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question large tile 
Feb-28-2009 15:14

We had some 12"x18" cereamic wall tiles installed in a brick pattern in our shower; however, the corners edge are not flush with each other in many places and .  We are not happy with the install and our Contractor is going to remove them.  At the meeting we had this morning with the Contractor and the Tiler, the Tiler stated it is hard to get all the corners flush with each other when such a large tile is installed in a brick pattern and is encouraging us to choose a smaller sized tile.  Is it true that large tiles cannot be laid out in a brick pattern?  If not, what should be done to get them in there properly?

The first test is to lay a series of these tiles on a smooth floor in several rows to see if they can be laid flat. If they look and feel flat on a reasonably flat floor, they can be laid with minimal or near perfect alignment on a wall as well. Some Large Format tiles have a "natural" hump in their centers and these tiles are not recommended in a brick pattern. If they are flat in the experiment, the tiles may need a different method of installation so the installer can "tap them" to adjust them for a flat plane. The walls and the backs of the tiles would need a flat "butter coating" of Modified Thin-Set Mortar and then a series of "ice cream scoops" of mortar evenly dispersed in a 12 or 16 "scoop" grid pattern. Favor the 4 corners of a tile with the first "scoops" but don’t let the “scoops” get closer than 1 inches from two 90 degree corner edges of each tile. Each tile also has to be set and then tapped with a rubber mallet to force the "ice cream scoops" of mortar to flatten and spread out. Try a tile or two and then remove them to check the spread. The scoops of mortar should have spread so they touch each other after installing the tiles. Take a 20-minute break after every two rows of tiles to give the tiles a chance to set up before adding more downward weight. Do not “butt” the tiles. My TAVY Tile Spacers, available in 7 convenient sizes will also help the installer, because they prevent the tiles from touching each other. Tiles that are adjusted while they touch each other will cause adjacent tiles to react/move, and the least pressure resistance is away from the wall. “TIRTGIM” Armen Tavy



question rammo 
Feb-27-2009 12:10

What's the best glue to use?  I putting a 1 x 8 rope trim ceramic tile on 6 x 6 ceramic tile.  This is going around the corners of a shower.  I already have Gorilla glue.  What is your recommendation.

Please select any brand of "Tile Caulk-Adhesive", i.e. "Poly SeamSeal" or "Dap", etc., rather than GG. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question talleyke 
Feb-27-2009 11:44

My back wall grout line in the left corner of the shower is larger  than the grout line on the right corner by about 1/8 of an inch. Really an eye soar. Have not grouted yet. Is there a corner piece that I can put over this so I won't have to tear out one side and recut the tile? I am afaid I will be opening up a can of worms if I start tearing out tiles that have been laid for a few weeks now.

The suspect here is that the vertical corners were not reinforced with Alkali resistant tape and the one on the right may even be leaking water which may be warping the lumber. A quick repair if there is no leak, would be to install a "quarter round corner bead" from the pan up to the highest point. This tile trim is called an A-106 and the terminating pieces are called AC-106. I would install them, not with mortar, but with a flexible tile caulk-adhesive. Grout with it as well. "Tool" excess caulk-adhesive and wash off all residues with a sponge. Please check around the back walls for any signs of water leaks. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy




question Jules 
Feb-26-2009 13:32

Hi Tileman Your advice please..I am not sure if I have a problem or if I maybe imagining something? 5 months ago we finished a project of a complete refurb of our house, and one of the jobs carried out was to get the floor of the Hall & Kitchen tiled with a 3 x size porcelain tile. The tiles used look like a natural stone and have been manufactured with rough and uneven edges. Devimat Electric underfloor heating mats were installed by a qualified electrician and then a laytex formula was applied to it before the tiles were laid. We have been using the underfloor heating this winter but at all times I have always ensured it has never been turned up too high in order to protect the system as well as stopping too many cracks from appearing in newly plastered areas. Over the last few weeks I have noticed some of the edges of the floor tiles dont seem quite as level as they were originally, and some of the edges seem to be more visible. No tiles have cracked or has any of the grout cracked? So has this always been like this, which I doubt as this refurb has been completed to a very high standard and surely me being fussy would have noticed it from when we moved in. The tiler has done work for us for over 20 years and his work has always been of a very high standard.. your comments would be appreciated regards Jules  

The first step is to select the tiles that are noticeably different and tap on them with a solid metal object.  Use the "heal end" of a metal table knife to tap on these tiles and listen to the sound. If the sound is "hollow" compared to other tiles in the room, then you definitely have a "Bonding" issue. The application of "latex" to the floor may have not been done correctly, if in fact it was even required. Where did you get the "Latex" liquid and was the procedure and method of application an approved one. For instance, pouring or "painting" the "latex" over the heating system and immediately setting tile without letting the "Latex" first "Tack Up" would definitely be suspect. Please read post # 11890 from "dharshman". There is a similarity in both instances. In there case, it's taken 8 years before there was a noticeable "defect" and the blame, after reviewing the photos sent to me, was quite obvious. The mortar that was used to set the tile finally lost its "Bond" to the membrane that was originally installed to protect the tile installation from "slab cracks". My conclusion was that their floor will need total replacement. If all the tiles and installation mortar come up together, the "membrane", which would be more difficult to remove then the tile could be salvaged and modified by installing my own Thin-Skin material over it, and alternative would be to remove the "membrane" altogether, and "shot blast" or “scarify” the floor to make it "tileable". Unfortunately in your case, tile removal also places your heating system at risk. The fact that an installer has 20 years of good experience is nullified if a system and installation products new to him are used without proper research, which in this case have resulted in an unnecessary job failure. These "mistakes" are costly for all parties concerned. It does not make my day to deliver bad news and both of these problem installations are significant, and do they occur in greater numbers then we know about? I would bet money on it. These kinds of issues do not have to happen, and when they do, they do not reflect well on our Tile Industry and the "professional installers" we rely on to do the job right the first time.   "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy  



question jcipp 
Feb-25-2009 20:16

This morning I grouted a kitchen backsplash that is made up of 2"X2" ceramic tiles.   I used nonsanded white grout. This afternoon I noticed many tiny cracks in the grout. The tiles were layed on a plaster wall. What did I do wrong? and how do I fix this?

Could be any of the following issues: Grout had to much water in the mix weakening it . The grout was not forced into the grout spaces properly or the grout joints were wider than 1/8". Non Sanded grout in wider grout joints, not to exceed 1/8", can be re-grouted to fill small shrinkage cracks by forcing new grout (in this case thinner than normal, probably like the consistency of "ketchup") with a rubber grouting float into the tiny cracks (Try not to leave excess grout on the face of the tiles) before washing off the excess grout. Wait about 10 or 20 minutes before washing off excess grout using minimal water in the sponge. You might even try washing in stages. Get the haze off the tiles first, wait a bit, then wash everything. always use diagonal strokes whenever possible. If this doesn't work well, you may have to enlarge the tiny cracks a bit to give more room for new grout to squeeze into them. An old type "beer can opener" works well for this job. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question dharshman 
Feb-25-2009 17:02

Good afternoon: I am emailing today with the hopes that you can guide me in the right direction for a ceramic tile issue in one of our homes in Lockeford, CA.  The home is over 8 years old and in the past 3 months the homeowner noticed tiles "lifting" or separating from the Kitchen floor. Could you take a look at these photos and give us your thoughts, or guide me in the right direction as to how to resolve this homeowners issue? PLEASE ADVISE. Thank you Dawn Harshman (209) 444-2812

dharshman and I have talked by phone and have reached a conclusion which is reflected in part in my answer to post #11892  "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question OGS 
Feb-25-2009 15:24

 What is spec. details for f114-07
Dear OGS:

The specs referance installations over interior concrete floors. Cleavage membrane first, 1 1/2" to 2" Mortar Bed  (Dry Pack Mud Base) with a steel "chicken wire", etc. center, a bond or thin-set mortar setting bed, and ceramic tile finished with grout of choice. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question Roussel 
Feb-25-2009 11:57

Hello again, and thanks for hanging in there with me. Yes, the deck in question is sizeable, about 20'x20', and based on your advice, we'll be installing pressure-treated 3/4" plywood over the joists spaced at 16" on center. The wood joists will be confirgured to provide a 1/4"/ft. slope towards a central drain. In our particular case, there is no exposed perimeter, so I don't have to deal with that issue (the deck is enclosed on all 4 sides with walls). We'll install the membrane directly over the plywood, then float the 2-inch reinforced "Mud deck" over that, and finish (as I believe you suggested) by thin-setting the tile directly to it. If that sounds okay up to this point, then my only remaining question is whether or not a drainage mat is needed below the "Mud deck". If I've understood you correctly, any moisture penetrating the tile/grout will eventually find its way through the mudset to the membrane, and then escape via the weep-holes in the sub-drain. Correct? Thanks again for your help.

Now we are on the same page. However I can see a possible problem with a single floor drain handling water after a rain when the deck is 400 square feet. A center drain with a 1/4" sloap in a 10 foot radius would mean a difference in height of 2 1/2" (It's almost a ski sloap) from the outside perimeters. If the drain got plugged up by debris and you are surrounded by vertical walls I would make waterproof thresholds and doorways. This is not a joke because it could become a reality. I certainly would pay an engineer to calculate the capacity of your single drain. If it was my job I would even consider a 3" waste pipe up to a 4", or multiple drains, whatever it takes to handle the worst possible run off. You keep repeating "Drainage Mat" the only "Mat" is the first layer of "Bituthene". In outdoor applications a waterproof membrane is usually recommended over the "Dry Pack" as well, i.e., Noble TS, CompoSeal Gold, Laticrete's 9235 or a product like Red Guard by Custom building Products or HydroBan by Laticrete. Before I sign off I have a suggestion that you might consider. "Laticrete International" based in Bethany Connecticut makes a product they call "209 Floor Mud" This is an incredible premixed mortar that mixes perfectly smooth and lump free, which also makes it easier to work with, It has more strength than a normal sand and Portland cement mix your installer would normally use. It comes in 60 lb bags and well worth the extra money. One last bit of advice, many large commercial floor drains don't have "Weep Holes", but not to worry because you can make your own by drilling holes into the lower sub-drain collar/stem assembly.  TIRTGIM" (Tile It Right To Give It Might) Armen Tavy 

question Roussel 
Feb-25-2009 09:30

Thanks a million for your responses to my posts 11876 and 11881. To wrap things up then, I'll be floating a 2" reinforced mud pan above a modified bitumen roofing membrane, which will be torched on over an exterior-grade 3/4" plywood base. Two final questions. Firstly, do I need a drainage layer (or a drainage mat like Schluter TROBA) below the mud pan to drain away any moisture that penetrates through the layers to the membrane, or if I understand you correctly, will moisture always find its way by itself through the mud pan to the weep-holes in the sub-drain. Schluter seems to widely promote the use of their  TROBA drainage mat below a mud pan, but in the end is it not necessary? And secondly, The Schluter system calls for installing a DITRA layer between the top of the mud pan and the ceramic tile, but my contractor tells me the tile can be adhered directly to the top of the mud pan. I appreciate your help.

We may need another go around. It sounds like we are now talking about two different installations at the same time? A large Outside Deck plus a Shower Pan? If so, the same applies to both. The "Bituthene" can be used under an exterior "Mud Deck" and/or under a shower pan with "Weep Holes". In both cases the contractor can install directly to the top of the "Mud Deck" or "Mud Pan". In shower applications a "Mud Pan" must be "Pre-Pitched" before the/any waterproof membrane is installed and have working "Weep Holes".  In an outside deck application, the deck must be pitched for proper drainage before waterproofing as well as after the "Mud Deck" and Tiling. If exterior decks have visible perimeters, your installer must decide how to conceal the "Mud Deck" and tile ends from view. Exposed perimeters of decks can be tiled or trimed with "Pressure Treated" Lumber. Pressure treated lumber is also a better option instead of using exterior glue plywood over the exterior floor joists.....Armen Tavy

question gabi 
Feb-25-2009 03:38

The tiles in the bathroom floors/walls and shower floor have been grouted today but i notice that there were gaps/holes in the grout or tiny areas that have been missed. to fill in the gaps, is it ok to grout over the missed areas? the grout on the shower floor seems low as i could feel the sharp edges of the 2" X 2" tile. would applying another layer of grout fix the problem? I'd like this fixed before sealing the grout. Or is this something i should not worry about? I'm just concerned about the water seeping thru those void areas even after the grout's been sealed. Thank you.
Dear GABI:

Grout desn't just magically fill grout joints. The rubber grouting float must be used with enough pressure, while spreading the grout, to litterally force the grout into the joints expelling any air, which are the pin holes that are appearing now. Excess washing also removed what little grout there was and now you have exposed edges of tiles. A second Grouting doesn't stick very well to the original grout so it would behove you to remove enough grout, to a depth of at least 1/8 inches, so the joints can be properly filled a second time. If the grout is really low in the joints you could try re-grouting right away but be prepared to possibly be disapointed. There are electric tools that can make the job go easier. If interested write again. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question kris 
Feb-24-2009 21:49

I am getting ready to tile over an existing vinyl floor in the kitchen and was glad to see your "thinskin" product. My question pertains to being able to use your product work with the radiant floor system? I will be installing the electric warmwire system. As you probably know the typical install has the warm wire tacked down directly to the cement backer board and then pour levelor over it to protect the wires. In order to avoid raising the kitchen floor more than an inch by laying a mortar bed, cement board, wire kit, levelor and then thinset to set the tiles I am hoping that I can lay the warm wire over the thin mortar layer (last step per thinskin instrustions) and then pour levelor...from there I would simply lay my tile after the levelor dries.. Is this a possible? Thanks for any suggestions. Kris  
Dear KRIS:

Your situation is one of the many problems that TAVY Thin-Skin can resolve easily. An existing vinyl floor usually has more than 1 layer of flooring underlayment it and if this is so, then my Underlayment can be installed over the vinyl, skim coated and then you can install your floor warming system over Thin-skin and the warming system. Pouring a self leveling system isn't as easy as it sounds. Reasearch your leveling system and follow the instructions very carefully, reading them several times. Leveling a kitchen floor is not a one man job, unless you have a great deal of experience. Each unit of leveling material must be mixed back to back with no lag time in-between pours, so make sure you have someone to help you.  3 five gallon buckets plus a water bucket should be on hand. Don't forget to fill all holes or places where the levelor can "sneak through". Always buy an extra unit and return it if need be. My material is sold in 100 square foot units, so if your measurements are close to round numbers of one hundred, always buy an extra gallon of "007" glue.One roll of fabric and  One gallon of "007" should cover 100 sq ft if you don't waste the glue. Hold your 5/32 V-Notched Trowel at a 45 degree angle to the floor and not 90 degrees as instructed. Thank you for considering my product. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question margo 
Feb-24-2009 16:13

I have been web searching for 4"x4" cherry red, burgandy, or mexican red ceramic tiles that are not real expensive......I have not had much luck in finding any!!  Could you PLEASE help me??  Could you give me some websites to go to find cheap or discounted red tiles (ceramic)??

B & W Ceramic Tile Company in Gardenia CA is still in business and are the most reasonable source for dark colors. Hand made mexican tiles in 4" format are called "Talavera" and one source is "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question Gabi 
Feb-24-2009 15:30

do you have any recommendation on what type/brand of sealer to use for non sanded grout in the shower floor area and bathroom floor and walls? Is there a specific brand that is superior in performance. I've heard of the Miracle 511 Impregnator and the Miracle Grout Sealer but don't know the difference between the two. Your advice is greatly appreciated.
Dear GABI:

511 is a penetrating type sealer which doesn't change the appearance of rhe grout and Miracle Grout Sealer may stay on the surface (this product is new to me) and darken it some if it does. Once a penetrating sealer is used no amount of top sealer will darken it. However, it may still give it a bit of a shine. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy 

question Alice 
Feb-24-2009 13:21

My condo has 12" white tile, white grout that is 25 years old.  It is outdated and very difficult to keep clean.  Is there anything that I can do to update and improve it other than having it removed and replaced.  It is on laid on concrete.  Thanks, Alice 

There are several special epoxy type grout paints that can re-new and protect your present grout and make it like new. Check your nearest Lowes or home Depot tile department. Other tile retailers may have it as well. Two company names are "Aqua Mix" and "Tile Guard". TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question Roussel 
Feb-24-2009 08:34

Hello again, and thanks for your response to my post #11876. It was of great help. In it, you suggest I place the waterproof membrane below the mudset, instead of above it. If I do so, do I need to install a drainage mat (like Schluter TROBA) above the membrane before laying the mudset, or is this optional? I'm concerned about the water that penetrates through the tile, grout and mudset having nowhere to go, and later showing up as efflorescence.  Secondly, after a further conversation with the builder, his intention is to install a torched-on modified bitumen roofing membrane (sorry, I wasn't too clear when I mentioned a "bituminous-type" membrane). Can this be torched on, directly on top of the plywood, or is another layer needed to protect the plywood from the heat? Would the torched-on membrane be adhered to the plywood or just to the adjoining walls surrounding the deck? And alternatively, if the torched-on membrane were to be installed above the mudset, could the ceramic tile be thin-setted directly on top of it? Thanks again.

There are two types of systems, over or under and never both, it's either one or the other. The torch or otherwise known as "vulcanizing process doesn't affect the plywood. The material is heated to almost the melting point and two pieces are basically welded together and only to themselves. Overlaps are always to towards the drain. The Schluter System is installed on top of a completed "mud pan" and then tiled on "directly". Which do I prefer? Well that's easy because I'm also called "Mud Man". Bituthene aka "Bituminous-type products are not tile-able substrates. Efflorescence is not an issue if the "Weep Holes" are not blocked and always function as they should. There is a special plastic type ring that can be placed around the sub-drain to prevent blocking. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question krl 
Feb-24-2009 01:52

My house was built in the 1930's and I believe the tile in the bathroom vanity area, which covers the counter and walls is set in mortar (I've heard that's how they used to do it).  Along the wall, it's about 1 inch thick.  Previous owners tiled over the original, and a bruised and chip it when I removed their tile.  I want to start fresh (B & W Tile in Gardena Calif, by the way, still makes the flat colorful tile from the good ole days).  However, I don't know how to get this tile off without taking the walls down with it.  Previously, someone took out a single tile (maybe for a toothbrush holder) and what remains will not budge with a hammer and chilsel -- this stuff is tough.  Any suggestions?
Dear KRL:

"In the good old days" we set tiles in "mud" and they are very nasty to remove. Hammer and chisel is very primitive. The only tool I can recommend is a "Makita" Power Chisel. It sells for about $360 Dollars and if you like tools, this one is a beauty. It will remove those tiles easier than any other tool on the market, and you will find many uses for it around a home if you are a "Handyman". Go to "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question alyzibeth 
Feb-23-2009 18:36

Hi TileMan~ I have a total dilemma here.  3 years ago I had approx 1,200 sq ft of ceramic tile installed.  The tile is very light colored, (stone) and resembles tumbled marble for texture.  10x10 tiles, egg shell sheen.  When the installation was completed, it was discovered that the glaze was defective on half the tiles.  There was no glazing.  Althought the company refunded all my money, I have a real problem here.  I placed a sealer on the unglazed tile and that worked for a while giving the tiles a consistant look.  Now it has worn off and the unglazed tile is VERY hard to clean and it's very obvious which are the unglazed tiles.  My questions:  First, how do I clean them?  Second, can I polyurethane them with an egg shell finish which would be more permanent then the sealants? Thanks so much in advance for your answer. Aly PS.  I did contact HOMAX as you stated in a question before mine, however, they only had a suggestion on a cleaning product and could not answer about the poly

I 'm speaking at a tile training seminar Thursday and there will be a sealer company there and I will put the question to them. Will get back to you by Friday Evening. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question robot 
Feb-23-2009 16:36

I had a tiler lay black gloss ceramic tiles in my hair salon. He has been back 3 times to clean the floor but it always ends up with a white film on it and doesn't look clean and shiny. What can I do?

There is obviouly "grout haze" remaining which can only be removed now with chemicals, coincidentally called, Grout Haze Remover. Check with your local tile retailer. Each day you delay makes the haze harder to remove. Problems? Write me again. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question DIYGuy 
Feb-23-2009 10:05

I work in a factory setting and the control room I work in has old orange and brown 6"x6" ceramic tiles. They haven't been maintained well for the past three years and to top it off someone spilled a bottle of 5-1 (5 distilled water to 1 acid) solution on the main portion of the room. My question is, how do we recover any functional surface? Can we seal the tiles again with anything? My company already said no way in heaven do we have money for replacement. We have mopped and cleaned it the best we can and now it takes on scuff marks and spots that have to be scrubbed out. I hope you can tell me there is some sealent out there that will at least provide some surface protection. Thanks DIYGuy.

Call "Homax Products, Inc." at: 360-733-9029 ext. 2145 and ask for Dave Glen who knows more about cleaning and sealing tiles than anyone else I know, including yours truly. Don't forget to tell Dave I sent you. He can also give you locations where you may purchase their products. Sorry I personally can't help you further. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question Roussel 
Feb-22-2009 16:34

I'm planning an exterior ceramic tile deck (about 20x20ft., in a region not generally exposed to frost), and have a few questions for you. The substrate will be 3/4" exterior plywood over wood joists spaced at 16" centers and sloped at 1/4"/ft., over an unheated garage. I plan to protect the plywood with 6mil polyethylene sheeting and then float a 2" metal mesh reinforced mudset on top. A waterproof membrane would then be applied on top of the mudset, and the ceramic tile then adhered to the membrane. The contractor doing the job is most familiar with traditional bituminous-type membranes, so plans to install one and then set the tiles over it using mortar, which would leave about a 1/2" mortar separation between the tile and the membrane. Does this sound right? I've seen recommendations in your forum to tile being adhered directly to sheet-type membranes for exterior applications. Thin-setting tile to a mudset base (interior applications) sounds logical, but doing the same directly onto an exterior membrane sounds shaky. Can tile in an exterior application be adhered directly to a membrane? I appreciate any help you can give me on this matter, and any comments you might have regarding my overall proposal. Thanks.

As much as I like "Bituthene", that's the name of the bituminous type membrane you must be reffering to, I wouldn't tile directly over it. The company that manufacturers it also feels the same way, and on November 15, 1989 issued a bulletin that said, quote, "We do not recommend using Bituthene in conjunction with thin-set mortar. There have been instances of poor adhesion of thin sets over some waterproofing systems. Bituthene may be used in conjunction with a wire mesh reinforced portland cement mortar setting beds at a minimum thickness of 1 1/4" as recommended by the Ceramic Tile Institute". I have used and personally approve of the product as a dependable waterproofing membrane under a cement mortar bed. However, I would not secure it with fasteners but lock it in at the highest pitch point of the deck underneath and as high as the flashing. I would, as they further recommend, give the bed a chicken wire center. I would Cement Bituthene down to keep it flat, mix a "dry pack mud bed" with a ratio of 4 or 5 parts washed mason's sand to 1 part Portland Cement, insert the chicken wire in the middle of the "bed", continue to pack more mud until the thickness was/is within the perameters recommended and then "Darby" the surface before finish polishing the "bed" with a metal plastering trowel. After the "dry Pack" has set, I would then "Key in "Liquid Latex Modified mortar with a flat trowel and begin setting my tiles using the proper notched trowel and the same "Liquid Latex Modified Mortar. The right way is the only way because there's so much at stake. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question Lynn the tile girl 
Feb-22-2009 11:47

I started tiling my kitchen backsplash and rec'd a call that my father had a traumatic fall and, consequently, died three weeks later.  I am back to the tile, but have dried mastic on the tile.  I'm using Jasco sealer and adhesive remover, but it is really slow-going.  Can I use muriatic acid.  I don't want to damage the tile, but want this dried mastic off before I start grouting.  Any suggestions?

Muriatic Acid is not the solution. "Mastics" are all water base and the correct solvent has to be used for the type mastic you're having a problem with. It's pretty hard to damage ceramic tiles since their surface is so hard. Single edge razor blades can be used. Find the mastic container you used and contact "Tile Guard" aka "Homax". Their products are available in many Lowe's Stores east of the Pacific Time Zone. Call "Homax Products, Inc." at: 360-733-9029 ext. 2145 and ask for Dave Glen who knows more about cleaning and sealing tiles than anyone else I know, including yours truly. Don't forget to tell Dave I sent you. He can also give you locations where you may purchase their products, if you can't find it/them at your local Lowe's. Get back to me if you have any more questions.
If you solve your problem tell us about it so all can learn. "TIRTGIM" (Tile It Right To Give It Might) Armen Tavy


question grandma 
Feb-21-2009 17:53

I have an upstairs laundry room. The front loader washer sits in a metal pan. I want to tile the floor and eliminate the tin pan. I was thinking I could build the floor similiar to a shower pan. Is this possible and how would I go about doing just that?

This "tin pan" you speak of should have an existing water waste drain in case of spills. If it doesn't you would have to cut the flooring and run a waste line under the flooring and tie it into the washing machine overflow pipe that's located in the wall behind the washer. You can access the waste pipe at a spot below the floor line. The present waste line runs straight down through the wall, and through the floor plate. It can be cut and spliced into with a "Sweep" fitting. If you're handy, you can do it, if not, it's a simple job for a plumber. A sub-drain assembly would have to be installed, as in a shower pan, with all the same rules and techniques except that the waterproffing wouldn't have to go a minimum 8" up the perimeter walls of the room, a couple or 3 inches would suffice. Of course, "Pitching" the floor towards the new drain would be prudent. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy 

question Fred 
Feb-21-2009 15:44

I have searched the questions and haven't found exactly what I'm looking for so here goes:  My house is 3 1/2 years old and the ceramic tile in the kitchen was layed directly on the cement slab - no sub floor.  After all this time, 7 tiles have cracked in and several more tiles are loose but not broken.  I have taken up some of the cracked tiles to find that the cement slab underneath also is cracked and the cracks are running in different directions.  What do I do to make the floor ready to put down new tile?  I cannot put down the backer board since I just installed tile on the backsplash between the countertop and cabinets and don't want to disturb that.  Will your Tavy thin skin underlayment work?  We live in North Carolina and the house was built on sand.  Thank you for your  help.  Fred S.  
Dear FRED:

Welcome to "TAVYLAND" and TAVY "Thin-Skin", the perfect .009" Thin Solution for this ever so common occurence. Carefully remove all mortar from the slab before installing Thin-Skin using my "007" adhesive spread with a 5/32" V-Notched trowel. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question darla 
Feb-21-2009 12:26

I'm installing a kitchen counter top with oak trim instead of tile on the edge. Should I butt the tile up to the oak or have a grout line next to the oak. Thanks, you guys have been so helpful so far

If you be a butt the tiles there will always be an unfilled hairline space. If you leave a grout space, as you should, you may see a hairline crack develop after a while. To prevent this, you should glue the Oak with a high grade glue and use counter sunk fasteners every 6" t0 8" appart to eliminate any possible movement that would cause the grout to crack. It would also help if you roughen up the Oak edge that will be adjacent to the tile. Remember to give all exposed parts of the Oak at least 1 coating of sealer to prevent darkening of the Oak from water in the mortar and grout. A minimum 3 coats of sealer are recommended on the wood, with a "fine" sanding between coats and a light triple "000" steel wool rub before the last coat. Also use a "tack cloth" to remove any sanding debris before each coat of sealer. Glue and fasten all miters. Check the thickness of your tiles with the wood edge for flush alignment, include the mortar thickness when doing so. Oak trim may need to be shimmed on occasion, to raise it for thicker tiles. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy



question dale  p_member 
Feb-20-2009 16:49

Hi Tileman, I'm trying to match some existing wall tiles in a bathroom. The tiles are gloss black and gloss white. The problem I have is they are 5 7/8" x 5 7/8" and I can only find them in 6" x 6" Can you help me find these tiles? Thanks dale
Dear DALE:

It's a needle in a hay stack, but it might help if you can remove a tile and describe the backside. Color, grid pattern and any other identifying marks or letters. Also measure the thickness and re-check the exact width and length precisely. Send a photo if you can of the tile's front and back side to: "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question walt 
Feb-19-2009 14:33

In reference to the previous question from Walt.... I am building a shower pan from scratch in a newly built shower stall that measures 3' x 4'.  I am a better than average do-it-yourselfer although I have never tackled a shower pan.  I'm using the Mark E. Industries Pre-pitch and Quick-pitch quides in order to get the proper 1/4" per foot fall.  The floor is currently solid 3/4" tounge and groove plywood.  According to the instructions I have read, if I were going to build the pan over the plywood I would first need to put down a layer of roofing felt with masonary screen on top, then pre-pitch the floor with a dry-mix mud bed, apply the membrane, and complete the project with another pitched layer of dry-mix mud (allowing the differernt layers to dry inbetween steps.  However, my intent is to first cover the plywood with 1/2" cement board to assure a level surface.  I will screw it down securely. My question is.....does the cement board surface still need the felt paper and masonary screen? Walt  
Dear WALT:

Since the original substrate will never get wet, it really doesn't have to be "level", it's redundant to use backerbpoard to "level it". It's "overkill", but if it makes you happy to spend extra time and money that's always okay. If you mean by "Masonry screen", "wire lath", you could skip the wire and just create a 1/2" per foot slope with a "Dry Pack" mud mix directly over the black felt paper and zeroing out at the sub-drain. It's like building a "sand castle bowl" at the beach. The felt paper is there just to keep the plywood from getting wet and contaminated from the water and chemicals in the damp "dry pack". If you send me your e-mail address to: I will e-mail you my own detailed diagram of a shower pan showing all the components in the building process. You can also go to for a simple plastic pitch grid system that anyone can install with or without experience. "TIRTGIM" Amen Tavy

question Saltillo 
Feb-19-2009 13:57

Tileman: We purchased our home about 4 years ago and it saltillo tile through out. The tile is "dirty looking" and no matter how much I clean it if you wipe it with a paper it is always dirty! We also want to re grout it because the grout is worn down. What do you recommend is the process for this repair? Do we grout first then seal. Please help we are not sure what or how to do this. Thanks in advance!

I would clean the surface with a cleaning compound such as "Tile Guard's" Concentrated Stone & Tile Floor Cleaner. The grout wearing out is a problem that shouldn't exist. Weak grout is usually an "OE" (Operator Error) issue. This will never correct itself, as you have already found out, and must be addressed by a professional to determine what you are doing wrong, (chop out a sample chunk and have a tradesman give you their thoughts) when mixing and applying the grout, that's making it so "weak". Cured grout should be as hard as your sidewalk. After resolving your grout problem and re-grouting again, if that's the only solution, you can make your floors sparkle with a Gloss Finish using "Tile Guards" "High Gloss Floor Finish" liquid. "Tile Guard" products are available in many Lowe's Stores east of the Pacific Time Zone. Call "Homax Products, Inc." at: 360-733-9029 ext. 2145 and ask for Dave Glen who knows more about cleaning and sealing tiles than anyone else I know, including yours truly. Don't forget to tell Dave I sent you. He can also give you locations where you may purchase their products, if you can't find it/them at your local Lowe's. "TIRTGIM" (Tile It Right To Give It Might) Armen Tavy



question wanabe 
Feb-19-2009 08:59

Hi Tileman - I'm in the process of laying tile in an upstairs bathroom.  Not a huge job - about 45 sq ft.  The base floor is 3/4 plywood with a vinyl tile on top.  I've pre-cut  1/4 in wonderboard and am ready to install.  My question is do I need to remove the vinyl tile before I install the cement board.  Also, do I need to use a layer of thinset between the vinyl and the cement board or can I just attach with screws and tape / thinset the seams prior to the ceramic installation -  Thanks for your help.

It's unlikely that you only have one layer of wood substrate and then vinyl tiles. Vinyl tiles and all floor coverings except carpeting require two layers of wood with staggered joints at seams. Your 3/4" plywood most likely has a 1/8" or 1/4" additional piece of underlayment. In any case, you don't have to remove the vinyl before installing any brand cementitious board ("CBU"). The manufacturers of these boards ask you to use an unmodified mortar with a 1/4" notched trowel to spread the mortar before laying and securing these boards in the proper nail or screw pattern which is 8" in all directions in the "field" and every 6" in running length on seams and perimeters of the room. A 1/8" open joint is required between all sections of CBU boards. These joints must be filled with thin-set mortar and taped with "Alkali" Resistant tape, and then "skim coated with mortar again. Tiling should be delayed until the tape dries. It may take 30 minutes or so. Do not fit the boards tight against perimeter walls. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question mrhud 
Feb-18-2009 14:18

I have a ceramic tile floor that has been down almost 2 years. the grout did not do well and I went over and removed the grout and replaced . then noticed some nicks on edges of tile. vary vary small nicks. dont know if some were there before i removed grout. and some may have occured when i did remove grout. can those nicks become a problem. and can the be repaired?

The nicks will only be a problem if you "hate them". If the nicks reveal the inner color of the tiles they  are usually a little darker than the glazed surace. An artists brush can be used with a matching paint to touch up the nicks if they really bother you. Over filling the grout joints may also help, but this is not possible now unless you remove at least 1/8" (deep) of grout. There are some special grout paints available but may not be in a color to suit you. Someone in a paint department might be willing to tint the color for you. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

question randy 
Feb-17-2009 17:03

I have to float out a old hardwood floor so I can put hardie board down for tile,the area is about 3'x4'. What is the best way to do this so it's level and sticks. I'm using 12" tiles. Thanks Randy

The word level, in your question, raises a question. Is the current floor out of level? If it is, then the best way for a novice would be to level the floor first (Want to know how, ask.) and then install over the "Levelor" or use "Hardi". If you just want to make a substrate that's suitable for tile and install the tile "Flat", then all you need is the "Hardi". In your small area, if the floor is flat, (the flooring isn't "cupped") I would suggest gluing the "Hardi" down in one piece just a 1/4" smaller in length and width than the room and then fastening it with 1 1/2" galvanized roofing nails in an 8" grid pattern in the field and 6" along its perimeters. Use a caulking gun with a single tube of "Liquid Nails" around the perimeter (1" in from the perimeter) of the board and then connect a bead of glue fron corner to corner. This will give you 4 diamond shape quadrants. Depleat the contents of the tube in circles of glue the size of a large lemon in each of the quadrants. Drop it in place and secure it with the nails. "Hardi" boards are very "Dry" and tend to "Suck Up" water from your thin-set prematurely so it's a good practice to wipe and wet the boards down a few minutes before tile installation. Of course, make sure the "Hardi" board isn't literally "wet" when spreading your mortar. If your new at tiling, you might find it easier to lay the floor down using my TAVY "Tile Spacers", making all the cuts in advance. Pick up only two rows of tile at a time and set them back down in the correct place with mortar. Always use a minimum 1/4" x 3/8" deep x 1/4" trowel when setting floor tiles. If you want a perfectly "flat" floor (no lippage) use my TAVY "Tile Puck", a simple effective tool. "TIRTGIM" Armen Tavy

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