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Unread 08-13-2019, 08:41 PM   #1
anandsandy
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Cracks in Porcelain Tiles

We just installed a porcelain tile floor on about 1000 sq.ft. on the first floor. There is a basement below.
Nowe notice cracks appearing on tiles that are in corners where two walls meet. This has now reached up to 6 tiles. I have attached some photos.

The installer says to call a structural engineer to check for structural issues.

We are not experts in this and so wanted to get some opinions on how best to proceed. Wife and I are quite stressed out.
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Unread 08-13-2019, 08:59 PM   #2
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Sands - welcome to the site and sorry you are have such problems.

The cracking is typically cause by inadequate floor structure such as over spanned joists. This doesn’t mean the house is falling down. It is common to have a floor structure that doesn’t meet tile requirements but did meet all code requirements at the time the house was built. This occurs largely because tile floors were not a consideration when the house was designed and stiffer floors cost a bit more money.

Your installer seems to be indicating this has nothing to do with him but as a matter of practice he should have ensured the floor structure met the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) requirements of L/360 maximum floor deflection before installing the porcelain tile. Do you know if he verified this by measuring the joist size, unsupported span and spacing along with ensuring the subfloors met the minimum requirements? Would you have this information? If so please share it with us or enter it directly in the Deflecto tool to calculate the rating of your floor.

Can you tell us how the tile was installed? For example, directly over the subfloor, over concrete backer board or perhaps over a orange material called Ditra?

Last edited by PC7060; 08-13-2019 at 09:05 PM.
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Unread 08-13-2019, 10:07 PM   #3
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Are there other cracks? This one is at the inside of an L shaped cut.

It may have cracked due to poor setting of just this tile. Can you place a level or straight edge over the top to see if the crack is the high spot on that one particular tile?

COmpare it to the other tiles and let us know what you find
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Unread 08-13-2019, 10:13 PM   #4
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Welcome, Sandy.

You should not be contacting anyone but the tile contractor who installed your tiles. It's his responsibility to contact a structural engineer if that's what he thinks necessary to determine the cause of his tile installation failure.

In standard industry practice, once he accepted your structure as suitable for his tile installation, he owned the installation for better or for worse and it's his responsibility to see that it's corrected if it fails.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-13-2019, 11:59 PM   #5
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Which way do the joists run relative to the wall in the picture?

What does the subfloor consist of?
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Unread 08-14-2019, 10:09 AM   #6
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My replies to your questions

Thank you for all the replies. My answers to the best of my knowledge.

1. I don't know if he verified the floor installation is as per TCNA guidelines and I do not have that information. If you can help guide me on how to get it I can do so.

2. I think there are 6 tiles in total (up from 4 a couple of weeks ago). All of these are where the tile was cut in L shape if that helps.

3. He installed the tiles over backer boards and the sheet that looks like a bubble wrap.

4. My basement roof is still open so perhaps I will check the direction of joists.

The thing is what should I tell the installer to have him agree it was his fault. for what it is worth we are in NJ and it seems that contractors do get away with a lot short of murder out here.
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Unread 08-14-2019, 10:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sands
He installed the tiles over backer boards and the sheet that looks like a bubble wrap.
Can you be any more specific on the products used? Do you have any pictures of them before or during the installation? Is anything listed on an invoice or estimate that might indicate what he used?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sands
My basement roof is still open so perhaps I will check the direction of joists.
I have a theory based on your answers, so that might be important.
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Unread 08-14-2019, 10:36 AM   #8
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Also, now that I'm seeing this on a larger screen, I'm noting some indications of poor workmanship.

In the first picture, the tile doesn't go under the trim, but instead there's a small gap there. That tile should have been re-cut so that it goes underneath, or if it won't, then a larger gap left and filled with caulk.

In the second picture, I'm possibly seeing a gap left between the tile and wall that looks like it was filled with grout. If I'm seeing that correctly, then he shouldn't have done that. The tile in that picture also appear to have grout or caulk or something smeared on them, which indicates a sloppy cleanup job.
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Unread 08-14-2019, 11:01 AM   #9
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Can you show us a bigger picture of the tiled area where the cracks are? I get the impression that the opening in this area has been expanded from a single Doorway to a wider opening which means more load is on the floor at the location of this crack.
Do not close the ceiling below this until you get this problem fixed.
Try not to stress out too much because I know we can solve this problem. If you don't have enough replacement tiles on hand you should probably go find some from the same batch ID as your original tile was from. I think CX made the correct point of blame amd reasoning.
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Unread 08-14-2019, 05:05 PM   #10
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Do you have a written contract and what does it say?
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Unread 08-16-2019, 10:23 AM   #11
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Response to additional questions

Gentlemen,
You are turning into our stress buster. thank you so much for your responses and God Bless. I hope we get over this soon. Here are some more responses for your input:

Q. Can you be any more specific on the products used?
A. From the invoice, he has used ΒΌ backer boards.
He has also used the bubble sheet Strata Mat. I post a pic of the product below.

Q. Do you have any pictures of them before or during the installation?
A. Yes here are some pics we had. also some more pics of the same cracks from different angles

Q. Which way do the joists run relative to the wall in the picture?
A. I looked in the basement and the joists seem to run in the same direction of the tiles.
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Unread 08-16-2019, 10:31 AM   #12
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Well, I don't get the part about using a tile backer (if that's what it is) and Stratamat together. There's really no point in doing that, and just makes another link in the chain that could break.

It looks like the joists run perpendicular to the walls, so what I was thinking wouldn't apply.

What size are the tile?

Do you know:

1. What mortar was used to set them, and

2. If he put mortar on the floor and on the back of each tile before setting

I know this is a lot of questions to ask, but understand that we're trying to analyze everything long-distance, and weeks/months after the job was finished.

In reality, the only real solution is for the installer to remove and replace the broken tiles. What we're trying to do is reduce the chance that you'll have a repeat performance.
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Unread 08-16-2019, 10:54 AM   #13
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3) And if the installer applied mortar to the floor and installed the 1/4" backer board panels into it, as well as how he fastened the backers to the subfloor.

4) Ay idea how thick the subfloor plywood is?

The tile looks to be at least 12X24, installed with a 50% offset.
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Unread 08-16-2019, 10:57 AM   #14
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I cant see where the crack is on the floor?
You should be able to find a model number and company name for the engineered joists. at least measure how tall they are and the width of the cap on top and bottom. They look like the 9" ones not the 11".
Then you will want to measure the span across the joist from support wall to support wall.

You could have just one joist that isn't resting on a midpsan wall or something so take a look in the area under the crack. I found this once.
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Unread 08-16-2019, 11:36 AM   #15
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So what is typically the standard or routine? If backer boards you do not need the mat? He definitely used the strata mat. If you look at the kitchen floor pic can you tell if the backer boards were used and about the mortar question.

I will check once again on the size of the joists if I can understand in layman terms.

The cracks are in six different tiles in different areas (three in the kitchen, two near the dining room and foyer and one in the corner of the dining and drawing room). the total install was a 1000 sq.ft. All of the cracks are in tiles that were cut in L shape. The number of cracked tiles is increasing slowly and the cracks are somewhat widening in some of the tiles although most are hairline as of now. So I don't think it is a question of one joist.

There are some questions in terms of the mortar used that I will have to ask the installer and that will be a very different conversation.

I will come back with more information.
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