Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Measuring Water for Thin-Set and Grout: Best Way

The best way to measure water for your thin-set or grout is exactly.  To do this you need often small amounts and a typical large bucket is just too rough of a measuring guage.  The best thing I have found for measuring water is these little Paint Measuring Cups.  They have all sorts of numbers and scales to follow and work ideal for the job.

One thing that is a must with any job is a trial run of thin-set.  You need to find the right water mix and when using a bag of thin-set or grout most times mixing a full bag is just silly.  That is almost always way to much.  So pick yourself up lots of these 5-8 and prepare to use them a lot.

One of the homework assignments I ask my clients to do (online clients who donate to this blog) is to mix up a 1/5 bag of thin-set and mix it about 10% heavy in the water content.  To do this they first use these buckets to hold the powder.  Make five even buckets and then look at what the water content says.  Lets say it says 2.5 Liters.  Adding ten percent would make the water amount 2.75 litres.  1/5 of that would be only 550 mL.

When mixing small batches of grout or thin-set it is so important to get this right.  It is easier with measuring buckets like this.  Handy to have and if you get lots of the smaller ones they are great containers for mixing products like Ardex 8+9 as well.

Measuring water exactly for thin-sets and grouts

When mixing thin-sets I have roughly three mixes I like to use.
  1. Water content raised by ten percent for installing things like NobleSeal CIS, NobleSeal TS, Laticrete Hydro Ban Sheet Membrane, DalSeal TS or Kerdi
  2. Water content on the low side of spec'd number for things like setting floor tile
  3. Water content in the middle for installing wall tiles
Each tile is different.  Each substrate is different.  The key is finding a good mix and trial and error is key.  A test board will help you hone your mix.  Small batches will keep every thing the same.  You might find that mixing 1/3 of a bag is perfect for your tile size and speed.  You can then take on container (shown above) and drill a hole just above the water line of what you need.  Then you simply pour water in and the excess water spills out.

When mixing grout I have three rules I follow always
  1. Never grout more than one wall at a time
  2. Used distilled demineralized water for the mix
  3. Measure the water exact.  No plus no minus.
I would be lying if I told you I measure every batch of thin-set every time.  I have measured and continue to measure regularly. Once you have mixed 100 bags of the same thin-set you really get a good idea of how it should feel.  How hard you need to hold the bucket with your feet to keep it from spinning and the like.  If your job is delivering mail, building computer programs, teaching or the like then these memories or prior experiences you can not draw on.

Simple things to keep in mind for example are the mixing paddle, the drill, the size of the bucket, the type of thin-set.  I will try and expand on these points later this month.

Always measure.  Know the mix.  Small batches.  Keep it simple......

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Should the water be on or off while tiling your shower? The Answer - always on

I keep talking about my shower building rules.  One of my newer rules is that the water lines to a shower should always be on when your tiling a shower.  When your boarding a shower.  The reason why is that you do not want to hit a pipe in the boarding stage and hit a pipe.  That you don't learn about until after all the work is done.

When your plumber comes for the rough in work tell him or her this.  The water stays on.  Tell them you want to have a pressure test and that you require a temporary hose bib of sorts in the room.  This sets the ground rules and will save you lots of time transporting water to the bathroom.

When the rough in work looks good - you should install some pipe protectors.  They look like this.

Your home might be different than the status quo of homes.  But it is most times safe to say that a home has 2"x4" interior stud walls.  A 2"x4" measures 3 1/2" wide.  If the plumber drills a 1 1/4" hole in the middle the edges of the hole are roughly 1 1/8" from the face of the stud.  Add drywall of 1/2" or 1/2" backer board and you have the edge of the hole 1 5/8" from the side of the hole.

If the plumber drilled closer to the edge then maybe the pipe or a wire is only 3/4" or 1" from the face of the backer board.  This is why these strike plates are a must have.  They prevent any screw or nail from puncturing the pipe.

I'm careful but even still have hit a pipe or two in my career. Sometimes I forget to bring these in (really the plumber should be doing it) and then I have to take even greater care when boarding or go make a shopping trip.

Understand that the water should be on.  Left on and tested prior to boarding.  Then protect the water pipes, steam lines, drain pipes, vents and anything else that does not want to get poked by a screw.