New project, need advice re: cracks & more [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-06-2006, 01:38 PM
Hello, all - it's been a while :)
I'm working on a (near) total condo renovation, and I have a few questions (technical and design). The plan is to sell this unit upon completion (time to look for a place in Fla - can't take this No. Jersey cold any longer!)

Technical first:

I've only done work on single family structures so far, so I am unsure on this. This condo is on the 3rd floor of a 5 floor bldg. The dining area, kitchen, and living area are one (mostly) open "L" (dining area is the short leg, LR the long, and the kitchen is the joining area). I am gutting the kitchen, and I want to re-tile the floor. (approx 7.5 x 11 area). The existing tile (8" tiles) is still solid - no chips, loose pieces, etc., except there is a fine crack that runs through one line of tile (parallel to the short length of room). The crack does not appear to have changed (widened or lengthened) for at least 6-7 yrs. We picked up the carpeting yesterday; I now know the base (floor) material is concrete, and it also has a thin crack the entire length of the LR. The crack matches up with and continues under those cracked tiles in the kitchen, so there was obviously a shift within the building at one time.

Q#1: How do I apply the tile, ie, what (if any) special steps will I need to take? Do I need to remove the existing tile (PLEASE say "no".....)? Is there anything I can do to prevent cracking of the new tile?

Q#2: How do I figure out if I can cut back a wall? (my camera is in the shop, so please humor me with my keyboard "graphics") There is a partial wall dividing the kitchen and living area, approx 50" wide. Is 50" too short to be a bearing wall? If not, how do I determine if it is one I can modify?

|--appliances and cabinets here ^^---- |
| --(which is also "end" wall of my unit,--|
| ---common with the hallway)--------- |
| ------ and on this wall ------------>> |
| --this wall has sink and window----->>|
wall at edge of tile (50" wide; to ceiling |

I want to open the wall because I want to add a small island/breakfast bar style structure. Presently, there is almost no cabinet storage, especially as the hot water heater is an under-cabinet one.

Q 3: (not a tile one, but here goes): I have a second crack to deal with. This one is actually opened up slightly and a narrow portion (2 1/2 - 3" ? wide strip) of the floor (between the crack and the wall, common with the bldg exterior) seems to have lifted very slightly. What is the best way to handle this crack before installing a floor covering (not carpet)?

Design questions:

Q 1(d):Any opinions as to what tile pattern might work well with a relatively small area such as this? I was thinking an offset or hopscotch pattern might be nice, but I'm not sure how it would work in a small but open area. (The remaining (non-bedroom) flooring will be a wood-style flooring - laminate or wood flooring, or possibly even something like cork or bamboo, depending on available budget.)

Q 2(d):Any suggestions as to type of tile/stone, etc? I really don't know what is most popular right now, so I figure the pros know what is selling best right now.

Q 3(d):The bathroom has floor-to-ceiling tile. The tile is in excellent shape, but is a little dated in style (late 80s, lt. beige vertical 4x8(?) rectangles with scattered floral accent tiles). Do you think removing these tiles and replacing with something more contemporary would make much difference value-wise, or should I just update the vanity & fixtures (toilet is already new)? There is a Kohler whirlpool tub in place that I really don't want to remove.

Thanks in advance for any help!


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03-06-2006, 03:43 PM
Hiya Laurie :)
You probobly have spancrete with a lightweight pour over the top however it is possible its plywood with alightweight pour also. definitly sounds like a structural joint that caused the problems.
I would say that using an antifracture membrane over the existing floor and following your guidelines for softjoints for expansion will likely take care of the problem with movement as it sounds minimal.
Consider using one of the new superflex thinsets directly over the tile and a soft joint where that crack is.

#2 your selling the place, dont complicate things !! Leave the wall alone, leave some extra tiles and let the new owner deal with a wall change.These types of changes do not give enough return for the time and money invested!! :)

#3- you can not fix vertical movement and expect any floor covering to hold up except carpet. Ive seen some folks trim along a wall like this with wood pieces chamfered or bullnosed to cover beyond crack...............Like a Wood Border!!glue it along wall and up to crack, let remaining free float. This requires a Good wood Like an Oak,Ash or Maple.

Small area's are nice with a simple 45 degree inset and simple border.
Anything with a natural stone look to it.
American Olean has some nice options in a porcelain tile with a stone look.

If it isnt broke, dont fix it!!!!

Hope this helps :)

Good to see you!!! :wave:

03-07-2006, 06:47 AM
Laurie, if the wall doesn't cover span acroos the entire room, it's probbaly not load bearing. However, that is no guarentee. You should check with the condo association to see if they have the plans for the building. Look for the framing details or the floor joists specs. Load bearing walls will have doubled top plates and extra framing members at doors.

03-07-2006, 08:25 AM
You also should try to ascertain whether any utilities are located in that section of wall. You well may not be able to relocate those.

03-09-2006, 10:04 AM
Todd,I wouldn't even need to leave tiles, as the wall is just beyond where the tiles end. I'm leaving the bathroom tiles alone, but cutting back that wall will really make a big change for the better (I'll post my "before and after" pics when I am done.) It's really not that much time and the expense in minimal. I wasn't sure if I could use a membrane over existing tile, so thanks for the info - I'll definitely follow your suggestions there.

Jeff, I'm pretty sure there are no utilities there, there's not even a light switch - that's why I think it'll be relatively easy to do. (I'll be sure to "peek" first, though!) I ran into that the first time I renovated a kitchen - I decided to move a wall, only to find water lines and a soil pipe in that short (length) wall, along with the electric I already knew about. Hired a plumber, moved them anyway, and I am still glad I did - it really improved the floor plan even if it did tweak the budget a bit. :) I'm pretty sure it's just a wall to visualy separate part of the kitchen from the living room, but I'm not positive. There is another short wall (49"L) dividing the other (long) cabinet wall from the dining area.

Bob, I suspected it is not load bearing because it is only 50" long and the entire span of the unit there is 34' or so, and there is no other wall in line with this one, either. Would those settlement cracks give me a clue as well? They run perpendicular to this particular small wall.

Forget about the condo assn - I've already called them, and they are clueless. The management company is new as of Jan 1, so they aren't very familiar with the building yet.

I thank you for the answers, although I do have one more: the kitchen area is small - 7.5x11 rectangle, incl under the cabinets. Is this too small an area to use a pattern with different sized tiles? Should I just stick with one size (most likely 12 or 13") instead? One thing is definite - I will not be installing them in a standard grid pattern. (BTW, I think there is an outdated link for Corda in the liberry thread for tile designs.)

03-09-2006, 10:36 AM
I don't know what the cracks are telling you. If they're trying to tell me somthing, they're gonna have to speak up. I've got too many voices inside my head clammoring for attention as it is. :D