Kitchen Remodel has halted

berardmrSeptember 22, 2012

Well, they pulled up the poorly installed rectified tile but the project is on hold right now until the subfloor is removed and new tile is ordered.

The original contractor did not remove the thinset before he installed a new plywood floor. No wonder the tile was so uneven.

Now they're saying the problem is that my whole floor is uneven. Don't know how they can tell that when they haven't removed all of the layers yet.

I can't begin to tell you how stressful this is. Especially when caring for my 94 yo MIL.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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Sorry to hear about the problems with your floor - and having to care for your MIL at the same time. But it does sound like you are doing the right thing by starting over with the floor. I'm sure it will all be worth it in the end. One day at a time...

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:15AM
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Here you can see where the old thinset (in white) was never removed. Instead the contractor just piled plywood on top of it. As you can see, they made attempts at removing some of the old thinset yesterday. It was too difficult so they went home.

I don't cut corners on my work; it's beyond me how some contractors think it's okay or won't be caught by the homeowner.

As I've learned from GW...My reno, my money, my way. Unfortunately they are in the driver's seat right now. They ripped out tile that I had paid for and they now need to pay to replace it. Long story.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:21AM
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Sometimes silence and a stare is the best approach.
While telling you it's your floor, just look at them, kick the old thinset, look back at them, and oh, maybe pick a little up and toss it back and forth in your hands. Look at them and say, "Is that what you're really going to try to run with?"

You've sure been thru some stupid crap.

Have you tried threatening them with a seriously mad, p.o.ed 94 year old woman? I know I wouldn't necessarily be too thrilled about someone probably the size of a gnome ranting at me.

Just an idea....

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Here's a good one. See if you would swallow this....

My contract says they will install a new sub-floor. The OWNER of the company tried to convince me that I didn't understand what the contract meant by a "subfloor." Ready for this -- he said THINSET is a SUBFLOOR, not plywood.

I am to the point of breaking. Not having a kitchen is stressful enough but this is just crazy.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:52AM
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I do not know all the proper terms and do DIY, so I am not a flooring expert, but have done a fair amount of research and four successful tile installations myself. From what I see in your picture, it looks like you have three layers of wood right now: an original plywood subfloor, original plywood or particle board underlayment, and the new plywood on top. In my home I have a plywood subfloor and particle board underlayment. In both a bathroom and a laundry room the particle board underlayment had a mess on top (in my case glue, but similar to your thinset). I simply set a circular saw to the depth of the underlayment and cut sections. And then used a prybar, hammer, and chisel to completely remove the layer. Then in one case (porcelain tile) I simply put Ditra down on top of the single bottom layer of plywood subfloor. In another case (slate/quartzite stone tile), I put a new layer of underlayment (OSB) on top of the plywood subfloor and then Ditra on top of it. It was a LOT easier than trying to scrape up glue or thinset. And the Ditra provides a great layer for setting tile and a great isolation layer to protect against movement.

I'm sorry but it seems to me that either your contractors are terrible about communicating or they're idiots or they're lazy. I'm not entirely clear on all the rules of working with contractors, but it seems to me that they should easily be able to use a circular saw and prybar and remove those top two layers, leaving the plywood subfloor underneath. Then re-build the layers appropriately for a correct tile installation. I personally would strongly push for Ditra, but I know there are other valid installations too. I think (from reading - not personal experience) that often cement board is done on top of the plywood subfloor and tile on top of that. I'm personally not confident with a particle board then thinset then tile installation, though I've heard some people have success with it.

Bottom line is that you need a good floor that will last. It is possible that the floor is uneven and perhaps they have they experience enough to know that. Leveling can be done with a self-leveling compound that is poured onto the floor or I think there are other techniques like floating a mud bed and probably more that I am not aware of. It is definitely difficult (if not impossible) to lay a perfect floor on an imperfect subfloor. Certain tiles and grout widths allow for some flexibility in hiding unevenness, where others do not.

I think you are fully within your rights to ask exactly how they are going to resolve the problem and exactly what the timeline will be. Take notes and come back here with questions or use the power of the internet to do more research. There is nothing more frustrating than feeling helpless. I'm so sorry that you are going through this mess, and I hope that with some help things can be worked out so that you will soon have a working beautiful kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Who is doing the actual labour work - the contractor or a flooring expert? Have you gone over to the flooring forum and posted your problem/pictures? There are some very helpful experts over there.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:41PM
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uh oh. I have a feeling Christine is getting her keys ready and going to hop in her truck and head to your house.....better tell the flooring guy to get ready.


(Hang in there kiddo, it will get better)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 3:41PM
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We really do need to get her a cape....

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Pricklypearcactus, thanks for taking the time to explain the options.

The 2 top layers of plywood were removed this week. So now I'm down to the sub-floor. There's still some areas where the removal didn't get quite everything, or went too low. For this reason, I'm told the next step is to sand the floor. Then he's going to apply durarock and then tile.

I hope to be back on track soon but have lost over 2 weeks due to the GC's sloppy work. He will not be returning.

Going without a kitchen for this long is a PITA! Thanks, all.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 8:11PM
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