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Unread 02-14-2014, 10:51 PM   #1
chillosu
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Tile job by contractor started to crack

I had a contractor tile both my bathroom shower surrounds, and it started to crack within a couple of months without any shower usage (house was still empty).

Contractor feels that the house temperature got too cold and somehow warped his wood framing behind the tile. Now I have two cracked tile bathrooms and no more funds for repair and contractor denies all responsibility... Could this really happen a fluctuation in temperature cause this?

Pictures of the cracks in the tile:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dtdpsyxiyzcqyhi/FxjsvuWtXw
Name:  cap-010 2014-02-15.jpg
Views: 530
Size:  35.3 KB

One is an interior wall and one is an exterior wall - the house didn't get below 60F, even though he claims it got lower - does he have any ground to stand on?

I had a tile company come out and take off 4 tiles that cracked and examined what was wrong, pictures in the dropbox linke above.
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Unread 02-14-2014, 11:21 PM   #2
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I doubt the temperature had anything to do with it. If it did, then every house that went without heat in the winter would have cracked tile.

Another issue you have there is that there is no moisture barrier, neither behind or on the surface of the cement board. Overtime, water will get through the grout and cement board and into the wall cavity. Not good.
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Unread 02-14-2014, 11:51 PM   #3
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Welcome, Chris.

Please use the paper-clip icon above the Reply dialog box to attach photos from storage on your computer so they will appear in your post and become a permanent part of your thread.

And if you'll add a geographic location to your User Profile it will give more meaning to the lack of heat in the structure.

Was the house heated when the showers were tiled?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 08:29 AM   #4
chillosu
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I tried to upload any of those images and each one of them were too large for your upload limits... But are that way to show high resolutions...

I don't understand your statement on worth price charged, why would anyone want to install or pay for tiles that were just going to crack anyways?

I told the contractors that I would pay for Time and Materials, no matter how long it takes him, with the expectation on quality - this is the product I received.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 08:39 AM   #5
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Chris,

1- Your pictures are nice, but a little to close to the action for me to get a sense of what's going on. Can you take 2 or 3 more pictures one, two, then 3 steps backwards? Its sorta like holding an elephants tail and trying to picture the rest of the animal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris
I don't understand your statement on worth price charged, why would anyone want to install or pay for tiles that were just going to crack anyways?
What CX means; his / our advice is free, as offered by complete strangers over the interweb based on pictures you posted and we can't verify. His comment had nothing to do with your specific installation or contractor.

3- From the pictures I see CBU was used over the studs with no visible signes of water proofing. Can you remove the escutcheon plate at the shower valve and take a picture at a very sharp angle so we can see a cross section of the wall? When taking that sharp angled picture, can you add a coin or tape measure so we have some sense of scale?

4- Can you feel around behind the ceement board for sheet plastic or tar paper?
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Unread 02-15-2014, 08:52 AM   #6
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First issue-From the pics it looks like the seams were not taped or mudded. The cracking is happening on that joint where the 2 pieces of CBU come together. All joints where CBU meet need to be mesh taped(alkali-resistant) and skim coated with thinset.

Second issue- What Paul said. Looks like no water proofing of any sort.

Looks like you have 2 major issues. Sorry.

There is no "easy fix" or "fix" for either. its a ripout and redo.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 08:55 AM   #7
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It seems to me that the cracks are directly on a seam. I expect no mesh tape was used. That will cause cracks. The way the thinset stayed on the wall with lines on it, looks to me like there was some buildup to make the tiles meet, but the fact that it stayed so well on the wall leads me to believe that there was not adequate coverage.
And take into account we so no waterproofing, I am going to take a W.A.G. and say installer error.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 09:05 AM   #8
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Chris, if your .jpg files are 2Mb or smaller our program will accept and resize them for posting. If they're larger than that you'll need to resize them first.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 09:07 AM   #9
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I have to agree with the others. We have seen this many times here on the forum, tiles cracking directly over the CBU joints. Taping the joints would have probably done the trick. A couple coats of Redgard over the CBU would have helped even more plus would have waterproofed the walls at the same time.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 09:18 AM   #10
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Chris, it would be helpful to know your geographical location.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 09:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chillosu
Contractor feels that the house temperature got too cold and somehow warped his wood framing behind the tile. Now I have two cracked tile bathrooms and no more funds for repair and contractor denies all responsibility...
Do you have any wood blocking and have them properly attached to prevent framing from warping? Pics of the framing work of the areas in question ?
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Unread 02-15-2014, 11:15 AM   #12
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I also noticed a lot of grout discoloration.
It's hard to tell, but is that CBU 1/4"? Doesn't look thicker that the tile. That could a major cause.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 07:55 PM   #13
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That is what I was thinking. 1/4 inch over green board.
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Unread 02-16-2014, 02:27 PM   #14
chillosu
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Thanks everyone for your help so far!

I will take pictures from farther back... and will also take pictures during the re-tile process. I took the pictures from close up because the cracking is hard to see otherwise.

I realize that there is no vapor barrier, I mentioned that and the contractor keeps going back to the temperature.

I live in Portland, OR, this was between 11/7 - 11/20. The heat was cranked up during this time as my gas bill was over $200 for this time period. I didn't have any control of the heat during this time as the house was empty and left for the contractor to complete the work on his own.
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Unread 02-16-2014, 04:02 PM   #15
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Chris,

The reason we mention the lack of water containment is simple; even without a crack - if there is no water management system in place that is up to current TCNA standards, you have a sub-par shower, which isn't what you bargained for.
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