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Unread 12-28-2012, 10:29 AM   #1
Mike The Tall One
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Tenting tile in cold weather

Looking for some experienced advice here,

I live near Houston, TX in a 2400 sqft home that is mostly tile ~1400 sqft. The tile is a large 18" (I believe porcelain) tile with VERY small grout lines, I'd guess 1/16-1/8" spacing. There are no expansion joints in the tile and therefore there are runs up to about 36'. We have experienced tiles popping during cold weather in the 40's and below. The home is now 9 years old and this started at about five years. This year we had an actual "tent" in my spare bathroom. When the tiles release, there can either be a cracking sound that propagates along a few tiles, or a very loud release that can eject you from bed thinking someone is firing off shots at you.

What I am trying to determine, now that I have more time on my hands is:
  • Can I pull up the loose tiles and reseat them?
  • If so, can expansion joints be "cut" into the existing tile?
  • Am I out of luck and the best course of action is a total replacement?
  • Is there another option?
At all "cost" I would want to avoid number 3 due to the costs I see associated.

Any experienced help would be appreciated. Pictures of a pulled tile are possible.

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Unread 12-28-2012, 01:00 PM   #2
Mike The Tall One
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Here is an assortment of pictures of the flooring. The shots show the long runs and also the one tile I have removed after it tented. The third image is our master bath, not a large area, but it too has lifted.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 01:01 PM   #3
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36' is too long without an expansion joint especially if the area gets any direct sun. It doesn't take much expansion to tent tiles. What you may find will work is to remove the grout and replace with either color matched caulk or a urethane material at a couple of lines across the tile. ALso, if the tile are set tight to the wall, or are grouted there, remove the grout around the periphery.

Ideally, there'd be a gap all around the tile at the walls or anything that is rigid. That can either be left open, or caulked if it would show.

Your pictures weren't up when I started my answer...it also doesn't look like you got great coverage on the tile - on a floor tile, industry standards call for a minimum of 90% coverage with all edges supported. My guess is that they didn't burn in a layer of thinset on the back of the tile either, and that is highly recommended on larger format tile. In a way, that's good news, as if it had been done, the tile would have likely cracked rather than pop up. As a result, you likely can reuse the tile. Make sure you get full coverage and backbutter it.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 01:29 PM   #4
Mike The Tall One
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Thanks for the quick response.

Yeah, the tiles definitely were not back buttered. Is there any recommended caulks to use in the current grout line areas if I don't cut-in any new expansion joints? I've read you want a 35 hardness (or something like that) for heavy traffic areas.

The outer perimeter is below the baseboard and I don't remember it being against the bottom of the wall frames. I think the only area this might be an issue is in the bathrooms against the tub and showers where I noticed all the corner grout areas are cracked. I'll be removing that grout and going with caulk for sure.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 06:24 PM   #5
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Hi Mike,

I've used sanded caulking to match the grout. It lasts for years indoors. And if it needs a touch-up occasionally it's easy to get. Home Depot has about eight or ten colors in the tile aisle.

For long term wear use expansion joint material. It's a little more difficult to work with as it doesn't wash with water.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 06:58 PM   #6
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Our freinds at ColorRiteInc.com will have what you need to match the grout color as they have 100% silicone in over 140 colors.

If you follow the instructions on the Caulking Tutorial you should be fine.

Add expansion joints as per pages 20-23 of this article.

For when DIY isn't such a good idea...
Houston TX area Kitchen & Bath Remodeling

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Unread 12-29-2012, 10:32 PM   #7
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Free up all the parameters by removing the grout and use matching silicone caulkingi at the parameters. Replace the tented tile and thinset and replace where necessary. In the tented areas it may be necessary to place soft joints also.

In the areas where the grout is not cracked or coming out of the joints you will most likely be fine even if tiles are unbonded. Where the grout is compromised it would be best to remove the tiles and reinstall, otherwise the grout will be a constant problem.

I hope this helps.

Cheers . . . L J
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Unread 12-30-2012, 01:48 AM   #8
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Welcome aboard Mr (or Mrs, Ms, etc...) Technical.

Please change your signature to a first name for us to use. We're generally a pretty friendly bunch and like to know who we're talking with.

And if you're affiliated with, or represent a specific company, please indicate that info in your profile for us too.


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Unread 12-30-2012, 02:22 PM   #9
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I "Mr" have updated the profile. For privacy reasons that is all I am comfortable to devolge. My name is L J and has been all my life.

I am only here to help folks with thier installations. So far it seems as though I am not welcome.

EJ 171
Cheers . . . L J
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Unread 12-30-2012, 02:49 PM   #10
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It's simple LJ,we find that people who aren't afraid to put their name on their advice tend to stand by it.We frown on diyers offering supposed professional advice to other diyers,when they really don't have the knowledge to do so.
And it's more friendly,like the site says.

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Unread 12-30-2012, 06:56 PM   #11
Higher Standard Tile
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I'm pretty sure with signature like EJ 171 LJ is not a diy.

I thought the signature was pretty clever.

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