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Old 05-18-2010, 09:27 AM   #1
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


I'm in the process of settling a small claims action against a floor remodeling company. The small claims action has been ongoing since July of 2009. The contactor stone-walled me for over 6 months, and I was forced to file the small claims action.

The project was to install 12" x 12" ceramic floor tiles in my bathroom. I demoed the old ceramic tiles, and the contractor replaced the existing subfloor new high grade 3/4" plywood. My son-in-law (a registered electrician) installed an electric radiant floor cable system before the tile installation began. The tile installer put down a skim coat of thinset over the radiant floor cabling which was 1/8 " thick with 1/4" connectors. The installer then set the floor tiles in another coat of thinset.
The problem is as follows:
1) I have 13 uneven floor tiles, and 15 tiles with hairline cracks.
2) Tiles are set over a radiant heat floor system.

The small claims hearing was yesterday. The contractor has offered to level the existing tiles and then tile over the existing tiles. My questions are:
1) Is tiling over floor tiles acceptable? The ceramic floor tiles are 1/4" thick. Any issues?
2) What type of prep is needed if it's acceptable?
3) Any issues about tiling over 12" x 12" tiles with hairline cracks?
4) The contractor is suggesting that he grind down the high tiles before installing the new tiles. Any issues?
5) I'm very concerned that this may be a "jack-leg" fix.
6) We plan to sell the property in 3-5 years. Any negatives about tile over existing tiles?
7) Should I hold out for a complete tile removal and replacement? I'll probably have to replace the radiant floor system if I go this route.
Thanks for your help- John

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Old 05-21-2010, 05:46 PM   #2
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


Ya definately sounds like a band aid fix. Probably should of put down cement board over the plywood.

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Old 05-21-2010, 06:13 PM   #3
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


if the first floor is failing why wouldnt the second one on top
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:49 PM   #4
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


You should get a letter from the radiant heat company that either says yes or no.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:24 PM   #5
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


What you have there is a half-assed job from a guy that had no experience with this type of installation. The floor was not properly prepared to receive the tile over the heat system.

I can't imagine why you would even allow the same guy to make a repair that will also be half-assed. Get someone else.

That heat system should be OK but the tiles should be carefully removed without damaging the heat system.

Then Self Levelling Compound should be poured over the entire area to "plane" the floor and prep it for tile.

Then the new tiles can be installed.

There is no way that charactor should be allowed to attempt a fix of anything. If he couldn't do it correctly the first time why do you think the next time around will be any different???

Hire a new contractor and send the old guy the bill.
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Old 05-22-2010, 08:14 AM   #6
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


Bud- Thanks for your comments. This is the approach i'm going to take. We have a follow-up appoint ment in 6 weeks with small claims. If the contractor doesn't agree to pay for the fix by someone else, I'll take it to the court.
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Old 05-22-2010, 09:46 AM   #7
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


Manufacturers of those floor heat systems say you can apply one of two methods to prepare the floor for tile after the heat system is installed.

One thing is to spread thinset over the system then install the tile.

The other is to pour Self Levelling Compound (SLC) over the system.

Self Levelling Compound can get expensive so the cheaper method is to spread the thinset. The makers of floor heat offer up the thinset method simply so that the cost of installation of their heat product doesn't look so expensive as to discourage sales of their product.

The problem is the "spread the thinset" method isn't at all practical and in some cases isn't at all do-able - you see the results when put into the hands of inexperience.

The only practical way to cover those heat systems is with Self Levelling Compound. SLC's also offer the consistent "thermal-mass" that is needed for your system to operate properly.

This installer guy had no idea what he was doing and should have told you that up front. He should of also offered the SLC option but he obviously wasn't aware of the pitfalls of the thinset method. This tells me you were his first floor heat client.
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:49 PM   #8
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Tile over existing floor tile radient with electric heat


Thanks Bud. I'm pretty sure that you're right about this being his 1st radiant floor job.
Regard- John

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