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Unread 12-02-2003, 09:53 AM   #1
AndyF
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24" porcelain tile coming up

About 6 months ago, I had a tile installer install 2,500 sq ft of 24” Essenza porcelain tile with 1/16 “ grout lines. I have about 750 sq ft installed upstairs over ¾” wonderboard (screwed down every 4 inches) and the rest installed downstairs over concrete with a slip sheet. I have noticed that several of the tiles upstairs have now come loose as I can see some cracking on the grout. Also, when I tap on them, they sound hollow. I checked on the downstairs tiles and noticed that some of the tile sound hollow when I tap on them with a 6 iron. However, no grout has cracked downstairs. Unfortunately, the tile installer is “gone” and I will have to fend for myself. After some research, I believe that the problem is primarily due to the fact the tile installer used a standard thinset and did not use a latex additive. My guess is that although he had done a considerable amount of tile work, he had not done 24” porcelain. I watched the tile installer work on the job and he seemed to know what he was doing. I had also seen numerous jobs that he had done on some of my friends’ homes. Their ceramic 12" -18" tiles still look fine even after several years.

Here are my questions:
1. Do I wait some period of time and find out how many tiles will come loose and pull these up, chip out the old thinset, and re-thinset correctly?
2. Do I just live with some loose tiles? Is this a bad thing? Will it negatively affect other tiles?
3. Do I rip out all the tiles and start over ?
4. I have seen some “fix” jobs where they drill holes in the grout and inject some type of glue. Does this work?

Thanks for the help.
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Unread 12-02-2003, 10:10 AM   #2
bbcamp
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Hi, Andy! See you made it!

Let me start off by trying to answer some of the qustions:

1. I think that playing wait and see may work if only a few tiles are hollow sounding on the slab. The upstairs may be a bigger problem. If movement is the culprit, you will need to solve that before you can make a permanent repair. So, let's start at the basics and see if we can find the problem. We need to know the size, spacing and span of the floor joists, and the thickness and type of subfloor under the CBU. And do you really have 3/4" wonderboard (I'm not familiar with it). Was it set in thinset before being screwed down? Pull up a tile and see if you got nearly 100% thinset coverage on the back. If everything points to the thinset, then you know to rip them out and reinstall.

2. You may crack some tiles that are loose if you live with them too long before repairing.

3. If more than 25% are hollow sounding, rip it all out. There is nothing magical about the 25%, it just is an guess as to how much rework you are looking at.

4. I don't know.


The pros will be along to ask more questions and offer advice. So stick around and register. I promise that only good cookies will be added to your computer, and you will be able to post pictures. Pictures are helpful in solving problems like yours.


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Unread 12-02-2003, 11:36 AM   #3
AndyF
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Wow! thanks for the quick response! Apreciated.

Here is what I know about the house. The floor joists on second floor are 24" on center. There is then a particle board (7/8") on top of that. I am not sure how this was affixed to the joists. Nailed? The wonderboard must be 1/2" They just screwed the wonderboard down to the wood using screws every 4"

When I pull a tile up, no thinset is on the tile at all. I have about 5% (20 tiles) loose/hollow upstairs right now.

Regarding extra tiles, I do have some. However these tiles set me back a few $$ (28 per). I also do not have enough tile to replace all and the dye lot is gone. I noticed when they found a loose one when they inspected (final) the job, they used a suction device and just pried the tile right out of there. There was no thinset on the tile back then as well.

Regarding the epoxy system. I have seen them drill the holes in the grout ,inject epoxy, and they just fill the grout hole. This is common in my area. I live in a $500k house in Las Vegas (an expensive bread box tract home).

BTW, I did register. Thanks for the help folks! AndyF
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Unread 12-02-2003, 12:27 PM   #4
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Yikes! Joists on 24" centers means double wood, i.e. 2 layers of 5/8" (minimum) plywood or OSB. But never partical board! (I think you have OSB. If you can see a piece, it will have large flakes of wood, not sawdust.) Also, no CBU manufacturer has a tested and approved installation over joists greater than 16" OC. The only underlayment I know that would work is Ditra.

I'm afraid that this will have to be completely redone. Any patches we might try are doomed to failure.

The expoy thing may work for the downstairs (slab), but I'm thinking that, while you might bond the tile to the thinset, the thinset is the problem. So what keeps the thinset on the floor?

In light of all this, you might take some stop-gap measures to allow you to live with your floor until you can do a complete tear-out and new installation. And find a lawyer!
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Unread 12-02-2003, 07:06 PM   #5
AndyF
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Thanks for the help.

I have OSB and not particle board upstairs. I am in agreement that the upstairs needs to be completely redone. If I tear it out, what is the correct way to lay this tile up there. Do I take out the wonderboard as well or can I lay something over this? Sorry to be a PITA. Oh and yes, I teach beer at the University so I will choose the beer this evening although a martini might be necessary.
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Unread 12-02-2003, 07:12 PM   #6
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Yes, the CBU comes out. With the 7/8" OSB you have now, I'd add at least 1/2" (more if you can afford the height), then use Ditra for the underlayment.

Use modified thinset under the Ditra, and un-modified thinset under the tile (Sounds like the start of this movie, don't it). See the Schluter website for instructions and follow them to the letter. www.schluter.com
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Unread 12-03-2003, 06:57 AM   #7
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Don't use CDX for your extra plywood. The "D" means that some of the layers will have unplugged knotholes which reduces the advantage of the extra plywood. Instead, use BCX or CCX.
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Unread 12-03-2003, 10:22 AM   #8
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CD plywood is inherently weeker than higher grades, and that explains the cost difference. CD is designed and used as sheathing on roofs and on walls. It is not approved for subfloors.

Acceptable grades of half-inch ply (which are commonly found) are AC, BC and CC plugged. AC would be extreme overkill. When you move to 5/8 and above, tongue and groove Sturd-I-Floor is the best option.

Last edited by Mike2; 07-25-2006 at 07:26 AM. Reason: typo
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Unread 12-03-2003, 10:38 AM   #9
AndyF
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First things first. The six iron is one of the clubs that I cannot hit. Therefore, I have permanently removed it from my bag and am always looking for ways to destroy/damage the thing.

Regarding the floors. This house is new, built 1 ½ years ago. I called my contractor and he told me what the floors were 7/8” OSB. I am taking him in his word.

Just a last few questions and I will leave you helpful folks alone.

I read about the Ditra. Looks good and I will use it. Regarding the CCX screwed and glued to my original OSB, you do not mention using Wonderboard. Do I still need to use this on top of your recommendations?

So I would have this:
Tile set with thinset (modified and backbuttered)
Wonderboard screwed down and thinset (unmodified) to new BCX
½ “ BCX, CCX, or CDX glued and screwed down to my original OSB.

This would add an extra ¾ inch to the floor. Is this correct?
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Unread 12-03-2003, 11:04 AM   #10
bbcamp
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The CBU has to go. It doesn't add anything to the strength of the floor, rather, it adds an uncertantity that you can't afford. Removing the CBU and replacing it with 1/2" plywood and Ditra only adds 1/8 to 1/4".
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Unread 12-04-2003, 05:09 PM   #11
AndyF
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Tile Guy

Tom, John, Sonnie, Stven, Jason and friends:

I have found the tile guy! He is willing to come back to my house next week (Thursday) and discuss what to do. I found him through the tile company that I purchased the tile from. I will print out your comments and show them to him.

The good news is that I still owe him $1,100. The bad news is I am concerned that he will break the majority of these tiles and will not be able to afford to replace them. I am guessing that to purchase all new tile upstairs would cost about $6,000, not to mention the new subfloor. The tile guy was a referral from the tile company that I purchased the tile from. I do not think he is bonded. I know, I know, I am a knucklehead. I should know better being a researcher. As all new homeowners, I guess, I thought I would save a few bucks. Not smart. Now, I have a new use for that 6 iron.

Maybe what I will do initially is to ask him to remove the loose tiles and reset them. I know that this might not solve the impending problem down the road but it might work for a little while. What I will do is ask him to remove the loose tiles and backbutter them back in with a modified thinset. I could then wait two more months and see if any more come up. If none do, maybe it was just the “skin” issue discussed earlier. As I discussed earlier, some tiles were loose just after inspection of the job and the tilesetter did remove and redo with a “stronger” thinset. The bag stated that it was a marble thinset. These tiles are still firmly affixed to the floor. Before I rip out the entire upstairs, maybe I should give this guy a try to fix the tiles with the new thinset? I know if this doesn’t work, then I will bite the bullet and tear out the floors.
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Unread 12-04-2003, 07:35 PM   #12
Dave Gobis
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Not using CDX is a wood industry recommendation, agreed to, shared, and published by TCA. CDX is not a rated floor panel and will not acheive the deflection rating required for 24" centers. 3/4" CC Plugged, minimum. I can't in my wildest dreams imagine a repair to be effective. As for the injection bonding being common, that is a sorry statement in itself. I have done it, with latex, and I would say it might have a remote chance, but not in this installation. I suspect the tile is grouted tight to the wall or base too adding additional shear force to the already excessive deflection.
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Unread 12-05-2003, 01:05 AM   #13
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Dave do you think 3/8 CCX is stiffer than 1/2 CDX for this application?
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Unread 12-05-2003, 05:45 AM   #14
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Don't know off the top of my head, would have to look at the ratings or I can run a test in short order. Without looking, I do know any CC panel has a higher point load ability than a CDX. The assembly mentioned was rated on 3/8" CC Plus. The wood industry does not recommend the use of CDX in a floor assembly. All the tile industry does is follow the recommendations of their industry organizations which are based on test data and agreed to by member manufacturers. If the person that makes it doesn't recommend it ( and the purpose of their organization is to sell wood products ), I am not going to make myself liable by doing it anyway. Be that as it may, it is everyman for himself. No wood police, no tile police, just the damn attorney. When considering the legal ramifications of self engineering I would pass and go along with what both the wood and membrane manufacturer wanted. The guy who did the job the first time didn't follow the instructions and has a hands down liabilty issue, just in case, I wouldn't care to join him the second time around.
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Unread 12-05-2003, 10:35 AM   #15
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A couple of moderators have voted to include this thread and Dave G's comments in the Liberry. You can tell Dave spent a lot of time typing his responses because there aren't a lot of typos, and I happen to know he can only type with two, maybe three, fingers.

Since I agree that Dave has done a fine job of shedding light on this issue, I'm going to insert a link. I'll figure out where to index it when I get there.
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