Re-laying ceramic floor tile [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : Re-laying ceramic floor tile

07-20-2018, 03:51 PM
I have 12" sq. tiles in my bathrooms & some of them have separated from the mortar on the plywood sub-floor. I haven't pulled any tiles yet, so I'm not sure of the actual cause, or of the construction, but I believe the mortar has dried over the past 20+ years and lost their adhesion. As I step on specific tiles there is a loud popping noise leading me to think my weight is pinching the tile on their side edges. In any event, I'm considering re-mortaring these tiles, but am concerned that as I try to remove the individual tiles that adjacent ones may loosen as well leading me to have to chase more loosened tiles to lift all the loose ones out. Also, is it reasonable to expect that the old mortar will scrape off cleanly to allow the new mortar to adhere properly?

I'm a long time DIYer, but if this has the ear marks of a problem type of project, perhaps I should hire someone to do this.

I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Sponsored Links

07-20-2018, 04:01 PM
Until you do a little demo it's hard to say the exact cause. Installing directly on plywood is less than desirable, but can be done providing that the substrate is up to par. Inadequate subfloor, overspanned joists, improper installation methods, and even the wrong mortar could all be causes.

07-20-2018, 04:36 PM
You'll probably find more of the tile come up at some point. The tile probably weren't stuck especially well to begin with.

I would start by evaluating the joist system through the ""Deflector" in the blue bar at the top of the page. If that passes, look at the subfloor and tell us the number of layers and their thickness, and if you have plywood, osb, or something else.

07-21-2018, 07:03 AM
Thanks for the responses - good information.

I like the deflection calculator. The floor joists for the 1st & 2nd floor joists are all 2x10s on 16" centers allowing for ceramic tile installation.

The house was of my own design & built by a very reputable local builder with my oversight. So I feel comfortable with the construction.

However, I'm a bit leery of pulling up the 1st tile thinking it may lead to other tiles coming up as well. I do have extra tiles on hand from the original installation 21 years ago. I may have to bite the bullet soon, but it's unlikely that I'll decide to rip up the whole floor(s), more likely a tile at a time.

07-21-2018, 10:37 AM
Hi Al, removing the grout with a hand held grout saw or grinder that has a diamond blade will usually free up loose tiles so they will lift right out. A vacuum is handy to run in front of the blade to catch a lot of the dust when using a grinder. I would avoid walking on the tiles that rock and pop. Those may eventually break.

07-22-2018, 07:43 AM
Hi Dave,

Thanks for the tip. I think I'll use the grout knife instead of the grinder since my wife is so sensitive about dust in the house - must remember that a happy wife is a happy life.

07-22-2018, 09:27 AM
Yep, I know that quite well. I piss off a lot of housewives working in bathrooms that have windows that won't open. :)

07-22-2018, 10:58 AM
Happy wife, happy life. Worst sentiment ever. What should make your wife happy is a properly installed floor that doesn't fail when you walk on it. That's what would make my wife happy.