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Old 09-26-2006, 07:50 AM   #1
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Ceramic Sadness...


Had a local reputable flooring store install 350 sq ft of ceramic tiles in my new kitchen. After installation, it was discovered that 12 of the tiles had serious surface defects. The installer was sent back to replace those tiles. So far-so good. A couple months later all the grout over the entire floor started falling to pieces. They came back again and said it was very soft and must have been a bad batch. Late last week the installer returned and dug out all the old grout and replaced it. The grout looks better than original as it was all different shades of grey before...but when the installer dug out the old grout he left small chips on the edges and especially the corners of most tiles. These are white tiles and these chips are very obvious (some almost 1/4" along the edge). I am so discouraged I feel like laying linoleum over the whole floor. The tiles can't be replaced now because the new cabinets, moulding, etc are on top of it...plus there are electric heating cables under the tiles. Is there a product that can touch up these chips. What advise would you pros give? I don't know what more the flooring people can do for me? Thanks!!

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Old 09-26-2006, 08:40 AM   #2
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Do you have a picture that you could post?

As for the grout comming out, that concerns me a little...He said it was a "bad batch"...
There are many things that can cause grout to break and come up, and Im not sure if a "bad batch" of grout is the most likely of them...keep an eye on it...I have mixed a lot of grout and never had a "bad batch"...not to say that it couldnt happen but....hmmmmmm
Was it really falling to pieces everywhere or comming up in large pieces in select areas?
If he layed lile on an unsuitable surface or did dont lay the proper material in a correct manner UNDER the tile that can cause tile failure, one of the first signs of which is grout popping out...

IN ANY CASE....
I would think it would be the tile installers responsibility to make this right....If he damaged the tiles while repairing the install, he needs to rip out the floor and do new tile or come up with a sufficient repair solution...

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Last edited by dougrus; 09-26-2006 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 09-26-2006, 09:41 AM   #3
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VERY, Very rarely is there a bad batch that would cause this, probably movement or the grout wasn't installed correctly the first time, as for the chips, there is no fix for this, get them back, they are responsible for this mess and have to redo the entire floor at their cost, they damaged them, don't let them walk away from this.
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Old 09-26-2006, 11:04 AM   #4
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Thanks so much for the replies. I will try to get a picture on here. I can't go through the mess of having things ripped up again. Huge mess #1 - original installation, #2 - Replacement of defective tiles, #3 - grout replacement. Also, the kitchen cabinets and all the moldings are on top of the tiles. I'm certain there would be damage to those or my new appliances...and on top of that...I worry about the heating cables in the mortar holding the tiles in place. I guess what I want is for all the chips to be covered with some "magic" fingernail polish or something. If they can't make it go away, I guess I should be asking for my money back??
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Old 09-26-2006, 12:35 PM   #5
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Absolutley, or at least a percentage of the cost. You paid for a clean, professional installation. This is NOT what happened. If given the option of fixing the entire installation VS. giving you a break or refunding all of the cost he will probably choose the latter.

You may ALSO want to ask the following questions regarding the installation and the grout failure. Were the backerboards taped with fiberglass tape and thinset at the joints? Was an expansion gap left where tile meets the wall? Was the cementboard thinsetted AND screwed to the plywood? And god forbid, was the tile stuck directly to plywood (bad, bad)?
It is worrysome because this grout popping out may happen again if it is movement and improper subfloor installation that is causing it...Please question them on these issues regarding how the tile was installed.
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Old 09-26-2006, 01:58 PM   #6
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Doug...the tiles were put down directly on plywood. The subfloor was prepared according to instructions from the flooring store (had to add a layer 3/8" thick all over). Note, too that the electrical heating cables were stapled to the plywood, mud spread out, tiles layed, and the grout was put in the next day. They said the floor isn't moving..."the grout isn't cracking like that"...it was very soft and simply breaking up all over. Just called them up and the district service manager is going to take the case (this is a flooring chain). Thanks again!!
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Old 09-26-2006, 03:28 PM   #7
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In any case, I doubt it was a "bad batch". If anything, he probably mixed it incorrectly.
Regardless of the grout situation, which a pro would have to evaluate to determine the definite cause, the subfloor installation was not ideal.
Tile directly on wood is not an ideal installation. Why? Because it is wood and is subject to movement, flexing, etc...If they tell you the floor is NOT moving, they can not be 100% if this was the method of installation.
The correct method would be to thinset and screw a cement backer of some kind, Wonderboard, Hardibacker, etc...or a membrane like Ditra (not screwed only thinsetted) to your underlayment...though 3/8 for a second layer of plywood is thin IMO...Then the seams of the backerboard should be taped with thinset and alkaline resistent fiberglass tape and then modified thinset and then the tile. Another option is if they floated a mudbed to set the tile...but tile directly over plywood is not a sound method.
As a disclaimer I will say that I am NOT a profesional tile contractor...I have done several floors and a few bath projects as a DIY'er....I am well educated however from pros and forums that will tell you the same thing I am telling you.
RDTile who posted previously is a pro I believe...lets see what he has to say about the situation.
Good luck!
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Last edited by dougrus; 09-26-2006 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 09-26-2006, 03:39 PM   #8
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Setting tile over 3/8" ply is unacceptable, I wouldn't ever tile over plywood directly anyway, if it has to be done, it needs to be installed a ceratin way and with a thicker layer on top, also the heating matts shouldn't be turned on for at least a week after grouting, that aside, it's only a matter of time before tiles may start becoming loose.

Tap on a few around the room and see if any sound hollow.
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Old 09-26-2006, 08:26 PM   #9
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This is very interesting. This is the most common method of tiling around "these parts"...mud on plywood, then tile. Actually, waited 4 weeks after the first defective tile replacement...before turning on the floor heat. Thanks.
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Old 09-26-2006, 09:15 PM   #10
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I think regardless of your region you will find that informed professional tilesetters rarely, if ever, tile directly to plywood...that is what cement backer is made for...covering plywood for floor tile installation and used in lieu of sheetrock for wall tile installation.
It is a tedious extra step that some people choose not to take...
But good installation includes this process.
Here is an example:
http://www.thetiledoctor.com/howto/floorsinterior.cfm

"Although it can be done successfully, many experts believe that ceramic tile installed directly to plywood surfaces should be avoided whenever possible. Plywood has a smooth surface and tends to swell, warp, and delaminate when it is exposed to moisture. Install at your own risk." - From Floorstransformed.com http://www.floorstransformed.com/installnotes.html

Hope this helps...

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