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Unread 06-03-2022, 03:53 PM   #1
Daffyd54
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Bathroom tiles cracking

Hi all, I found this site after scouring the web for answers to a long-standing tile issue that my partner has been having and hope I can find some answers here.
Approximately five years ago she did a major reno in her bathroom and the contractor installed new white ceramic tiling in both the new shower stall and on some shelves built next to the toilet.
Several months following the end of the reno, crazing and/or cracks started showing up on the tiles, both in the vertical tiling in the shower and over the horizontal shelf tiling. Ive attached pics which give an idea of the current extent of the cracking/crazing.
Her contractor offered to relay the tiling but has unfortunately since gone out of business.
In researching possible causes, I am completely unsure if its the quality of the tiles, the substrate implementation, shifting buidling structure or something else.
We'd like to redo the shower walls and trhe shelf but are afraid this will reoccur so she is thinking of possibly using a fiberglass insert instead.
Any advice/thoughts are really appreciated!
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Unread 06-03-2022, 04:13 PM   #2
Mathman
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Do you know anything about how the shower was constructed? Pictures taken during construction would be helpful.
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Unread 06-03-2022, 05:27 PM   #3
Lazarus
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There appears to be extreme movement there...causing the cracks. Without further information as to how exactly this build was done, it will be very difficult to give you a good answer. All I can say is that this is a total re-do.....
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Unread 06-03-2022, 06:22 PM   #4
jadnashua
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Maybe a good reason why the contractor went out of business...

Tile doesn't just start to crack after it's been installed unless there's some good reason. A properly installed tile installation does not crack unless you drop something very heavy and hard on it, and then, it wouldn't be on additional tile other than the one(s) that were hit.

FWIW, some floors just were never built strong enough to support tile properly, but it's a rare wall that can't be tiled. A properly built shower will last until you decide to remodel, not because it wears out. There's more than one way to achieve that, but while not technically hard, it's very detail oriented - failing one step can mean failure, and that doesn't always occur immediately. Sometimes, it just needs the right (wrong!) set of conditions before the problem shows up.
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Unread 06-03-2022, 09:21 PM   #5
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My suggestion would be to stop hitting the tile with your sledge hammer.

Then, when you're ready to remove and replace the tile, start hitting it with your sledge hammer.

There are many possible reasons why your tile failed, and it certainly doesn't hurt to guess as to why that happened. But in the end you'll have to tear up the tile, and likely even more, to find the reason why, and to begin your rebuild properly.

When you're ready to demo and rebuild, we can certainly help you with that.
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Unread 06-04-2022, 06:20 AM   #6
Just In Tile LLC
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The fact that the shelf is also doing that has me thinking it could be the tile. I've had backsplashes that already had crazing for design continue to crack and craze long after I've installed them.

Plus the nature of some of those cracks aren't typical of just substrate movement.

We still want to know how things are built to rule out the contractor, but just on the surface it looks like defective tile to me.
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Unread 06-04-2022, 06:55 AM   #7
Davy
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Like Justin, I've also seen tiles do that although I can't ever remember seeing tiles with that much crazing.

Do you have any of the same batch of tiles left over? If so, I would look at them to see if they show any cracks. Wet them a few times with cold and then hot water like would happen in a shower.
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Unread 06-04-2022, 07:32 AM   #8
Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
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When you tap on the tiles does it sound like there is a bunch of hollow spots, or no?
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Unread 06-04-2022, 11:25 AM   #9
Kman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin
The fact that the shelf is also doing that has me thinking it could be the tile. I've had backsplashes that already had crazing for design continue to crack and craze long after I've installed them.

Plus the nature of some of those cracks aren't typical of just substrate movement.
I can see your point on some of them, but there's at least one picture with a crack that continues across a grout joint into the adjacent tile, with a deviation of only 1/16" to 1/8". That makes me believe there's something besides crazing causing that problem.

Dave, when you run a finger across the cracks in the tile, can you feel one edge sticking up above the other? (Be careful, the edges may be sharp)
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Unread 06-04-2022, 11:35 AM   #10
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That same photo you're referring to (I think), Kevin, also shows, from the reflection of light from somewhere, that there is a height difference between the two sides of the crack. I think that indicates pretty clearly that it's not all a crazing problem. Some of the cracking does appear to be crazing of the glaze, though.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-04-2022, 06:01 PM   #11
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I saw that as well, and I wasn't sure if something was just blocking the reflection of the window. But looking at it again, the light follows the crack, so I'm sure the two pieces are on different planes like you said.
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Unread 06-05-2022, 08:03 AM   #12
Davy
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Looking closer, in the 3rd picture, I assume that's the seat. I see a silver profile along the edge and that sure makes me wonder what kind of support it has under it. I also see the reflection. I agree that it's probably a little of both, crazing and movement.
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Unread 06-10-2022, 05:28 PM   #13
Daffyd54
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Thanks all for your replies, I haven't had time to respond until now.

Just to be clear, no sledgehammers have been utilised !
To answer: Prior to the reno, the old bathroom tiles never showed any issues, it's just with the new ones.
We have no idea who manufactured the tiles, we don't have any leftover samples.
We haven't found any hollows behind any of the tiles, they all sound solid.
The larger shower wall crack is spreading/progressing slowly, as are some of the smaller shower tile cracks (fairly fine in size).
The shelf tiles have more pronounced cracking and the raised crack has a sharp edge. The shelf was also the first place any cracked tiles showed.

If it is a bad batch of tiles, what kind of tiles would be suitable for replacing them? I
t's a wood frame West Coast (Canada) condo building and the building does shift.
Should we use different types for the shower vs. the shelf?
Many thanks for all the advice!
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Unread 06-10-2022, 06:08 PM   #14
jadnashua
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Vertical displacement is not good! On the niche, it sort of sounds like it was framed with wood, and is leaking, and the wood is swelling. Another thing that can cause that is not following industry guidelines and hard grouting the changes of plane. If surface or what it's butted up against expands enough, it can cause what is referred to tenting, but that also breaks the bond to allow the tile to tent.

We'd have to know more about how the shower was built to try to figure out what went wrong.
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Unread 06-10-2022, 07:35 PM   #15
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What Jim said. We'd definitely need to know more about your construction.

Dave, if you don't add that geographic location to your User Profile, the information will be lost before we leave this page and that information is often helpful.
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