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

Transcript

Aaron:
00:00:00
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
mrfixitdiy.com. 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:
00:00:37
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:
00:00:54
He is
really, really excited, as am I.
Adam:
00:00:58
I am
very excited to be here, thank you Aaron.
Aaron:
00:01:00
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:
00:01:11
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:
00:01:39
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:
00:01:48
Totally.
Aaron:
00:01:48

it’s @aletile A-L-E-
Adam:
00:01:50
Tile.
Aaron:
00:01:50

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:
00:02:26
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:
00:02:32
Yes.
Aaron:
00:02:33
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:
00:02:55
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:
00:03:05
And
they are a family-owned company right here in the U.S-
Tracy:
00:03:09
Why
would you go anywhere else?
Aaron:
00:03:09
everything
is manufactured and shipped right here from the U.S.
Tracy:
00:03:12
Yeah.
Aaron:
00:03:13
So
speaking of family-owned companies, you own your own tile company.
Adam:
00:03:18
I do.
Tracy:
00:03:19
Nice
segue.
Aaron:
00:03:20
And I
have got questions.
Tracy:
00:03:20
All
right, I’m ready.
Aaron:
00:03:21
‘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:
00:03:32
It’s
all smoke and mirrors … no, I’m just kidding.
Aaron:
00:03:34
Yeah,
it’s all the magic of Instagram and social media.
Adam:
00:03:37
Totally,
editing the pictures, making sure you got the right angles, right?
Aaron:
00:03:42
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:
00:03:48
That’s
me, my handiwork.
Aaron:
00:03:50
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:
00:03:59
That’s
correct.
Aaron:
00:04:00
That’s
what it’s called?
Adam:
00:04:00
Yes,
yes.
Aaron:
00:04:01
When a
client comes to you, where do you start?
Adam:
00:04:04
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:
00:04:47
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:
00:05:32
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:
00:05:55
Not
admiring someone.
Aaron:
00:05:56
Yes.
Adam:
00:06:00
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:
00:06:40
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:
00:07:05
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:
00:07:41
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:
00:08:05
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:
00:08:19
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:
00:08:57
Great,
so, what are some trendy tiles right now that are really good looking, but not
necessarily a great idea?
Adam:
00:09:05
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:
00:09:37
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:
00:09:49
They’re
hard to clean, aren’t they?
Adam:
00:09:50
They
totally are, yeah, and you’re always having to reseal them after a certain time
period too, so-
Tracy:
00:09:58
No
one’s got time for that.
Adam:
00:09:59
No, no
one’s got time for that.
Tracy:
00:10:00
No.
Adam:
00:10:00
But
they are beautiful, and so, it’s really hard.
Tracy:
00:10:04
And if
you have the financial means to have someone constantly come out and shape
them, then why not?
Aaron:
00:10:09
Well,
they’re very porous, right?
Adam:
00:10:11
They
are, yeah.
Aaron:
00:10:12
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:
00:10:22
Totally,
yeah, if you’re not sealing it correctly, that happens, yeah.
Aaron:
00:10:26
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:
00:10:51
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:
00:11:40
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:
00:12:30
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:
00:13:08
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:
00:13:18
Are
are we talking about for a floor or-
Aaron:
00:13:22
Well,
they have like the shower surround kits now and all, but they’re expensive.
Adam:
00:13:26
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:
00:13:38
And
you’re gonna pass that on to your client.
Adam:
00:13:40
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:
00:14:17
Yeah.
Adam:
00:14:17
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:
00:14:48
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:
00:15:20
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:
00:15:45
Thousands
of years.
Adam:
00:15:45
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:
00:16:06
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:
00:16:18
Yeah.
Aaron:
00:16:18
How
does that work?
Adam:
00:16:19
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:
00:16:55
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:
00:17:11
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:
00:17:21
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:
00:17:48
What
about the floor?
Adam:
00:17:49
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:
00:18:03
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:
00:18:33
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:
00:19:08
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:
00:19:36
Totally.
Tracy:
00:19:37
The
things that haunt our dreams are in 30s, right?
Adam:
00:19:39
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:
00:20:23
Do you
get called in a lot to fix DIYs that are [inaudible 00:20:28]?
Adam:
00:20:29
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:
00:20:54
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:
00:21:17
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:
00:21:38
Oh you
have a raised foundation?
Aaron:
00:21:38
It’s a
raised foundation.
Adam:
00:21:39
I love
raised foundations.
Aaron:
00:21:40
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:
00:21:49
Instead
of stand up.
Aaron:
00:21:51
Instead
of claustrophobia city.
Tracy:
00:21:53
Being
in a hole in the ground.
Aaron:
00:21:54
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:
00:22:18
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:
00:22:31
You
know that’s my fear of doing those tile-shower pans. So I was [crosstalk
00:22:37]-
Adam:
00:22:37
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:
00:22:56
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:
00:23:02
Well,
I certainly wasn’t naked when I was doing my renovations.
Adam:
00:23:06
Taking
a shower and you fall through.
Tracy:
00:23:08
Like
you know just let’s put that on the list of things you wanna pay attention to.
Adam:
00:23:13
[crosstalk
00:23:13].
Aaron:
00:23:13
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:
00:23:34
When
you mean, “Go through it.” Are you talking about like height
differences?
Aaron:
00:23:39
Yeah.
Tracy:
00:23:39
Leveling
it.
Aaron:
00:23:39
Like
elevation between.
Adam:
00:23:41
Elevations,
yeah.
Aaron:
00:23:42
Let’s
say I want to-
Adam:
00:23:43
Like a
wood floor or something.
Aaron:
00:23:44
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:
00:23:59
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:
00:24:16
Three-quarters
of an inch powder.
Adam:
00:24:17
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:
00:24:45
Because
of the wood movement.
Adam:
00:24:46
The
movement.
Aaron:
00:24:47
The
cracks.
Adam:
00:24:47
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:
00:25:25
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:
00:25:50
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:
00:26:24
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:
00:27:03
Most
likely.
Aaron:
00:27:04
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:
00:27:27
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:
00:27:45
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:
00:28:03
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:
00:28:26
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:
00:28:57
There
you go.
Aaron:
00:28:58
You
don’t really notice.
Adam:
00:28:59
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:
00:29:09
Step
up.
Adam:
00:29:09
If you
notice that, yeah. And I think that’s because the reason-
Aaron:
00:29:13
As
long as it’s not like a snub-nose edging. If you put like a bevel on it-
Adam:
00:29:17
Right,
you’re tripping on it.
Aaron:
00:29:17
… or
something where you’re kicking your toe on it.
Tracy:
00:29:19
Yeah,
well we had that. Everyone who would come into our kitchen would trip.
Aaron:
00:29:23
Yeah,
tell him about that.
Tracy:
00:29:24
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:
00:29:32
Are
you serious?
Tracy:
00:29:33
No,
I’m-
Aaron:
00:29:33
Yeah,
we’ll have to post that on.
Adam:
00:29:34
Oh my
gosh.
Tracy:
00:29:35
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:
00:29:46
Oh my
gosh.
Tracy:
00:29:47
We
gained like that much in our floors. Has anyone ever asked you tile on top of
tile?
Adam:
00:29:54
No.
Thankfully not.
Tracy:
00:29:55
And
what would you tell them?
Adam:
00:29:56
I
would say, “You’re crazy.”
Aaron:
00:29:59
Well
she had its-
Adam:
00:29:59
Hey,
it’s a cheap DIY. You know what I mean it-
Tracy:
00:30:01
Investors,
they just came and flipped our house.
Aaron:
00:30:01
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:
00:30:16
Totally.
Aaron:
00:30:17
So
I’ve seen it in the backsplash. And you can use those trim pieces kind of on
the edge.
Adam:
00:30:20
You
could get aways with that, yeah.
Aaron:
00:30:21
But
not for a floor.
Adam:
00:30:21
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:
00:30:29
It’s
insane. Yeah, it’s not good.
Aaron:
00:30:30
So you
had a pocket door on your kitchen.
Tracy:
00:30:33
A
pocket door that wouldn’t open [crosstalk 00:30:34].
Aaron:
00:30:35
They
tiled it in.
Tracy:
00:30:36
No.
Aaron:
00:30:36
So the
door, you couldn’t even open it or close it.
Tracy:
00:30:38
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:
00:31:04
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:
00:31:29
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:
00:31:46
Classic,
this is happening.
Tracy:
00:31:47
Yeah,
“What are you gonna do, I’m so cute.”
Aaron:
00:31:51
Pulling
out for my preschool homies.
Adam:
00:31:53
Exactly.
Tracy:
00:31:54
Yeah,
exactly. She has the little tear-drop tattoo. She is really … she’s very
confident young child.
Aaron:
00:32:00
She’s
gangster.
Adam:
00:32:00
Oh
yeah.
Aaron:
00:32:01
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:
00:32:16
Totally.
Aaron:
00:32:17
The
wood-look tiles?
Tracy:
00:32:17
Mm-hmm
(affirmative).
Adam:
00:32:18
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:
00:33:00
Such a
good idea.
Adam:
00:33:01

the fact that it’s cold. So you always have that option too.
Tracy:
00:33:06
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:
00:33:16
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:
00:33:34
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:
00:33:58
That’s
true.
Adam:
00:33:58
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:
00:34:09
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:
00:34:21
Gets
under it.
Aaron:
00:34:21
… 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:
00:34:31
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:
00:34:47
Oh my
gosh.
Aaron:
00:34:47
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:
00:35:05
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:
00:35:26
Totally.
Aaron:
00:35:27
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:
00:35:45
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:
00:36:15
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:
00:36:25
Absolutely.
Aaron:
00:36:26
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:
00:36:33
Totally.
Tracy:
00:36:35
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:
00:36:53
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:
00:37:35
With
an epoxy grout is it the same process like the-
Adam:
00:37:38
No.
Yeah, I would say hardware.
Aaron:
00:37:40
[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:
00:37:50
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:
00:38:45
What’s
the working time, is it similar to a typical grout or is it-
Adam:
00:38:48
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:
00:39:10
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:
00:39:28
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:
00:40:12
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:
00:40:45
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:
00:41:27
No.
Adam:
00:41:27
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:
00:42:17
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:
00:42:43
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:
00:42:55
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:
00:43:38
It’s
an empty air pocket beneath the tile.
Adam:
00:43:40
Exactly.
Aaron:
00:43:40
So if
you drop a hammer in that spot in that pocket-
Adam:
00:43:43
[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:
00:43:59
So for
small format tiles, you don’t really need to back-butter.
Adam:
00:44:02
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:
00:44:54
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:
00:45:17
Skimming
it.
Aaron:
00:45:18
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:
00:45:29
Exactly.
Aaron:
00:45:30
It
kind of goes together and then as that air is all pushed out, everything sucks
together.
Adam:
00:45:35
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:
00:46:01
Likewise.
Adam:
00:46:01

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:
00:46:14
I got
two more questions and then I think we’ll jump into some voicemails.
Adam:
00:46:17
Cool.
Aaron:
00:46:18
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:
00:46:27
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:
00:46:38
Scoring
and snap it tile.
Adam:
00:46:39
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:
00:46:53
Like a
wet saw.
Adam:
00:46:54
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:
00:47:21
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:
00:47:58
Absolutely.
Aaron:
00:47:58
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:
00:48:14
I
know, it’s not a lot. It doesn’t take much.
Tracy:
00:48:17
I just
use a Yelp app and a credit card-
Adam:
00:48:19
Perfect.
Tracy:
00:48:20

and that’s really all I’ve ever needed to use and everything has come out
really well.
Aaron:
00:48:23
And a
phone to call Adam.
Tracy:
00:48:26
Exactly.
Adam:
00:48:28
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:
00:48:41
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:
00:48:52
Two of
my favorite things. I do it myself.
Tracy:
00:48:53
Things
can go wrong, these could go wrong. You know what, I think it’s how much time
do you have too?
Aaron:
00:48:58
Exactly.
Adam:
00:48:58
That’s
exactly right.
Tracy:
00:48:58
Do you
have time to tile? It’s not a, “Let’s do it after the kids-go-to-bed-type
thing.”
Adam:
00:49:04
Right.
Aaron:
00:49:05
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:
00:49:19
Good
for you, that’s awesome.
Aaron:
00:49:20
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:
00:49:39
Hexagons
are … it’s a lot of cuts.
Aaron:
00:49:40
Five
sides of whatever. Six sides of lippage. It’s time-consuming.
Adam:
00:49:46
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:
00:49:52
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:
00:50:23
No
way.
Tracy:
00:50:23
Wow.
Adam:
00:50:24
How
did that work out, did work out good for you?
Aaron:
00:50:25
Great,
yeah phenomenal.
Adam:
00:50:26
That’s
awesome Aaron.
Aaron:
00:50:26
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:
00:51:05
That’s
cool and it worked out great.
Aaron:
00:51:07
It
worked, yeah.
Adam:
00:51:08
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:
00:51:36
Falls
together.
Adam:
00:51:36
So yeah,
it falls together to what we have initially planned.
Tracy:
00:51:39
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:
00:51:54
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:
00:52:38
So do
your homework.
Adam:
00:52:38
Do
Your homework and make sure that you have a plan basically.
Aaron:
00:52:44
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:
00:52:50
Totally
Aaron:
00:52:51
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:
00:53:19
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:
00:54:15
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:
00:54:50
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:
00:55:13
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:
00:55:53
High
maintenance.
Aaron:
00:55:54
So
something to consider as a home owner is how much maintenance you wanna to do
on this on a regular basis.
Adam:
00:56:00
Exactly.
Aaron:
00:56:00
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:
00:56:22
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:
00:56:42
I
wouldn’t recommend that.
Tracy:
00:56:43
Don’t-
Adam:
00:56:43
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:
00:57:00
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:
00:57:12
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:
00:57:32
So
don’t do it on a Saturday for a Christmas on Monday.
Adam:
00:57:34
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:
00:57:43
Unless
you using huge-
Adam:
00:57:44
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:
00:57:55
Five,
I don’t know what five would be, have the right tools maybe.
Adam:
00:57:59
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:
00:58:24
Awesome.
Adam:
00:58:25
And
watch a lot of YouTube videos I guess.
Aaron:
00:58:28
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:
00:58:34
I will
be waiting for that.
Adam:
00:58:35
Re-edit.
Aaron:
00:58:36

and make them better, but maybe we’ll do some collaborative ones and you could
teach me some techniques later on.
Adam:
00:58:42
That
would be awesome.
Aaron:
00:58:42
We
have a few voicemails that I wanna dive into if you don’t mind.
Adam:
00:58:45
I
don’t mind at all.
Aaron:
00:58:46
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:
00:58:55
I’ve
seen the YouTube videos lately where people are using a product called RedGard.
It’s pretty expensive, is it necessary?
Aaron:
00:59:04
So
RedGard question which is … I’ve used it.
Adam:
00:59:06
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:
00:59:52
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:
01:00:27
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:
01:00:50
Totally.
Aaron:
01:00:51
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:
01:01:09
Why
not?
Aaron:
01:01:10
Why
not?
Adam:
01:01:11
[crosstalk
01:01:11] When you had the product, exactly.
Aaron:
01:01:13
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:
01:01:35
Insurance.
Aaron:
01:01:35
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:
01:01:47
Exactly,
it’s a great product.
Aaron:
01:01:50
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:
01:02:02
Absolutely.
Aaron:
01:02:02
So, I
would recommend using it for most things where there is lot of water.
Adam:
01:02:06
I
agree.
Speaker
5:
01:02:07
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:
01:02:15
The
way I usually do it a lot of times is, I’ll leave that first row out.
Aaron:
01:02:21
That’s
what I did.
Adam:
01:02:21
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:
01:02:51
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:
01:03:23
So, I
think we’ve got one more voicemail here, so, let’s fire it up.
Ellen:
01:03:26
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:
01:03:44
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:
01:04:28
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:
01:05:12
And
grout over it
Adam:
01:05:13
And
grout over it and it’s not. You don’t see it when you are washing the grout.
Aaron:
01:05:17
I like
to use these ones that are kind of horseshoe shaped.
Adam:
01:05:20
Oh
yeah.
Aaron:
01:05:20
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:
01:05:46
Knock
them all off. Those are awesome.
Aaron:
01:05:48
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:
01:06:00
Yes.
Aaron:
01:06:00
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:
01:06:07
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:
01:06:54
The
pin.
Adam:
01:06:54
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:
01:07:09
So the
professional answer would be don’t use the plus sign thingies, use the
horseshoe or the penny thingies.
Aaron:
01:07:15
Pretty
much.
Adam:
01:07:15
That’s
right.
Tracy:
01:07:16
Got
it.
Aaron:
01:07:17
Those
are the technical names for them.
Adam:
01:07:19
Yes.
Aaron:
01:07:19
You
can find them-
Adam:
01:07:20
I like
[crosstalk 01:07:21].
Aaron:
01:07:21

exactly at your big box store. Under those things.
Tracy:
01:07:24
I will
remember that.
Aaron:
01:07:25
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:
01:07:38
[crosstalk
01:07:38]-
Adam:
01:07:38
You’re
like, “Ah.”
Aaron:
01:07:39
Oh, I
know exactly-
Tracy:
01:07:40
This
isn’t my department.
Aaron:
01:07:42
Yeah,
then they’re like, “Check the electrical wires.” Well, Adam, thank
you so much for being here. This has been super informative.
Tracy:
01:07:50
So
fun.
Adam:
01:07:50
It was
a pleasure, it was so much fun.
Aaron:
01:07:52
I love
your work.
Adam:
01:07:53
You
are an awesome guy to meet in person finally.
Aaron:
01:07:55
Right
on.
Adam:
01:07:56
And
make sure you guys follow Adam @aletile on Instagram.
Tracy:
01:08:01
So
good.
Adam:
01:08:02
Yes,
A-L-E-T-I-L-E.
Aaron:
01:08:04
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:
01:08:36
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:
01:08:45
Thank
you so much for being here.
Adam:
01:08:46
It’s
been a pleasure, thank you Aaron.
Aaron:
01:08:47
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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Further Reading