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  • tile spacers, small rooms & more

    Guys have done tile for years but still get frustrated by it at times. So a couple of questions.

    For those of you that use tile spacers, do you have a brand you like better than others? I have been trying out the Tavey spacers whiich sit on top of the tile and can be used at corners or between tiles since one side is a single spacer and the other side is the cross spacer. My issue is their size. The seem to hide a lot of the tile and I have had a couple of times where I have found a tile that was a bit undersized to look out of alignment but I did not see it because of the size of the tile. If I was using the nylon cross that go in the grout line I think I would have seen it.

    For small rooms like a powder room. How many of you do a complete dry layout or story pole system before you start? I often get frustrated with having to back out of the room but needing to reach around the door frame while trying to get the tiles all in alignment. I find that I am often at some sort of weird angle and sometimes having to put a hand on a recently set tile to reach another and then noticing that I have slid the tile out of position or squeezed all the thinset from under it. Plus with the small room I do not always have the perspective of a larger room where I can step back and see how the tiles are looking. There is usually only one way to look at the tile until it is dry and then it is too late. Had this happen recently where I set a tile that was out of the box but undersized by 1/8 inch and did not notice it from one direction. But sit down on the pot and you see it from that angle. Very frustrating.

    And I have almost always had an issue where tile hits up against a wood threshold. Very hard to get the grout to not pop out over time. My guess is the wood and tile move differently and the grout pops out. Or maybe I need to leave a larger grout line? Or no grout line?

    I know with some complaining about lack of activity on the forums I could have made 3 seperate posts but I am only one person......

  • #2
    Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

    I almost always use spacers... the ones shaped like a plus sign that are made out of milky white plastic, along with the hard plastic wedges and the plastic horseshoes. I have the different sizes but most floor sets are 1/8" spacers, and some stuff is 1/16".

    Layout in advance, definitely. I usually mark a line on the floor in the long direction, then another one perpendicular if the room is large enough to need it. Start setting on one side of the line, making sure not to cover it with thinset. I figure the layout for a minimum of small pieces. Last thing I want is a small cut along one edge of the room.

    Did a bathroom floor recently that went around an awkward corner... the kind of thing where you're reaching around the corner to work because there's not enough room behind you to face the area you're setting. Nothing to do but just do it... or I guess you could set it in two phases, doing the main area first, letting it harden, then working on top of it to get the difficult areas.

    I sometimes set all the full pieces first, then come in the next day and do all the cuts around the edges. On my jobs, if I am setting tile, I can always find other stuff to do while part of a floor sets up.

    Always caulk tile to thresholds and shower bases, never grout. Buy caulk that matches the grout and do it after the grout is fully dry. Sometimes you need to mask stuff off to caulk.
    Bailer Hill Construction, Inc. - Friday Harbor, WA
    Website - Facebook

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    • #3
      Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

      Mark,
      I like the rubbery white spacers. They don't cover the corners, so you can see what's going on.

      For small rooms I'll center crosshairs and lay the far side of the room first working out both directions from the center line. Then lay the third section that is the most difficult, then the last working myself out the door. If I see something that needs corrected I'll lay a 3x3 or so size 1/2" plywood down to put my hand on. That disburses the weight and keeps from ruining the rest of the job.

      If the room is cut up. or out of square, I've spent half a day just laying out to get the best outcome.

      I also caulk rather than grout the tubs and showers. Always try to lay tile under jambs and thresholds for best look.

      Originally posted by Mbeezo View Post
      There is usually only one way to look at the tile until it is dry and then it is too late. Had this happen recently where I set a tile that was out of the box but undersized by 1/8 inch and did not notice it from one direction.
      If you're coming back the next day to grout, it's fairly easy to remove a crooked/bad tile then use speedset when you replace it. Then you can still get your grouting done that day. (Set these first, then remove all the other spacers and clean up and the speedset will probably be ready to go.)
      Tom

      "Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student." George Iles

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      • #4
        Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

        What Tom and David said.. :)
        “Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
        Abraham J. Heschel (Jewish theologian and philosopher, 1907-1972)

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        • #5
          Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

          I use the Tavey spacer. On small floors I have set them with no spacer, just some marks.

          I size the tile by standing 10-12 of the on edge. Make sure they're plumb, this allows thou the see/feel the height and width difference, sort the sizes. You may find a couple that are small, cull them out for cuts. I find it faster than measuring.

          Other than that, what DaveN said.

          Tom
          http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

          Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

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          • #6
            Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

            I rarely use spacers save for slippery wall installs. Each job is different as to when you are able to start setting and what other unrelated items need away from tile. Often on smaller jobs where possible, using a fast/speed set to establish yourself in the room is what I do - playing out the main lines far enough out give you easy square but close enough to easily reach over to cut/fill behind, which you can do while waiting for set or/and go to lunch. A real handy way to go when you can't find a sub min wage helper who makes the speed set or second day look expensive.
            “I find the curiosity of our men with respect to this animal is pretty much satisfied.”
            ~ Meriwether Lewis

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            • #7
              Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

              Originally posted by David Meiland View Post
              I almost always use spacers... the ones shaped like a plus sign that are made out of milky white plastic
              Did a bathroom floor recently that went around an awkward corner... the kind of thing where you're reaching around the corner to work because there's not enough room behind you to face the area you're setting. Nothing to do but just do it... or I guess you could set it in two phases, doing the main area first, letting it harden, then working on top of it to get the difficult areas.

              I sometimes set all the full pieces first, .
              have used the plus sign spacers lots, got tired of pulling them back out of the thinset so tried the tavey ones. Not good for smaller tile or at least for me. Hard to see things since they cover up so much area.

              your bathroom must have been designed by the same guy that did the bathroom I am refereing to. Just awkard and tough to get the tile set right and even worse, hard to see if you have it set right. I have done the 2 step process but only on larger rooms. Seemed kind of dumb to come back the next day to set the 8 or so tiles I was having trouble reaching.

              Same goes for setting full pieces first then coming back to do the cuts. On a bigger job I can do that, not so sure I want to do that on a 5x8 bathroom.

              Of course if I did these things then I would not be asking these kinds of questions would I?

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              • #8
                Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                Originally posted by tomthetoolman40 View Post
                I've spent half a day just laying out to get the best outcome.

                If you're coming back the next day to grout, it's fairly easy to remove a crooked/bad tile then use speedset when you replace it. Then you can still get your grouting done that day. (Set these first, then remove all the other spacers and clean up and the speedset will probably be ready to go.)
                I too have taken what seems to be an awfully long time to lay out tile before I get the thinset mixed but always felt it was worth it.

                Tell me more about the speed set. I have found I have had a good track record with Mapie thinsets, UltraFlex I think is the brand. Really try to stick with a product that I like and have had success. But open to new products.

                What I want to know is how fast it sets up?
                Could you use it for a small bathroom and be grouting at the end of the day? Or does it still need to set up longer?
                And for those hard to reach areas, could you use it just so you could get those areas done by standing/kneeling on the recently set tile and not have to worry about it?

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                • #9
                  Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                  Here ya go Mark:
                  http://www.google.com/products/catal...ed=0CEkQ8wIwAw

                  You have to really work fast, especially in warm areas with good air flow. Too much work if you are doing more than a small area. But you can grout it after 2 hours, and walk on it after 6 hrs. Also you start using it right after you mix it; no slaking time which makes it perfect for a few tiles that got set wrong, or that one that was chipped and you didn't notice until grouting time. And back splashes.

                  I did try it for a 4x7 bathroom once but gave up. It was too warm in the room and it was setting up within 10 min. of mixing it. After throwing out most of several batches I gave up and set the rest with thinset.
                  Tom

                  "Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student." George Iles

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                  • #10
                    Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                    I have also never seen the speedset in white and I mostly set natural stone so that kinda eliminates that. It does set up really quick and is perfect for ceilings.
                    “Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
                    Abraham J. Heschel (Jewish theologian and philosopher, 1907-1972)

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                    • #11
                      Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                      wow, sets up in 10 minutes. On this job by the time I mixed it, walked into the house, up the stairs to the bathroom would have gotten about 4 tiles set.
                      May have to look into it for the occasional tile replacement.

                      I need to read up on it and will do so to keep it in the back of my mind for the next time I am needing a repair....Thanks.

                      As far as ceilings, never done one of those. Usually only see them done in older homes and usually it is a 50 year old bathroom, often pink tile. Quite often with an arch over the outer edge of the tub at the ceiling line.

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                      • #12
                        Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                        Mbezzo,

                        Mix it in the room in small quantities. Just have several buckets of water so you can wash in one, fill from the other. The Whale tale will keep the dust down, if drop cloths won't be adequate. I also transfer all the powder into another bucket and draw from there.

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                        • #13
                          Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                          Originally posted by tomthetoolman40 View Post
                          I also caulk rather than grout the tubs and showers.
                          This comes up every couple of years, and the discussion never fails to generate lots of posts so here we go...

                          You're really supposed to grout the tub so any moisture that gets behind the tile (and it will, grout is porous) will slowly migrate down the moisture resistant barrier and into the lip of the tub where it can then slowly flow through the grout joint. If you caulk it, you are trapping the moisture behind the caulk where it sits until it eventually evaporates out.

                          A corrollary is that the tub needs to be supported very well so it doesn't drop away from the tile when it us full of water (and a person). Not that ths would cause a problem but you'll probably get a complaint from the homeowner.
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                          • #14
                            Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                            I grout the intersection also. I have been informed that the TCNA manual says caulk. I still prefer grout.

                            Tom
                            http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

                            Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

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                            • #15
                              Re: tile spacers, small rooms & more

                              The next small tile job I do I'm going to use the method I first saw at work- Make a template (hot glue gun & a piece of doorskin cut into strips) and take that out to the tile saw. Everything can be laid out right there, at waist height, all the cuts made right there and placed on a comfortable work surface that doesn't involve getting on your knees.

                              If someone had explained it to me I probably would have ignored the idea, but having seen it, I really think it makes for a more pleasant job. And if you have to walk to get to the saw, it is faster, no way around it.

                              If I have to tile to wood I use caulk. If it's baseboard or backsplash I prefer to remove and replace. And that still will get caulked to if it's in a wet area.

                              The issue there really is how it's built and what it is. Most of the time caulk is used to fix a problem with differential materials meeting somewhere, and most of the time those aren't waterproofed correctly if at all. BB's suggestion is fine if you're the one doing the whole job and know that the WRB is continuous and runs in such a way that water getting into a seam will contact a properly built membrane. 99.9% of the bathtubs out there have zero waterproofing extending beneath them, have nothing extending out to the floor, and may (if you're lucky) have a piece of poly hanging down behind them. In that case any water is going to run straight to the subfloor or the sheetrock, and in that situation caulk is used to reduce the amount for a little while. Properly installed and maintained that can help a house last, but that's not common either.

                              I also use the little white pluses. And wedges. And laminate samples.
                              I've also used some of the leveling systems... the wedges and the little anchor shaped pieces that go under the tile and pull them to level to reduce lippage. Not convinced they work all that well, and I think they are not a good idea for exterior applications.
                              http://www.lavrans.com

                              "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

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