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Unread 03-06-2007, 01:34 PM   #1
tama
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Novice at DIY, remodeling bathroom and need your help, please

Hi all

I'm a novice at DYI, so I am having to rely on books, internet, and people at home improvement stores to get resources, but I am getting some conflicting or not enough information when it comes to tiling.
I will have many questions along the way, but I will post them as I go.

My first question is how to determine wheather or not the floor is level enough for tiling.

I've learned the existing wood subfloor is suitable for tile installation. However, this subfloor has some high and low spots. (The high spots are in the middle.)

First, I was told by a professional tile installer that I will have to pour some kind of compound (I forgot the name), which will act as tile underlayment (I will not need to use cement board on top of it). Then, I was told by another remodeling professional that the floor is level enough that I can just place cement board over mortar, and that will make the floor completely level. Finally, I went to Home Depot and was told that I may want to to put leveling compound, which will NOT act as an underlayment, so I will have to put cement board on top of the compound. ...Well, which advice should I follow?

I'm guessing I will have to take some kind of measurements to determine if the high and low spots exceed the requirements, but I have no idea where and how to take measurements.
Sorry that my first question seems so dumb compared to other people's questions, but I appreciate any help and suggestions.
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Unread 03-06-2007, 01:47 PM   #2
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The first thing I would do

Is to get as much information to the people here on this site such as:
1. How is the floor framed (joist sizes, spacing, directions)
2. Get a string out and anchor it at one end of the floor, then run it to the other end and pull it very tight. Look and see how flat your floor. Do this in both directions, and at each floor joist. It takes time, but is well worth the effort.
3. let us know what type of flooring is going on there. Is it ceramic, stone, slate, etc. size and thickness is needed.
4. The floor does not have to be level (but it helps). It does need to be as flat as possible though.
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Unread 03-06-2007, 02:49 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for your quick response.
I'm sorry that I have to answer some of your question with additional questions..

1. How can I tell the size of joists, spacing, and directions over the subfloor? I am guessing there is a beam under where the board is nailed, but I cannot tell its size...
2. When I place a string on the floor, do I have to take any measurements (distance from the floor, etc)? If so, what is the proper way of doing this...? Since I don't know where the joists are, I don't really know where to anchor it.
I did try to put a carpenter's level across the floor, and I know it's definitely not level in the middle section of the bathroom.
3. I was considering to install porcelain tiles until I learned porcelain tiles are very tricky to cut. (This is another question I was going to ask.) If that is the case, I will go for ceramic tile. The tile I was going to purchase was made of porcelain (about 1/8" thickness), but I haven't looked for any ceramic tiles yet. I am not considering stone or slate.
4. The thought of pouring compound over the subfloor scars me, so I'm a bit hesitant about it... It is great news if I can jsut use mortar and cement board and not use any leveling compound at all...
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Unread 03-06-2007, 03:03 PM   #4
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Tama. is there a way to see the underside of your bathroom? Or maybe there is a vent where you can see what type of plywood and how many layers are there? As far as leveling before hand. If your not setting stone, I would level the tile as I go. Once you figure out what type of flooring construction you have. You might have to add another layer of plywood. Then you will want to put down some CBU. That will be embedded into a premium dry mortar. You will have to mix the mortar in a bucket. DO NOT USE ANY PREMIX ANYWHERE IN YOUR BATHROOM. You will need to get some alkaline resistant mesh tape for the seams. Its easier to flash the seams over with thinset and tape while your setting the tile. Less chance to leave a big bump in the floor.

Then while your setting the tile, use a 4' and maybe a 6' straight edge or level to set with. You might have to back butter a few tiles to keep them somewhat flat. If your floor rolls abit thats fine, just try to keep the tile lippage to a minimum. Take your time, and it will look awesome.

Did any of that make sense?
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Unread 03-06-2007, 03:52 PM   #5
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Hi Scott, thank you for your response.

There is an open space where the pipes are, so I took a picture.
There seems to be only one layer of plywood (although I don't know what type), and the thickness is 3/4". Will this be enough information to determine if I need to add another layer of plywood or not?

>Then you will want to put down some CBU. That will be embedded into a premium dry mortar. You will have to mix the mortar in a bucket. DO NOT USE ANY PREMIX ANYWHERE IN YOUR BATHROOM. You will need to get some alkaline resistant mesh tape for the seams.

I got this part.

>Its easier to flash the seams over with thinset and tape while your setting the tile. Less chance to leave a big bump in the floor.

But I didn't quite understand this part... I was told by the tile installer that, if I am going to use CBU, I should lay tiles alongside the seam so that the tile will not break due to the height difference... My understanding of your suggestion is to lay tiles over the seams, is this correct?

Sorry for all of these small questions, this is all new to me but I'm trying.
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Unread 03-06-2007, 04:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tama
... I was told by the tile installer that, if I am going to use CBU, I should lay tiles alongside the seam so that the tile will not break due to the height difference...
What height difference? There shouldn't be a height difference in properly installed CBU. You need not be concerned about the CBU seams when you are laying out your tile.

In case it hasn't come up yet, when installing your CBU, avoid having 4 corners meet at a point. Stagger them.
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Unread 03-06-2007, 04:43 PM   #7
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Hi Dan, thank you for your response.

Yes, you're right about the height difference. There shouldn't be any if properly installed. I guess I was worried about the CBUs not being level if installed on an unlevel surface...

And yes, I was told about avoiding to have all 4 corners meeting at a point, so I will stagger them. Thank you for reminding me.

I took JohnP's suggestion and tried to put a string across the floor, but I didn't have anything to anchor it. Maybe I'll ask my husband to hold one end and try it again when he comes home tonight.
Meanwhile, I took out a carpenter's level (4') and laid it across the center of the floor. The distance from the surface is about 1/8" as you can see in the picture. I'll be getting ready to head to store to purchase CBU and dry mortar in the next few days, but if any of you think 1/8" is too much, please stop me here right now.

I have to rent a truck to carry 3x5 boards, so I will also be asking question about the wall boards (for tub surrounds) shortly (so I won't have to rent a truck again). Yes, I'm also planning to tile the tub surrounds myself...call me crazy..
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Unread 03-06-2007, 11:49 PM   #8
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Wall Question

So, here's the picture of the tub-surround. I'd like to try to tile the tub surrounds myself; I will try the floor first, and if I find it too difficult to install tile, I might ask for professional help for the wall. But I still would like to prep the wall myself so that I can save some $.

I've removed the synthetic marble tub surrounds, and I now see the drywall and...I guess this is called "greenboard" or "sheetrock"(?).
Now..., my plan is to install tiles on exact same areas where the synthetic marble used to be (not all the way to the ceiling). (You can see caulking around the area where marble used to be, but the upper part is drywall, not greenboard.) I know I have to replace the greenboard, but do I also have to tear down the upper part of the drywall and replace it with new greenboard (or sheetrock) & place CBU on top of it? Or can I get just replace only the old green board, keep the existing drywall, and place CBU on top of it?

I hope my question makes sense to you.

Also, I'd appreciate if someone can tell me how to remove the old green board - it's nailed down to the beam behind it. Can I just yank off the wall...?

Thanks for your help!
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Unread 03-07-2007, 06:36 AM   #9
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Yes, you can just yank it off. I tend to try and be a bit meticulus and cut down each side of the nails or screws, then when the big pieces are gone, I go back with a hammer/screwdriver and remove the nails/screws.

Regarding the string on the floor to just for dips, etc. I usually use screws. I put in a drywall screw into the floor, leaving about 1/2" above the floor, then take the string, tie a loop around the end, then pull it tight and drive the screw in. then I go to the other end of the floor and do the same, except, I loop the string around the screw a few tims, the drive the screw in.

Regarding your tile on the wall. Are you going to use Kerdi under it? You should read up on that if you are, as there are tons of folks here who have used it and can give tons of good advice.

Pour a cup of coffee and do some reading!
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Unread 03-07-2007, 07:54 AM   #10
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Tama,

Looking at the picture of your subfloor, maybe the picture is deceiving but I'm wondering if you have two layers of ply making up that 3/4" total, maybe one about 1/2" and one 1/4"? If so, it makes a difference.

If 1/8" over 4' is the worst wobble in your floor you shouldn't have any worries. Typically you tile a room in quadrants, starting each quadrant from the middle of the floor to minimize layout error. Having your high point there helps IMO because you can set those tiles tight to the floor and use a thicker layer of thinset (within reason) to make up the difference as you tile toward the walls.

I would advise against SLC (self-leveling compound.) First it has it's own tricks for proper installation and second, it will seek true level so if your floor is not flat (room corner to room corner) it will pile up in the low spots before flattening out over the rest of the floor. Again, your wobble looks pretty mild.

When you get ready to redo the walls for the tub surround make sure you read up on the proper way to install a vapor barrier and level/shim studs if necessary. Ask questions and post pictures first, then do the work. Your life will be easier that that way! You'll get the help you need here.

Good luck!
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Unread 03-07-2007, 11:20 AM   #11
Scottish Tile and Stone
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Rotozip or something similiar is the easiest way to cut out the drywall.
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Unread 03-07-2007, 12:03 PM   #12
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Thumbs up Cool!!!

Tama,

Just a quick note from another DIYer. You have what I believe is the hardest part of the project taken care of; you are willing to try, and obviously you're not afraid to get your hands dirty. I love to see people excited about projects, especially when they are willing to investigate, learn, and do it right! You've come to the right place. These guys/gals have been a huge help to me over the past few weeks!

Good job!

Jim
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Unread 03-07-2007, 12:46 PM   #13
tama
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Hi JohnP, thanks for your advice again! I will try to tear down the wall today, and I will also be sure to read the Kerdi topic.

Hi Mike, I was concerned when you mentioned there might be two layers on the subfloor - I didn't notice until you mentioned, but you're right, it does look like there might be two layers in the picture. I just went upstairs to check on the floor, but the opening is so small that I wasn't able to tell from the cross section if there're two layers. I am adding some more pics so that someone may be able to help me identify the layers better. Are there really two layers? If so, how does this affect my floor project?
(* There are 3 small holes for the pipes on my floor; the pics show cross section of the subfloor from three different holes.)

Everything else you said in the response made sense to me. Thank you for your advice.

Hi Scott, I've never heard of Rotozip before, but I will google it to find out what it looks like. There are so many great tools out there, and I get excited whenever I find new useful ones. Thanks!

Jim, thank you for wishing me good luck, because I NEED IT! It took me a little courage to post a thread here, but I'm so glad I did. When I go to home improvement stores for help, I find two kinds of people: those who tell me I can do it, and those who look at me and tell me I should hire a pro (or have my husband do it, etc. ) It feels good to find those who encourage me, so thank you. And yes, we came to the right place, didn't we? Thanks, everyone.
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Unread 03-07-2007, 01:41 PM   #14
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That looks like one layer to me.

By the way, what camera are you using? Those pics are impressive.
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Unread 03-07-2007, 02:17 PM   #15
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Looks like a single sheet of 5-ply board to moi. I'd like to see a thickness measurement at a clean, fresh cut, though. Not sure that's 3/4".

And the condition of your subflooring could not be listed as very good. When testing is done for tile products over wood subflooring, the materials and installation methods are all perfect, and still 3/4" plywood over 16" joist centers is near minimum specs. I would recommend you install another layer of plywood over what you have there.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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