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FuturaStone and ceramic floor tiles
Old 05-12-2011, 12:15 PM   #1
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FuturaStone and ceramic floor tiles

The economy must be recovering. Contractors aren't returning our phone calls again.

Do any of you tile experts know if ceramic tiles can be laid down over FuturaStone? Is it a matter of just working enough thinset into the FuturaStone and then back-buttering the tile?

Spouse and I are in the early stages of planning the rebuilding of our familyroom. The previous owners slapped it together about 15 years ago by enclosing part of the back lanai. Among their many "expedient construction compromises" was the decision to lay the baseplates down over the FuturaStone-coated lanai. Then, once they'd created a room with a FuturaStone floor, they put down cheap padding and wall-to-wall carpet. Now we're trying to decide how to fix it right. We'd like to end up with ceramic tile to match the rest of the house's floors.

One of FuturaStone's many drawbacks is its affinity for attracting dirt & mold. Another is the tendency for its UV coating to break down in sunlight, releasing sharp little stones out of the aggregate and making the floor uneven.

You would think that such a crappy surface would be easily removed. You would be incorrect, and we're not doing this one by ourselves. A few years ago when we finally gave up on our exterior FuturaStone lanai & sidewalks, the demolition was horrific. There are specialized contractors for this task because the epoxy matrix (below the stone surface) is so stubbornly attached to the concrete. The crew attaches a heavy-gauge razor-sharp 18" scraper blade to the front end of a propane-powered forklift. (Imagine a wood-splitting wedge as sharp as an axe blade.) The forklift does its best imitation of a snowplow moving a partially-melted snowbank-- it backs off, lowers its blade, accelerates, and slams into the FuturaStone coating from the side. It usually spalls off an 18"x8" area and repeats the process ad nauseum. They go through two dozen blades a day. Assistants follow with hand-held electric jackhammers for the corners & borders.

We're going to take the familyroom down to the studs anyway (as well as replace the roof), so racing forklifts around the 15'x30' interior doesn't seem too daunting. However I'm a little concerned about chipping away the FuturaStone and leaving just a 4"-wide layer under the baseplates. Without the rest of the FuturaStone floor that narrow strip might degrade on its own over the years, destabilizing the baseplates and causing the walls to settle another ".

The nuclear-engineering-grade answer might be to demolish the entire familyroom (including the studs & baseplates), spend the money to scrape off all the FuturaStone, and start over from scratch by building a new frame on the bare concrete foundation. We're seriously considering this option since we plan to live in this house another 4-5 decades. One reason we're thinking about it is because the baseplates could then be properly sealed against bugs & termites and we could verify that they were properly bolted to the foundation against hurricanes. But the house has been through an earthquake and a hurricane already (plus a dozen storms with sustained 65 mph winds) so this might be excessively anal cautious.

We know how to clean most of the dirt & mold out of FuturaStone. A professional carpet-cleaner neighbor uses a pressure-washing rotary-scrubbing extractor with 180-degree water that basically converts everything to mud and sucks it out of the matrix. It takes 2-3 washings and it's another horrible mess but the results are quite livable.

Once the FuturaStone is as clean as it's going to get (and after letting it dry out while the roof/walls are rebuilt), we wonder if it'll support thinset and ceramic tile. Has anyone ever tried to do this?
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:01 PM   #2
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Nords, I will give you my experience and you can think about it until someone with more knowledge on the matter opines..... I have layed ceramic tile in 3 homes over the years with no flooring problem. The key I was told and followed is your tile is only as secure as the base under it. Obviously concrete, with mortar buttered on the tile is most secure. With anything else your securest way to ensure that your ceramic tile will hold is to lay concrete backer board on your flooring, then butter your tiles to it (I also buttered the backer board , too before securing the tile to it). I drilled so many screws into the backer board to the subfloor, I bet I caused a shortage of screws in town. But the backer board was not moving and the tile wasn't either. If you do anything else you risk movement which will cause your tile to pop up, causing problems. Never try to short cut laying tile as it will cause grief. I had linoleum in my kitchen and used a machine to scrap it off the best I could before I secured the backer board to it. In summary I would never glue tile or mortar it to anything other than concrete flooring or cement backer board. Just my opinion, good luck!
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:58 PM   #3
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How much extra space do you have to move 'up'

There are two suggestions that I will throw out... instead of concrete backer board... pour a layer of concrete on TOP of what you have... it would fill in all the spaces and give you a nice finish to put on the tile...


If that is a problem... you can buy epoxy to cover the stones... the ones I saw were a bit expensive, but the ads seemed to indicate that it would be a complete seal and the surface would be smooth.... I was looking at this to cover up my mothers pea gravel surface on her patio which is also not a great finish... our cat will not even go out there anymore since it hurts her paws...
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:27 PM   #4
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Sorry, I've got no authoritative answers or experience, so I'll revert to my standard unsubstantiated guesswork.

The first thing I'd try is to get the FutureStone up with a carbide scraper. The device is rented, looks like a GI issue floor buffer on steroids (one approx 16" dia wheel), and the wheel has about a dozen little (3/4" wide?) scrapers, each with its own little coil spring suspension. This thing is designed to remove all kinds of stuff from concrete, and I think it just might do the job on FutureStone. At the very worst you'll be out a hundred bucks for a few hours of rental time--and you'll probably have A Story ("a hit the trigger and that thing took me on the ride of my life")

If that doesn't work, I'd guess that you'd be fine with putting thinset directly over the FuturaStone. Heck, it sounds like it's bonded very well to the slab, and the rough surface is going to provide good grip for the thinset.

I'd sure be reluctant to tear out the walls, etc. If you're worried about affixing the baseplate to the slab, can it be done on the outside or maybe from the inside using low (5" high, max) notches in the drywall at the present floor, angled holes through the baseplate into the slab, and epoxy-embedded anchors? Then, lay your new floor (total height= 1") and cover the notches with 4" base molding. (the base molding will also cover the dents you made with the runaway carbide floor scraper).

This sounds like a fun project.
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Old 05-12-2011, 05:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
You would think that such a crappy surface would be easily removed. You would be incorrect, and we're not doing this one by ourselves. A few years ago when we finally gave up on our exterior FuturaStone lanai & sidewalks, the demolition was horrific. There are specialized contractors for this task because the epoxy matrix (below the stone surface) is so stubbornly attached to the concrete.
I know absolutely NOTHING about this (but has that ever stopped me from posting? nah...). I don't even know what Futurastone is but it sounds like it is very tough to remove.

Why not get the opinion of a well reputed local contractor, one who can look at it, and who does this sort of thing constantly for a living? Then get competing bids and select someone to either do it or subcontract it out to the best person to do it.

You want this done RIGHT - - you are going to be living in the house for a long time, and it will bother you forever if it isn't done right, IMO.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:27 PM   #6
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That stuff should be illegal. It's called pebble something locally, and our house had it when we moved in. Of course no one had done the upkeep, so the pebbles were breaking off and being hauled all over the house. Someone told us it would run around 10k to have someone remove it - we had a patio, driveway and some walkways covered with it.

We ended up removing it ourselves. We got some kind of scraping machine, probably what samclem mentioned. I seem to remember it working on the looser areas. We also ended up with a jackhammer with a 4-6 inch wide chisel type blade on it for the parts that were stuck harder. It was a few days of very hard work by us and family members, but it was worth saving the 10k at the time. Of course once it's all off we realized that it was covered because the concrete was in relatively bad shape, and that we should have had them remove all the concrete and replace it with new concrete or pavers.

It's been 10 years now, and we might actually get around to getting the concrete/pavers done soon.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:33 PM   #7
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I would suggest you look into the Kerdi line of products. They have a self leveler which is then covered by an orange flexible membrane. Once the prep system is down and the tile is laid and grouted the floor is waterproof.

There is a lot of info online for Kerdi and the perfect place to ask this question is the John Bridge tlle forum. Lots of very knowledgable tiling pros there.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:44 PM   #8
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We had tile laid over linoleum and because our house is elevated they put in the backer board to provide stability . It has been ten years and no cracking or moving of any tiles . My previous house had tile over concrete and I had several cracked tiles due to settling( make sure you have extra tile as it is hard to match ) . I am sure the local contractors have dealt with this before and can make recommendations.
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Old 05-13-2011, 12:57 PM   #9
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I'm glad I asked for help on this. Spouse and I had hit a vacuum in our brainstorming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
The first thing I'd try is to get the FutureStone up with a carbide scraper.
Quote:
Originally Posted by meekie View Post
That stuff should be illegal.
To be fair, one of the reasons we got this house at such a great price is that knowledgeable buyers weren't willing to tackle the outside FuturaStone and the crappy familyroom. When we bought the place we set aside the money saved in the "discount" as our own personal home-improvement reserve, but shortly after that we acquired our pet bunny. Now that he's passed on we can finish the familyroom. 2012 will be more of a 6% SWR year than 4%.

You had to see this guy with the forklift scraper to believe it. The noise, the dust, and the shrapnel were amazing. Once the stones were off they used the carbide scraper (plus another rotary attachment that resembles a paint chipper) to abrade the last of the epoxy from the concrete foundation. The last six inches in the corners (electric jackhammers) took almost as long as the first 90%. It's the kind of labor that makes you gather round your children to watch while saying "Kids, stay in school."

Meekie, I feel your pain of removal. It didn't look very good to begin with, and just the quoted price to "rehab" it meant that we'd be buying it all over again in a decade. We hired the stamped-concrete company, and even they subcontracted out the FuturaStone removal crew.

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I'd sure be reluctant to tear out the walls, etc.
This sounds like a fun project.
I'm hoping this is the last major home-improvement project that I ever supervise.

The room's drywall was badly done to begin with, and our bunny did a number on the lower 18". The earthquake moved around a couple of joints, and the roof leaked down to a corner of the ceiling. We're removing the ceiling. We're talking new windows on one wall and a new lanai door on the other. At some point a contractor would find it easier to scrap the drywall and start over, but I don't know where that line gets drawn. I suspect a few extra hours of demolition, and a few hundred bucks of drywall, won't be a significant discussion compared to the overall price. I'll just keep handing over my credit cards until the "problem" is solved.

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Why not get the opinion of a well reputed local contractor, one who can look at it, and who does this sort of thing constantly for a living?
You can tell that the economy is recovering when you go to a home show, do your best Tim "The Tool Man" Allen imitation with a dozen home-remodeling firms, and don't get a single callback. We'll eventually collect some contractor interest, but in the meantime we keep refining our specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulligan View Post
Obviously concrete, with mortar buttered on the tile is most secure. With anything else your securest way to ensure that your ceramic tile will hold is to lay concrete backer board on your flooring, then butter your tiles to it (I also buttered the backer board , too before securing the tile to it). I drilled so many screws into the backer board to the subfloor, I bet I caused a shortage of screws in town. But the backer board was not moving and the tile wasn't either. If you do anything else you risk movement which will cause your tile to pop up, causing problems. ... In summary I would never glue tile or mortar it to anything other than concrete flooring or cement backer board. Just my opinion, good luck!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moemg View Post
We had tile laid over linoleum and because our house is elevated they put in the backer board to provide stability . It has been ten years and no cracking or moving of any tiles . My previous house had tile over concrete and I had several cracked tiles due to settling( make sure you have extra tile as it is hard to match ) . I am sure the local contractors have dealt with this before and can make recommendations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
How much extra space do you have to move 'up'
Well, I clearly have some big gaping holes in my flooring knowledge. Of course we should use backer board. I've used it on shower walls & countertops but it never occurred to me to put it on the floor. Thanks.

An inch of backer-board & tile would also raise the familyroom floor to nearly the same level as the diningroom entry. (Back when the familyroom was a lanai, you'd step down a few inches from the dining room threshold to go out onto the lanai.) We can make the FR-DR transition look pretty with more tile while being wheel-chair friendly, and we can make up the extra space by raising the roof.

We want to to rip off the bad Brai torch-on roof (I can't believe the ponding water hasn't penetrated it yet), fix a nasty leak at the roof's 2nd-floor wall flashing that wandered through the kitchen to the familyroom ceiling, and put in a planked cathedral ceiling to match our livingroom. It's technically feasible to raise the roof another 12"-18", which will greatly improve the airflow & aesthetics, while also adding in reflective foil insulation for better cooling. In a serendipitous coincidence I'll also get more south-facing roof for photovoltaic panels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
If that is a problem... you can buy epoxy to cover the stones...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa99 View Post
I would suggest you look into the Kerdi line of products. They have a self leveler which is then covered by an orange flexible membrane. Once the prep system is down and the tile is laid and grouted the floor is waterproof.
There is a lot of info online for Kerdi and the perfect place to ask this question is the John Bridge tlle forum. Lots of very knowledgable tiling pros there.
Thanks, I'm going to price out those options (especially for the day when our garage FuturaStone goes bad) although I suspect that backer board is going to prove a lot cheaper in the familyroom.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:35 PM   #10
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I stumbled across this thread while researching an answer to another thread, so I'll update this one too.

We debated backer board with two different tile contractors and neither one felt it was necessary once they'd kicked around the FuturaStone. The guys who did the tile put it down right over the FuturaStone. They first ran a diamond-tipped grinder wheel over the floor to scrape off the construction debris (drywall joint compound, primer, paint) and the FuturaStone epoxy. That only took about 30 minutes for a 30'x15' room, so they weren't trying to grind it down to base rock. They just roughed it up. Then they went over it by hand with a huge ShopVac to get up as much debris as they could. I'd already vacuumed that same floor roughly 82 times during the daily construction cleanup, so all they really got was the debris from their grinder.

Then they used a lot of thinset-- a thick coat on the floor and a thin backbutter on the tile. They're 18" porcelain tiles, not ceramic, but they used the same thinset to fix a bunch of the existing ceramic tiles at the boundary to the next room.

Even though they tiled over FuturaStone, and that material still has the little gaps between its rocks, the tile sounds just the same as the diningroom tile laid down over bare concrete. Our entire ground floor is tile now (except for the bedrooms) and it's incredibly cool. We haven't used any of our ceiling fans in the entire house since this renovation was finished.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:56 PM   #11
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