substitute for "1/4" v notch" trowel

I'm going to be putting one of those tub wall surround kits from Home Depot (ASB brand). The instructions call for a "1/4 v-notch" trowel to spread the adhesive on the wall. However, I'm having trouble finding that size. I've found 1/4" square, and 3/16x5/32 "v notch". The HD and Lowes web sites show 1/4" v notch, but apparently the store doesn't carry them.
I'm thinking the 1/4" square would put too thick of a line of glue, and the 3/16" might be too little.
Does it really matter if I would use one of those sizes instead of the "1/4 v", and if I do use one of those, which should I pick?
Mike O.
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It's even more complicated than you think. The specification should say something like
    1/4" x 1/4" x 1/4" V-notch
The first number is the notch width, the second is the depth, and the third is the spacing between notches.
Do a little math to figure the area of the triangle, and get it close. Your only worry is if the installation fails and the manufacturer denies your warranty claim.
Check with some flooring companies. They'll have so many trowel types you'll think you've died and gone to heaven.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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Thanks for the response. I've seen some of the variations already. The 3/16" v-notch has the notches up against each other "vvvvvvv". The Lowes web site has a 1/4" v-notch, but it has the notches separated "v-v-v-v-v-v-v".
It shouldn't be this hard...
It's now even more cloudy. The instructions specifically say to not install the surround over ceramic tile. I emailed the manufacturer and they said "they don't recommend installing polystyrene over ceramic tile", but they don't say why. I did some internet searching and it seems like installing it over tile is a pretty common thing, as long as you prep the tile first. I even found an ACE hardware web site advertising the same type of surround, and on the ACE web site it say it can be installed over tile..
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I can think of several possible reasons not to install over tile: * The adhesive might not stick well to tile. * If the wall is damaged behind the tile, it might come loose after you already put the surround in. * They might assume dimensions with no tile on the wall.
In any case, if you don't follow the installation instructions, you risk voiding the warranty. That leads to a final possible reason: * It's a good excuse for the manufacturer to deny warranty coverage.
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Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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I emailed the manufacturer through their web site. I received an email this morning that "we do not recommend putting the polystyrene plastic on ceramic tiles". When I asked why, she said that they could only recommend "what their engineers have certified it on", which according to them is "drywall unpainted & unprimed".
I had done some other searching, and besides the concerns you you listed, I saw one site that said since the tile was non-porus, the solvents wouldn't dissipate and be too strong and could damage the surround. It wasn't reporting an incident that happened, only something the person posting had been told, so I don't know how valid it is.
Loctite has a tub surround adhesive that sounds like it's much less harsh. It's soap and water clean up, and states no solvents and low odor. Among other uses, it says it's specificially designed "to bond polystyrene tub surrounds over sanded ceramic tile". I checked with the tub surround manufacturer, they said I can use the Loctite adhesive on their product (still didn't change their "no ceramic tile" recommendation, though).
Aside from the issue about the warranty, I think I've addressed most of the concerns: The Loctite specifically says it will stick to tile, it's no solvent, the tiles are in good shape, the size of the wall is within the limits of the surround. I even found a 1/4" v groove trowel at Lowes.
I can live with losing the waranty; if it screws up, it will be my fault. The cost was about $140; not pocket change, but not the end of the world if it fails later and I have to replace it with something different.
Also, based on their response, they weren't telling me it wouldn't work, or that there was a specific technical issue, just that they hadn't certified it over tile. Google seems to show a lot of people putting these in over tile.
Based on all that, I decided to go ahead and install it.
Now for part two of the story..
After cleaning the tiles, the first thing was to remove the knobs from the fixture. The metal knobs, attached to the metal valve stems. The original ones that have been attached for 40+ years since the house was built. The ones that were stuck really tight to the stems...
I managed to get the one knob off. I put what I thought was reasonable pressure on the cold size and and it all of a sudden popped off... with the end of the stem snapped off inside it, the part with the splines that was corroded with the knob. The valve still works, but I need to use pliers to turn the cold on or off. Fortunately, I hadn't done anything else to the tub and walls, so it's still usable until I can change the fixture.
My wife's been wanting to change out that fixture for a while, so I guess now's the time...Of course there's no access panel on the other side of the wall. It's an upstairs hall, so at least I can get to it-through the drywall. You can bet there will be an access panel from now on..
Hopefully today, I'll have the plumbing replaced. Then Friday, back to the original project..
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don't bet on it. i usually have to fix three things to get back to the original project...
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I'm debating now if I should replace the pipe from the fixture to the shower head. I would mean cutting more drywall (I hate fixing drywall), but like the fixture, it's the original pipe and now would probably be a good time to replace it.
Mike O.
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re: the tiles are in good shape
When I did the walkthrough before closing, the tiles were in great shape.
What wasn't in such good shape was the wall the tiles were attached to. Water had been seeping through the grout for so long that within a month the wall began to turn to mush. The only thing holding it up was the tile! Once I began peeling tiles off, opening a gap, the weight of the tile remaining tile made the wall fall off in large section.
You can't really see the condition of the wall behind the tile which may be one of the reasons the manufacturer won't approve it.
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