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The Tile Floor


I have a lovely home that was built in 2005.  Even though it is fairly new, several events have conspired to cause me trouble today.  First, there was a slow leak in the master bathroom shower that went undetected for a period of time.  This leak eroded enough dirt away from the slab that it began to sag and crack–leading to problem two.

It seems the tile was installed directly on top of the concrete slab. As the slab cracked so did the tile.  This might have been avoided if a Ditra membrane had been used as recommended.

I’ve been living with this for several years and finally the crack got the best of me.  I decided that I HAD to install new tile.  I’m talking about DIY as in ME installing the tile.  I have done this once before when I lived in California and all went well.  I decided I would find replacement tile for a good value and set about the job while my wife was away on business for two weeks and well ahead of our vacation time. She would come home to a sparkly new bathroom floor.

Forget about the value tile, Cary wants a good quality tile or none at all.  We ended up buying travertine.  It was a good value at 5.76 a sq. foot–but not the 88 cents per foot I had imagined.  The travertine does look amazing with the rest of the bath but is about 500% more expensive than I originally planned.


The first part of the project went well enough.  I bought an air hammer from Harbor Freight (one of my favorite places to for tool shopping and wandering about).  It worked like a champ and I was able to take up all of the tile and most of the thinset mortar attached to it.  That was exhausting work.  It’s a good thing I was wearing ear protection or I would be deaf by now.

For the thinset that would not come up I used an angle grinder with a diamond blade cup attachment.  It worked like a charm but created such a dust storm that even with a quality respirator mask the dust entered my eyes, ears, nose and mouth.  My hair became coated with cement dust and became hard to the touch.  Oh, did I mention that my bathroom, nearby closets and bedroom was fully covered in a fine layer of dust?  I filled numerous vacuum cleaner bags and a shop vacuum removing it.  The floor was finally cleaned.  My eyes were oozing from infection and I was spitting grout.

Next it was time to “level” the floor.  According to the YouTube videos I watched, this would be an easy thing to do.  Just mix the stuff up and pour it on the floor.  Gravity would do the rest by pulling the mixture where it needed to go.

Don’t believe any of those videos! The product sets faster than you think and doesn’t flow evenly on its own.  My life flashed before my eyes as it bubbled and rippled across the floor.  Then I made it worse by moving the liquid over to where “it needed to be.”

Now the floor has additional high and low spots that it did not have before.  But no problem, I rented a large angle grinder with a 7″ wheel and vacuum attachment.  My shop vacuum hose is smaller than the attachment.  I strap it on with duct tape.  Somehow it works.

If you know what you are doing, I’m sure the grinder is a good way to go.  I spent an entire day–four hours anyway–grinding high spots.  The floor is more level than it was–but it is still not ready for tile and frankly, I’m out of options and ideas on how to make it better.

I’ve been working  for two solid two weeks in my spare time and I’m exhausted. My wife is looking over my shoulder and assuming the job of a sidewalk superintendent. She isn’t bashful about pointing out the obvious–the floor looks terrible and needs to be fixed!

At this point, past effort does not count. The house is a mess, the master bath and bedroom cannot be used and she is quick to let me know that she didn’t like my idea of this in the first place.  She is not a happy camper!  Can you spell S T R E S S!


I’m tempted to keep trying–but that’s just poking the marital bear. Truthfully, I need help.  As Detective Harry Callahan, AKA Dirty Harry, once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

I talked to my buddy Rick S. and he gave me the number of a general contractor.  Says the guy works for a reasonable price and did good on a recent tile job.  The man comes out sometime this week to give me an estimate. My intention is to let him finish the job.