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Removing glued-down engineered wood;
Adjusting layout to avoid small cuts
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Ask the Experts Q&As are culled from member inquiries to NTCA’s Technical Support staff. To become a member and make use of personal, targeted answers from Technical Support staff to your installation questions, contact Jim Olson.
QUESTION I’m attempting to remove a glued down engineered wood floor that has been installed over a concrete slab (on grade). This wood is incredibly difficult to remove. This leads me to the question. Using an appropriate multi-bond mortar, is it okay to install the tile on top of this glued-down engineered wood floor? ANSWER The existing wood flooring has to come up, and it is hard work to do it. One approach is to use a circular saw to cut strips in floor, and a chipping hammer or stripper to take up glued-down engineered wood, but it can still be difficult and time consuming. There may be a company in your area that does dust-free demo work that you could subcontract it out to or you could try a ride-on Bronco, Terminator or similar battery or propane-powered ride-on scraper – these work very well.

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QUESTION A customer tiled a 200 sq. ft. commercial bathroom floor. 12" x 24" tile with 1/8" joints was specified. After layout he’d have had 1" cut, so he opened joint to 3/16" to eliminate small cuts at perimeter. He should have, but didn’t consult the architect before making the change. The architect is unhappy, since they hadn’t been consulted before the adjustment. Is there anything in ANSI or TCNA regarding adjusting layout to avoid small cuts? I recall that topic during the presentation on the advanced installation accreditation tests. Where would I find that?
ANSWER In ANSI A108. and in the TCNA Handbook in “Grout Joint Size, Layout, And Patterns” section, it talks about minimum grout joint size. Was the 12"x24" installed in a brick pattern, or running bond pattern? Was the tile used calibrated or rectified? There are minimum grout joint requirements for this pattern depending on tile type.
Depending on a couple factors, the TCNA Handbook states “The actual grout joint may, of necessity, vary from the grout joint size specified.”
ANSI A108. states “An excessive amount of cuts should not be made. Usually no cuts smaller than half size should be made.”
You are correct he should have communicated with the architect before making this change, if the architect did specify a different grout joint size. The statements above could possibly help the defense of his layout depending on pattern, tile type, and actual facial dimensions of the tile.
You may also reach out to the manufacturer of the tile to see if they have a minimum grout joint size recommendation that could also aid in his case.