popping noise from tile [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : popping noise from tile

08-15-2006, 11:39 AM
I just got a new tile floor put into my house.

I removed the old tiles (VA) and put down a nice new layer of 1/4 inch plywood and screwed it nice and tight to the joists. I must of put down at least 50+ screws down plus 2 inch drywall nails every 6 inchs plus industrial staples all over the place.

I got a professional to install 13x13 tiles down and it looks great. After 1-2 days I noticed a few of the tiles started to make a "popping" sound. After a closer inspection today (3 days later) I noticed that the grout is starting to crack.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do here? As a min I'm getting the tiler to come back and replace the tiles that are popping.

Here's some info:
The Joists are 2x9 and they are 16inch apart on center.
The subfloor consists of 1 inch plank with 1/4 plywood with another 1/4 inch that I installed on top of that. (total 1 1/2 inch) 8-10 feet clear span. There is only one row of bridging on the floor.

Sponsored Links

08-15-2006, 11:45 AM
Doesn't sound like a deflection problem to me - you would have felt or heard the pop before the tile went down. My guess is not enough thinset under the tile leaving an air pocket that is allowing the tile to bounce. This causes the tile to move which causes the grout to crack. Not a tile pro, but that's my guess and I'll stick to it.


08-15-2006, 11:53 AM
I think 1/4" plywood is too thin by what most of the pros say, and luan is definetly not good if its that. I think they all recommend 1/2" minimum over planks then thinset then cbu or ditra, most even like to see the plank replaced with a second layer of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood. The tiles being replaced is not gonna fix the problem...Deflecto says your span is good for ceramic or stone...so I am pretty sure its the floor prep that is the problem.

The pros will be along shortly...

08-15-2006, 11:59 AM
I agree. 2 layers of 1/4" "plywood" does not equal one layer of 1/2" plywood.

08-15-2006, 12:09 PM
Ok, I want to see if I really learned something reading all the posts for a year now (and still not done my own project) I thought that you were never to screw that second layer into the joists. Don't the joists move?

08-15-2006, 12:16 PM
You're right, Kim. However, I think this floor has more problems than just that. No underlayment, for example.

08-15-2006, 12:31 PM
For the record, one way to do this floor properly would be to:

Remove all of the 1/4" plywood.

Nail or screw down any loose boards.

Install 1/2" or thicker plywood, avoiding placing fasteners into the joists.

Install a membrane like Kerdi or NobleSeal CIS, or a 1/2" backerboard.

Lay the tile.

08-15-2006, 12:46 PM
Did I miss something or did he say he put the two 1/4" Plys over an existing 1" - ah, wait, that's not 1" Plywood, is it? What's Plank?

08-15-2006, 12:56 PM
Matt --

He's talking about (probably nominal) 1" boards, most probably tongue and groove.

08-15-2006, 05:11 PM
Let's summarize here...dimmesional wood (the planks) are lousy for tile. The change shape too much with the seasons. They do add stiffness, which is important. To solve that problem, you need at least 1/2" of exterior grade plywood with all plies plugged and C or better. This provides MUCH more stability, but still not enough for tile. This layer should be installed with screws (not drywall) into the planks only, not into the joists.

Now, you're getting close...here you have various choices. A second layer of plywood, then a seriously expensive modified thinset, or, more commonly, cbu (cement board). 1/4" thick stuff is fine. The cbu needs to be installed in a bed of thinset then screwed to the plywood.

If you don't want to screw all of the cbu down, you can use roofing nails, or replace it with an antifracture membrane - something like Ditra from www.schluter.com, or Noble, or easymat, or one of several other membranes. Then, and only then should you put the tiles down.

It is very uncommon to find 1/4" plywood that meets the requirements for use under tile, typically you won't find it less than 3/8". It probably is luan, which is horrible under tile, but good under vinal.

The tile will likely all come loose over time unless the subfloor is prepared better...

Tool Guy - Kg
08-15-2006, 07:37 PM
Hi arandre, welcome to the forum.

The others have you pretty much covered. Replacing the tiles that are popping will only be a temporary fix. A permanent solution unfortunately involves taking out what you have and doing it on more suitable materials.

Since I didn't see what you used to set the tiles with, I would like to make sure you don't have one additional problem. Was the setting material a dry powder that was mixed with a liquid? Or was it a pastey material that came pre-mixed in a plastic bucket? :)

08-15-2006, 07:55 PM
I believe that it was material in a bucket (but I could be wrong). The tiler used some white glue for the wall tiles but used grey thinset on the floor.

One more thing, I was walking around on the floor and went down on my hands and knees and started ponding the tiles. I noticed that there was a difference in density (difference in tone) in part of the tiles that are loose. Almost sounds like there could be some missing thinset.

Any ideas?

Tool Guy - Kg
08-15-2006, 08:34 PM
To clarify:

Was the bucket material used for the floor as well? :shrug: Even though many manufacturers offer a pre-mixed product called "pre-mixed thinset", that resembles real thinset.....it is really a mastic material in disguise. It is inappropriate for setting floor tiles over a certain size. The common size limit on floors is about 8" for pre-mixed. Tiles any larger than this prevent the pre-mixed material from drying out. It fails to harden and the tiles move enough to cause the grout to crack and tiles to pop. While there are supposedly some pre-mixed adhesives that allow larger tiles to be set on the floor w/o experiencing this problem...it is a common material for professional tilers to avoid.

If you are uncertain, remove a loose tile and see if the setting material is hard or soft. Hard = thinset; soft = pre-mixed. Thinset is the material you need. :)