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Unread 05-07-2008, 12:39 AM   #1
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Cracked Calcutta Gold

Hello Everyone,

I have been a lurker of this forum for a little while, and want to start by saying thanks for all of the great information that is provided here. It really helps consumers such as myself find reliable information.

We have recently built and moved into a new house, and have been experiencing some problems with the Calcutta Gold that is installed in the foyer and hallways. Many of the 18"x18" marble tiles in the foyer are cracked, and new cracks are appearing in certain locations in the the hallway. (the foyer is about 24'x26' and the hallway totals about 45'x5')

After the marble was laid, it was covered with cardboard to protect it as construction continued on the rest of the house. When the appliances were delivered, they were placed on top of the cardboard and sat there for a couple months. Most of the cracks are in areas where the appliances had been placed, but there are also many cracks in areas that were not supporting the weight of the appliances.

From searching through the forum, I found person here who had problems with cracked Calcutta Gold. From their experience, it seems that the cracks may be due to deflection. I am unable to give precise information as to the construction of the sub-floor at this time, but how should it have been constructed to hold the weight of the marble?

The flooring sub came and took a look at the floors again yesterday and expressed anxiety with replacing the cracked tiles as the neighboring tiles can be cracked as well in the process.

Is there anything of note that should be done when laying the tiles? Should grout not be used?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Take care.
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Unread 05-07-2008, 04:29 AM   #2
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I'm sure others will chime in shortly, until then...

In a nutshell

Two reasons for failure; are floor flexing (stone doesn't) and unsupported tiles, where the tiles aren't fully supported by the mud bed. The "hollow" areas under the tiles, when subjected to high point loads (like the tiny wheels of a 400 lb fridge) can exceed the tensile strength of the stone and cause it to break.

Because of varying density and tensile strength of stones and indeed within each stone, the subfloor assembly must meet specs as to joist deflection and deflection between the joists (subfloor). These specs are L/720 for joists and in general, 1 1/4" of plywood subfloor , respectively.

You can do the "tap test" simply tapping the tiles with an screwdriver handle and listening for a change in tone. It will be quite obvious if there are hollows beneath the tiles.

Talk to your builder about joist size/spacing and subfloor thickness. If the marble wasn't spec'd at he onset, it's likely you have the standard 3/4" of plywood that's fine for carpet and hardwood and possibly ceramic- the tile installer should have checked.

Yes, you need grout on floor tiles.

Good luck

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Unread 05-07-2008, 05:33 AM   #3
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Also another few questions to be answered:
  1. Do the cracks have a pattern to them? i.e. do they all travel along the joists in the floor or are they random?
  2. Did the tile installer leave room for expansion or did he tile right up to the walls or baseboard?
  3. Do some of the tiles "tent up" or are they just cracked?
  4. How big are the grout lines or are the tiles butted to one another?


Relax - it's a rock! What could go wrong?!

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Unread 05-07-2008, 06:48 AM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies.

The marble flooring was specified very early in the design stage, so I hope the builder properly constructed the sub-floor. I will check to confirm the specs with him.

I will not be home for a couple weeks, but have asked my family members to check for hollow spots on the floor. Hopefully they will be able to provide some more information shortly.

As for the cracks, they seem to follow the joist lines. The builder initially said it could be due to settling, but the foundation sat for almost a year before more work continued on the house.

None of the tiles are buckling or "tent up", and it seems that they run right to the wall. The grout lines are less than 2mm thick.

From what I have read online, it seems that Calcutta Gold is not really suitable for areas of high traffic such as foyers and hallways. It probably would have been better had we known this earlier though. I just hope this problem can be fixed and does not return sometime after the builder's warranty expires in the next 4 months.

Keep the question and advice coming

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Unread 05-07-2008, 05:53 PM   #5
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Start documenting all interactions with the builder on this issue. I don't know what the laws say in your state. But I think if this issue was raised before the warranty expires, you should be covered. I'm sure the courts (if necessary) would like to see atimeline of all interactions on this issue. Can you get the original installer involved as well? Is your warranty with him still good also?
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Unread 05-08-2008, 01:09 AM   #6
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I am still trying to find out if the joists were done to L/720, but I am pretty sure the plywood is 1.5" thick.

We will document the problems, and the proposed solutions by the builder, but if it were to go to court at a later date, I honestly feel the builder would just close up shop. There are other problems that need to be addressed as well (e.g. two steam showers were not constructed to the TCNA specs even though the information was provided to do the showers properly), and we hope that everything will be done in a proper manner; however, we also know that the builder overextended himself when the housing market was going well a few years ago, and is now in a financial crunch. He used a good portion of the money that was paid for construction projects in progress and used it to purchase more property. As the demand for new homes has sharply dropped, he has been forced to downsize his company to only himself and two other people.

The original installer is involved and will be doing the repair work. He is very anxious about the job as it will be a large expenditure of labor and materials for him, and he is anxious about damaging neighboring tiles when trying to replace the broken ones. I am not sure what the warranty situation is with the original tile installer.

If they are able to fix the tiles, and no problems come up in the next few years, I will be happy. I just don't want the work to be fixed, and then have problems arise after the warranty has expired. Then we will have to change out the whole flooring.

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Unread 05-08-2008, 05:16 PM   #7
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You can look under your floor and measure the joists, and the length of unsupported span.Then take up the carpet at a doorway, or even the toilet and find out what's under the stone(i.e. cbu, mud,membrane, Hardibacker, just thinset or whatever,) maybe even take a pic and get back to us.Take my word, there should not have been general settling, and it won't stop,the tile will continue to crack.If the builder can convince you of settling and extend the time, he's off the hook.

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Unread 06-23-2008, 09:52 AM   #8
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After many unexpected delays, I had a chance to speak with the flooring installer. For the subfloor in the foyer, he used 1.5" plywood with about 1.375" of mud on top. In other areas, he has used .75" plywood in conjunction with the Ditra system. I am still unsure as to how far apart the joists are.

In the areas where the marble has been cracking with the .75" plywood and Ditra system subfloor, many of the cracks run right along the joints in the plywood where one piece meets up with the next piece. In the area where there is 1.5" plywood with mud, some of the cracks follow the joists, but others do not.

Attached are some pictures typical of the cracks, as well as a picture of the foyer's subfloor. The picture showing the subfloor also shows a crack that runs from the red mark on the marble to the wall which is about 10" away.

As always, any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Attached Images
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