones?
No idea for sure.

It’s a 3 piece clamping drain so I’d assume dry pack, then pvc liner. Although I have no idea of thickness of top mud bed. And from what I’ve seen on other projects I’ve demo’d, that top mud bed could well be concrete instead of dry pack.
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Unread 04-23-2022, 07:21 AM   #15
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I’ve used this bit over calcium leaches in a shot-crete pool, roughed up the surface and it didn’t penetrate huge gouges. Made for a good bonding surface before it could be brown coated.

I’d see it being quite effective in getting down into those pebbles and leaving you with a textured up surface that’d be happy to receive mud. Especially with a slurry/primer coat along with your mud 3:1, or rapid set mortar mix.
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