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Old 11-11-2004, 01:29 PM   #1
Lbuesch
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Unhappy Popping tile floors

Professional advice needed... 7 year old custom home, reputable GC & tile installer have built 100's of homes, still building. No problems like this one..
Approx 2200 sq ft of 13" clay based ceramic tile floors laid with CUSTOM thinset over concrete slab. Within 1-2 years after construction, we started hearing the floors "popping" during cold weather, resulting in random hollow-sounding tiles. 7 years later this continues.. in random areas, but THROUGHOUT the home. Approx a week ago, middle of the night, floors started popping in dining room. Result in dining room was an entire row along a wall now hollow, and 6 adjacent tiles "exploded", breaking one, leaving others in a tented ^ position up off the floor, still grouted together.
Currently there are hollow, loose, and or broken tiles in every room of the house, random areas. GC has been out several times, local tile supplier has been out twice, tile and thinset has been sent off to a lab for "testing", CUSTOM rep coming out in Dec. No one seems to have a definitive answer. Same GC and tile installer did house next door to me several months after finishing mine, no tile problems. No problems w/ any other homes they have built/installed tile in.
Slab was cleaned of construction debris, overspray, etc prior to tile installation, no sealants sprayed on slab. No evidence of slab cracking in areas where tile has been removed, no interior or exterior cracking found in structure walls, ceilings, moldings, etc. No moisture found in slab. Some tiles in gameroom were removed and replaced using a different type of CUSTOM adhesive, Versabond, approx a year ago, and thus far those are holding.
ANY IDEAS of POSSIBLE CAUSE? Any ideas of WHOM to contact to determine cause?
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Old 11-11-2004, 01:38 PM   #2
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expansion joints????perimeter joints???
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Old 11-11-2004, 01:57 PM   #3
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I am sorry, I do not know... but CAN ASK...
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Old 11-11-2004, 02:21 PM   #4
Jason_Butler
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Interesting.

Most builders I've seen routinely grout the tiles tight at the baseboard. It is possible with seasonal chnages that this will result in the failure you described.



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Old 11-11-2004, 02:25 PM   #5
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You answered your own question, it's called TENTING, when there is no expansion joints around the perimeter of a tiled floor, it causes pressure in the middle of the floor, resulting in exactly what you are describing.

I agree with all above, bet it's all grouted nice and tight.
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Old 11-11-2004, 02:55 PM   #6
Lbuesch
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Tenting.. possibly... but this is THE ONLY room the "tenting" has happened in....in 7 years. And, tile was laid BELOW the baseboard and if I remember correctly tile is NOT butted right up to the sheetrock or wall studs. It has "popped" throughout the house, but no other tenting.....and all the tile has popped and is hollow in my bathroom also, which has NOT tented, and 1/2 of that bathroom is carpet...which should allow for expansion/contraction?
Bathroom has all popped, tiles are hollow, thin-set is not bonding to the tiles. Would question that this room is an expansion issue...??
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Old 11-11-2004, 03:16 PM   #7
Bill Vincent
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It doesn't necessarily have to tent for perimeter pressure to ruin a tile floor. You said you've been hearing popping going on throughout the floor. That same pressure would do that. What's happening is that the weakest bonded tiles are popping, relieving some of the pressure, but rest assured, if nothing is done about it, the whole floor will go, sooner or later.

If the contractor hasn't had these same problems elsewhere, I'd be curious if maybe he got a different species of lumber than normal, or something like that that no one would even normally consider. One way or the other, something's got to be different, whether it's the materials he used, or the type of soil your home is built on-- something is different.
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Old 11-11-2004, 03:18 PM   #8
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And, short of ripping it all out, WHAT does one do about it?
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Old 11-11-2004, 03:19 PM   #9
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I dont doubt that its an expansion issue.Popping is from pressure and the tile shearing from the thinset.I bet its porcelain and i bet it was set with Versabond or a lesser product. Pull a baseboard and see if its grouted to the wall.If it is i can tell you right now what the custom rep is going to say.
Tileguys going to eat this one cause customs going to say-Installer error!!
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Old 11-11-2004, 03:21 PM   #10
Bill Vincent
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If it IS perimeter pressure that's causing this, the fix is an easy one-- just cut out the grout around the perimeter and caulk it. Nothing has to be ripped out, other than the tiles that have already popped loose.
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Old 11-11-2004, 04:00 PM   #11
Lbuesch
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Todd.. the tile is NOT porcelain, is a clay based ceramic, thinset was CUSTOMBLEND.
Bill.. will check behind baseboards....
Warranty was standard 1-year, floors 7 years old. So, the cost to repair/replace will be MINE only, I assume. Bids thus far to remove/salvage ones that are loose and re-install is $10 tile. 2200 sq ft and approx 1/2 of them have popped loose.
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Old 11-11-2004, 04:13 PM   #12
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Customblend isn't a modified thinset and could cause tile not to adhere well to the floor, but, A friend of mine used it over his basement floor by mistake, also concrete, it is still holding.

But I'll bet the thinset used here has alot to do with your problems.
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Old 11-11-2004, 04:14 PM   #13
Raymond S
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There is one of the problems right there ... Custom Blend. I agree with RD and others about the tenting also (probably no perimeter joints).
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Old 11-11-2004, 04:37 PM   #14
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On a 2200 square foot floor there should also be movement joints in the field of tile -- going through doorways and other narrow expanses.

At to Versa Bond thin set, I consider it a quality product. As to Custom Blend, they ought to discontinue making it.
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Old 11-11-2004, 06:07 PM   #15
Davestone
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Yeah, with the stresses of expansion and contraction of all substances,and not enough expansion joints, and perimeter caulking,the natural reaction is to move to the weakest point,and if it's weak thinset,or lack of bonding to the tile, it's easier to go straight up than through the wall. I've been looking at a lot of similar problems lately,and everyone from the installers to the builders throw their hands up and walk away. My suggestions have been to talk to the countyto start with about proper expansion in the installation, but as yet haven't heard from anyone.I do know of a couple of cases drug through the system only to have the owners drop the suits out of frustration.
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