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Frequently Asked Questions

All these topics can be discussed in further detail at our FORUM
Q. Can I install ceramic tile directly over my vinyl flooring? A. Although modified thinset will bond to the vinyl floor covering it doesn't mean it will allow for a successful installation. The vinyl should be removed along with the 1/4" plywood underlayment.
Q. Can I install ceramic tile directly over my old ceramic tile floor? A. Ceramic tile can be bonded to ceramic tile with a polymer modified thinset BUT your installation will only be as good as the weakest tile in the old installation.
Q. How can I clean the grout haze off my new tiles? A. A solution of warm water and white vinegar. (Up to about 1 part vinegar and 1 part water). In more severe cases you may use Sulfamic Acid Cleaner.
Q. My contractor says not to worry about having a pre-slope under the liner of my shower. Is he right? A. NO. Without a pre-slope you'll have a permanent puddle of stagnant water under your shower floor slab which will cause all kinds of problems including the growth of mold.
Q. Who sets the standards for Ceramic Tile and Stone installation in Canada and the USA? A. The Terrazzo Tile and Marble Association of Canada(TTMAC) and The Tile Council of America(TCA) set the standards.
Q. Do all tile setters adhere to the recommendations and standards set by TTMAC and TCA? A. No, the TTMAC and TCA is not a governing body and the industry allows builders, suppliers, retailers and tile setters to do as they please and at the very most follow the minimum guidelines set within the Building Codes. The Building Codes DO NOT properly address the correct methods of ceramic tile and stone installation therefore allowing most builders to get away with a less than adequate workmanship.
Q. Can I use mastic adhesive to bond the tiles to my shower walls? A. No. Thinset mortar should be used when moisture is a concern.
Q. My tile man said scratchcoat (wire lath and thin mortar bed) is the best method for creating a surface to set tile. Is that correct? A. No. There are other methods for preparing the substrate for tile and the scratchcoat method is among the least reliable.
Q. Should I remove the paint or sealer off my concrete floor before tiling? A. Yes. Either sand paper or acceptable solution for the material in question.
Q. Can I use regular drywall (gypsum board) in my shower to install ceramic tile on? A. No. Both regular drywall and greenboard will absorb moisture over time and cause your installation to fail. Cement board should be used in wet areas.
Q. How long should I wait after grouting before I seal my floors? A. Usually 10 to 14 days is acceptable, but always read the product instructions to be absolutely sure.
Q. What do I need to check in my floor before I have ceramic tile installed? A. It's important that your floor be strong and without any flexibility. Your joists should be 2"x10" centered every 16". The plywood subfloor must be either 5/8" exterior grade plywood or 3/4" OSB before you begin adding to the substrate. Deflection both dead and live loads must not exceed L/360 for ceramic tile or L/720 for natural stone and some larger ceramic tiles.
There are allowances made for variances to the above. Check with the pros in the forum for recommendations.
Q.If my joists are 2"x10" centered every 16" and there is a layer of 3/4" plywood for a subfloor .... can I tile directly to the surface? A. NO! Plywood is only part of the complete system required for your tile floor. If your floor is strong and without flexibility then you'll still need to install either a mortar bed, cement board, or uncoupling system of some kind to prepare for the ceramic tile.

An extra layer of plywood may be used to strengthen your floor and some say you can successfully bond tile to it, but I'm still of the old school that too many stresses interact with the bond coat and tile for this to be successful without question.

Q. What is Deflection? A. The downward movement of your floor when weight is applied. Deflection may occur along the span of your joists or in the plywood between your joists. Excessive deflection will cause your tile installation to fail.
Q. Ok ... I understand the term Deflection, but what is L/360? A. It's the maximum amount of deflection allowed in your floor. L/360 = unsupported span of joists in inches/360
For example: a floor joist which spans 10 feet with an L/360 limit is designed to deflect no more than 120"/360 = 1/3 inches under live loads.
If you have a floor with joists over an unsupported span of 12' ... the floor should not deflect (bend downward) more than 5/16".

Reference Material

Q. How do I measure the deflection in my floor and how do I determine if it meets the L/360 criterion? A. A quick test is to put a glass of water in the center of your room and bounce on your floor a couple times. If the water ripples there's movement which exceeds L/360. This isn't an accurate test ... it's simply a visual way to determine movement, and any movement should be considered a sign to investigate.
If you provide the dimensions of your joists, spacing and unsupported span as well as subfloor description, the Forum Pros can assist you in our FORUM.
Q. If my floor has too much movement and exceeds the deflection limitations ... how can I remedy this problem. A. If the movement occurs mostly between the joists, then an extra layer of 5/8" plywood (properly installed) will work. It will also help distribute the dead and live weight to more of the joists by creating a more ridged layer over the joists. If the movement is caused by the length of your joists (unsupported span), then blocking and an added support will also work.

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