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Unread 05-21-2008, 10:34 AM   #1
chuff
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House settling caused 5 ft long crack in Travertine

New member. I have really appreciated the posts on this forum - in fact, I used your deflectometer and other advice to help determine if I could do travertine in my kitchen. Now need a little more help.

The deflectometer gave me a great number for laying natural stone in my kitchen. I ended up laying 18x18 honed travertine in my kitchen. I made sure that the installers screwed down the subfloor for all known squeeks and installed a 1/4 inch backer board. I also ensured they used 100% coverage of mortor.

About 2 weeks after the job was complete (a few days after we sealed it), we heard a crack in the kitchen after the house settled. The next day we found a 5 ft crack across 5 tiles along where we had our worst squeek in floor.

The installers are going to replace the tiles, but how can I prevent this from happening again?? They screwed down that area the best they could prior to laying the backer board. The squeek was gone. Is there something I can do in the basement under the floor? Have you heard of this before?

THANKS in advance for any help you can give!
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Unread 05-21-2008, 11:26 AM   #2
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Huff, nothing in your post suggests they plan to address the root cause of the problem. Actually, I'm not real sure what that root cause is. When you say the house settled, what exactly does that mean? Has the concrete foundation/basement floor actually moved resulting in cracks that are readily apparent?

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Unread 05-21-2008, 12:53 PM   #3
flatfloor
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Quote:
we heard a crack in the kitchen
This might indicate "tenting". Did they tile or gr put right up to the molding?
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Unread 05-21-2008, 12:59 PM   #4
chuff
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You are correct that the installers have not suggested a fix to the root cause. They had never seen this happen before. The kitchen is over a basement on a subfloor. Sorry, I should have clarified. By settling, I just meant that it appeared to be caused by normal minor shifting in the house due to tempature variations. Could be something else, but the crack occurred out of the blue when we were in another room (we heard it happen).

The sheets of subfloor lay on top of the joists such that seem runs perpendicular to the joists, which I assume is normal. Anyway, it made screwing down this particular squeek area difficult because there was not a beam underneath.

Should I screw in a metal bracket at the seem under the floor?
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Unread 05-21-2008, 01:01 PM   #5
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Yes, they did grout right up to the molding. In fact, the crack appears to have started right at the molding on the wall. What is tenting?
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Unread 05-21-2008, 01:17 PM   #6
Mike2
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Huff, is that what we should call you?

At a minimum a tiled floor needs an expansion joint around the entire perimeter of the room. Without that, as the tiled surface expands it will pop up (or tent up) right off the floor.

Could it be that your installers are blaming this failure on the house settling, when in fact it was due to their own neglect, not incorporating an expansion joint around the room? Sure sounds like it to me.

---------------------------------------
P.S. You can read more about expansion joints here in this Liberry thread. http://johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=1976

Last edited by Mike2; 05-21-2008 at 01:25 PM. Reason: added P.S.
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Unread 05-21-2008, 01:22 PM   #7
Dave Taylor
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Geee Chuff.......

It looks as if Ol' Flatflour done guessed another problem cause correctly. :---)

"Tenting" is the slight raising of a floor covering (ceramic, stone, hardwood, plywood, planks and others) when the individual components --or monolithic structure taken as a whole-- has no place to expand but up.

It is a fair common ailment we see here-a-bouts and happens (usually) cause a hard surface floor covering is wedged tightly to in-movable objects like walls, counters, the mother-in-law..... and/or little or no expansion space between component members is allowed for..... and/or expansion joints are not installed when, how or where required.

Grouting tile/stone tightly to perimeter walls is a very possible cause of tenting. A 1/4" gap here, calked and covered, is recommended.

Oops..... that Mike Mike is fast. What him and Flat say goes.

Help help! Moderators and forum kahunas above and below me!!

What BoBC says too, Chuff.
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Last edited by Dave Taylor; 05-21-2008 at 01:39 PM.
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Unread 05-21-2008, 01:27 PM   #8
bbcamp
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Tell us about the subfloor: 1 or 2 layers of plywood.

Did they lay the backerboard in thinset, then tape and mud the joints?
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Unread 05-21-2008, 02:20 PM   #9
Joerg
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Ok, I am not a tile setter. But I saw a project at a friend's house where they laid down 1/4 Hardibacker in a similar situation and I told him I thought that was marginal and 1/2" would be better. Sure enough a few months later the new porcelain tiles on the kitchen floor began to crack and they had to do the whole job again.

Regards, Joerg.
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Unread 05-21-2008, 02:38 PM   #10
flatfloor
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1/4" is PK on a floor 1/2" is for walls something else caused that.
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Unread 05-23-2008, 11:58 AM   #11
chuff
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Thanks for the replies! We have 2 layers of plyword subfloor. I know they installed backerboard, but not sure if they laid it in thinset and taped the joints.

Is there any way to know if this was tenting caused by lack of expansion joints? I read the expansion joint thread. Under guidelines it says "interior—20' to 25' in each direction." Does this mean you only need expansion joints for that size of a span?

Asking our tile guys to rip out the grout around the perimeter seems like a big task to do as a precaution at this point. I will certainly do it in this smaller area where the crack occured.

Should we ask to get the expansion joints in the entire perimeter? Is it possible that the subfloor shifting could have caused it? Once the tile is pulled up, if the backboard is smooth, should I conclude tenting was the cause? I just want to ensure that it doesn't happen again or in other areas.
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Unread 05-23-2008, 12:38 PM   #12
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Welcome, chuff. Please go to the UserCP above, find Edit Signature and type in a first name for the folks to call you.

You indicate two layer of plywood but don't indicate the thickness of either. Here is a useful article on installing subflooring layers for a natural stone installation. You might want to see if your floor was installed similar to this. The requirement that the second layer not be fastened into the joists is significant.

If your CBU was installed without thinset under it or the joints properly filled and taped, per manufacturer's instructions, that alone could certainly be your problem.

The lack of expansion joints all around the perimeter of the installation is a fundamental installation error and shouldn't be allowed to remain that way. You could be looking at more problems years down the road if you don't correct that deficiency. Any competent installer should know better than to have done that.

The requirements for expansion joints in the tile field are in addition to the joints around the perimeter. The perimeter joints are always required, regardless the size of the installation.

I also see no mention of the required stiffness of the joist structure. Such structures for natural stone installations need to be twice as rigid as those for ceramic tile installations. Was consideration given to that prior to installing your stone?

Lotta things to consider for a lasting repair here.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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