Michael Byrne has been a tile installer since 1968 working on residential, commercial, industrial, artistic and specialty installations. He is the author of three books, numerous videos and hundreds of articles on tile installation. His new book, “Tiling for Contractors,” is published by JLC Books. Michael has worked as an independent consultant on installations in North, Central and South America, the UK and Europe, and is one of the founders and was the first president and executive director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). He is the owner of a consulting, expert witness, and publishing company on Kiawah Island, SC, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not enough to simply buy green materials, because even they can cause health and safety problems if used incorrectly.
Every installer needs to be aware of the potentially negative effects of the process of tile installation in four different environments: the installer’s personal space, the entire job-site, the immediate neighborhood surrounding the site, plus the global environment. Light or occasional exposure to tile installation materials is usually not a problem for most people, but for a career installer, chronic exposure can lead to skin, respiratory, and orthopedic problems. Having the right personal safety equipment and practicing safe working habits can prevent these problems. Safety equipment includes the obvious, such as safety glasses, goggles, or face shields, ear buds, heavy gloves for rip-out work, rubber gloves for grouting, and knee pads, but a conscientious installer will have other equipment to keep contaminants away from other workers on the job site. These include using power tools that have a port to connect to a job vac, and fitting the vac with a HEPA filter. I consider the Craftsman vac I use to be a clean-up AND safety tool, and to make the job-site environment as dust-free as possible, I fit the vac with a HEPA filter (Craftsman part #17912).
As a companion to a job vac, another tool, relatively new to the market is a device called the Waletale, which clips onto the rim of a five-gallon bucket and connects to a vac to significantly reduce dust generated by the mixing of mortar and grout powders.
I consider the Waletale an essential part of my safety tool kit (the Waletale is available at: for about $20). When linked to a HEPA vac, this tool safeguards the installer, the job-site, and the surrounding community.
This tool offers convenience as well, especially when it’s raining or cold: when paired with a HEPA vac, mixing can be done indoors, cleanly and without the usual clouds of dust.
"Many Portland Cement Mortars and Grouts emit a significant amount of dust into the air. This innovative new tool can greatly reduce the amount of dust generated in the mixing process and can create a safer environment for everyone on the job"
Training and Education Director
National Tile Contractors Association
AWESOME PROBLEM SOLVER
by ROBERT - verified purchaser
I RECENTLY WAS USING MY PORTABLE DUST COLLECTOR TO SUCK AWAY THE DUST CREATED WHILE POURING AND MIXING CEMENT BASED PRODUCTS. THAT HAS NOW BEEN REPLACED WITH THE WALE TALE. I WISH I GOT IT SOONER. IT WORKS VERY WELL EVEN ON A 17 GALLON UTILITY TUB. I DID NEED TO MODIFY VERY SLIGHTLY FOR THE LIP OF 5 GALLON BUCKETS. A LITTLE PRICEY BUT AFTER USING IT, THIS WAS A HIT AT ANY PRICE. MY LUNGS APPRECIATE IT.
This thing is amazing. I've been mixing thinset mortar for 20 years and am so glad this product was invented. It is great for mixing inside and it saves your Lungs. It fit perfectly on all my buckets and my shop vac. Most contractors are impressed that we care enough to use this and keep the dust down on the job. I highly recommend it.
Excellent for indoor mixing.
by Tile Pro
I recently did 28 bags of Tec Leveler mixed in the basement I was working in. Level dust is like talcum power. You pour it in the bucket and a huge mushroom cloud of dust spews out. Normally you would be crazy to mix this indoors but with the wale tale there was zero dust escape!! After mixing enough tile mortar to lay 1,400sf of wood plank porcelain in a finished based there was not a film of dust anywhere. Hook this up to your shop vac with the large hose, not medium hose, and it is amazing. After mixing 28 bags of leveler and about 25 bags of Pro-lite my vac had far less cement dust in it than I was expecting. I use ridgid vac with a blue filter plus the filter bags they sell separately. The bag really helps preventing the filter from getting clogged.
Between this whale tale product and the barwalt saw tent we were able to stay in the basement very rarely having to trek upstairs for the entire job.
Must Have for Jobsite
by Attiliano - verified purchaser
This thing is easy to use and reduces the mess! Fool proof and handy. I recommend for anyone using a bucket to mix.
Saves your lungs
By 24/7 woodworker - October 28, 2014
Amazon Verified Purchase
This product really makes your work environment less dusty. It does what it says and I have purchased a second one. This is great for when mixing bagged spackle. That dust drives me nuts. I use this every time I lay tile and grout. Great quality product.
A must-have for any powdered product.
by Craig - verified purchaser
This has to be one of the best things I have in my garage. I am in the process of laying about 1,200 s.f. of tile, and I have been using it for both the mortar and grout. It sucks up just the dust and no "product". I was amazed at how well it actually works, no matter how fast you pour. I have even used it to de-dust new cat litter (dump it in the bucket with the Wale Tale going , and then pour it back in the original container). Works like a charm. Yes, it does fit various buckets differently, and might just take a bit more pressure to snap it on (better than having it too loose!). Have already convinced two co-workers to buy one.