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Old 07-07-2005, 08:15 PM   #1
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Location: Southern California - Orange County
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my subfloor/joist situation

Hello everyone -- what a great forum! I did a very small tile job last year, a tumbled travertine fireplace surround. I am so thrilled with the outcome that now I am thinking about tackling my kitchen floor -- 150 square feet of cheap, ugly sheet vinyl which has seen better days. I am in the stage of (thoroughly) researching my options. My first choice would probably be to install stone tile, with porcelain as second choice.

I've been reading in the liberry and archives and just finished the book, but I still have an ignorant question. How do I find out about my joists? I live in a 2nd-story condo in southern California in which the subfloor is some kind of concrete-ish substance. The unit was built around 1988-1990 by some big corporation which has since gone out of business.

Does anyone know what was likely used in this type of construction? Or how I could find out? Or if I can just assume everything will be OK with my cement subfloor and start laying my tile?

Thanks in advance,
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Old 07-07-2005, 08:58 PM   #2
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From what I've read lurking here, it is likely to be a gypsum based product. They often use it for sound isolation. Not the greatest thing to tile to. You'll dig it up since it is soft when you tear up the vinal (which you'd need to do as the first step). Then, maybe an antifracture membrane like Ditra, then your tile. The condo association may not like you taking up the gpycrete, if thatis what it is. If it is truely light concrete, then you should be able to put the tile down on top of it once it is cleaned up. Also, once you've got the vinal up, you can check for cracks. One of the pros will have some ideas for you in a bit...
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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Old 07-07-2005, 09:16 PM   #3
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Welcome, Susan.

The Condo Association prolly has all kind rules and restrictions about what you may/may not do with your own floors - and most everything else in your house.

But someone in the management/maintenance part of that condo operation probably knows a good deal about the construction of the building(s), and can tell you what you're dealing with. I'd start by axin' them about it. That way you'll find out right away if they're gonna give you any hassle over tiling the floor.

If necessary, we can usually have our man Flatfloor send his man Vinny over to talk to them. That's if you live somewhere not to far from Nuevo York, of course. Southern California ain't that far, is it?

My opinion; worth price charged.

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Old 07-07-2005, 09:49 PM   #4
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Jim, I'm not sure it's concrete, but my husband thinks it is. It seems to be pretty hard. He hit it with a chisel and it didn't chip. If I bang on it, it seems hard and solid, but maybe not as dense as the concrete on the garage. ?

Cx, hmmmmm. . .I was afraid I would have to do something drastic like go to the condo association. Ugh. I am originally from New Hampshire ("Live free or die!" is the motto on the license plates), so I'm not used to this kind of stuff.
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Old 07-07-2005, 10:00 PM   #5
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Banging on the floor in the garage may sound more dense because its on solid ground instead of being a few floors up. Just a thought.

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Old 07-07-2005, 10:22 PM   #6
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Hate to bad mouth HOA in SoCal, but I've 'experienced' them first hand. (So, I won't bad mouth)
Odds are it's light-weight concrete.

Like CX said, best to talk to Jose, or Juan (fill in the appropriate name) the maintenance/manajer and see what they know, or don't.

I know you'd probably not rather talk to the 'board' but you might be better off, because there's always some that are the eyes and ears of the 'hood' and if they see 'construction stuff' going in and out, they might pay a visit uninvited. (These folks are home all day long)
This would be less unpleasant, than if you paid your token sub-serviant visit, and consulted the allmighty-ones.

I can only recommend treating them as if they were building inspectors; ask what they recommend and do it. (Unless itís horrible advice, then make it look as if you did what they recommended, but done right underneath.) Did I just say that? . . . Nah.

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