For Tile - How Level is "Level"?????????


I have ripped up the vinyl tile in my kitchen, cleaned to the bare concrete, set and installed base cabinets and just about ready to tile. As I have been inspecting the floor I have found the floor has some "wavey" areas where over a 3 or 4 foot distance, there might be an 1/8" or so dip. Nothing dramatic but just seems to have slight waves to some areas. I have never done tiling before and in reading have seen things about the smaller the tile the more tolerant of level, and I know the base materials for the tile can take up some slight differences, but my question is, how level does a floor need to be to tile?
I have also read about self leveling floor materials and even picked up some Quickrete topping that states on the bag for flooor leveling, but this seems like a lot of work and not sure how level I can get it (and sure don't want to screw the floor up since it's very smooth and clean right now). Don't have a clue how to do the leveling except maybe mix a fairly thin concrete mix and let it flow and level itself but can't find instructions on this.
Any help from any tiling experts?
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infiniteMPG wrote:

Read any instructions that come with the materials. They sometimes tell you the allowable variation.
For 1/8", don't worry about it. You can put a little extra thinset under the tiles that go in the low spots.
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Steve Bell
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Haven't purchased the tile or thinset yet so wasn't sure.

Was thinking that as trying to pour concrete leveler then that would probably require a lot of work. Was being told that it had to be almost exactly level as tile sitting over a low spot might crack. But I thought the tile isn't sitting on the concrete, it's sitting on the thinset. so if the thinset could support it being a little thicker then there shouldn't be a problem.
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infiniteMPG wrote:

Buy your tile from a tile store. It might cost a little more, but you'll get it back in support.
The problem comes when there's a void under the tile. Spread the thinset well on the floor and butter the back of the tile. That'll give you better coverage.
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Was shopping at the same place I got my cabinets. They're an outlet that sells mainly to contractors but they also sell to walk-ins.

Will the thinset list what the thickest it should be supplied? And what about tile size? Was looking at 12x12 but with the floor was maybe thinking smaller to avoid more issues with level (if that is an issue to start with).
Thanks!
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infiniteMPG wrote:

That should be fine. Pick the brains of the people who work there.

The thinset will list the type of trowel to be used, probably a 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4. That will leave ridges of thinset 1/4" wide, 1/4" high, and 1/4" apart. When you squish it down, the tile will be around 1/8" off the floor. If you also butter the back of the tile, the thinset will be a little thicker.
The goal is to get the four edges of each tile even with the edges of the adjacent tile. (You don't want a tripping hazard.) That will get you reasonably close to level for most jobs. If you're really persnickety, you can put a straightedge over several tiles and adjust accordingly. This is pretty much the *only* way to get it level when you have *large* variances.
I like a polymer-modified thinset. Ask the guy at the store which one is best for you.
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infiniteMPG wrote:

be buying? Most mfgs. have loads of info on their websites. Talk to the tile store personnel (a very good reason for not shopping at the big box store). We purchased tile before we hired a contractor, only because it was THE tile and we didn't want to consider any others. We have 20" tile, porcellain, on a slab floor. Took up the carpet before we ordered it because we wanted to be sure we would not be dealing with any cracks or other problems.
Before we hired the contractor we searched around for something to use between the tile and adjoining terazzo floors which we expected to be a tad higher. Didn't find anything, so the tile guy suggested just putting tile against the terazzo and using just a little thinset to raise one side of the tile to meet the surface of the terazzo level. Scared me! The difference would be about 1/8" to 1/4". As it turned out, the tile is sloped so gradually I can't see it. Contractor was extremely good, and solved some other tricky issues for us with great results.
We seriously considered tiling ourselves, but glad we did not. The problems that I recall reading about most often are haze that isn't removed right away and hardens. Grout batches that turn out to be of different colors. Be sure you like the design layout you plan and have plenty to allow for waste.
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Great info.... thanks to everyone.
Off to shop (or at least pick a color/style/size)!!!!
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