I have a small tiling job to do over the weekend - just 50 sqare feet
- and I've been thinking about how to get the tiles nice and even with
no "lippage" - without buying a relatively expensive tile leveling
What do you think of using nylon cable ties and peices of dowel along
with finish nails or pieces of stainless steel wire? Or even paper
Put the wire under the tile, with a cable tie around it up through the
joint between the tile and put a dowel, or simply a sfick, on top of
the tile and pull the cable tie tight. Width of the cable tie sets the
grout width. When done, snap the cable tie off and remove the top
Or just use wire and a safety wire pliers - using standard spacers. -
cut and pull the wire when finished.
I'm gonna assume this is your first floor tiling project.
It's all the practical considerations that you're overlooking that would
make such an installation method unworkable. Wire comes on a spool.
It's going to want to curl, even between your staples. That wire is
going to make troweling your thin set onto your tile backer a problem.
And, when you use the cable tie to pull the tile down taught, you're
most likely just gonna pull the wire up rather than the tile down. AND,
with all the extra work you're doing, and the additional time that
takes, your thin set is going to skin over so that it doesn't wet the
back of the tiles you're setting, and your tiles won't be held down
I've yet to set my first floor tile, but I've done way more than my fair
share of wall tiling. What you'll find when you set your tile in
thinset is that it'll easily push into the wet thin set up to a certain
point, and then the tile will want to stop. Pushing it any deeper into
that thin set becomes very difficult once the tile wants to stop.
So, instead of your wire/cable tie/dowel idea, what I'd do is simply
trowel the thin set down on your tile backer board holding the trowel at
a comfortable angle so that your thin set is of uniform thickness. Then
push each tile down until you feel that sudden increase in resistance to
further movement. Then, press down with the edge of a spare tile ACROSS
the two grout joints between previously set tiles and the tile you just
Or, at least that's what I do when I set wall tiles with thin set.
Why not just buy a sheet of Wonderboard and tile it with some scrap
tiles on sale just to get some experience in setting floor tiles? The
Wonderboard has two sides, so you can practice tiling twice.
Good description. Floor tiles are even easier than wall tiles.
Gravity is your friend. ;-)
Don't even need wonderboard. Plywood or even OSB (cheaper) is good
enough. This won't give you practice in odd places, though. Corners
and edges are where all the problems occur. The best plan is just *DO*
it. Floors are some work but there is little that can go so wrong
that it can't easily be fixed.
On 04/30/2013 01:54 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Making a simple 4x5 practice board (on some scrap plywood) taught me a
lot before I actually began my tiling project. Not as much as actually
doing the project, of course, but it certainly did get the ball rolling
in the right direction.
Probably the most important part in floor tile is making sure the
underlayment is strong enough to reduce movement enough so that your
grout doesn't crack when you walk on it. There are calculators and
formulas that can give you a sturdy recommendation for this.
On a general note, you might poke around johnbridge.com and see what
kinds of ideas them fellas have, maybe even search through the forum.
Actually the MOST important is to use a proper decoupler membrane
between the subfloor and the tile. Like Schuter Ditra. On top of a
solid subloor - 3/4" plywood screwed every 6 inches to 2X8s on 12
inch centers in my case - with a 6 foot span.
I understand and agree. It's just that as soon as you start telling
someone to practice tiling on cheap wood paneling (or whatever), then
you also have to explain that while using wood is fine for practice,
it's never a good idea to tile directly over wood in your home
renovations. Wood swells and shrinks with changes in it's moisture
content, and ceramic tiling just doesn't have the elasticity to
accomodate that movement. The result is cracks in grout joints and
tiles popping lose as a result of the wood substrate swelling and
shrinking moving more than the ceramic tiling can accomodate.
(Plywood swells and shrinks less than lumber because the swelling and
shrinkage in the direction of the grain is very small, and so the
alternating direction of the plys help to constrain expansion and
contraction in plywood. Still, it's never a good idea to tile directly
over any wood, including plywood.)
PS: Most experienced tilers already know the rest.
That's the entire reason for using a tile backer board like Wonderboard
between wood (like plywood) and the tiling. The Wonderboard is
dimensionally stable. Like all ceramic materials, it's got very low
thermal expansion or contraction and it doesn't swell or shrink with
changes in it's moisture content or the amount of humidity in the
surrounding air. While the wood the Wonderboard is screwed to may be
wanting to swell or shrink, as long as the Wonderboard itself isn't
swelling or shrinking, then the tiling stuck to it doesn't have an
excuse to crack.
The effect is similar to standing on the fault line the day before the
quake. There can be tremendous stress in the bedrock a mile under your
feet (in the plane between the plywood and the Wonderboard), but as long
as the ground you're standing on is stable and motionless, you're
completely unaware of any such stresses, so you have no reason to
And, that's also why you can tile over ceramic tiling. If you already
have a dimensionally stable substrate, like a concrete slab or old
ceramic tiling, you don't need to install a tile backer over it. You
can just go ahead and tile over any dimensionally stable substrate
(provided it's strong enough that flexing of the substrate isn't going
to be an issue either).
Piano wire or music wire comes on a spoop where you live, I suppose.
What taples? Who mentioned staples??
How is that going to happen when it is not fastened to the backer???
How in heavens name can it pull the tile down when it is not fastened
to anything below???
You don't reas well.
Installing the "levellers " would take a minute per tile, max.
So you haven't done a tile floor and you're telling me how??? I have -
without the lipage eliminators, and getting the whole floor dead flat
without lippage is not a simple matter.
Except there are 4 edges to each tile.
And there is a very good market for the lippage eliminators or tile
levelers for both wall and floor tiles.
And I found a supplier who has the commercially made ones in stock and
can get them delivered to me before the weekend. At a decent price.
Will be handy for the entry at my daughter's when we are done with
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