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Unread 03-26-2018, 06:07 PM   #1
chris4275
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New ceramic tiles already cracking in bathroom

Hi everyone:

My name is Christine and I am new here. Nice to meet you!

I am having a problem with a new shower I had installed about 2 months ago. We did a total renovation, down to the studs, and rebuilt our bathroom from scratch. Our contractor has been working in our building for 40+ years, comes highly regarded, is licensed, etc. This is in NYC. Work was done in the late fall.

Our problem is as follows:
- We used a ceramic tile by British Ceramic Tiles that is 10"x20" high gloss glazed. The tiles go floor to ceiling.
- It was attached to the wall with a latex modified thinset.
- The wet wall has Hardibacker, the others have greenboard and cement board. I do not think the joints were taped, but not sure.
- Within six weeks we noticed small crazing type cracks. About a month later the cracks have gotten worse. Some are isolated half moon cracks in the middle of the tile, some go in a horizontal-ish line across several tiles. Some are vertical. Cracks are on all four walls.
- Height of the cracks varies. I can't figure out a pattern.
- Contractor says he has never seen this and seems to think it's not his fault and the tiles are faulty
- On another tile board, apparently the tiles we chose (although not inexpensive) are crappy, according to people in the UK who have more experience with them
- We used the tile supplier our contractor wanted to use, but were given no guidance. Tile supplier does tiles only, not a big box store. Supplier says installation error. Have been told by supplier "no else has this problem"
- Probably half of our tiles either have cracks, or cracks are starting to form
- Don't know if they go all the way thru the tile, or just the glaze, but the ones in the shower turn dark when wet.
- Contractor has told us we need to re-do entirely, from scratch.

Questions:
- ideas why this happened?
- who is at fault here and who pays? Contractor seems to not want to cover the cost of replacement. He is a GC.
- we don't think we should have to pay for a bathroom that lasted only 12 weeks
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Unread 03-26-2018, 06:51 PM   #2
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Chris,

Welcome to the forum, and welcome to the wonderful world of contracting where finger pointing abounds. Supplier says installation error. Have been told by supplier "no else has this problem"

Do you have any spare tiles?

Make a sample board in the presence of the supplier. When they crack, take the sample board and shove it up his have him order you new tiles.

Aside from this plan, a complete re-do is in order with other tiles.
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Unread 03-26-2018, 06:55 PM   #3
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Nope, sadly no spare tiles.
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Unread 03-26-2018, 06:56 PM   #4
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Order another box?
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Unread 03-26-2018, 08:15 PM   #5
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You say the wet wall has hardibacker, is it waterproofed? Or does it have a moisture barrier behind it?
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Unread 03-26-2018, 09:32 PM   #6
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In your first pic, I see greenboard and a metal edge but have no idea where this is. Is it inside the shower?
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Unread 03-26-2018, 10:05 PM   #7
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If they were somewhat consistent with the board seams, I'd say the lack of joint reinforcement might be to blame. But since they're random, it certainly seems more likely that the tile is defective.

What you'll find is that even if the supplier concedes that the fault is with the tile itself, he will contend that his liability is limited only to the replacement or refund, not the re-installation.
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Unread 03-27-2018, 06:09 AM   #8
chris4275
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Yes, the hardibacker was waterproofed. Oddly enough, the worst cracks are all on the non-wet walls.

Sorry about the confusion with the picture with the greenboard. When I imported it, it rotated a weird way. It should actually be portrait orientation. It's the last row of tiles behind the toilet. The metal is there to support the last row (I think?) until the last tile gets placed in. The photo should be rotated 45 degrees clockwise.
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Unread 03-27-2018, 07:02 PM   #9
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Okay, thanks for explaining. I see now that those are behind the toilet and the edging is holding up the tiles.

I replaced a shower about a year ago that was a couple months old. I didn't install it originally. The tiles were made in China and bought from Lowes. Every day or two another tile would crack. Lowes paid the full price for the tile and labor to replace it.

I have no idea why they cracked.
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Unread 03-27-2018, 07:25 PM   #10
chris4275
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Thanks Davy (and others!)

Can I ask how you (or the homeowner) got Lowe's to pay for labor?
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Unread 03-27-2018, 07:58 PM   #11
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I don't know, I wasn't part of the conversation. The homeowner asked for my bid and I gave it to her. A month or so later she asked me to come tile it, that Lowes agreed to pay to have it replaced. I will say that I did have an upgrade because I mudded the walls which was more labor than they originally had. The homeowner told me that Lowes was paying for the labor and tile although I doubt they paid for the upgrade.

I've heard several people say that Lowes is pretty good about standing behind their products.
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