Over the past two evenings I was able to get the thin-set applied in the shower stall and the first layer of tape on the drywall. For the thin-set, I used an alkali-resistant fiberglass mesh tape on all of the seams and corners before the thin-set was applied. This is very similar to how you would tape drywall, but just a little stronger and you don’t have to add thin-set to hold the tape on. The tape goes on by cutting it to size and because it has a sticky side to it, you can place it where you need it and it will stay put until you are ready to spread on your thin-set.
Here are some pictures of the thin-set I used, all mixed up and then applied. I used a 3″ putty knife to apply the thin-set and then spread it out as smoothy and evenly as possible. Unlike drywall compound, once it’s dry, you can’t sand it smooth. You need to make sure it’s as good as possible and ready for tiling when done.
After I was done with the application of thin-set, I had to let it dry. Since the night was still young, I decided to tackle the taping of the drywall. I started out used a setting-type “hot” compound that you add water and mix yourself. The benefit to using the setting-type compound is that dries at a set time. Unlike regular premixed compound that could take up to 48 hours to dry per coat, this “hot” mud can be purchased in drying times of 5, 20, 45, 90, and 210 minutes. The good thing about that is that you can do multiple coats in a single day. The bad part is that you need to know how to mix properly to get a good, smooth consistency and you need to work quickly. Even with the 210 minute stuff, it starts to set a lot faster than you would think. It’s not like it’s 100% normal until you hit 210 minutes and all of a sudden, BAM! it’s dry. It starts to harden during the end of the time frame and you need to get a feel for when to stop. Also, when I mean stop, I mean stop applying, and start to clean off your tools quickly! It dries very hard and it is a nightmare to get off. Since it doesn’t break down with water like the premix stuff, you SHOULD NOT pour unused material down the drain.
The reason that I know how much stuff can go wrong is because I did all of those things on the first night and really screwed things up! I used the 90 minute mixture, I didn’t put enough water in the mixture, I didn’t mix it good enough, and I kept working until after it was starting to harden. So, what does this mean? It means that I had to scrape all the compound off that I applied on the walls because it looked like I tried to apply blue cheese with a spatula, then run down stairs to start cleaning my tools, curse at everything and anyone around me, then be depressed because I felt like I failed at something that should have been easier. Luckily there wasn’t that many joints done before it started to get really hard.
So, I slept it off and went to Home Depot last night and picked up a normal 5 gallon pail of premixed, mid-weight compound. I was able to go home and give it a quick mixing, and started to apply it immediately to the walls until I was completely finished with the first coat of taping the joints and corners.
Here is the setting-type joint compound and me all excited to get things rolling like the pros:
And here is what it looks like after you fail using the setting type compound and switch back to premixed