tile on concrete with movement joint [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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05-30-2001, 03:45 PM

thanks for responding to my email so fast and providing me with a link to this forum. I have a foyer on the ground level of my home with a movement joint running through the center. What can i do? I'm sure its a movement joint and not a crack. Its between .5" and .75" wide with gray caulk.

thanks again,


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05-30-2001, 03:54 PM
Tile up to it on each side, but not over it and carry a similar caulk type product through the joint.

The name of the joint you called "movement" tells you what you can expect from the slab.

Tile doesn't "move" too well once it is cemented into place.

John Bridge
05-30-2001, 04:06 PM
Hi Mark,

Welcome to our illustrious group. Well, er, uh, welcome, anyway.

What gets me is that someone would design in an expansion joint going right through an entryway. Now wait a minute. Here in Texas entryways are indoors, but I've heard people refer to outside areas as entries in other parts of the country. Could yours be outdoors?

If that's the case and you want to tile over it, Art provided the answer. The new tile joint only has to be about a quarter inch wide though, not the half to three-quarters.

05-30-2001, 04:29 PM
One thing to consider is if the "joint" is square with the layout of your tile.If it is you have a lot more options available to you,ie;Schluter decorative movement joints.

05-31-2001, 04:35 AM
one of the most unharalded products and underused products on the market is schluters movement joints.

They have them for expansion, inside corners & tub surrounds if not more. They even have them in colors.

another underused product is edge protectors and or transition pieces.

Rob Z
05-31-2001, 05:45 AM
Hi Mark

Last year I set thin brick ( a quarry tile made to look like brick pavers) on a sidewalk. I used Laticrete Blue 92 to deal with the control joints. You can read about it at http://www.laticrete.com.

Also, check out crack isolation products made by Noble (www.noblecompany.com).

Art, does Bonsal have anything for this situation?

And Schluter (www.schluter.com) will give you more options, as well.

By shopping around you shoul be able to find a flexible material that you can fill the grout joints above the control joints that has a decent color match. On the sidewalk job mentioned above, I was able to find a flexible sealant made by Vulkem that was almost a perfect match to the grout color.

Rob Z

05-31-2001, 06:01 AM
Our WP-6000, will do what blue 92 does.

Our Composeal Gold will do what Noble Co. crack Isolation membrane does.

Has Dave Roever contacted you?

05-31-2001, 04:45 PM
Here I go again, I'm just busting at the seams, I can't stop myself.

How can you over the internet, with out having seen the job, reccomend to reduce the width of an expansion joint?

I will agree that the flat work contractor probably made the decision to leave the expansion joint the size that it is, due to the fact that all he had on his truck was that size felt.

But what if, just by chance, the architect or engineer made the decision based on information he had at his disposal.
That the slab can be expected to move the width of the joint?

Don't you just hate these damn guys who never laid a piece of tile in their life, asking all these questions?

As I mentioned in a recent e-mail, I'm here to help, and I think this question needed to be asked. I've waited 2 days, and I just can't take it any more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Bridge
05-31-2001, 05:17 PM
Okay, Art. Get a grip on yourself. You just about hit the nail on the head yourself. Expansion joints in housing (sidewalks, driveways, etc.) have been as wide as they are because the available expansion joint stock has been 1/2 in. or 3/4 in.

Engineers never figured this out, and unless you're talking about some special feature of a very high end home, no engineering has ever been done on housing (except for soil), period, except by carpenters and other tradesmen on the job.

And, I've noticed through the years that (short of an earthquake) sections of concrete never move (expand and contract) more than an eighth. (About 5/8 in. max. over 100 lineal feet).

I've written on this subject. One of my sources is the Granite Rock Company. The people there know more about concrete than I ever will.


Bud Cline
05-31-2001, 05:30 PM

In my minds eye, I think reducing the joint size as recommended above would be the way to go also. Here's the way I'm seeing it. To place the tiles in a fashion that would be visually consistant with the rest of the job would have priority if physically possible, and I think in this case it is.

Technically you wouldn't be altering the joint size at all. The same physical dimensions and function of the original joint would not change. Narrowing the joint with tile would not have any effect on the function of the slab. Once the tile was in, there would have to be a "soft joint" installed in place of grout at that location but that's not a big deal, it's done all the time.

As far as the two tiles ever coming together in the event the slab does shift, I think that possibility is remote. Had this ever happened in the past I think that would be detectable in the appearance of the expansion material now.

I would go for it and not look back. In fact I have gone for it and not been called back to repair them.

"If you know it will work, do it. If you think it will work, try it".

05-31-2001, 05:35 PM
If a slabe moves 3/4 of an inch...it's probably not a good idea to put tile over it anyway...but I see no problem putting a 1/4 inch joint above a wider expanision joint in the slab.


05-31-2001, 10:12 PM
Seen it, Done it, Never had a call back.

06-01-2001, 04:12 AM
Thanks for the information.

I see your point, the material wouldn't compress totaly to the inside demension of the joint anyway.

This is why I'm here is to learn from the masters.

It is really nice to read and experience the trials and tribulations of the professionals, and to learn the outcomes of their considerable experiences. As I mentioned I learned from the book, and the best teacher as we all know, is experience.

Thanks again to all of you! !

06-01-2001, 02:25 PM
sorry i yelled.

Now you guys got me thinking like you. I took my manufacturers hat off and started thinking like a contractor

Then a couple of hours later, I'm driving along. I'm thinking those guys are so smart, that expansion material will never compress to less than 1/2 to 3/4 it's width.

Then I think, but wait, neither will the material that is in the newly tiled grout joint and we could have a little tile tent after all.

If we have reduced the expansion joint in the tile. How do we make the determination as to how much to decrease it.

Do we agree that it should be a decision that is determined by each individual tile installer? I don't think so.

Should we make that statement at all? Maybe not.

I'll agree that expansion joints are unsightly.

But so will the little tent you have to repair if you happen to make the wrong decision on a given day.

I know it's worked for you for 42 years, but what about the guy that isn't a talented as all of you? I can assure you that group is in the vast majority. How do we set a standard as vague as the one John had me going with hook,line and sinker?

Even though I have never had the pleasure of being involved I can assure you that this is the type of debate that is held all year long as the T C A & ANSI handbooks are looked at and updated.

06-01-2001, 03:38 PM

just to clarify, i'm dealing with an interior movement joint. will this change the advice that anyone has given. thanks again to everyone for their thoughtful responses.

John Bridge
06-01-2001, 04:59 PM
Hi Mark,

Glad you're still with us. Hope we haven't diverged too much.

No, the advice is still sound. I still cannot imagine, though someone's putting a control joint right through your entryway. Just when you think you've heard it all, a new one comes along.

The joint should be the same width as your grout joints -- usually 3/16 to 1/4 in. The companies that make grout also make caulking in the colors of the grout. Some of the companies put out "sanded" caulking, and this is the way to go. Custom Building Products is one of these companies.



I think this is a case of my not having made myself clear. I'll try again.

I know for a fact that a 20 foot expanse of concrete will not grow more than an eigth of an inch in any kind of weather or temperatures. I have discussed this with engineers here in the Houston area where weather is sometimes extreme in the summer. And if you read the article at the Granite Rock Company, it says the same thing.


What this means is that narrowing a 3/4 in. expansion joint to 1/4 in. will never cause the two sections to come together. In fact under the most extreme conditions, the two sections would still be 1/8 in. apart. Might pucker up your caulking a little, but no permanent damage whatever.

And Art, you mentioned the Schluter Systems expansion joints. If I'm not blowin' smoke again, I don't think they offer anything that approaches 3/4 in.


Bud Cline
06-01-2001, 05:01 PM
My opinion remains the same. I don't have a scientific explanation for my conviction on this subject. Hold my feet to the fire and I'll run like the wind. Now that attention has been drawn to the fact that this is an interior application (which was my thought process all along) there is even less chance of movement.

Admittedly though I make an assumption. Wherever this (expansion) joint occurs in the tile/floor field, I would assume another expansion or two is also placed opposite this one, (at the walls or maybe) keep in mind that (theoretically) the duty of this joint we have concern and conversation about will have another joint (or more) sharing its resposibilities.

Though not impossible, concrete (in my experience) just does not move that far. As I said, had this slab experienced that much movement in the past, this movement (I think) would be detectable by viewing the fillers in these expansion joints. I think it would be easily detectable.

I would go for it and not look back. In fact I have gone for it and not been called back to repair them.

I think this DOES have to be the call of the installer. Field judgement calls are made everyday in construction but you won't find a chapter on that topic in any of the books.

True enough not all installers will have the experience to make the right decision in these matters. I don't have an answer for that. Your heart surgeon had to make his first incision, your dentist had to drill his first tooth. And besides, a few weeks ago when I began taking something much too seriously on another board, a very wise and experienced flooring installer reminded me: "Bud, it's only flooring".

I think I'll not be swayed at this time. Now watch some Einstein come along spouting scientific formulas and rules and regulations established by those that have never.......well nevermind, that will just get me in trouble.

Bite the bullet baby, it;ll work.

Bud Cline
06-01-2001, 05:06 PM
John, if I hadn't had to "redial" on that last post, you and I would have been doing an "Archie and Meathead" coming through the door this time.

Yeah, I know, now I've raised an obvious question. But, I ain't goin there.

John Bridge
06-01-2001, 05:10 PM
I ain't askin' any new questions until someone I won't mention comes clean with his name.

06-01-2001, 05:47 PM
I'll let a dead dog lie.

Just wanted to make a point that a lot of expansion joints are not treated properly, and problems have occured.


I know what you mean, and yes I'm one of those who never has, but I learned from alot of guys like you.

If there is anyone from the Cleveland area, maybe you heard the one of the Rep. who came out and mixed bag of thin set during a demonstration and burned up the 1/2" drill motor he borrowed from one of the mechanics.

He didn't know that you weren't supposed to dump the entire bag in the bucket even though the water was already in the there.

It only cost the Rep. $77.00 to replace the drill motor he smoked.

Some people thought he must have smoked something else before he got there.

Don't Bogart that drill my friend, pass it over to me.

Sorry gang, too much time in California in the early '70's

Bud Cline
06-01-2001, 09:06 PM
John, I did come clean somewhere in here, where the hell is it I can't remember?

Expansion Joints must be honored!



I know Cleveland too, spent a year there one week in 88!

$77.00 bucks huh? That's what you get when you borrow cheap tools!

You guys remember that country song: I've been everywhere?
I spent time in California in the late sixties and early seventies also. Does the name Timothy Leary or Charles Manson mean anything to ya? I lived in Palm Springs for a short time. At least it seemed like a short time. They had the best munchies there. At least I think they did. The weather was beautiful year round too. At least I think it was. I worked for American Airlines then, or was it Hughes Air? No, no, it must have been Western Airlines because I remember flying to Las Vegas every weekend free. Or was it Reno? Well anyway it must have been "far out man" from what I can remember. Anybody got a light?

John Bridge
06-01-2001, 09:18 PM
"California Dreamin'"

I lived in the heart of nitty gritty Hollywood in the early seventies. Moved from there to San Diego and spent three years there. Was already beyond the substance bussiness by then. Enjoyed my wine, though, and the girls roller-skating along the boardwalk in Venice or out at Santa Monica wharf. Drinkin' beer at a sidewalk joint along Sunset (before you get anywhere near Beverly Hills).

And San Diego. It's still a dream.

Damn. You don't think any of us crossed paths out there, do you?

Bud Cline
06-01-2001, 10:51 PM
So.....we've answered Mark's question and can now get on with our pasts?

I remember a time in Scottsdale Arizona when.........