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Old 03-24-2008, 07:58 PM   #1
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Flaking Grout and Squeaky Floors

First, I have to say that I thought I did all the research I needed to do before starting a tiling project, but I was so wrong.

I wish I had found this forum before I started this project. (How many times has that line been posted here?)

We are tiling a 130 sq ft kitchen. We are in a bi-level, so the kitchen is on the top floor, with no access from the underside. The house was built in 1990.

We used a Ditra underlayment based on a recommendation from the tiling "expert" at The Big Box Store. We were told that the underlayment would address any deflection issues that might exist with the second floor installation.

We noted a couple squeaky spots in the kitchen and mentioned them to the tiling "expert" who assured us the Ditra would address the excess deflection in those spots. Ha.

The installation went fine. Ditra installed with thinset over subfloor. Same thinset used to lay the tile. Everything felt solid.

We let the tile set for 36 hours, then used a sanded grout, mixed with water per instructions on the bag. We did three rounds of cleaning after the grout was laid. Very shortly after the grout started to dry, we noticed that the grout was flaking in a few spots around the kitchen - particularly around the squeaky spots.

By the next morning, the flaking had turned to flat out grout breakups. Chunks of grout came out of the joints in just those areas. The rest of the kitchen looks great.

We are thinking that we followed bad advice and the Ditra is not enough to address the squeaky spots.

Now what do we do?

Our thought is to pull up the tiles over the squeaky areas, clean the thinset, then nail down the subfloor to address the deflection. Then replace with new tile and grout with the same grout we used on the rest of the floor.

Will this work?

Our second thought is to look for a silicone version of grout, that might be more flexible under these circumstances. Should we bother?

I really appreciate any advice. I've learned a big lesson on how not to start a home improvement project - namely, not to follow the advice of The Big Box Store Experts.
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Old 03-24-2008, 08:17 PM   #2
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I wouldn't bother.

Ditra nor any other tile underlayment can stiffen up your floor.
they have no structural value, they only act as a proper setting surface for your tile.

you need to check your deflection first to see if you can receive tile in that area without having to add more plywood to make it stronger.

your probably going to have a lot more grout cracking up over time.

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Old 03-24-2008, 09:50 PM   #3
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In order to help, we'd need some details of the structure. Tile hates movement, and a squeaky floor indicates movement. Ditra is good, but not good enough to offset obvious movment prior to the install. What was the subfloor material? Plywood? Was there any particle board? 1/4" luan ply? How thick was it? You may need to poke a small series of holes in the ceiling below to determine what the joists are and how far apart they are. If you use a small drill bit and say a coat hanger to probe to figure out the depth of the joists and their spacing, you can probably patch that unobtrusively and may not need to paint or re-texture. if there is a pipe or air vent going through the floor, you might be able to determine the thickness of the subflooring.

Once in awhile, you get good help at a big box store, but often, they're relatively clueless. They did steer you to a superior product - Ditra, but did not understand the basics of what was required for ANY subfloor prep prior to tile.
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Old 03-25-2008, 06:28 AM   #4
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Thank you for the responses.

The sub floor is luan ply wood - no particle board. The joists are 12 with 16 centers. (This I know from previous home improvement projects).

There are two squeaky areas. They both run along the same joist line. The rest of the floor looks great - no flaking or movement at all.

Also, we used the same tile, underlayment and process in a bathroom on the same floor without any issues.

Thoughts? (Besides the obvious "Don't take your advice from sales people at Big Box Stores") haha
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Old 03-25-2008, 06:43 AM   #5
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The 1/4' luann is being used as what we call the underlayment. The subfloor (which is under the underlayment) is probably and should be at least 3/4'. Anyway you have problems,; the 1/4' luann should have been taken up. And depending on the distance between the joists and the length of the unsupported joists your floor may or may not be rated for tile. So....get this info and then use the "defelecto" (up in the blue menu bar:
  • 1. size of joist (depth)
  • 2 Length of unsupported joists span under the kitchen
  • 3. type of wood joists are made of
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Old 03-25-2008, 07:06 AM   #6
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So, I'll have to try the hangar through the ceiling thing tonight? (I'm at work)

The original builder offered ceramic tile as an option - the home was structurally built but unfinished when we purchased it. Can we assume that means the floor is structurally able to take tile? Since he would have put it in if we hadn't opted for vinyl at the time?
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Old 03-25-2008, 07:24 AM   #7
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The Luan is probably your biggest culprit. It has too much flex and no density and will allow the Ditra and tile to have movement. Should of been removed...

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Old 03-25-2008, 07:55 AM   #8
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Is it worth trying to screw down the squeaky areas before giving up entirely and removing the entire floor?
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:01 AM   #9
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Frank~ You could try that as a stopgap measure. Pull up the offending area and screw it like crazy.....and it might last a while. Unfortunately, luan is a very poor surface to tile to and the chances are quite high that the floor will ultimately fail. Sorry, we know that's not what you want to hear.

"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:36 AM   #10
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If I wanted to just hear what I wanted to hear, I'd go back to Home Depot.

I think I'll try it and just see where it goes.

I love the look of the ceramic, but if i have to go back to vinyl, it won't kill me. I am already paranoid about the ceramic every time my 2 year old heads into the bathroom with a heavy toy. When she has full run of the kitchen it will only be worse.
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:38 AM   #11
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Oh, and this made me lol:

"They Didn't Want it Good...They Wanted it Wednesday..."

That describes me to a T right now.
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