Top DIY Tips for Your Next Tiling Project | How To Home Podcast #004

Talking Tile: Top DIY Tips for Your Next Tiling Project | HTH 004

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Transcript

Aaron:
               Welcome to the How to Home Podcast presented by FilterBuy. I am your host Aaron Massey, a DIY home improvement enthusiast and full-time content creator running [email protected] Alongside me is my co-host Tracy Pendergast a home and lifestyle blogger operating her website, heytracy.com. Each week we’ll cover the real world ups and downs of owning a home, answer your questions, and if we don’t have the answers we’ll talk to some experts to help you get the most out of your remodel, repair and home improvement projects. So without further ado, let’s start the show.
Aaron:
               Welcome to another episode of the How to Home Podcast. My name is Aaron Massey and joining me as always is my lovely co-cost Tracy Pendergast and also joining us today is Adam Esparza from ALE Tile company. I can’t thank you enough for being here. I’m very excited, I’m like geeking out ’cause I’ve got all sorts of tile questions.
Tracy:
               He is really, really excited, as am I.
Adam:
               I am very excited to be here, thank you Aaron.
Aaron:
               We’ve been going back and forth a little bit on Instagram for the last couple of years. I always ask him tile questions and we’ve never met face-to-face, so this is new. Why don’t you the audience a little bit of a background on you and your company?
Adam:
               Well, I’m a second-generation tile contractor. My dad and my uncle both are in the trade, well, a few of my uncles actually. So it is a family business and I mean, ever since I was a little kid I’ve been on the Summer times going to the job sites and getting to see how it’s done and I never thought I’d be a tile contractor myself, but here, I am. And so I’ve been doing it for about 15 years and I’m just enjoying what I do and having fun.
Aaron:
               And you do phenomenal work. If people people wanna check you out on Instagram, that’s how I found you or … I don’t even remember how we kind of got in contact, but we communicate a lot through Instagram and-
Adam:
               Totally.
Aaron:
               … it’s @aletile A-L-E-
Adam:
               Tile.
Aaron:
               … T-I-L-E. Before we dive into today’s topic which is all things tile. I just want to remind the audience that the show is kind of powered by their suggestions and questions. And if they want to get in touch with us, please give us a call at our voicemail number 978-709-1040. You can leave us suggestions for upcoming episodes. You can leave us questions for contractors like yourself about tile or home improvement in general and you can also reach us on social media at the links in the show notes. Or you can email me directly @[email protected]
Aaron:
               And of course before we go any further we wanna thank our founding sponsor of the How-To Home Podcast which is of course FilterBuy.
Tracy:
               Yes.
Aaron:
               FilterBuy is an HVAC filter provider and they ship directly to consumers. So, you just signup on their website, input your filter sizes and they ship them directly to your door. You don’t need to remember, set reminders on how often you wanna change your filters. They send them to you on the schedule that you want and they are there when you need them.
Tracy:
               And of course that extends the life of your HVAC system and it cuts on your energy costs. And there is more, they ship within 24 hours, so that is. Awesome.
Aaron:
               And they are a family-owned company right here in the U.S-
Tracy:
               Why would you go anywhere else?
Aaron:
               everything is manufactured and shipped right here from the U.S.
Tracy:
               Yeah.
Aaron:
               So speaking of family-owned companies, you own your own tile company.
Adam:
               I do.
Tracy:
               Nice segue.
Aaron:
               And I have got questions.
Tracy:
               All right, I’m ready.
Aaron:
               ‘Cause I’ve done a lot of tile and I think I’m pretty good at it until I look at the type of stuff that you do. And then I’m like, ” I’m not good at it.” And I learn a ton.
Adam:
               It’s all smoke and mirrors … no, I’m just kidding.
Aaron:
               Yeah, it’s all the magic of Instagram and social media.
Adam:
               Totally, editing the pictures, making sure you got the right angles, right?
Aaron:
               You just take a picture of a blank wall, go online, download a picture of tile, throw it up there and be like, “yeah, I did that.”
Adam:
               That’s me, my handiwork.
Aaron:
               So talk to me a little bit your process. It’s different than anything I have ever done because you do a lot of what I call … I guess I consider it floating a mortar bed. Is that-
Adam:
               That’s correct.
Aaron:
               That’s what it’s called?
Adam:
               Yes, yes.
Aaron:
               When a client comes to you, where do you start?
Adam:
               It obviously … it does depend on what it is. Whether it’s a backsplash and we’re just going on dry wall, I would use a different adhesive than if I was doing thin set on cement like a cement floor or something. So, it all depends. And then another thing is shower. What applications are you using with the shower? I tend to just go more towards doing a mortar bed just because that’s what I’m used to. And I almost more consider myself not so much a tile guy but a plaster and also a mason. I really like doing that sort of stuff.
Adam:
               So, people say, “Well, why are you going all that route to float a wall?” Well there’s a lot of things that I could do that allow me to change the layout if the space isn’t square or plum. It’s just that one time of me doing that brown coat, if fixes all of these problems all at that one time, whereas if you use a different thing, HardieBacker or the form board that’s out now. There’s shimming and there’s different things and if there’s a niche, you’re kind of set on what that size is, you know what I mean? So, yeah, it all varies.
Aaron:
               What? We’re gonna dive into all that stuff right now. So, I have a bunch of questions lined up. First and foremost, as a DIY guy and doing tile myself, I make mistakes all the time. What are some common mistakes that you think an average person, a DIY person makes that maybe you have enough experience where you don’t make those mistakes anymore?
Tracy:
               Not admiring someone.
Aaron:
               Yes.
Adam:
               It all starts in the beginning and it all starts with your layout and that’s just … it is more and more we’re seeing these decorative tiles, and these patterned tiles, you really have to create basically what you’re putting up on the wall or the floor on the floor or wherever, story poles is what they call it. And really make sure that you’re gonna have that tile start from there and it’s gonna end there and making sure it’s all symmetrical and whatever their layout is is what you want it to be. So, it all starts in the beginning with layout and it could just make the tile job not look good if it’s not laid out right.
Adam:
               You have slither cuts or if it’s not level, you could see it going off and if you’re using more of that, like the sheeted material, like the penny rounds we were talking about earlier, that you could see where that sheet ends if it’s not perfect. And so it really comes down to making sure you’re lining up right and you’re staying on the course.
Aaron:
               And you call yourself kind of like an old world craftsman and what you do is really kind of art. It’s an artistry to do tile well because of those things. It’s like having consistent grout lines. Done having that lippage where one tile’s significantly lower than the other. There’s a lot of things that when you first tackle a DIY tile job and I’ve encountered it many times, where those things kind of arise as the project goes. And you don’t really notice it maybe, and I think a lot of what you’re saying is it comes down to that prep, that initial prep-
Adam:
               That initial prep, 100%, yeah. Because it’s like L cuts and I’m trying to avoid that stuff, like having an L cut or you’re always wanting full tile. You know, that’s the whole thing, it’s like if you could achieve full tile, then you’re golden because you’re able to not have anything … your eye is not drawn to it basically.
Tracy:
               How involved are you in the design process? If someone came to you and had some ideas for a laundry room, say do you ever say that tile probably isn’t an good idea here or this might look better?
Adam:
               Yeah, I guess, but a lot of it has to do with just the space where you’re working and what you’re gonna be doing, obviously if it’s a high traffic area, you don’t want something that’s gonna cause … or there’s all this dirt on it or bevel … there’s all kinds of different tiles now that it’s like that’s gonna create dirt and there’s gonna be … I’m very practical because I have four kids. So, I’m always leaning more towards the, like okay, what’s gonna stay durable as long as possible and what’s gonna look good after 30 years?
Tracy:
               Great, so, what are some trendy tiles right now that are really good looking, but not necessarily a great idea?
Adam:
               Great question and the first thing that comes to my mind is the cement tiles. The cement tiles, they have to be treated properly, they have to be installed properly. They have to be sealed properly, and they’re just high maintenance. And it’s crazy because they actually have porcelain tile that is printed on, you could print pretty much anything nowadays that looks just like the decorative cement tile for way cheaper and it’s way more durable.
Adam:
               So, I always tell people, “Hey, if you’re wanting to save a little bit of money and you’re a very practical person, try getting this different material as opposed to that,” and yeah-
Tracy:
               They’re hard to clean, aren’t they?
Adam:
               They totally are, yeah, and you’re always having to reseal them after a certain time period too, so-
Tracy:
               No one’s got time for that.
Adam:
               No, no one’s got time for that.
Tracy:
               No.
Adam:
               But they are beautiful, and so, it’s really hard.
Tracy:
               And if you have the financial means to have someone constantly come out and shape them, then why not?
Aaron:
               Well, they’re very porous, right?
Adam:
               They are, yeah.
Aaron:
               So, they can absorb muddy boots and everything, it’s gonna soak in and eventually tint it, you’re gonna have blotchy stains and all that stuff you don’t seal it.
Adam:
               Totally, yeah, if you’re not sealing it correctly, that happens, yeah.
Aaron:
               There is a lot of new products out there and some old products as far as subfloor installation stuff, I’ve always typically put down like a cement backer board, there’s now like the KERDI-products and some of the other subfloor products that you put down as kind of the substrate beneath your tile. Any advantages or disadvantages to doing that in your opinion as opposed to maybe doing a subfloor float, kind of like what you’re talking about?
Adam:
               Yes, totally. Well, there’s certain things for certain applications. And if you’re on a raised foundation and you have just ply wood subfloor, and it’s fairly flat, I tell people HardieBacker’s fine. As long as you do it right, you’re good. But there are certain times where you can’t use HardiBacker, say for instance you’re on a slab floor and the floor is all wonky and stuff, and you don’t wanna set on that, then you’re gonna have to think about doing something else. And so, I always tend to go, okay, let’s see how our foundation looks, and if I have to do it in a mortar bed and that’s dry pack.
Adam:
               And that will just give you a perfectly straight flat floor to set your tile on, you know? And then you have things like there’s a map that a lot of companies have come out with, but the down side again with that though is you’re going on whatever the floor is doing. It’s getting glued on that floor. So, is that floor flat? Is that floor good to go? It’s ’cause it’s gonna follow it, so, then you’re having to do different things like using like a … whether it’s an ardex feather finish to get that area flat or they have self-leveling products that you pour down and it hardens and it gets it nice and flat for you. So, there is so much stuff on the market now.
Aaron:
               What it comes down to is if the floor is not perfectly leveled, then in my experience, I kind of tend to lean towards a larger format tile because you can hide it a little easier, whereas if you’re using a smaller format tile and what I mean by that is just like the size of the tile itself, it’s gonna follow every little contour in that floor. And obviously you wanna try and get the floor as leveled as possible, but if you can’t maybe get it perfectly leveled or get it so if you’re not really old home and it’s just cost prohibitive or whatever, maybe a larger format tile might be the way to go ’cause you can kind of hide the edges and kind of ride it and hide some of that in your mortar bed.
Aaron:
               I’ve never used any of those products outside of the cement backer board, do you ever use them? The KERDI-boards or any of the newer stuff?
Adam:
               Are are we talking about for a floor or-
Aaron:
               Well, they have like the shower surround kits now and all, but they’re expensive.
Adam:
               Yes, they’re very expensive and so, that’s just it. A lot of people ask me, “Why don’t you just use some of that product?” Well, yeah, it’s very cost … it costs a lot-
Aaron:
               And you’re gonna pass that on to your client.
Adam:
               Right, but at the same time too, it’s kind of one of those things where you’re having to do a lot of shimming and stuff with that material. I actually, I don’t see anything wrong with it, I think it’s great. A lot of these companies, they provide a warranty and they give you all this stuff, which is cool, but there is something about, for me, this is just personal, there is something about creating a cement wall, you know, compared to a form wall that you’re … I feel like I could just punch my hand through the tile, get through … you know?
Aaron:
               Yeah.
Adam:
               And another thing with a mortar bed for instance, the water proofing is actually behind it, you have a water proof paper that’s behind all the cement. If say for instance I’m working with the designer and I’m using natural marble and I’m setting a wall and they look at one of the tiles and they’re like, “That color with that marble, I don’t like it.” This has happened before. “I don’t like that specific tile, can you take that out and put a different one on.”
Adam:
               And for me it’s not a big deal because I’m only hitting my cement, and I’m chipping away at my cement, and the water proofing again is still behind the cement. So, I’m confident in the fact that I could pop that thing off, use my thin set, put it back, good to go. If I used something like that other product, the water proofing is right at the surface. So, when I pop off that tile, I’m pulling off all of the water proofing. And that’s the thing that’s really scary to me.
Adam:
               And so, I talk to these reps and stuff and they say, “Well, we have this cocking and you could tape it up,” and I’ve done that before and it doesn’t usually come out the way I want it to, and there are tiles protruding now. There’s two much stuff around. So, there’s situations like that where I’m like, “You know, I think I’ll just stick to what I’m used to and what I’m comfortable in,” and for generations it’s been a great substrate.
Aaron:
               Thousands of years.
Adam:
               Yeah, you go to Spain, you go to different places and it’s like oh, that tile’s still there. Is KERDI-board back behind that tile? I don’t think so. And then the material is really cheap, it’s sand, cement, it’s very cheap. I don’t have to pay extra money for it.
Aaron:
               I’ve never tried to do what you do in the floating of the mortar bed. Do you mix your own stuff? Is that something that you can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s or whatever and you can buy that dry pack that you call it?
Adam:
               Yeah.
Aaron:
               How does that work?
Adam:
               So, that’s two different things, a wall mud is a fat mud, and it’s cement, lime and sand. The lime is what makes it real stick, so, it could just slap right up on the wall and doesn’t fall. So, there’s that, and yes, you could buy a premix at Home Depot, it’s called Spec Mix. It already has those three things in it. I think there’s more in there too, because when I use it, it seems to be a little more sticky than my liking. So, I usually do it myself, ’cause I like my rate, the racial that I’m comfortable with. So, I usually do it myself.
Adam:
               For a dry pack, it’s literally just sand and cement, and that’s all you need because obviously it’s on the floor, you’re not needing it to be on the wall or anything and so, that’s all you need to make that dry pack and it hardens up real good.
Aaron:
               So, if I try to do that, how would I do that? I go to Home Depot and buy like specific sand and specific cement or … what’s the ratio?
Adam:
               Just normal washed sand and then you have lime and cement. The ratio that I usually rule a thumb, I always go off of a shovel. And so, if you could imagine, I’ll say, okay, I need a shovel of cement, a shovel of lime to four shovels of sand. So, that’s my racial usually when it comes to wall mud and you mix that all up and there you got your wall mud.
Aaron:
               What about the floor?
Adam:
               And so, the floor, I would do one shovel of cement to about four to five shovels of sand, is a good ratio. And you always have to watch your water, you don’t want it too wet, you don’t want it too dry.
Aaron:
               And then you just kind of … when we say floating a mortar bed, it’s like you’re taking that shovel full of the mixture that you’ve created, dumped it on the floor, and then you’re kind of just using a level or whatever to screed it so, that is perfectly truly flat or in the case of like a shower pen, it slopes into the drain. That’s one thing that I’m scared of, shower pen things because I come from the school of there’s two types of concrete, there’s concrete that’s cracked and there’s concrete that will crack.
Aaron:
               And so, as a shower pen, I’m super scared of trying to do one of these dry packs, and I know everybody does it, like yourself, I’m just afraid that it’s gonna crack, and it’s gonna get water down through there, and that water is ultimately gonna turn into black mold and my house is gonna get condemned, you know what I mean? That’s the mistake that it doesn’t happen, you don’t know right away that you’ve made a mistake, it’s years and years later or whatever. There’s something that has triggered the mold building behind there that I’m afraid of that can have serious consequences.
Aaron:
               It can cost you a ton of money, you gotta tear that out, you got a whole mold abatement treatment, you gotta do through the whole thing. So, like what you’re saying, that’s really attractive to me to have that water proofing behind that cement or that mud or whatever. Because you have that added layer of protection where you might not have it if you use one of these other products and that’s one of the things I really appreciate that you do because I’ve never tried it and it scares me.
Adam:
               Totally.
Tracy:
               The things that haunt our dreams are in 30s, right?
Adam:
               Well, believe me, when I first started and I spread my wings and I was like I’m gonna do this on my own, my first couple of showers, oh my gosh, yeah, I was terrified and I was just going over everything a million times because it is, it’s something that could fail. Tile is one thing. But then you add water in the mix and you’re like, “Okay, now this is gonna be a longevity thing. We need this to work for a long time.” And water is gonna be constantly going in here.” So doing a hot mop, and making sure that you have the right materials is everything for sure.
Tracy:
               Do you get called in a lot to fix DIYs that are [inaudible 00:20:28]?
Adam:
               I’ve actually been called quite often more recently to with people that have used decorative tiles and stuff like that, that have been done wrong and coming in and fixing mistakes and stuff. But it’s hard for me to get to stuff like that ’cause I’m busy myself doing my own jobs and it could be tough. But yeah, I get phone calls like that.
Aaron:
               When I bought the house that we’re currently living in, the previous home owners disclosed that the shower in the master suite, which was just kind of a standup very narrow thing. They’re like, “Not usable, crack shower pan, subfloor damage.” And I was like, “Okay.” And I took that on ’cause I knew I was gonna remodel the sub-floor or … sorry remodel the whole master bathroom.
Aaron:
               I demoed out the floor, right? And they had a motor bed under it. So the way they did the tile seemingly was like the way you did it. Soon as I got through the motor bed and everything, fell right through the floor. The subfloor was so … fortunately I have a crawl beneath my house, so I only fell like less than a foot in that area. It’s pretty shallow.
Adam:
               Oh you have a raised foundation?
Aaron:
               It’s a raised foundation.
Adam:
               I love raised foundations.
Aaron:
               Well, I’d love it if I could actually move around it. I’m from think East Coast where we have basements where you can work in the basement and do stuff [crosstalk 00:21:50]-
Adam:
               Instead of stand up.
Aaron:
               Instead of claustrophobia city.
Tracy:
               Being in a hole in the ground.
Aaron:
               So anyway, the subfloor, the shower pan had cracked at some point. Years and years of water damage had gotten down there under the subfloor. And termites had gotten in the there, ate through all the subfloor.It was tongue and groove 2 X subfloor. It wasn’t plywood ’cause his house was built in the ’30s. But it had just gotten so much water damage termites, had gotten in there and just Swiss-cheesed it.
Aaron:
               And as soon as that tile and that mud and everything wasn’t there to hold it all together, the wood just went, “Puuuuk.” And fortunately I have experience and was able to go in there and fix it and remodel the bathroom and all that stuff.
Aaron:
               You know that’s my fear of doing those tile-shower pans. So I was [crosstalk 00:22:37]-
Adam:
               When you see it first hand, it’s like, “This is what could happen.” And you’re in it deep now ’cause it’s like you’re just having to do more and more stuff. It wasn’t just tile, now it’s, “We need to do some framing.” There’s a lot more things going on.
Tracy:
               And if there’s ever a time you don’t wanna fall through a floor and call for help, it’s when you’re naked if we’re being honest.
Aaron:
               Well, I certainly wasn’t naked when I was doing my renovations.
Adam:
               Taking a shower and you fall through.
Tracy:
               Like you know just let’s put that on the list of things you wanna pay attention to.
Adam:
               [crosstalk 00:23:13].
Aaron:
               So this is an issue that I’ve run into a lot. And I kind of wanna get your feedback. One of the biggest issues that I have when I’m trying to do tile or a new space, or replace a floor, is making the floor to line up with surrounding floors from room to room. How do you go about doing that, how do you evaluate how you can get that-
Adam:
               When you mean, “Go through it.” Are you talking about like height differences?
Aaron:
               Yeah.
Tracy:
               Leveling it.
Aaron:
               Like elevation between.
Adam:
               Elevations, yeah.
Aaron:
               Let’s say I want to-
Adam:
               Like a wood floor or something.
Aaron:
               You have hard wood in let’s say my dinning room and I’m re-tiling a kitchen. But it used to just have like Linoleum or something on it, how can I figure out how to get the two levels to matchup? What do you do?
Adam:
               Yeah. Actually it’s funny. I was just getting text messages from one of my builders this morning regarding that. ‘Cause we have a wood floor outside the bathroom, and then the material that they picked for the bathroom floor is three-quarters of an inch thick.
Aaron:
               Three-quarters of an inch powder.
Adam:
               So I was like, “Okay,” yet … Well, no the material itself is three-quarters of an inch thick. And so they were asking me like, “What are we gonna do?” And that’s just it is, you only have a few options. And the math stuff really comes in when it comes to trying to keep it as thin as possible basically. ‘Cause it was a raised foundation. You can’t tile on wood.
Aaron:
               Because of the wood movement.
Adam:
               The movement.
Aaron:
               The cracks.
Adam:
               Yes, exactly. So yeah, you’ll get cracking and yeah it’s not good. So the thing with that new math stuff it’s literally like an eighth of an inch. And you fill it with Thinset, it’s so interesting. But that’s a great option to have now. Because before that, you had well HardieBackers, “The thinnest you could get is a quarter of an inch.” And then however thick the material is plus Thinset, yeah, you’re starting to go up. And if you have a wood floor or something that you’re going to, that does have a problem.
Adam:
               So I always from the very beginning, when I step in to a project, I always ask that question, “Okay, what are we going to, what’s our thickness there? And a lot of times a good wood floor guy usually adds another layer for me really to have it floated and it be flash, and have that smooth transition.
Adam:
               But yeah, there is always those situations. And you could either have some sort … You gotta get creative really. Whether you put some sort of threshold to transition from that height thickness or do you have those T Moldings. There’s different things like that to try to help with the thicknesses, but yeah, I mean that could be a problem. And it just is what it is. There’s always situations where you’re coming across like, “Oh sure.”
Aaron:
               Yeah. I have a couple of scenarios where that’s happened to me. One, the master bathroom I was just referring to, and then I reached out to you a while ago because I have … In the entry-way of my home, my foyer area has this old slate tile. And it’s cracked and splintery and now my son is mobile and moving and the tile is sharp, it’s broken. So I don’t like him walking or crawling on it and needs to be replaced. But I reached out to you because I said, “Well, it looks like to me they just use this black-tarry-type adhesive, I don’t know that it is. Probably asbestos, who knows.
Adam:
               Most likely.
Aaron:
               Yup. And I like to just kind of think that it’s not. And I don’t have a lot of leeway. The tile is like this slate-thin-quarter-inch thick tile maybe. And there’s like this black whatever substance that they use as an adhesive and then it’s subfloor, it’s wood and it’s what you’re talking about. So why it’s probably cracked and broken is because they put over the wood.
Aaron:
               But surrounding rooms that the foyer goes into hallway, goes into the living room, they’re level right now. So unlike into this scenario where, “How am I gonna re-tile this and make the floors lineup?” And I don’t really have an answer. I’m like, “Well, what do I do, do I plain-down the sub-floor so that I can go down a little bit?”
Adam:
               That’s what usually what people do. Yes, I’ve been to a situation like that and that was literally the only thing that we were able to do to achieve that. And yeah, it takes a lot of work to make that happen. But that’s what you’ll most likely have to do.
Aaron:
               Fortunately the subfloor, like I said, it’s all 2 X tongue and groove. So I can plain it down a bit. But it’s gonna be a lot of work. And then in regards to the master bathroom when I encountered that kind of a similar issue ’cause I had to replace the whole subfloor, I ended up going plywood, and I used kind of the large-format wood porcelain planks.
Aaron:
               But in the bedroom itself, I just went down to the … in there they had all Doug Fir tongue and groove subfloor that I didn’t realize was there, and I just refinished them. So there was no way for me to really line those up, so I did what you’re saying, I kind of did a decorative transition. It’s a little bit proud. The bathroom is a little proud of the floor in the bedroom. But I just took a piece of oak that matched … Doug Fir that matched the floor. Put a little bevel on it.
Adam:
               There you go.
Aaron:
               You don’t really notice.
Adam:
               No. And that’s actually somewhat common. When I go to houses, as you enter that bathroom, a lot of times you’re stepping up a little bit.
Tracy:
               Step up.
Adam:
               If you notice that, yeah. And I think that’s because the reason-
Aaron:
               As long as it’s not like a snub-nose edging. If you put like a bevel on it-
Adam:
               Right, you’re tripping on it.
Aaron:
               … or something where you’re kicking your toe on it.
Tracy:
               Yeah, well we had that. Everyone who would come into our kitchen would trip.
Aaron:
               Yeah, tell him about that.
Tracy:
               When we just got our kitchen demo, there was tile on top of tile on top of vinyl on top of vinyl on top of subfloor. And I actually have a picture of it
Adam:
               Are you serious?
Tracy:
               No, I’m-
Aaron:
               Yeah, we’ll have to post that on.
Adam:
               Oh my gosh.
Tracy:
               We were always like, “Gosh, the ceilings right low, is it because of the soffit.” Well, when they pulled out the tile, we were like, “Our house looks so big.” And then they pulled out the soffit and we’re like-
Adam:
               Oh my gosh.
Tracy:
               We gained like that much in our floors. Has anyone ever asked you tile on top of tile?
Adam:
               No. Thankfully not.
Tracy:
               And what would you tell them?
Adam:
               I would say, “You’re crazy.”
Aaron:
               Well she had its-
Adam:
               Hey, it’s a cheap DIY. You know what I mean it-
Tracy:
               Investors, they just came and flipped our house.
Aaron:
               Oh yeah, I’ve seen people do that for a backsplash. In the kitchen backsplash, I’ve seen that. Because people sometimes they go right on top of the drywall and they don’t wanna peel their old tile off and-
Adam:
               Totally.
Aaron:
               So I’ve seen it in the backsplash. And you can use those trim pieces kind of on the edge.
Adam:
               You could get aways with that, yeah.
Aaron:
               But not for a floor.
Adam:
               Because that’s just it, is it’s a … Well yeah, heavy traffic or even a water area. No, I probably would not do that.
Tracy:
               It’s insane. Yeah, it’s not good.
Aaron:
               So you had a pocket door on your kitchen.
Tracy:
               A pocket door that wouldn’t open [crosstalk 00:30:34].
Aaron:
               They tiled it in.
Tracy:
               No.
Aaron:
               So the door, you couldn’t even open it or close it.
Tracy:
               And the our refrigerator, when we moved into our house, we were like, “Why is there no a refrigerator?” ‘Cause usually a house comes with the refrigerator and the stove. So we go to wheel in our refrigerator.” And we’re like, “It won’t for example fit into the cabinets,” it’s because there was tile on top of tiles. So my husband like bootlegged, like pushed the cabinets up.”I’m glad that’s gone. And they never a sealed our tile either so it was just gross.
Tracy:
               Actually have a question for you about our flooring. We just made our kitchen and dinning room open-concept. So we want a flooring that can go through the entire downstairs of the house with the exception of the rooms, we’ll keep carpet for the kids. We had another guest on, Eileen. And we were talking about ROI, and her personal preference was wood. She is a realtor.
Tracy:
               So it kind of got in my head thinking, “Men, we were going to do the large tiles that look like wood.” So then I got in my head thinking, “We really should do wood.” And then I watched my two-year-old look me in the eye with direct eye contact, and just go like this to a cup of milk the other day and I thought, “You know-“
Adam:
               Classic, this is happening.
Tracy:
               Yeah, “What are you gonna do, I’m so cute.”
Aaron:
               Pulling out for my preschool homies.
Adam:
               Exactly.
Tracy:
               Yeah, exactly. She has the little tear-drop tattoo. She is really … she’s very confident young child.
Aaron:
               She’s gangster.
Adam:
               Oh yeah.
Aaron:
               Yeah. Anyway so then I thought, “Gosh, the upkeep on hard wood is probably not a good idea.” So what do you think about the wood tiles throughout the bottom of the home and upkeep on those?
Adam:
               Totally.
Aaron:
               The wood-look tiles?
Tracy:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Adam:
               Yeah, that’s just it. Is there’s pros and cons for both. And the con for the wood floor is obviously the maintenance on it. But then you have the warmth. It feels more homie to me, yeah definitely. And so with the tile, the con is the fact that it’s cold, but it’s so durable and that’s just it. Is people want that durability. So it is really hard, it’s kind of a tossup. But then again there’s always the matted heated floors that you could put underneath that would eliminate-
Tracy:
               Such a good idea.
Adam:
               … the fact that it’s cold. So you always have that option too.
Tracy:
               What’s the upkeep over time like if we did tile. I just think like there’s grout throughout my whole home. Is that hard to upkeep or how do we keep that?
Adam:
               I mean as long as you keep the grout joints really tight, a sixteenth of an inch and you get a grout color that will just blend right in. I mean you don’t … it doesn’t look dirty. And that’s just it, is you could beat that stuff up and it will take a beating.
Adam:
               So with little kids and stuff, I think it’s great. For a practical dad, I think it’s awesome. But as far as a resale value, I don’t know. It’s really hard to say because tile is a good thing. Especially even if you’re looking at it as, “Well, I could even rent this.” Then you’re thinking tenants and-
Tracy:
               That’s true.
Adam:
               You know that part of it too, I think, “Well I would want tile because they’re just gonna beat it up and it’s gonna be able to handle it.” So I think of that as well.
Aaron:
               I’m never a fan personally of hard woods anywhere near the kitchen just because of the water issue. The water gets on that hard wood and you’re screwed. You got an overflowing-
Adam:
               Gets under it.
Aaron:
               … or a plug or it gets under it, it’s gonna bubble up. It’s gonna bubble up your seam, it’s gonna … So I personally would never put hard wood in a kitchen that flows through-
Tracy:
               You know what happened at our … sorry to interrupt you. At our older house, our Christmas tree, we had water on our Christmas tree. And some got onto the floor, and actually the Christmas tree, as it absorbed the water, it pulled up our wood floor all under our Christmas tree.
Adam:
               Oh my gosh.
Aaron:
               Yeah. I mean that’s the draw back of … But they have so may products now too that are right kind of wood-loo-water-tight kitchen products. I’ve seen them, I can’t think of the material that they’re made of or whatever. But they’re some kind of probably plasticky-chemical mixture of something.
Aaron:
               But they look great. They’re supposedly super durable. I haven’t personally used any of those products yet, but that also could be a good option for you. For me, I love the look of tiles, not as forgiving on little kids when they fall as some wood and stuff like that. But durability and cleanliness easy to keep, low maintenance.
Adam:
               Totally.
Aaron:
               For kitchens, I’m gonna tile all the way. Let’s talk about budget a little bit. How can a home owner maybe that’s on a tight budget, get a really elegant look or like a really clean look with their tile? Any recommendations on where they can get tile or what to do?
Adam:
               I mean the bigger box stores will always be cheaper. And doing something classic that doesn’t go out of style, that’s simple is always a good thing. If you’re doing just a white subway dull tile. A lot of people go that route because it’s cheap, it’s classic, it doesn’t go out of style and fairly easy to install.
Aaron:
               Yeah. And I think you mentioned before another way to keep cost down is to kind of mix your own materials and do some of the things that you’re talking about as opposed to using these-
Adam:
               Absolutely.
Aaron:
               So if you could do that, get a white subway tile, make it classic and clean. And make sure you just keep it white and-
Adam:
               Totally.
Tracy:
               Do you have any tips on durability with grout or how to … Like in our last home, our backsplash, the grout would always get … when like the spaghetti sauce would bubble, it would like get in my grout and it was so annoying. So what are some ways to treat your grout or products to use?
Adam:
               Absolutely. So [Ladder Crete 00:36:55] is one of the biggest companies out there. They have an epoxy grout. Well, there’s a few other companies. I tend to always get Ladder Crete just ’cause it’s more available. But epoxy grout, believe it or not, does not stain. So you could get white epoxy grout on a backsplash, and it’s gonna be white. So yeah, that’s one thing, it’s more costly. But at the same time, it’s epoxy. So I mean it is not gonna crack, it’s not gonna stain, it’s bomb proof. So spending a little bit more money on good quality products like that help in the long run.
Aaron:
               With an epoxy grout is it the same process like the-
Adam:
               No. Yeah, I would say hardware.
Aaron:
               [crosstalk 00:37:40] it would be really hard to get off the tile. So talk about maybe … explain to people the typical grouting process, and then maybe how an epoxy grout would differ?
Adam:
               A normal premix grout, it’s in a powder form. You add water, done. Mix it to your liking. And it’s easy to work with. With epoxy, you have a part A, part B, mix those together and then you have your powder that’s the color of the grout that you add in. And the downside with it also, well some people might say, “You could do it, but you have to use the entire thing.” I’m not gonna sit there and save a little bit of part A and part B for the next job. You have to use the whole thing. So with that being said, it’s like, “Okay, I have to use this entire batch for this little backsplash.” And that’s expensive, if you’re having to use that entire thing.
Aaron:
               What’s the working time, is it similar to a typical grout or is it-
Adam:
               I’ve come to find out that it actually it wants to set up faster. So I’m always like, “Ooh.” You’re like hurrying up and it’s like, “Oh no, I’m just from washing.” So yeah, it’s a little more challenging. But like anything there’s a learning curve. After a couple of them, I had it down and I know that do now.
Aaron:
               One of the things that I had to do a little bit of DIY research on when I started doing a lot of the tile jobs is grouting with sanded grout versus unsanded grout or non-sanded grout. What’s the difference there and when should people consider one versus the other?
Adam:
               Non-sanded is for grout joints that are smaller than an eighth of an inch. So when you have small areas that you don’t need the sand … the sand is basically to fill the void. So anything eight of an inch bigger you get sanded. And then say with like brick or something, I’ll even add silica sand, if you know what silica sand is. I’ll throw that in my batch of grout to have bigger grout joints if I’m doing like Satio old Spanish, things like that. So yeah, it’s definitely having to do with the thickness and filling that void.
Aaron:
               When you go to the big box store, there’s a lot of options on the shelves for tile adhesives or sometimes they call them like mastics and then a lot of different options for Thinsets or different mortars. When you walk down that isle, you’re like … and you maybe haven’t done a lot of tiling before, you’re like, “There’s a lot of things here to sort through, which one do I actually need.” Can you give us a little information on when you might use one of those premixed mastics or tile adhesives that it’s just called tile adhesives at the store versus a Thinset mortar bag?
Adam:
               Yeah absolutely. So the tile adhesive, mastic, is for areas that aren’t high water, so perfect examples is a backsplash. You have just dry wall, you’re needing to stick on there, that mastic is awesome, it hardens so hard and it sticks so well. The downside is you do not wanna put that in an area where there’s a lot of water ’cause what happens is it could re-emulsify. So I’ve seen situations where people have used that stuff in a shower, and literally tiles are falling off. You get one steamy shower and all of a sudden you got to … not good, right.
Tracy:
               No.
Adam:
               So yeah, so a backsplash things like that, that’s not a high-water area, highly recommended. As you get on to something like a cement floor like a slab floor. You’re wanting a really strong durable … There’s so much product now, it’s crazy. I can’t even keep up, I’m still learning all the stuff that’s coming out. But yeah, so you want a cementacious-type Thinset that has certain acrylics in it that is gonna grab on to the cement. And so that’s what I use for my mortar bed. In showers, I use a really strong acrylic type Thinset, and you need that stuff.
Adam:
               A lot of it depends on what you’re using the Thinset for, if you’re using a Thinset to just say your back buttering your cement backer board to glue down on … You don’t need a really expensive the-top-of-the-line Thinset. You could get a cheaper one that doesn’t have all that special stuff to glue it down on the floor, you know that’s really all you’re using it for.
Aaron:
               Explain to me and the audience like back buttering? When you say back butter, what is it and is there a way to do it wrong? Do you wanna follow the direction of the tile or can you cross-hatch?
Adam:
               Back buttering, I get people saying, “Why aren’t you back buttering your tiles,” and I’m tiling with 3 X 6 tiles and it’s like, “Could you imagine having a back butter every single … there’s no reason for it. They say that a large format tile is anything larger than 16 inches, so 16 inches, 16 X 16 or whatever, that is considered large format. That’s when you wanna start back buttering. Because what happens is there could be voids when, you’re slapping those big old tiles down on the floor, there could be that void there and you don’t want voids in your-
Aaron:
               It’s an empty air pocket beneath the tile.
Adam:
               Exactly.
Aaron:
               So if you drop a hammer in that spot in that pocket-
Adam:
               [crosstalk 00:43:43] in the middle or something, it will shatter. Especially most large format tile is porcelain anyways, and when that stuff shatters, it’s glass. I mean I’ve cut myself crazy with a broken piece of porcelain tiles, it’s crazy.
Aaron:
               So for small format tiles, you don’t really need to back-butter.
Adam:
               You don’t need to and again, it goes back to when I was talking about it earlier, is testing your installation. And so really I mean, all it takes is you setting it, pop it up and look and see if you’re getting that full coverage you know. If you are, you’re good. So that’s just is, when I start stacking smaller tiles, I’ll pop one off every once in a while, make sure I’m getting my full coverage and continue on my way. Yeah especially … and that’s another thing I was gonna talk about, was the plank tiles, the wood-looking ones. Those you really need to because most of them have this natural bow in them because of them being so long, they’ve got this natural bow. So that’s asking for some voids there. So back buttering those things is huge.
Aaron:
               The idea is that when you’re tilling, you’re taking a notch trowel, say it’s on wall. You’re taking a scoop of your Thinset mortar, or your mastic, or whatever, notching it against the wall. And then the back buttering process is flipping the tile over to its back, taking a scoop of that same mud or what ever, putting it on the back of it and spreading it across.
Adam:
               Skimming it.
Aaron:
               Skimming the back coat so that when you press that tile up against the wall, or the floor, or whatever, it’s filling all the voids that are created by the notch trowel on its opposite.
Adam:
               Exactly.
Aaron:
               It kind of goes together and then as that air is all pushed out, everything sucks together.
Adam:
               Exactly, so when you’re combing … yeah and that’s another thing, is combing certain directions. That’s even like a thing that I think of, it’s funny. But like say you have a long tile going this way, and then it’s narrow this way, I tend to comb where there’s less travel to escape. So I’m not gonna comb my-
Aaron:
               Likewise.
Adam:
               … like going this way. I gonna comb it this way, so that way when I push down, is it’s escaping in a shorter distance. So that’s another little tip that a lot of people don’t really realize, but it helps a lot.
Aaron:
               I got two more questions and then I think we’ll jump into some voicemails.
Adam:
               Cool.
Aaron:
               Number one, DIY tile tools, what four or five tile tools does a home owner need to get started and where can they get them?
Adam:
               It would have to be a saw obviously, you need to cut the tile. There’s a couple of options too, actually there’s that old school scoring-type thing.
Aaron:
               Scoring and snap it tile.
Adam:
               Score and snap, you have that cutter which is good for porcelain. I mean when you have those planks and you have a scorer, that works amazing. And then obviously a normal saw, I’ve got a few of them.
Aaron:
               Like a wet saw.
Adam:
               A wet saw. Yeah, so that’s super-important having … That’s what I love about tiles, is that you don’t need a bunch of crazy power tools and expensive tools. I mean I just have a notch trowel and a margin trowel and I’m ready. The rest is just my handy work. So a couple of tools like that and you could pretty much tackle most of your DIY stuff.
Aaron:
               I have usually a quarter inch trowel, I think it’s kind of a generic pretty good size notch trowel, that’s what I mean by quarter inch notch trowel, it has quarter-inch notches in it. I use that. I have a rigid wet saw that works pretty well, it has a little diamond blade on it. And I have a pair of tile nibblers. I don’t know if you use those, but those are for making radius cuts in tiles, if you need to follow a radius. And you can get all these tools in the tiles section at Home Depot, Lowe’s, wherever.
Adam:
               Absolutely.
Aaron:
               And they’re not super-expensive. The tile saws can get expensive depending on the ones that you get ’cause they have a lot of options. But beyond that, then just like a masonry trowel and like a mortar mixer that I put on the end of a drill usually, that’s really it. I mean beyond that-
Adam:
               I know, it’s not a lot. It doesn’t take much.
Tracy:
               I just use a Yelp app and a credit card-
Adam:
               Perfect.
Tracy:
               … and that’s really all I’ve ever needed to use and everything has come out really well.
Aaron:
               And a phone to call Adam.
Tracy:
               Exactly.
Adam:
               Well nowadays it’s YouTube, it’s no email, it’s so great that we have so much at our finger tips now. You know what I mean it’s amazing. I can learn anything, just by jumping on YouTube.
Tracy:
               That is true. I mean, we have a standing rule in our home, the two things that we hire are electric and tile, those are just kind of like … These tools-
Aaron:
               Two of my favorite things. I do it myself.
Tracy:
               Things can go wrong, these could go wrong. You know what, I think it’s how much time do you have too?
Aaron:
               Exactly.
Adam:
               That’s exactly right.
Tracy:
               Do you have time to tile? It’s not a, “Let’s do it after the kids-go-to-bed-type thing.”
Adam:
               Right.
Aaron:
               I can really appreciate the work that you do because tile is labor intensive, like surprisingly labor intensive. You know, I did my son’s kind of Jack and Jill bathroom recently and I did the floor and the tubs around.
Adam:
               Good for you, that’s awesome.
Aaron:
               It took me two days just to do the tubs around, of laying tiles ’cause one at a time, not big sheets. Is little subway tiles, and just putting them up, and it takes a surprisingly a long time. And the flooring was hexagon tile which I’ve never done before. So the layout was tricky
Adam:
               Hexagons are … it’s a lot of cuts.
Aaron:
               Five sides of whatever. Six sides of lippage. It’s time-consuming.
Adam:
               And then when you’re going to the corners, I mean you’re cutting almost every single tile, you have to you know. [crosstalk 00:49:53] and very much so.
Aaron:
               That’s why the layout was really important and the way that I did that was I actually measured the tile and rather than laying it out in the room … and I talk about this in nearly every episode, I prevized it. I took those measurements and what I knew my grout spacing was gonna be, and I duplicated it in Google SketchUp and measured the room, and I just put it all in one thing. And I just shifted that whole floor around until I found the best layout to where I had the least amount of cuts.
Adam:
               No way.
Tracy:
               Wow.
Adam:
               How did that work out, did work out good for you?
Aaron:
               Great, yeah phenomenal.
Adam:
               That’s awesome Aaron.
Aaron:
               As opposed to because you can’t layout and get a true sense of where the tiles are gonna fall if you’re laying it out on the floor because … or you have to waste a bunch of tiles to make the cuts to then get an idea of really where the cuts are gonna fall. And then you’re already done with the work and you’re really into the install. So for me, it was just, all I did was took my material, measured it, made a digital version of it and superimposed this big … duplicated a bunch of times into this big area and then I could make that into its own group and just drag the group around my floor plan until I found out where it would be the least amount of cuts.
Adam:
               That’s cool and it worked out great.
Aaron:
               It worked, yeah.
Adam:
               You know it’s funny a lot of times ’cause I work with designers a lot, and so I would get plans and it’s like you have this AutoCAD of what it’s gonna look like and it’s like, “This is how we want the layout to be.” And it’s always just something where it’s like, “Well it looks good on paper, but you know we have this issue, and we’ve got this.” But yeah, it’s cool when it finally is actually working out to-
Tracy:
               Falls together.
Adam:
               So yeah, it falls together to what we have initially planned.
Tracy:
               So if you are going to hire someone like we’re planning to do, what are some things you ask the tile guy to make sure they’re the right person for the job? Because we see all these horror stories where tiles are like upside down and backwards.
Adam:
               Well being a tile guide, when I get to a job for the fast time it’s more me that has all the questions. And so if I have somebody that’s coming, if they’ve got a lot of questions for me, the more the questions, the more confident that I am and more qualified they are in my opinion. Because they know what they’re talking about. They know, “Okay, what are we gonna do for here, what trim are we gonna have when we’re coming right here.” You know there’s tons of stuff that is like, “All right we need to throw this out and we gotta figure all this stuff.” So that is a big thing.
Tracy:
               So do your homework.
Adam:
               Do Your homework and make sure that you have a plan basically.
Aaron:
               One last question before we move on to some other stuff, I feel like we could keep this episode going forever, but we need to do a part two.
Adam:
               Totally
Aaron:
               And really dive into some more nitty-gritty details, but there’s a lot of tile options for materials. There’s porcelain, there’s ceramic, there’s cement. All these different types of material for the tile itself. Can you just give us maybe a brief example of what the various types might be good for, is porcelain tile better for a four for example, or for a shower, vice versa?
Adam:
               Yeah, and you just answered it. But porcelain, it’s super-dense, it’s super-durable. So I mean you could put that anywhere and be confident in the fact that it’s gonna do its job and it could take a beating. So floors, exteriors. I mean, you could take that stuff anywhere. Ceramic is very common in a shower because most ceramic has a glaze on it and that could also chip. So a high traffic area, you probably don’t wanna go that route. You have glass tile, and glass obviously a lot of people use it for backsplashes and stuff because you could wipe it clean and it’s done, so there’s that.
Adam:
               What else, like cement tiles, and it’s crazy, a lot of people use cement tiles on exterior, which blows my mind. But it looks cool when it’s a little scuffed up anyways right, but it does get scuffed up and if you don’t like that look, then you probably don’t go with cement tiles. But again it goes to having a lot of ceiling, a lot of maintenance and stuff. So be aware of that with that product, with that material.
Aaron:
               Just make sure if you’re installing a tile, whatever the material that you choose. A porcelain or ceramic, it’s already kind of pre-sealed ready to go with the exception of the grout lines that you wanna add a grout sealant to, but unless you are using an epoxy grout. But if there is other things that are more porous materials, cement, marble. Is marble more of a porous one?
Adam:
               Yes, yeah. So, marble, any type of stone, you know it starts to age and I’ve dealt with a lot of carrara marble, that kind of stuff. If you don’t continue to seal it, if you don’t continue to keep it maintained, it starts to have a dirty look to it. It could even start yellowing and there is that stuff too. So, very high maintenance, but it’s beautiful. I mean it’s not … you are working with natural stone. It’s gorgeous but on the flip side, it is more-
Tracy:
               High maintenance.
Aaron:
               So something to consider as a home owner is how much maintenance you wanna to do on this on a regular basis.
Adam:
               Exactly.
Aaron:
               Do I want something that’s just gonna be durable? Throw it down, not have to worry about doing anything or do I want maybe a more beautiful or maybe not even more beautiful but a certain look, but I’m willing to do the maintenance. I wanna get maybe your top five tips for DIY-er like myself to up my tile game so that I can tile like a pro.
Adam:
               Obviously I would say in the very beginning, layout. Just really make sure you are laying it out right. Next would be picking something that’s not crazy hard. Obviously you don’t wanna, “Hey, let’s … for my first project I’m gonna do these penny rounds on a backsplash.”
Aaron:
               I wouldn’t recommend that.
Tracy:
               Don’t-
Adam:
               Don’t do that. All right, so, number three, start small. Have a small area. Use something that’s more … a little more easier. Do like a square tile in the beginning.
Aaron:
               Yeah, I don’t recommend using like the hexagon floor tiles that I used for a bathroom floor or for any floor, I would not recommend that be your first tile project. Thankfully it wasn’t mine ’cause I would have pulled my hair out.
Adam:
               Was that three? I think, so, four. Try not to cut corners because when you are going at it you gotta know, okay, this is gonna be tedious, it’s time-consuming. Don’t think that there is something little trick ’cause there really isn’t. You gotta do it and own it.
Tracy:
               So don’t do it on a Saturday for a Christmas on Monday.
Adam:
               No, don’t think, “Oh, I’m just gonna throw this up in a couple of hours,” like you had because most likely it’s gonna take a while. So have patience-
Aaron:
               Unless you using huge-
Adam:
               Yeah, exactly, there’s two tiles and you are done. Yeah, do that, I would say recommend. So there is that, I’m not five I think now.
Aaron:
               Five, I don’t know what five would be, have the right tools maybe.
Adam:
               So, yeah, have the right tools and also even down to the fact that like, use a grout color that’s the same color as the tile, ’cause that will hide a lot of imperfections. Don’t do a penny round, white penny round with black grout ’cause that’s like you are gonna see everything single thing. So, avoid stuff like that and you should be fine.
Aaron:
               Awesome.
Adam:
               And watch a lot of YouTube videos I guess.
Aaron:
               Yeah, I’ve got a couple of shameless self promotion. I’ve got a couple of tile videos now that I need to … now that I’ve talked to Adam, I need to re-edit them and-
Tracy:
               I will be waiting for that.
Adam:
               Re-edit.
Aaron:
               … and make them better, but maybe we’ll do some collaborative ones and you could teach me some techniques later on.
Adam:
               That would be awesome.
Aaron:
               We have a few voicemails that I wanna dive into if you don’t mind.
Adam:
               I don’t mind at all.
Aaron:
               Some of our audience has called in with some questions that I think some of which we’ve little bit touched on, but some that we haven’t touched on quite yet. So, we’ll dive into those right now.
Speaker 4:
               I’ve seen the YouTube videos lately where people are using a product called RedGard. It’s pretty expensive, is it necessary?
Aaron:
               So RedGard question which is … I’ve used it.
Adam:
               Yes. So RedGard is a crack prevention waterproof membrane. So, it depends on where you are using it. If you are HardieBacker and this is when I see it the most. When you are HardieBackering like a tub surround for instance, I would highly recommend using that product just for your corners and for all that area that’s gonna be moving. And you know, it’s an assurance thing. I’ll roll it right over the concrete slab and just crack prevention. So, things like that I would say yeah, it’s a great a product.
Adam:
               There is another company LATICRETE that has a similar product called Hydro Ban. It’s almost twice as expensive, but this stuff is insane and I use it for like if I’m doing like a water fountain, I used it last time I used it. Just rolled that stuff all inside before I started setting my tile and it is bulletproof. So, yeah, it’s great for certain applications. Do you need it for everything? No, but it all depends. The best answer it depends.
Aaron:
               What you said though is exactly how I’ve used it. I used it in my … the bathroom that I mentioned that I remodeled recently with the tub surround. I used a cement backer board, I put up there. I taped the scenes with the backer board tape in the corners and I did a little niche, a little nook, shower nook. And it’s very easy to install. It is a little expensive.
Adam:
               Totally.
Aaron:
               But it’s a liquid waterproofing membrane. It looks pink when you open it up. It’s kind of like, you paint it on with either a brush in the corners or roll it with a roller. And I just taped it over the shower surround. I put it on the floor too because-
Adam:
               Why not?
Aaron:
               Why not?
Adam:
               [crosstalk 01:01:11] When you had the product, exactly.
Aaron:
               And so I was like, “I’m just gonna put it over the whole thing. It’s an added waterproofing thing.” I’ve seen people actually do it up a little bit of the wall, up on the bottom where the … Sorry, the cement board or whatever you are using as a substrate for your flooring, meets the wall. I’ve seen people paint it up a little bit like an inch or two under the bottom where the baseboard goes.
Adam:
               Insurance.
Aaron:
               Just to create … like if water gets there, it’s not gonna get on your … you got a kid who overflows the bathtub, it’s not gonna seep over the floor and run to the dry wall and swallow up the bottom of the dry wall and screw it up. So, it’s-
Adam:
               Exactly, it’s a great product.
Aaron:
               It’s an insurance thing. It’s like a liquid plastic and it … for a DIY thing I really like it because, yeah, maybe you did a mistake here or there and it’s just an added level of insurance.
Adam:
               Absolutely.
Aaron:
               So, I would recommend using it for most things where there is lot of water.
Adam:
               I agree.
Speaker 5:
               I’m planning the tile, my tub surround, how do I keep the first row in place? I’m afraid that the tiles will slide down or that they’ll fall off of the wall?
Adam:
               The way I usually do it a lot of times is, I’ll leave that first row out.
Aaron:
               That’s what I did.
Adam:
               Yeah and so I always find whatever the lowest point of the tub is, that’s gonna be the full tile say, and then at that point that line go all the way around and yeah, you could put like a little piece of stick or something to hold it. Or you can use one of my straight edges and just set it there and shove some tiles under it. Just to have a line there to start stacking my tiles from there.
Adam:
               The next day it’s hard. You pull off that stick or straight edge, whatever you use and then you cut in that first row. And that seems to be the best because chances are your tub is gonna be not level and your tiles need to be. So you are gonna have … one side is a little bigger than the other side and yeah it could be tricky in the beginning. So, leaving that first row out and doing it after the rest set in, is a good little tip.
Aaron:
               So, I think we’ve got one more voicemail here, so, let’s fire it up.
Ellen:
               Hi Aaron and Tracey. My name is Ellen. I’m calling, this is not a question actually, we’ve recently tiled our bathroom and we used a little plus sign shape pieces, but when mortar dried we had a really hard time removing them. Is there a better spacer you could recommend?
Adam:
               I like the plus sign, that’s funny. I’m like, “Oh, it is a plus sign.” But, yeah, so there is obviously different ways you could use that spacer. And one is smushing it in especially if you are just stacking. Let’s say you’ve got 4X4 tiles and they’re just stacked so you could just push them in. You gotta really make sure that they are pushed in. And there is actually … I’ve actually had some spacers that they are called leave in spacers and you could shove those things in. They actually have little holes where they fill with thin set, and it becomes part of the thin set. It’s crazy.
Adam:
               So there is those too. But yeah, that’s a big thing is making sure that they are not protruding and if it got some Thinset on it, oh, it’s not fun the next day trying to get that thing off. And trying to get it out because you don’t wanna leave it in when it’s out a little bit because when you are filling your grout joints, you are gonna see it. It’s there. So, yeah, it could be time-consuming having to sit there and pull them all out. So, I would just recommend using the right spacer. And if you are pushing them in, push them all the way in. That way they are behind and you could feel-
Aaron:
               And grout over it
Adam:
               And grout over it and it’s not. You don’t see it when you are washing the grout.
Aaron:
               I like to use these ones that are kind of horseshoe shaped.
Adam:
               Oh yeah.
Aaron:
               They are easier to … you can grab them easier. The plus sign ones, I know what they are talking about, because they can be. Certainly if you turn them sideways and try to wedge them in there, there are near impossible to get out. But the horseshoe ones, you kind of stick them in like this. You can put one in under one tile, one in under the other tile and then they just pop right out or you take a hammer after you are done and you just tap on them lightly and they pop out.
Adam:
               Knock them all off. Those are awesome.
Aaron:
               And then the other spacers that I like that I’ve recently started to use is kind of the self-leveling. I used them a lot on the hexagon tile. It’s a trend. Make sure that the lippage was even on all sides.
Adam:
               Yes.
Aaron:
               They kind of go under the tile as you set it and then they have like a little pin that goes in on the top and it pulls the edges together.
Adam:
               Those are really popular now for the wood planks. Because of what I was saying, those bows, that eliminates that. It’s crazy ’cause you … like you said, you put that little wedge in there and you have this tool and you crank it down and it just eliminates all of the lippage and then it acts as a a spacer. So I have them where they’re a 16th of an inch, which if I wasn’t using those, I don’t think I’d be able to even get that close, that tight of a grout joint for those planks. And now I can with that. I wish I invented that, how genius. So the next day you just kick that off. You have to reuse the one-
Aaron:
               The pin.
Adam:
               That little pin, it goes under the tile but then you reuse the wages. And I mean, it’s such an amazing … yeah, I don’t do those types of floors without them. That’s how much I love that leveling systems, it’s unbelievable.
Tracy:
               So the professional answer would be don’t use the plus sign thingies, use the horseshoe or the penny thingies.
Aaron:
               Pretty much.
Adam:
               That’s right.
Tracy:
               Got it.
Aaron:
               Those are the technical names for them.
Adam:
               Yes.
Aaron:
               You can find them-
Adam:
               I like [crosstalk 01:07:21].
Aaron:
               … exactly at your big box store. Under those things.
Tracy:
               I will remember that.
Aaron:
               So walk into Home Depo, walk up to the rep and say, “I’m looking for the horseshoe thingie tile spacer and also the lippage minimizer penny things where you have the wedge that drives in.”
Tracy:
               [crosstalk 01:07:38]-
Adam:
               You’re like, “Ah.”
Aaron:
               Oh, I know exactly-
Tracy:
               This isn’t my department.
Aaron:
               Yeah, then they’re like, “Check the electrical wires.” Well, Adam, thank you so much for being here. This has been super informative.
Tracy:
               So fun.
Adam:
               It was a pleasure, it was so much fun.
Aaron:
               I love your work.
Adam:
               You are an awesome guy to meet in person finally.
Aaron:
               Right on.
Adam:
               And make sure you guys follow Adam @aletile on Instagram.
Tracy:
               So good.
Adam:
               Yes, A-L-E-T-I-L-E.
Aaron:
               Awesome work even better person. We wanna thank also you guys for calling in with your voicemail questions and just remind you that the show is built on your suggestions, your questions, so make sure you call in, 978-709-1040. Follow us on social media at the links in the show notes or you can reach me via email at [email protected] And I wanna say a quick thank you to FilterBuy for making this episode possible. Make sure you guys visit filterbuy.com to get all your HVAC filter needs.
Tracy:
               And don’t be sure, make sure to rate us on whatever podcast app you’re listening to, and screen shot us and let us know you’re watching on Instagram Stories.
Aaron:
               Thank you so much for being here.
Adam:
               It’s been a pleasure, thank you Aaron.
Aaron:
               We’ll see you guys next time. The How To Home Podcast is brought to you by filterbuy.com, your one-stop direct to consumer replacement air filter brand, and is produced in collaboration by a mass media group, LLC and intelligent arts and artist. The show is executive produced by George [Louise 01:09:03] and Aaron Massey.

Show Notes

Adam Esparza of Ale Tile joins Aaron and Tracy this week to talk all things tile! Adam shares his winning formulas, top tips and insider knowledge to help make your next tiling project a breeze.

LET’S CHAT!

You can always call and leave your questions and comments on our voicemail!

978-709-1040

MOST COMMON DIY MISTAKE ACCORDING TO ADAM:

  • Not figuring out layout

TRENDY TILES THAT AREN’T PRACTICAL:

  • Cement tiles are high maintenance (require sealing), consider the same look in a porcelain tile.

TIPS:

  • Asses foundation before deciding on your base flooring products.
  • Large format tiles help hide difficult flooring areas.
  • Choosing a cement base as opposed to Kerdi board is a more durable and affordable option, in Adam’s opinion.
  • To deal with different levels of flooring (wood that transitions into tile etc.), the new mats filled with thin set are a great option. Adam urges you to get creative and use a threshold or a T molding if necessary.
  • You really need to back butter plank tiles because they have a natural bow.
  • Always figure out your layout, pick the right tile for the job and start small when you’re learning! Try not to cut corners- be patient.
  • As your learning Adam suggests using the same color grout as the tile.

HARD-WOOD VS. HARD-WOOD STYLE TILES

  • Wood gives the warm feeling
  • Tile is more durable (great if you’re considering renting down the line)
  • Heated mats for under the tile are an option
  • Grout maintenance (Adam recommends a thin grout line close in color to the tile)

ADAM’S WINNING FORMULAS:

WALL MUD:1 shovel cement + 1 shovel lime to 4 shovels of sand.

FLOOR: 1 shovel cement to 4-5 shovels of sand.

TILE ON A BUDGET:

  • Do something classic that doesn’t go out of style like subway tile.
  • Big box stores will always be cheaper

KITCHEN GROUT MAINTENANCE:

  • Epoxy grout is great for backsplash. It doesn’t stain or crack.

Adam recommends this company- https://laticrete.com

SANDED GROUT VS. NON-SANDED:

  • Non-sanded grout is for grout joints less than 1/8th of an inch. Sanded is for anything larger.

QUICK TILE RUN-DOWN:

  • Porcelain works anywhere and can take a beating.
  • Ceramic is common in showers because of the glaze- it can also chip easily, so it’s better in lighter traffic areas.
  • Glass is great for backsplashes
  • Cement tiles stain easy and require a lot of maintenance- but look great!
  • Marble and stone ages, and requires a lot of maintenance as well.

DIY MUST HAVES:

Wet Saw

A scouring cutter

Trowel

Mortar mixer

PHONE CALLS:

Q: Is Red Gard necessary?

A: It’s a great sense of insurance for crack prevention. Adam highly recommends Laticrete Hydro Ban as well. More expensive but an amazing product.

https://laticrete.com/en/tile-and-stone-installation/waterproofing/hydro-ban

Q: I’m going to tile my tub surround, how do I keep the bottom row from falling off?

A: Adam leaves the first row out and then you can put a piece of stick or a straight edge to create a line to stack on. Once it’s hard the next day you can cut in the first row.

Q: We had a hard time pulling out the “plus sign” spacers. Is there a better product?

A: Adam suggests leave in spacers that become part of the thin set, or you can just make sure they’re not protruding and don’t get thin set on them. Push them all the way in.Aaron suggests the horse-shoe shaped ones and the self leveling ones.

ADAM’S INFO

Website | aletile.com

The Gram | https://www.instagram.com/aletile

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