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Old 12-30-2017, 12:21 PM   #1
Dr Noisewater
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3500ft of White Marble - Mitigating The Iron Oxidation Scare

Hey All - I have been searching the site for a few days in hopes of gathering information on best practices surrounding the installation process for White Marble tile without falling victim to the Iron/Pyrite oxidation issues that have consumed so many beautiful rooms.

I am currently building my home in Miami Beach. I have imported 3500ft of Mystery White Marble tile for the floor (24"x24") as well as stair treads and risers from a manufacturer in China (pictures attached.)

The stone was loaded up a few days ago and will arrive Feb 6th at the port so its exciting. I am acting as the owner/builder and I have limited experience with Marble. I interviewed 6 Tile Installation companies and guess what,,, not 1 has experienced an Iron Oxidation/discoloration problem......right. I realized that we had a few "Pinocchio Noses" going on here and that I needed to dig deeper to protect my investment the best way possible.

Installation Notes:
The marble will be installed in dry locations only

All will be installed directly to the slab

The stair treads and risers are made of wood so the install.

The Marble has a mesh backing. I tried to see if I could peel it back but could not.



Questions:

1. What type of thinset would you use for installation? It seems like white mapei kerabond is a safe play?

2. I read posts about sealing the back side of the tiles ahead of the install but that idea didnt seem to take off best I could tell. I assumed the epoxy mesh backing would probably keep chemical or moisture from leeching/ penetrating the stone . Does this sound logical?

3. What type of Grout would you recommend? I saw that Spectralock was mentioned a few times.

4. Sealers - Could there be a crowd favorite? DryTreat was recommended a few times across my searches.

5. We are on city water. Would it be crazy to provide distilled water for the installation? Is that just crazy or what? My wife laughed at me for that idea....

If I missed anything or if you all could offer some suggestions I would be very grateful.
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Old 12-30-2017, 03:04 PM   #2
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Unless you have exceptionally high moisture in your slab the iron oxide is unlikely to be a problem in a floor application. It might be prudent to check. The epoxy backing is the biggest concern I would have. Don't think Mapei would be on board with Kerabond, it won't stick. Not so sure they would even go along with Kerabond/Kerlastic. That is my normal go to problem solver. Think you should call and ask. I would use an unsanded cement grout myself, let the floor breathe, not trap the moisture, which goes back to the iron oxide concern.
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Old 12-30-2017, 10:56 PM   #3
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I have installed that material before. We removed all of the mesh backing before installing. I wouldn't use spectra lock grout but not saying you can't. Seal it with a good sealer and you should be good to go.

I would open all the pallets and look at the pieces to see if there is a range of color and pattern.
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Old 12-31-2017, 01:21 AM   #4
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Let’s see a good resolution pic of the backside of your tile. From angles that show what that epoxy looks like. Sometimes it’s like sprayed on thin, sometimes a big thick layer, sometimes embedded with grit. What have you?

3.5 places to get input on setting material:

1. Stone mfgr (least trusted resource)
2. TCNA Handbook (excellent resource)
3. Setting mfgr technical support (essential resource)
3.5 Whatever Dave Gobis says. I think we all agree his considerable experience in tile and stone failure is well qualified to advise, and a conservative installer/builder/home owner would do well to follow.

Image: page 10 2016 TCNA Handbook
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Last edited by Topspin; 12-31-2017 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 12-31-2017, 06:31 AM   #5
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Ditto what Dave G. said about the mortar needed. We've seen huge bonding failures with that mesh backing. Fortunately for us, it was always the reason we got called to replace the tile, cuz the first installer didn't use an epoxy mortar. We made good money being the next guy in line, but it was a shame week g someone have to rip out 2 year old marble or tile......



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Old 12-31-2017, 09:27 AM   #6
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@Dave - Thank you for chiming into the thread with your valued insight. From what I understand, you might have looked at a floor or 2 in your day (wink nudge...!)
I began looking at concrete moisture testing methods based on your advice. I see that we have plenty of digital meters that measure moisture levels as well as the calcium chloride testing kits. One video showed a procedure where you drill 2 nails into the slab which would allow the meter to penetrate a bit deeper into the slab to get a more accurate reading. That looked simple to do. Which of these would be best to use in your opinion? I will get this measured quickly and report back with the findings.

Mesh backing - I contacted the stone manufacture about this, they said that I can remove it and install the tile without the backing. Ok great so I grabbed the samples which they sent me recently. I can barely get behind the mesh, it is very difficult. When I go at it with a knife, I can start a bit of it but when pulling on the mesh, it just breaks off. I cannot imagine removing it effectively. I see that Topspin shared a reference to your recommendations which you called for "Epoxy Bonding Mortar." Do we have pitfalls or shortcomings using an Epoxy based mortar versus a traditional thinset? I will certainly call Kerabond to see what they say after the holiday.

Unsanded cement grout - Perfect - I will go for it. What brand or brands would be recommended?

@Karls Tile Inc - You mentioned you removed the backing before installing. How did you do it? Did the backing look similar to what you see on my sample images?

@Claycarson - Based on my interviews with the mentioned tile installation companies I truly believe mistakes are rampant. Not one person asked me about mesh backing. I am sure they would slap it down and collect the check.
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Old 12-31-2017, 09:37 AM   #7
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I wanted to share some photos of an installation gone bad. This is the same material I am using. The manufacturer is unknown to me. This installation is only several months old and located in South Florida. The info comes 3rd hand so the validity could be questioned but it is a real eye opener. In any event, this is a catastrophic failure. The owner/installer/supplier have no real answers as to the "Why" apparently.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:17 AM   #8
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Hey Steve,

Is the yellowish banding in the picture caused by iron oxide you discussed in your initial post? Since the stone looks like itís bonded well, I presume this is the failure?

Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:35 AM   #9
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Understand that when you take moisture readings they are good for the day you take them. Heavy rain, irrigation, site drainage changes, shrub and mulch planting can all change things. The important aspect is if you have a high or marginal reading especially in good weather your assured of problems in bad weather. Moisture appears to be the issue in the other photos you posted. The pattern by the doors/windows is the giveaway.
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Old 12-31-2017, 01:41 PM   #10
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We were able to scrape it off with just a floor scraper on most pieces. For the tougher pieces we used grinders with a special disc used to remove coatings. Alpha make a disc with little spikes on it that works really well for removing the resin backing.

The stains in that marble from the pictures may be able to be removed with High concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

You could also do six sided sealing of the marble to control the staining.

The material we installed is holding up well. We even installed it in a master bathroom shower with no issues so far.

I would not use epoxy. I would remove the resin backing. Most of the time there is a layer of dust on the tile before they put the resin on the back of the tile.So if you do use epoxy the epoxy sticks to the resin but the resin doesn't stick to the tile.
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:35 AM   #11
Dr Noisewater
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Happy New Year Guys!

@PC7060 - Yes, all of the yellowing or rust based coloring you see in those images was explained to be Iron Oxidization. The original marble is a very white color with subtle beige movement "veining."

@Dave Gobis - The house has been dried in for over a year at this point. The slab is 6" thick with the standard 6 mil vapor barrier underneath. Ground water is located at the 5ft mark below the surface. We are very close to sea level and close to the beach. At this point, I am thinking slab moisture will be the main component that needs to be addressed for a successful installation. I have ordered a meter and will see what results look like across many different days as you mentioned. If slab moisture is always changing based on the elements, would a waterproof membrane "Hydroban" make sense as a safety measure?

@Karls Tile Inc - Would this be the disc you used to remove the Epoxy?
Link: https://www.alpha-tools.com/Pages/Pr...?PageCode=1780

Apparently, the homeowner/contractor tried several different methods of removing the stains but to no avail. I dont know what those methods consisted of.

How does 6 sided sealing work exactly? That sounds like something.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:55 AM   #12
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While I am NOT a promoter of the product category, you may want to look into a moisture mitigation system manufactured by your selected setting material provider. 6 mil plastic is not an appropriate ground engaging vapor retarder. It is very unlikely it would function as a vapor barrier. This installation is sounding really expensive. On the plus side, if you were not so vested, it might otherwise look like your neighbor down the road.

You would have to ask Laticrete about using their product to stop water from coming in. There are Moisture Vapor limits that I don't recall prior to product application. Waterproofing products are designed to stop water from going in, not coming out. Whatever it is you decide, I strongly suggest you stick with one manufacturer for an entire system to avoid finger pointing. Also keep in mind the best products in the world won't perform if the instructions are not followed, and people rarely read instructions.
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Old 01-01-2018, 10:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
The slab is 6" thick with the standard 6 mil vapor barrier underneath.
What is the exact buildup starting at the native soil going upward? E.g. (just to make up one possibility):

Undisturbed native soil
6" compacted 3/4"- base material
4" 3/4" angular crushed rock
6 mil plastic
6" concrete slab

Cheers, Wayne
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Old 01-01-2018, 01:01 PM   #14
Dr Noisewater
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I just ordered the Wagner Rapid RH 4.0ex kit so Ill be able to check the slab moisture with some degree of accuracy. Besides, it will give me a chance to use my new hammer drill so that works for me! I plan on drilling the cores in several locations to see what can be learned.

@ Dave Gobis - I will be on the phone with Laticrete as suggested tomorrow morning and move from there. Thank you for the points of interest.

@ wwhitney - From the plans,

6" slab cured to 5000psi at 28 days -
6mil Vapor Barrier
On clean fine sand and limerock
Filled/compacted in 12" lift to 95% density
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Old 01-01-2018, 02:18 PM   #15
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Steve,

Sounds like you’re doing all the right things. When working with this type of product on the back of your natural stone your installation is on the very top end of the scale for most tilesetters. Rarified air.

Although removing the mesh on the back of the tiles is an option, if you end up having to scrape every single tile, you’re in for a whole a lot of work, some product loss, dusty remediation . . . read expense. Additionally some of those tiles have the mesh on the back because they need it to stay together. But most manufacturers who put that on the back I am sure do so to reduce loss during transport. Not caring much about what happens once the customer has excepted the unbroken but mesh backed tiles.

I have only installed tile like this two times. The first in a very, very small bathroom using Epoxy. Epoxy is difficult to work with, VERY expensive and should you not be a perfectionist, any setting material on your tiles will require additional finishing on the surface. Never again for me. However I’m sure there are plenty of companies to do EPOXY work and would love the chance to do your project.

The other option of scraping the coated resin I did once as well. That was a major job, trying many different techniques but had good success getting a finished product that could be set with traditional setting materials. Again time-consuming and expensive.

Personally, my contract states explicitly that I will not set any natural stone product with a resin backed finish and that any and all tiles that arrive with resin backing will need to be returned and switched out for standard natural stone back’s. Call me a weenie, but that’s a job for people like that kind of business.

Although this is not giving you much concrete information on what to do, hopefully gives you a little more flavor of what you’re looking at.
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