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  #1  
Old 10-29-2005, 04:36 AM
cmac2012's Avatar
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Yesterday I couldn't spell "tile setter," today I are one.

I finished my third tile setting job the other day. It's not real tough, sort of building a puzzle, though there is a bit of a learning curve on the whole grout process.

Here I thought I was on my way to be a Renaissance Man only to discover that that's another way of saying, "Can do many jobs commonly done by Mexican migrants."

It looks kinda nice when you're done but oh man, beats the hell out of your knees. I'm thinking there's often more money in this than in carpentry and diversity of options never hurts anyway. I just need to learn to bid the stuff right.

If you want to try it yourself, you'd be surprised how much you can do with a book or two from the library and a $30 (roughly, w/shipping) tile saw from E-bay. That's what I've got now, did the two jobs shown here with it and more. Damn little thing just keeps on cutting. First blade, too. I'll have to step up to a real saw (about $800 to $1,000) if I get a bigger job.

Real important to get the combing of the thinset down good. That's what the notched trowels are for. Back-butter the tiles, pulling it tight with a flat blade for uniformity, then place them gently on the bed of thinset and press lightly to get proper height. Having a nicely uniform mortar thickness saves time.

When you have to make the mortar base thicker than even a big comb will yield (in order for the tiles to come out far enough to match border pieces, like in the first 4 photos -- most recent job -- upstairs and downstairs on the same house) it can make it tough to get proper height and parallel planes. If you squeeze out too much mortar, you have to pull it off (not real easy, just more work) and start over.

Anyhow, give it a shot if the old lady is whining about how this or that bathroom or something else is looking shabby.









My first tile job a year and a half ago, eccentric German new age lady. (with $$ from somewhere)



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Last edited by cmac2012; 10-29-2005 at 05:29 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2005, 04:47 AM
Carleton Hughes's Avatar
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Damn clean looking job,you use a latex grout sealer or just plain mortar?
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Old 10-29-2005, 05:05 AM
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Well, thanks. Shows you how little I know, I'm not sure what a latex grout sealer is. On the porch job, I used some waterbased stuff that's supposed to be a good outdoor sealer.

Haven't sealed the two fireplace surrounds yet -- just finished it a week ago. Got a half-way decent piece of change for it. I did it for a lady contractor -- a first for me. She's pretty solid -- a sorta good carpenter, primarily an architect/contractor, she looks pretty tough, almost certainly gay. She was very easy to work with. I told her I didn't feel confident enough yet to bid a tile job, she was up against a deadline and agreed to go time and materials. Good thing. I'd a probably bid low. Hate it when that happens.

For mortar, I used MasterBlend thinset with the milky admixture instead of water. Finished with sanded grout. I learned the hard way about the warnings they give on mixing the grout, letting it sit for about 15 minutes, then more mixing for consistant color. We ran out of grout towards the end (Dohhh!!!) and the new bag, same brand and flavor of course, was a tad darker. It's noticeable but around to the side so it doesn't stand out. Not sure why the color changed, but I'm going to have enough next time to do it one batch.
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Last edited by cmac2012; 10-29-2005 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 10-29-2005, 12:50 PM
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Good looking job!! And ain't it a great feeling when you stand back and look at it!!! I'm an amateur mudslinger myself. You may find this site interesting and helpful.
http://johnbridge.com/vbulletin/index.php?
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2005, 01:18 PM
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When referring to me, amateur is the correct term. That site looks good. I'll check it out. Anything to streamline the learning curve.
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Old 10-30-2005, 07:48 PM
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Looks good mac, I may be heading that direction in the main bathroom here soon. Be careful though, you don't want to be doing too many of those jobs that americans aren't supposed to want to do. You'll end up in hot water with the Dems.
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Old 10-30-2005, 08:04 PM
MedMech
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Excellent work CMAC top notch. What kind of fireplace is that I like the screen?

A quick question did you set the tile so you can lift the face to access the valves at the bottom?
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  #8  
Old 10-30-2005, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peragro
Looks good mac, I may be heading that direction in the main bathroom here soon. Be careful though, you don't want to be doing too many of those jobs that americans aren't supposed to want to do. You'll end up in hot water with the Dems.
I never said Americans don't want to do those jobs. That must've been someone on the socialist fringe of the democratic party. We give those people a wide bearth -- no manners.

Give it a shot. It's more patience than skill. Just keep a sponge in some clean water nearby cuzzin' you'll need it to wipe up after all the messing up you do at first. Important to clear enough mortar out of the joints before it hardens so the grout has room to have enough mass to be a really viable part of the structure. A friend of mine told me about the time he didn't do that. The grout needs to be deeper than a 16th of an inch or it can break out. He had to grind a bunch of hardened thinset out with a diamond cutter on a dremel tool.

The grout adds a second part of adhesion for the tile and ideally locks up any weak spots. To do that, it's depth should be about the tile thickness or a bit more continuously through the pattern. I grab maybe 10 of the wooden coffee stirrers at the bagel joint and leave a bigger tip -- they work good as a small spatual for getting out thinset squeezeout.
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Old 10-30-2005, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012
I never said Americans don't want to do those jobs. That must've been someone on the socialist fringe of the democratic party. We give those people a wide bearth -- no manners.

Give it a shot. It's more patience than skill. Just keep a sponge in some clean water nearby cuzzin' you'll need it to wipe up after all the messing up you do at first. Important to clear enough mortar out of the joints before it hardens so the grout has room to have enough mass to be a really viable part of the structure. A friend of mine told me about the time he didn't do that. The grout needs to be deeper than a 16th of an inch or it can break out. He had to grind a bunch of hardened thinset out with a diamond cutter on a dremel tool.

The grout adds a second part of adhesion for the tile and ideally locks up any weak spots. To do that, it's depth should be about the tile thickness or a bit more continuously through the pattern. I grab maybe 10 of the wooden coffee stirrers at the bagel joint and leave a bigger tip -- they work good as a small spatual for getting out thinset squeezeout.
Thanks for the tip. I would have definatly messed that up.

As for the political jest. It's actually the head of the Democratic party in California that says that - Torres is his name I believe.
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  #10  
Old 10-30-2005, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedMech
Excellent work CMAC top notch. What kind of fireplace is that I like the screen?

A quick question did you set the tile so you can lift the face to access the valves at the bottom?
Thanks. Coming from someone who knows.

S'funny, I never registered the brand name in my mind and the little badge on the stove was in front of my face for hours. I'll find out.

These are getting popular around here. A friend of mine pointed out that while they're not as romantic and rustic as a wood burner, statistically people in houses with wood burners have many more respitory problems than those in houses with the nat. gas burners, which put out more reliable heat as well.

I've seen the kind you speak of, where the door needs a certain amount of clearance at the bottom to open. These guys made it idiot proof. There's a small shelf of zinc plated steel running under the entire door, back about an eighth from the plane so it hides pretty well. The door pivots so the lower-most part just clears the zinc/steel piece. You just tile right up to that steel with no worries.

Hey check these bathrooms out. I did NOT do this work. This is the Stanford doctor's house I worked on for 2.5 years as a carpenter. This first shower was in the maid's quarters. That band in the middle must've been premade, attached to a fabric backing or something. Pretty labor intensive to put that together on the job.

The second bath is the basement hot tub, sauna, and steam room. That basement was a trip (the back side faced out on the courtyard but the other three walls were beneath ground) -- media room with overhead projector 'n stuff; billiard room; wine cellar; all purpose room, another guest room essentially; gun room; the maid's quarter's off to the side; and of course the tub, sauna, etc. Par for the course I guess with that crowd.





Oh hell, show and tell time, here's a back view of that house. The basement level exterior is the bottom part, of course. I was a small player in this production. You know, your dad may know of this fellow -- medical device inventors and all -- guess it won't hurt to drop his name, he's somewhat famous anyway: T. Fogarty.



Oh hey, small point but I'm curious what you think of this. In this detail from the picture above:




I was really miffed that they made this big curved roof support out of heavy steel to go above the little eyebrow window. I would have much preferred a roof that hugged the contour of the window. I was thinking I could have made one from layered 1/4 inch maple plywood bent, clamped and glued into a custoom laminate beam, say 12 inches wide about 10 or 12 layers of ply. That'd be 2 1/2 or 3 inches thick of prodigious wooden strength, plenty enough to hold up that part of the roof -- tiles, sorta heavy, but they went major overkill and put up a piece of steel that we had to pay $500 for a crane to lift. Fat and ugly. No big deal, just one of those details I thought I could have done a better job on for less money.
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Last edited by cmac2012; 10-31-2005 at 12:23 AM.
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  #11  
Old 10-31-2005, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peragro
Thanks for the tip. I would have definatly messed that up.

As for the political jest. It's actually the head of the Democratic party in California that says that - Torres is his name I believe.
Yeah, I've seen Torres on TV. Funny, I think Bush is saying about the same thing, that Mexican migranst are doing jobs Americans don't want to do. That's why he's pushing for the guest worker program, isn't it? Can't tell the players w/o a program. "Git your pog'ams heah...POG'AMS!" I think part of the job description for program salesmnn is "able to mangle the language."

Don't get me started on the whole labor breakdown. Too many American youth want to get rich at a keyboard or as a silk-suited exec. These positions have their validity to be sure, but they ain't everything. My sister and her husband are getting a house built up in OlyWA and their builder says that it is getting real hard to find good subs. He says young men hardly ever come around looking for work anymore -- American born, gringo men, that is.

(Insert cmac rap # 127, "We're getting soft, DadGummit!!" here)
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Old 10-31-2005, 09:20 AM
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Nice work. I also recently bought a cheap Harbor Freight tile saw and tiled a shower in an ugly bathroom in one of my rentals. I was slow, but the result definitely turned the bath from a detraction to an asset. I see tile as very useful in rental properties since it is durable, attractive, and long lasting.
I used the small (1 inch) 'antique' black and white hexagons on the floor of the shower. Cutting those things with the saw was a bit of a trick.
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Old 10-31-2005, 09:47 AM
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I did both my bathrooms and my kitchen in ceramic tile....and my total training was watching Hometime and this old house.....

Its not all that difficult for those who have a good mechanical aptiude adn are good with their hands. I do agree with you however that doing a good job is easy.....its doing a good job quickly thats difficult....I'm way too slow to do it as a pro. But I guess speed comes with experience.
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Old 10-31-2005, 11:53 AM
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The tile saw we bought over 10 years ago has paid for itself many times over. I do the rough and my wife does all the tiling. She's done 4 bathrooms (only one our own), our kitchen and one other as well as all sorts of small projects. Here is a saw very similar to the one we bought long ago.

http://www.mytoolstore.com/mk/370.html

IIRC the price has actually come down over the years and the saw looks to be even better quality. This is a DIY homeowner sized one, you 'll probably consider a bigger one. WooHooo!, nothing like a new diamond blade! Save your knees, use foam mats. If you are going to do a lot of cutting, ear plugs work wonders to conserve your energy over a long day. Leave plenty of time and light to do a proper grout job. Dried on grout where you don't want it, is a REAL pain.

glenmore
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Old 10-31-2005, 03:12 PM
cmac2012's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boneheaddoctor
I do agree with you however that doing a good job is easy.....its doing a good job quickly thats difficult....I'm way too slow to do it as a pro. But I guess speed comes with experience.
Exact - i - mo. I can make it look nice but does it take me twice as long as a real pro or only 1 and 1/2 times as long?

Knowing how to bid this stuff so that I'm fair to myself and the contractor is tough. I charged this lady time and materials, a fair rate, not top dollar, cause I don't imagine my level of skill is worth the $50 an hour rate yet.
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