Entire room of cracked marble tile [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-25-2008, 06:22 PM
:uhh: Can someone please help! We have an addtition that we added onto our house 3 years ago. The room is approx 450 sq feet, and has a full foundation. We waited two years to do the floor, because I had purchased a 48 inch marble medallion, and then discovered it would be roughly $9000 to $10,000 for the tile and installation.

We finally had everything installed, and 6 months later, the tile is cracked like a tic tac toe board. The tile is cracked up to and then past the medallion. The medallion did not crack. It has mesh and epoxy on the back of it, and according to the manufacturer, this prevented it from cracking. The rest of the fllor, 16X16 venetian gold marble tiles are all cracked.

Naturally, the tile installers are blaming the tile, saying it is defective. We do not have any foundation cracks, and our insurance company has deemed it poor workmanship of the tile installation.

Does anyone have any ideas. I have read about possible deflection, but woldn't that come back to the tile installers? They did lay cement board, and screwed it down, but I could really use some help with what to do. This all has to be torn out, and everything replaced. Naturally the tile installers don't want to assume full responsibility.

Any advice would be great!

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02-25-2008, 06:34 PM
sorry to hear about your problem,

can you please give us a first name to call you and add it to your signature line in the User CP (http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/usercp.php?) ?

first off you might want to go to the Deflecto (http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/deflecto.pl) and see if your floor passes to receive marble tile. if it doesn't pass then the install shouldn't have happened or steps taken to make sure the marble wouldn't crack.

if you do pass, you might want to look on how they installed to backer board and tile.

did they use thin-set under the backerboard ?
did they use a 1/2" trowel to set the marble?
did they use the proper thin-set ?

do they carry general liability ?
did you check to make sure they did a job previously of your job size?
did they have references?

we will need to know more and other will ask you questions, hope you can answer them so we can help you and get to the bottom of your Marble job failure.

02-25-2008, 06:38 PM
well, it certainly sounds like a deflection problem,

but, I'm afraid that if this is a deflection problem, , even though , your installers *shouldda , wouldda , couldda *, known about it,
it is ultimately your responsibilty, I believe.

Could you point a finger at them?? Maybe, maybe not, it can depend on what you knew, what they knew, what financial agreements you have with them, the contract agreement details , guarantees(if any)etc, etc etc.
Good luck

:) :) :)

02-25-2008, 06:38 PM
venetian gold You mean granite tile? Tap on the tile and see if it sounds hollow. If it is, it could be e few things. If not, then you very well may have a deflection issue present. If it's marble it doesn't take much to crack from deflection. Either way you have a problem. May need to get an engineer and set up a meeting with all parties present, including the installers. That's where I would start. If not an engineer than it will have to be someone with the proper credintials to be able to assess the problem in the event it has to go to court.

02-25-2008, 06:53 PM
I"ve never heard of Venetian Gold "marble"either; always knew that name to be a granite.

Picture perhaps? All I can say is that 16x16 tiles are a 'specialty' installation at worst and the installer would have had to have had experience with it before I would let him do my place. :uhh:


02-26-2008, 10:04 AM
Thanks all, I actually have one of the tiles, it says venetian gold, but Maybe it is Jerusalem Gold. Either way, definately marble.

I had the Marble company here and the tile installers here today. The marble company also asked them if they had put an orange mesh underneath the tile. They said they did, i know they didn't. According to the tile installers, when they placed marble in their home two years ago, they said they made sure the joist were set every 8 inches. Shouldn't they have asked about the floor.

I will check deflecto, but they are supposed to be the professionals, not me, so wouldn't they know that Deflection could occur. Especially since they made sure the floor in their own home would support a marble floor. They stated that they made sure their joist were 8 inches apart before they laid the marble floor. Is this necessary?

They also say that they guarantee their work for one year, and that they are fully insured. But evidently Travelers on has them insured for liability- they stated it would only cover damage that may happen by them while they are working at my home. Not directly related to the job they are doing. Evidently, they didn't know they were insured this way.

I understand one posted reply states that ultimately this is my problem. But I agreed if the floor needed something else as far as prep for installation, but since the tile was installed, when evidently a professional would know what needed to be done for prep, wouldn't it be my responsiblity to fix the structural part, and for them to reinstall the tile?

I appreciate all the feedback. Thanks so much, and I will take anything else you have to say!


02-26-2008, 10:22 AM
Hello everyone,

Just one more thing, I did the deflecto. Th douglas fir, 2X8, 16 inch center joist, the joist length is 12 feet.

There is a huge beam going across the other way underneath the floor.

The deflecto comes up as L/302. Which is a thumbs down for stone.

What can be done to fix this problem in order to lay marble in that room?

Also, the floor cracked up to and then past the medallion, but the medallion didn't crack. Unfortunately, it still has to be trashed to fix the floor.

I hope this added information helps.

Brian in San Diego
02-26-2008, 10:40 AM

Sorry for your troubles with this installation. I have to disagree with Maack on responsibility. My profession is industrial air conditioning and when I would do a job it was my responsibility to know everything that was needed to install the job and insure it would work according to design when I was finished. If that meant bringing in engineers to see if the parking structure ramps could handle the weight of the equipment being moved, if the elevator could handle the weight of material, what size crane we needed, if the electrical service was sufficient...and on and on. It was my responsibility to inform the customer of any deficiencies and their responsibility to make it right prior to commencing work. I think any tile installer worth his or her salt would immediately question the joist and subfloor structure prior to installing any tile especially stone.

There are basically two ways to get things right. You need to shorten the span or sister the joists. If yyour span is 12' even if you sistered all the joists you only end up with L/603...a little shy of the L/720 standard. What material comprised the subfloor? It should be two layers of plywood totalling 1 1/4" in thickness. That could be another contributing factor to the failure.


02-26-2008, 10:44 AM

"I had the Marble company here and the tile installers here today. The marble company also asked them if they had put an orange mesh underneath the tile. They said they did, I know they didn't. According to the tile installers, when they placed marble in their home two years ago, they said they made sure the joists were set every 8 inches. Shouldn't they have asked about the floor".
First about the deflection: they should not only have asked - but checked for themselves. Stone installation puts an added stress on flooring that any professional would verify so that his installation is appropriate. No good just asking the homeowner as most wouldn't know, and it ultimatley become the responsibility of the 'pro' you hired. If you go to the Deflecto page, you'll see that a number of details and calculations are required...I personally wouldn't ask a homeowner to do them - I would do them.

Secondly, about the membrane: easy enough to check whether or not a membrane is there. Look and see - perhaps near a floor register. At worst, pop a tile. There may be a line charge on your invoice at around $2 per sq ft for the membrane...check that as well.

"They stated that they made sure their joist were 8 inches apart before they laid the marble floor. Is this necessary?"

Well, it may be; but the fact that they went with joists 8" apart tells you they knew deflection issues were possible. Ask the installers what there results were for deflection...something like L/*** where * are 3 digits.

"They also say that they guarantee their work for one year, and that they are fully insured. But evidently Travelers only has them insured for liability- they stated it would only cover damage that may happen by them while they are working at my home. Not directly related to the job they are doing. Evidently, they didn't know they were insured this way".

Common problem I've seen; many policies will only cover the installer for a job done according to specifications. This is a tough call because there are no firm specifications although most methods are covered by the manufacturer. But there are certifications available. If they aren't covered, too bad it'll be out of their own pockets.

Cracked tiles aren't your problem but the installers'. If necessary get the courts to back you up. Send him a registered letter stating you are unsatisfied with his work and that you give him x days to fix it. And document evrything you can think of. Pictures are good.

PS: Just saw your recent post about deflection...you're right :scratch:

02-26-2008, 11:59 AM
Your best bet is to take a tile up and see under it and the tap test.
If they sound hallow then you have an installer problem most of the time and taking a tile or two up will help confirm that.
When you take the tile up you want to check.
Is there mortar stuck to the tile or is it stuck only to the floor, or both.
What size trowel was used.
What is the tile set on? Did they use a membrane or is there a tile backer board?
If a tile backer board was used you want to get an idea of what the spacing of the fasteners is and what type of fastener, nail, screw, staple
Next you need to take up a piece of the backer board and check to see if there is mortar under it and what size trowel was used.
You also need to pull a base board and check if the floor is grouted tight to the wall? It should not be. With your stone there should be about a 1/4" gap all around the room.
400 sq. ft. + size room. tell us about the layout. windows, where do you live?
Are there expansion joints? With a room this size there needs to be expansion joints.
Get these things done and the answeres will help you determine if it is installers error and give you a leg to stand on.
Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
We like pictures. If you can't take them find someone who can so that when you start taking up the tile you have documentation.
Good Luck

02-26-2008, 12:29 PM
Of course, all this depends on whether or not a contract was there in the first place and what was in it. It may be that a tile setter was hired to
tile the room...period. Did he know about the deflection issues? Was someone else in charge of beefing up the floor joists (didn't sound like it to me).

So if there was a contract there, it might be a good read. But IMO, contract or not, the tilesetter should not have undertaken the job knowing those facts. The fact that he did - and no matter if what he did was right or wrong - makes him responsible for the cracks.

He might have done everything by the book in terms of thinset and membrane etc that JTG alludes to, but that won't absolve him from the overall ownership, no matter how good he was at that list.

02-26-2008, 12:49 PM
He might get off.
If in court his attorney asks " This room was designed in ????. Did you have it an architect do the drawings? You had a marble design and planned on the placement of marble on the floor? Yes or no. Was the architect/and builder aware of that? answer yes. IMO the installer is not at fault.
Now that being said I think that we all have in our mind that they are going to find that there probably is not mortar under the backer. that the thinkness of mortar used to set the stone was probablly not right and most important that the room is grouted up tight and there is no expansion joint.
I'm going to bet that there are also a lot of windows on the very sun exposed side of the room also.
Interesting, yes. We love playing Sherlock Holms with someone elses problem.
JTG :rolleyes:

02-26-2008, 01:04 PM
Lawsuits, lawyers, courts, contracts,independant experts and *he said* she said* can get real expensive.
Proving that you should win a construction claim 100% is difficult and can sometimes result in only a partial win, no win , or possibly a big loss depending on how well a case is presented. And any good attorney should advise you that playing the *innocent unknowing homeowner* can and does backfire .
This isn't a criminal case, these cases get decided by a preponderence of the evidence.
Proving liabilty, proving that critical construction procedures were omitted , installation errors were involved, etc, can get costly (lawyers have to hire outside experts for testimony*KA CHING!!)No 3rd. person party who gets involved in this is going to accept*thier word*or *your word* on things. And if you lose, you could very well end up paying for his attorneys fees, and vice versa of course.
Arbitration, or a *binding arbitration* clause in contracts protect both parties in case of disputes, at much less cost than conventional superior court cases.

After the details are investigated as to*what happened* here, and you feel as tho you have a chance to prevail, ask the Tile Company if they are willing to agree to *binding arbitration* If they are smart business people, they will!
Good luck

:) :) :)

02-26-2008, 01:28 PM
Sorry to hear about your cracked tile job.

You might want to try contacting a Schluter Rep in your area (Start by clicking on the Schluter Systems button on some of these forum pages). They have an underlayment system called Ditra that may be helpful for the next installation. If the stone job is done to their specs, they will guarantee the job. I don't think that they will offer forensic services for your court adventure, but they can be helpful for the next installation.

You should get your floor engineered (work with an actual engineer) to meet the requirements for stone, which as some have mentioned might involve sistering in joists and adding another layer of plywood for a minimum of 1-1/4". The Ditra system uncouples the stone from the substrate. I just had an oportunity to attend a Schluter workshop and I am now a believer. One of the things that they showed us was how a small amount of movement translated into a catastrophic failure of a tile job. 1/8" of movement due to moisture, temperature or deflection was enough to pop and buckle a whole floor.

As far as responsibility, I am paranoid about getting in trouble and so I would rather pass on a job that seems problematic. Still there are plenty of individuals who can install tile, but are not qualified to deal with such issues as deflection. If you are gearing up for a court case, be sure to read the TCA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installations and the ANSI book of Specifications for the Installation of Tile. Both books have easy to understand information on what constitutes a proper installation.

There is a specific line on page 6 of the ANSI book. A108.01 - 2.3 Deflection see the note. "The tile installer shall not be responsible for any floor framing or subfloor installation not compliant with applicable building codes, unsless the tile installer or tile contractor designs and installs the floor framing or subfloor."

Good luck for the replacement floor, you're starting out in the right place. These guys are smart and helpful!


02-26-2008, 01:34 PM
Thanks so much guys! You are all awesome.

Tomorrow morning I will try to get pictures of the cracks. The room is 5 sided, and each side has a 5 foot wide window witha 5 foot wide arch on top, one side has an atrium door with the arch on top. The difficulty with getting pictures of the cracks is that they almost appear to be Convex. None of the cracks are within the grout lines. I literally have to look across the room to see the cracked pattern.

But I will work on it, and at least get you pictures of the edges, grout and the room!


02-26-2008, 01:36 PM
I'd try to leave the medallion be if it's not damaged and demo the rest of it. At that point get a reading. Then proceed to go under the house and start bracing the joists. There's different ways to do this. But I don't have any doubts to the floors ability to be brought to code for a marble install.
Leave the medallion, tear the rest out, beef up the floor structure to meet the requirments then reinstall new marble. I wish I were their to look at it. I've helped people out of situations like this before.

Very sorry for your luck. Your installers at the very least should have had better instincts than what they displayed in your case. Sounds to me like they have no business in the marble business until they get better educated with the product installation requirements!
I've installed stone over 16 centers many times, some of which had to have some work done below to meet the mark.
At this point it is what it is and you should try to save the medallion.

02-26-2008, 01:53 PM
I don't have an ANSI book in front of me so I can't establish the context of that paragraph, remodelboy, but I seriously doubt that a tilesetter could hide behind that clause to save his neck in a case like this.

I know in our jurisdiction, a homeowner calls in a 'professional' and this professional ought to know everything involved in the job he is doing. In our case, a water damage pro must know about plumbing. electrical and structural issues before fixing a leak. We cannot stand back and say "Well, that's not part of our job...". Similarly, a tile setter cannot say that "Hey I"m not responsible if the tiles crack because of a floor deflection issue...that"s not my job."

And he certainly can't proceed to tile knowing there a deflection issue...if he does proceed, he's responsible. He's the pro - he should know. But maybe the ANSI book only relates to certain certified, company tilesetters...I know many unions whose tilesetters are not meant to be aware of structural issues - they have other people for that. Hmmmm.

02-26-2008, 02:09 PM
Helen, I'd like to go back to post #7 for a moment.

You say the joists are 12' long AND there is a beam underneath. Referring to the drawing below, is this 12' figure:
[a] the overall length of the joist, or

[b] the distance between the beam and one end of the joist ?

Which even one it is makes a big difference with the Deflecto scoring.


02-26-2008, 02:38 PM
Welcome, Crackedup. Please go to the UserCP above, find Edit Signature and enter a first name for us to use. :)

Remodelboy, please do the same. :)

I've not yet heard anyone mention the presence of two layers of subflooring as required by the MIA standards. You have double-layer subflooring under this marble installation?

Remodelboy, I do believe that ANSI book you're referencing is the Specifications
For Installation Of Ceramic Tile, yes? Don't think we're dealing with ceramic tile here. There are some requirements for natural stone installations that go well beyond the specs for ceramic tile.

I think any installer of natural stone tile should be aware of these additional requirements and be responsible for ensuring that they are met, or at least advising the customer that there may be some question about their being met.

Would need to see the contract to get into the actual assignment of responsibilities, but I, too, disagree with Maack on this one. Even a homeowner who is aware that a tile floor may need to be sturdier than a carpeted floor is not likely to know the difference in requirements for natural stone. Lot of tile setters out there not even aware of that, unfortunately.

I'll wait for the response to Mike2's question about the joist structure, and a response to the question about the subflooring, and the pichers before opining further.