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Old 03-13-2011, 05:45 PM   #1
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


My husband and I just moved into a house that is approx 20 yrs old. The main floor powder room was very outdated, so we gutted it completely.

We took up the old tiles and stripped the floor right to the plywood. We then bought Wonder Board and used thinset to glue it to the plywood and screwed it in with galvinized screws. We waited 24 hours for the glue to dry(like the package said). Then we laid the thin set down and the tiles on top. We waited 48 hrs after gluing to grout, and 72 hours to treat the grout.

After all this work, it looked great....for about a day. Then after painting, putting in the new toilet and vanity, the grout started cracking like crazy and is coming up everywhere, and it looks terrible. My question is, without pulling the floor up again (which we REALLY don't want to do) is there an option to fix the grout? Will flexible grout solve this problem, or do we have to take some of the tiles up? What did we do wrong to have this happen?

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Old 03-13-2011, 07:42 PM   #2
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


The grout cracked because there's movement in the floor. It's either the framing of the floor, (joists or subfloor) or tiles were not set properly.

Specifically which thinset did you use, and what type/size trowel did you use?

Also check the joists and subfloor tell us what you've got. But a 20 years old house should have been built to specs which are good enough for ceramic tiles. Are the tiles ceramic/porcelain or natural stone?

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Old 03-13-2011, 08:28 PM   #3
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


We used a 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2" square notched floor trowel. The thinset we used was AcrylPro Ceramic Tile Adhesive. Is says it's "pro quality" and specifically for wall and floor tile installations. The tiles are ceramic tiles. The wonderboard was specific for flooring, and the plywood is 3/4" chipboard. My husband thinks the joices are to code. Do you think it was the wonderboard maybe? Is there a way we can fix this without ripping up the floor? We just did so much work on it! We wouldn't mind ripping up a couple tiles if need be, but tearing the whole floor up isn't an option...is there a product we can use that's more forgiving than sanded grout?
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:40 PM   #4
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


Quote:
The thinset we used was AcrylPro Ceramic Tile Adhesive.
There's your problem. That stuff is garbage for your purpose.

Quote:
and the plywood is 3/4" chipboard.
Plywood is not chipboard. You've got OSB, not plywood. Another reason. You can NOT tile directly over OSB, even if you had used the right adhesive.

Quote:
is there a product we can use that's more forgiving than sanded grout?
The grout isn't the problem.

You need to remove all the tiles and start over. You should be able to save the wonderboard even if you used the same mastic under it.

BTW, Acrylpro is mastic, NOT thin set. Thin set mortar ONLY comes in powder form. By definition thin set mortar must be made from Portland cement which can not be stored in a container.

Were you advised to buy those products or did you decide all by yourselves? If it were me I would take that stuff back and make them give you a refund, then shop at a real tile shop where the nice people actually know what they're doing.

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Old 03-13-2011, 10:19 PM   #5
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


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Originally Posted by Diablochic View Post
but tearing the whole floor up isn't an option

It's either tear it up or live with cracked grout. If the tiles didn't adhere they're not gonna fix themselves and if the grout is cracked that badly after only days, the tiles will crack shortly.

On the plus side, you may have a chance at salvaging some of the tiles you used. I've seen poorly installed tiles pop up one after another intact.
Sounds like other than your choice of mortar, your preparation was just fine so in the long run, re-laying the tile isn't much of a hassle.
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:17 PM   #6
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


That is not good new, but thanks for letting me know. I have a question though...you say we can't lay ceramic tiles directly over OSB, but we didn't lay them directly on. We put wonderboard down first. So what am I taking up? Everything including the wonderboard? Considering everything is nailed down and the bathroom is finished, the wonderboard is not coming up. What adhesive should I be using with ceramic tile and wonderboard? I am definitely going to tear a strip off someone at Home Depot, as we did ask for help, and this is what we were told. Please let me know exactly what product (name) I need to fix this problem, something that will work with wonderboard. Thanks for replying.
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:37 PM   #7
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


From what I read and have read, what you didn't do but should have, I'll go by layers.

Original subfloor - need to secure tp the joist with screws every 8"
New plywood sub floor (missing step) - minimum 1/2" plywood screwed to original subfloor but not to joist.
Wonderboard - thinset and screwed to new ply subfloor
Tiles - thin set to wonderboard

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Old 03-14-2011, 01:48 PM   #8
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


Quote:
you say we can't lay ceramic tiles directly over OSB, but we didn't lay them directly on. We put wonderboard down first.
You're right, I miss spoke there. Although mastic over OSB is wrong, it may be OK since it's only under the Wonderboard. Sometimes OSB will swell cuz it sucks the moisture out of the mastic. Let me add that you can NOT install directly over OSB even if real thin set was used.

Remove the tiles and power wash the mastic off or just buy more. Scrape and sponge the WB to get that stuff off too. Did you tape any of the seams? I believe with WB you only need to tape the cut edges as the factory edges are made so it's not needed. (but you can anyway)

You will use a modified thin set mortar, it only comes in a bag. If you insist on doing biz with those idio.......ah ah ah - I mean, HD, Versabond is a decent yet cheap thin set. Marble & Granite is better Flexbond is better yet.

Give them a piece of your mind cuz they deserve it. Until enough people complain and make them shell out $$'s, they will not start hiring or training qualified people for their floor covering dept.

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Old 03-14-2011, 01:49 PM   #9
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


There was originally a ceramic/porcelain tile already down that we tore up. I don't understand why we would have to put a plywood floor down on top of the subfloor, as it wasn't there for the other tile, and that grout and tile didn't crack at all. It would also create a step from the bathroom floor to the hallway if we did that, it wouldn't be even. The most irritating thing is that this Acrylpro stuff specifically says it's for ceramic floor adhesion...what else would it be used for? If a product is that garbage, it shouldn't even be sold as an option. The wonderboard is screwed down very well, it's not moving, so I think taking up the tiles and re-doing them with a different adhesive will be our only option. What is the best thing to use over wonderboard?
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:05 PM   #10
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


JazMan,

I told my husband everything that you said, and he said that we have a bag of "MegaLite Ultimate Performance Mortar". It comes in a bag...is this good to use? It's unopened, so if not, we can take it back and get something better, but if so, we do have this stuff. He just found it, we didn't even know we had it, but he didn't want to get into mixing, but I told him he had to. Let me know if this is what we need...it says it "prevents cracking for movement up to 3mm." Is there a specific grout we should use this time? Is sanded grout ok? Thank you so much for your help!!
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Old 03-14-2011, 06:28 PM   #11
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


First question about this bag of MegaLite you have. How old is it? Where has it been stored? There's a date stamp somewhere.

If you can give the right answers you can go ahead and use it. It's not needed for your purpose, but it'll work just fine.

You should use grout appropriate for you installation, usually it would be sanded if the joints are 1/8" or wider.

In regards to what you posted before:

Quote:
I don't understand why we would have to put a plywood floor down on top of the subfloor, as it wasn't there for the other tile, and that grout and tile didn't crack at all.
Although more plywood is always a good idea to make the floor stiffer, it isn't necessary if the subfloor is adequate. Your 3/4" t&g subfloor grade OSB should be good enough. However you implied that the old tiles were bonded to the OSB. Please tell me that is not what you meant.

Quote:
The most irritating thing is that this Acrylpro stuff specifically says it's for ceramic floor adhesion...what else would it be used for? If a product is that garbage, it shouldn't even be sold as an option.
That type of mastic is fine for wall installations in dry areas. It's never good for floors regardless of what it says on the label. Sometimes we've seen the adhesive stay soft for weeks, which is your situation. Furthermore mastics are likely to re-emulsify into mush if it gets wet.

They make it and sell it cuz there's some people that do not want to take the time to mix their thin set. People just trust what they read too much.

Get back about that bag you've found.

Jaz
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:28 PM   #12
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


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We used a 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2" square notched floor trowel.
You used a 1/2" X 1/2" trowel???
That trowel is way way way too big and would deposit a lot more adhesive than you would have ever needed.

Acrylpro is the wrong tile adhesive to begin with.
Read the instructions on the Acrylpro and see if there isn't a tile size limitation when using that product on a floor. I'm thinking there is.

The thinset under the cement board is to fill the voids and firm-up the floor, it is not intended to "glue" the cement board to the substrate. If you also used Acrylpro under the cement board it may never dry and will never get firm enough to fill any voids. If that is what was used then the cement board will need to be removed also if you want to guarantee success next time around.

Unfortunately there were too many mistakes made with this installation. I would certainly give Home Depot an ear-full. Not that it will help.
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:08 PM   #13
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


My husband looked all over the bag of Megalite for a date stamp and couldn't find one, although we bought it for when we were going to use it in our old house, but found out we would be moving.

So that would mean that it was bought in March of 2010, and more than likely, it has been stored in the garage this whole time. Will being stored somewhere cold affect the consistency? If you don't think we should use it, we'll take it back. Another fine product bought from Home Depot. I will most definitely be getting my money back for the Acrylpro as well, even the container that was fully used, because this is getting ridiculous.

Bud Cline has posted that our trowel size was completely wrong. What size should we be using? Obviously, this was our first time laying a floor, but believe it or not, were pretty handy with other house reno's, we've done tons to the place and this is the first thing that went disastrously wrong.

The old tile that we removed was on mesh and cement-looking stuff....I hope this was right, because from the updates that were done to the house, I can guarantee the floor was not one of them, I'm almost positive it was the builders who laid that floor.

When we take up the tile we will see about the wonderboard, but it seemed solid before we put the tile on, and if it still is, we will not be taking it up, as that would mean completely trashing everything we just did. Jazman says it should be fine if the OSB is solid, which it is, so we will leave it.

But if we could know what size trowel to use, and if the Megalite is ok or not, that would be much appreciated. To be honest, I'm almost wanting to put down laminate and forget about tile, but we have 3 more unused boxes of the tile, so we'll probably try that again....any particular brand name or grout we should be using?
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:04 PM   #14
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Jheeeezh! The more I learn about this the less I understand.

Quote:
My husband looked all over the bag of Megalite for a date stamp and couldn't find one,
Not any surprise there. Most of those products are coded but I think the makers really don't want anyone to readily know when the product is likely to expire. Can you imagine a whole pallet of 50# bags going out of date and needing to be returned?

Now...WHAT Megalite? Where was it used? First I've heard of any Megalite in this deal. I assume the Megalite was used to install the cement board?

Those powdered products do have a shelf life of around six months to maybe a year. Just depends on where and how they are stored.

Quote:
Bud Cline has posted that our trowel size was completely wrong. What size should we be using?
The cement board can be installed with a 1/4" X 1/4" X 3/8" usually.
Most tile up to 13" is generally the same trowel but that can vary.

Using a 1/2" notched trowel with Acrylpro would certainly gobble up some product in a hurry.

Quote:
The old tile that we removed was on mesh and cement-looking stuff....I hope this was right, because from the updates that were done to the house, I can guarantee the floor was not one of them, I'm almost positive it was the builders who laid that floor.
That method is an installation method that isn't recognized by the industry. Typically that system has failed every test ever done using it.

Quote:
When we take up the tile we will see about the wonderboard, but it seemed solid before we put the tile on, and if it still is, we will not be taking it up, as that would mean completely trashing everything we just did. Jazman says it should be fine if the OSB is solid, which it is, so we will leave it.
If that is where the Megalite was used I'm sure you'll be okay.

Quote:
But if we could know what size trowel to use,
What size are the tile?
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:04 AM   #15
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Grout cracking on just laid ceramic floor


Thank you for posting back about the trowel size, we will definitely pick one up.

As far as the Megalite goes, we didn't use the Megalite for this project, not yet anyway, and now we won't be at all. We originally bought it for a job in our old house and forgot about it, but my husband just discovered it in the garage, and that's why I was asking if we could use it to re-do this job. But it has been stored in the garage and it's been at least a year, so we're not going to even try, we'll be returning it instead.

I read all the instructions on the Acrlypro container, and it says it works up to a maximum tile size of 16"x16". Our tiles are 12"x12". Another reason why tonight is going to be a bad night for someone at my new most un-favorite store. We did everything EXACTLY to the manufacturers instructions, so I will absolutely be getting my money back for both the unused portions we still have, and the empty container my husband luckily never threw out.

Now we know what trowel size to use (and yes the 1/2x1/2x1/2 did use an obscene amount of product), but is there a specific grout we should be using? I heard there was something called "flexible grout".....is that product good or just more garbage??

It's unsettling to me to know the HD actually doesn't hire people who really know what they're doing, or give any real training, considering their motto is "You can do it, we can help".....yeah, not so much. Anyway, if you could get back to me about grout, we'll go from there. Thanks so much for posting and helping us!

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