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Old 06-14-2018, 09:46 PM   #16
retiler
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jad, thank you for replying!
I am looking for options to try and salvage this.

It is frustrating that there does not seem to be an easy and cheap route out from the tiles. As soon as we want to rotate out, then substantial costs emerge.

One way out is precast concrete as you noted. Precast concrete appears to be made in many modern styles that are not what one would typically associate with concrete. The precast concrete prices that I have seen appear to be highly competitive 6' Wide- Rise 6-Rise 48" Porch ~ $1000

I also wondered whether for an easier job they could simply overlay a precast concrete on top of the existing structure. That would be amazing! They would then not even need to haul out what is already there. The precast would be entirely water tight and would not allow leakage to the existing stairs. They could preform the concrete however we asked them.

Any suggestion to help me out would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:53 PM   #17
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Thank you rmckee84 for your reply.

Some of the tiles did have a great deal of thinset, though others not.
Once the thinset became wet, the tiles peeled off the steps with little of the thinset left. I was able to whip up a batch of thinset myself and reattach a tile to get a hang for it. My reattachment worked out fairly well. It is surprising to me that an effort has not been made to fasten the tiles to the concrete more securely. for example. perhaps a metal plate could be welded to the concrete and the tiles have some sort of a fastener that would then latch onto this metal plate. There are a fair number of tile stories out there: finding a way to ensure that the tiles stayed firmly attached would be a great first step to make this a better product.
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Old 06-14-2018, 10:49 PM   #18
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Sorry John, tiles don't work that way. You can drill a hole near the 4 corners of a tile and use Tap con screws to hold them in place. It would stay in place as long as you don't stand on it. Once you stand on it, it wouldn't take long for it to break. Put a good thinset under the tiles, let it set and drive your car over it and not break it. Tiles need support under them.
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Old 06-15-2018, 05:38 AM   #19
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Davy, thank you for replying.

I have been told that exterior tiles are simply hopeless in our climate and that we need to try an entirely new product (e.g., stone).

Ripping out and starting over will greatly add to the cost. Putting in 2 inch of stone would also throw off the stepping pattern.
At the same time tiling companies are likely still installing comparable products so it is difficult to reconcile. How can there be a product that is thought to be defective and yet still in regular use?

The concrete screws were intended to fasten the tiles to the sides. There would be no foot traffic on the sides, so they would be safe from breakage. The great insight that I had a few days was that our problems were likely being caused by the water leaking from the sides. All the tiles began detaching from the sides and then they preceded to detach in a center wise direction. Once the water got under the tiles the thin set dissolved.

I would greatly like to stay with the tiles as this would be the cheapest and easiest option to repair the current problem. Notably none of the tiles on the porch level have detached. They are all very firmly attached. Clearly tiles under the right circumstances can be a good product. The main difference on the porch level is that there is one continuous block of tiles that prevents water entry.
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:04 AM   #20
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If it were me and I wanted to get away from the tile I'd opt for removing the tile, cleaning the substrate by grinding, then go with with an overlay product that can be troweled on, and stain/seal. Basically the same as stained concrete. But every product has limitations and I would take some investigation to make sure its appropriate for what you have.
Where are you located? Please add your location to your information so we can better understand what climate you're working with.
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:30 AM   #21
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If the tiles on the treads and risers are bonded well and you aren't wanting to replace the whole thing, clean the loose tiles and concrete surface and stick them back with a good modified thinset.
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:21 PM   #22
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Ryan, we are in southern Ontario. It gets mighty chilly here in winter.

Davy, yes that is exactly my thinking as well, though there is family infighting over what should be done.

Our neighbor had the same tiles and tore them out when his started popping off. He went with stone and is happy with the results and is confident that his steps will last for decades.

The neighbor has demoralized us by telling us that the tiles will never work out properly and will keep falling off no matter how many times that they are replaced. He has mentioned the high amount of liability we are assuming by staying with the tiles. Also if we continue to stay with the tiles, then we would never be sure when more dangerous detachments would occur.

We have become frustrated by all of this. We want a way our of this, though redoing the job in stone would cost many thousands of dollars. One family member is essentially refusing anything less than a full replacement.

At the rate quoted on the internet of $10 per linear foot, we could replace our currently detached tiles for less than $500.
I thin setted a tile back into place and it has attached strongly.


What I do not understand is how this product could be legal if it were as bad as our neighbor claims. I do not think that one could reasonably sell a product that did not meet certain standards. Considering the important safety implications related to stairs I would not think it possible from a liability standpoint for an inferior surfacing product to be sold. As far as I am aware the product that we installed on our stairs continues to be sold for exterior step applications. My guess is that if we were to look around, then we would find houses that had this tile on for lengthy periods of time without the problems that we have faced.

It really should not be a great surprise that the tiles are now falling off; this was part of my plan. Once I noticed that one of the tiles had detached from the thin set, I decided that it would be best to remove the tile for safety. At that point I wanted to reattach the tile with thin set. We bought the thin set and a family member talked to our neighbor and became convinced that we needed to redo the stairs in stone. The tiles then rapidly detached from our steps. This was partly due to our neighbors deliberately forcing up the tiles.

Yet, from what I can see the tiles on the porch are glued on solid. There is no introduction of water on the sides for these tiles. It is clear in my mind that tiles can stay in place under the right conditions. I would really like to give the tiles another try, though I am not sure whether this will be possible given my family member's insistence on going to stone.

One big help would be if we could get a strong workmanship guarantee. If a contractor could tell us that they would stand behind a retiling for say 20 years then it would be hard not to give them a try. Of course there might be some annual maintenance that we might need to do, but that would be fine.
I also thought that it might be an idea to talk to our local tiling shops to gain insight into what their customer experiences have been like with slate tile.
I really find it hard to believe that they would keep selling a product that was not of high quality. Some people will complain endlessly or even launch a lawsuit if they feel that they have been shortchanged.

Do they have precast concrete steps that have slate tiles embedded into the concrete? This might be a way of having the best of both worlds. Perhaps if the concrete could cure with the slate tiles firmly in the concrete, there might no longer be any of the troubles that we have faced. It is surprising to me that this not the way that tiles are typically installed.
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Old 06-15-2018, 02:06 PM   #23
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Not all setting materials are created equal, and not all setting materials are rated for exterior use. Something like Ardex x90 which is made for exterior use and freeze/thaw cycles would be an example of a product that would be a good choice. Prepping the surface properly and ensuring its clean and dust free, along with proper installation of the tile itself would ensure a lasting install.
There are no precast steps with slate installed that I'm aware of, but that's not a world I'm well versed in...
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Old 06-15-2018, 02:31 PM   #24
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I used VersaBond Premium Grade Fortified Thin Set on the tile that I attached. This product seemed to work well.

I was reading around some of the tile sites and I noticed something interesting.
A new technical specification was developed 311F-2009/2010 for "Tile bonded to concrete slab – Thin-set method".
Also, 318S-2009/2010 "Tile installed on stairs"

This could be a break that I needed. If there has actually been some sort of a change in technology in the last few years, then it will be much easier to persuade family members to give the tiles another chance. Repeating something that did not work the first time would not be an easy sell. Considering that the exterior tile that we installed is still being sold, it must be a valid product.

http://flextile.net/installation-specifications/
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Old 06-15-2018, 03:37 PM   #25
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What you really want is a thinset that meets ANSI A118.15 specifications...the thinset you chose does not. https://www.custombuildingproducts.com/TDS/TDS-119.pdf

Will it work for you? Maybe, maybe not, but it would be more likely if you choose a product with the demonstrated capabilities you need. It's summer, and until you have some freeze/thaw cycles, you won't know for sure. Think of the damage from those as chopping a log with an ax...you don't fell the tree with the first chop, but things get weaker and weaker with each cycle. You wont' know for awhile if it will work out.

Then, it is critical on an exterior surface like this where freeze/thaw is part of the picture that they industry spec on coverage be met or exceeded.

The ANSI spec has numerous, sometimes conflicting, requirements. EACH component of the spec must be met to list it as complying. It's a major balancing act to find the right mix to achieve all of the requirements in the spec. Some manufacturers have violated that by implying they meet SOME of the A118.15 specs, which may be technically true, but exceeding say bond strength without meeting the resistance to freeze/thaw cycles won't help you unless you understand the consequences, and they do not tell you that, they just are into puffery in advertisement when they include that.
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Old 06-15-2018, 03:40 PM   #26
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John, if you look at the slate up close, you'll see that's in layers. It's slate, that's what slate is and some are better than others depending on where it's from. Some slate is fairly hard and other slate is nothing more than hard mud.

You can't blame the slate or the tile store for it not holding up to Ontario winters. If you go to the tile store and buy 10 boxes of slate, they aren't going to ask you where you plan to install it. They'll take your money and maybe help you load it up. Blame the person that selected the material in the first place.
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Old 06-15-2018, 03:57 PM   #27
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Go to Europe and you can find slate roofs and tiled areas that are hundreds of years old and still in good condition. Search through the forum here and you'll find stories of woe where 'slate' softened and washed away. The junior high I went to had actual slate chalkboards...VERY hard, honed very flat, would have lasted for centuries, but they sold the building and made it into condos! Slate mined in Vermont tends to be very durable...I'm sure some is probably mined in Canada as well. The stuff that tends to come from China is often barely more than hardened mud. How well the layers are bonded can vary radically. It starts out as mud, then becomes a soft shale, and if the conditions are met, it metamorphosizes to slate under heat and pressure. How much heat and how much pressure determines its characteristics. The 'good' stuff is pretty robust, the 'cheap' stuff isn't.
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:22 PM   #28
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Jad, Wow Thank you ! I thought I was all set with Exterior Thin Set.
Apparently this is more complicated than I had thought. I am surprised that the standards are not made more obvious for the buying public. Until you noted the ANSI standards I had had no idea that there were A118.1, A118.4, A118.11 and A118.15 standards.

Hopefully the pros who did the install chose the correct product in effect for that time. Here again the evolution of the standards could be a strong arguing point. I would really appreciate it if the tile store could confirm for me that contractors would be willing to assume prolonged workmanship guarantees on a tile repair job. That could be the clincher right there in the argument. People will install faulty products if they will face no consequences, though when thre are consequences behavior can change.
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:27 PM   #29
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Davy, yes you are right. I did not take the stance that I was blaming them. It was more I was asking if they could help me out. I want to know if a repair contractor would be likely to give me an extended guarantee on any fix: Say 15-20 years. They would only offer such a guarantee if they believed that the product would hold up. All of the tiles on the porch have withstood 20 years of Canadian winters. So long term adhesion is possible. I would just like the contractors to provide me with this assurance. It would then be a much easier sell to my family.

The online tiling store did mention that slate tile was for exterior applications including steps.
My thinking continues to be that it would not be reasonable to market a product for a stated purpose under known environmental conditions if this product were likely to fail under these given conditions without exceptional circumstances. Lawsuits in America and elsewhere have established this as a minimum standard expected of consumer products. This is all the more true when it involves products such as stairs which involve substantial risk to personal safety if they fail to perform as expected. Given this reasoning, my conclusion is that the tiling stores do believe in their products and their technical research has verified that in the weather experienced in Southern Ontario their product can be expected to perform as designed. If this is in fact correct, then masons should be willing to provide substantial guarantees for their workmanship.

Yes, and that was something else that you reminded me of: contact our builder. A few years ago our builder moved out of our community and we have lost contact. Not long after our roofing shingles completed rotted off (big issue with organic shingles a few years ago), our tiles came off our front steps and a few other problems. Builders seem to move quite a bit; this should have been a sign for us to become worried. We'll ask around and see how to make reconnect and see what is now the recommended course of action with the tiles.
Builders would have a much better understanding of what issues might have emerged with different products. Perhaps the builder can pull some strings for us so that we could have an easy and relatively cheap work around to fix this problem. From what I can see in building if you know a few people you can wind up paying the wholesale and not the retail price. The difference between the two could wind up being very large. I suspect that if everything fell into place, then we could be looking a repair job of less than $1000 and the problem would be permanently solved.
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:28 PM   #30
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Jad, are slate tiles typically heat treated before they are installed? I am wondering whether applying heat might harden up some of the mud like slates.
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