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Old 09-08-2009, 03:29 PM   #16
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


I would agree that the crack is in the slab also. could there be any waste lines or heat / water lines under the slab in this area. is the bathroom in the middle of the house. there should be a haunch under the slab down the center of the house and if so does the crack stop at the center or does it continue on past? I cant beleive the builder poured the slab over the clay soil with out removing it. But then again I have seen plenty of sobby work here on the Island.BOB.


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Old 09-08-2009, 05:58 PM   #17
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


I don't *think* the slab was layed incorrectly... merely because it's in very good shape everywhere else. After 35 years, I presume a myriad of problems would have developed if there was an improper installation.

now that you mention it, there very well MAY be a waste pipe under the floor. I am fairly certain the waste lines in the home ultimately run due south (towards the partial basement). On the opposite side of the north wall of this bathroom, there's another bathroom. Therefore, the waste lines likely run either directly under this bathroom's doorway, or parallel to it.

Ditto for hot/cold water lines... which would run due north (from the partial basement to these 2 baths). Think we might have a leak? What would the signs be on the slab if we did? I presume the leak wouldn't be bad enough to actually moisten the concrete.
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Old 09-08-2009, 06:02 PM   #18
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


not necessarily a leak. In fact, probably not. The pipes are a void in the concrete so where they are is a weak spot in the concrete and more prone to cracking.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:52 AM   #19
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


You wouldn't think it, but it's so difficult to determine whether the 2 sides of these tiles are different heights.

We used a level this morning. We think it's higher on the east side of the crack, but with the tiles being so rustic, curved, and irregular, it really is hard to tell. If it is 2 different heights, the difference is 1mm or less.

what do you think about possibly putting cement board down, a ditra membrane then the tile? The new tile is roughly a 1/4 inch thick. Do you think that may isolate the floor sufficiently from any seasonal movement? Or is the ditra on top of the cement board needless overkill? Would that make the bathroom floor way too high relative to the terra cotta?
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:43 PM   #20
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


you won't be able to tell if the crack is not level until you remove the tile. The tiles should show the uneveness but part of the tile could also simply be becoming detached from the thinset.
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:56 PM   #21
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


that's true. I'll stop my tile microanalysis
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Old 09-09-2009, 05:59 PM   #22
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


Let's back up again.

After seeing that crack (it isn't at all what I expected) I'm not convinced the slab has a crack.

Here's something you can do right now. Pull the baseboards around the room and see if the tile is grouted tight to the walls. There should be a gap at the walls under the baseboard. But, if the tile is grouted to the walls there is a strong possibility that that is your problem.

In addition to checking at the walls, use a hammer handle or screwdeiver handle or wooden broomstick and tap on the tiles in the center of the room. See if you get a solid report or a hollow report. Tap each and every tile and listen for a difference in the sound.

Personally I like that tile the way it is. The crack adds charm. You could grind and tool the crack to turn it into a work of art creating a vine with leafs and offshoots.
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:41 AM   #23
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


now that you mention it, I have told my husband that I think I sense a hollow feeling with the tile that is the worst cracked.

I will definitely pull the moulding off and give it a looksy. I'm hoping the floor is pressed right against the wall. That would be a VERY good. (I've read a lot online about the causes of cracking tiles over the last couple of weeks. The one thing none of the sites tells you is what the cracks look like with each of the causes... So, I'm an educated clueless person... the most dangerous type of DIY'er! )

I would be soooo happy if the slab were intact under there!

yeah, we're sort of sad to see the floor go in that room. The tile is gorgeous (in the hall, there's even a tile with a wolf or dog foot print!). We're fine with the hallway crack and will leave the majority of tile as is. However, the bathroom will be completely gutted of it's yellow, brass, and floral-ness and made ultramodern... so the terra cotta wouldn't go that well anyway.

Last edited by diy'er on LI; 09-10-2009 at 11:46 AM. Reason: added more info
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Old 09-10-2009, 05:49 PM   #24
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


There is a condition in tile installations (failing tile installations) known as "tenting".

Tenting of the tile occurs when the tile is grouted tightly to the surrounding walls. When mother nature attempts to expand the tile it must have a place to go. Thus the gap at the perimeter is required. When there is no gap and the tile is tight to the wall or grout has filled the gap the tiles will lift without warning. This lifting generally first occurs somewhere near the center of the tiled area but not always. There have been reports of tiles exploding upward from their installed position. There are plenty of photographs on the Internet that show a tile floor that looks like a bomb has gone off and there is rubble from the tiles ejecting themselves from the floor.

Tap the tiles and see if they report hollow.

I have walked on tented floors that showed no real destruction of the tiles. The floor would move downward as you walked on it. Everything was still in tact for the time being.

Those cracks (to me) don't look like something caused by the substrate cracking. They look like stress cracks within the tile units themselves.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:01 PM   #25
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


Footprints in Mexican type tile isn't really unusual. The old fashion Mexican tiles were sun-baked and I suppose some still are. These tiles are/were made by families and then sold to the government who in turn markets the tiles worldwide. When the tiles were cast they were set aside out of doors to bake in the sun. During the curing process any animal could come along and walk on the freshly cast tiles. Chicken footprints are actually the most popular.

The truth is...once the Mexican tile makers realized there was a market for the imperfect tiles with the animal tracks they began purposly producing such tiles and they weren't imperfect at all. There's a story in tiledom about all the Mexicans that tie a chickens foot to a stick and use it to make the impressons on a mass-production basis. I've heard you can in fact order Mexican tiles with animal tracks in them.

Years ago I worked in Texas where Mexican Saltillo tile is very popular. Those were the years when the odd tracks would show up in an order from time to time. Some customers wanted us to use the tiles and others would have us cull them for disposal.
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:11 PM   #26
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


too funny... chickens on a leash. Well, we're suckers. we like our dog/wolf footprint. So did our tile guy. he asked us if he could keep the 'imperfect' tile since there was only 1 in over 88 sq ft of tile, I bet ours is accidental... at least that's the story we're going with

by the way, we didn't take the trim from the wall, but I did inspect the area under the baseboard, and the tile wasn't against the wall (but the crack doesn't reach that wall). Upon closer inspection, he DID tile right against the edges of the door frame (and the crack runs straight through it). I always thought the frame should start above the floor? but then again, my presumptions could be totally wrong.

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Old 09-26-2009, 07:48 AM   #27
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


do the hollow test on the tiles around the crack, tap with your knuckles or screwdriver handle and listen. loose tiles sound hollow. go around the entire room and may can see a pattern. i'd rip up the tile, scrape the floor and then use a fortified leveler and skim the slab. then use the new durock tile membrane with their adhesive and cover the entire area. you do have a slab problem, but durock claims this is a crack free system, so give it a shot
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Old 09-26-2009, 08:49 AM   #28
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


If the above is a reference to Custom's "Easy Mat" - Forget it.
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Old 09-26-2009, 09:09 AM   #29
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


Hi Bud ...........tile guru? I like that. Yes you are....
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Old 09-26-2009, 09:25 AM   #30
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help! why do the tiles in my bathroom crack?


This is an interesting, fairly common case. I used to do forensic investigations on structural damage, and I looked at about half a dozen tile failure problems in the southeast.

In cases where the slab has seriously cracked, you are most likely to get a large crack in the tile. Specifically, what you have appears to be a non-displaced hairline crack. The next size up in the world of cracks is a crack approximately the size of a credit card. You are nowhere close to that, so I discount the theory that the slab is significantly cracked. By the way, all concrete slabs crack, the issue is how much, and how significantly, they are cracked. At this point, I would say there is no evidence that your tile crack is due to slab failure.

I observed two cases where a "tenting" type failure, as noted by Bud Cline, had occurred. In both cases, there was an obvious hollow zone in the center of the floor. The tiles had literally detached from the thinset. In one case, the failure was traced to an improperly mixed batch of thinset, which had not properly adhered to the tile. In the other case, the failure was traced to dimensional changes in the house itself due to moisture changes, resulting in stress to the tiles because there was no relief gap along the edges of the tile. The result was failure of the tile at the center.

In one other case I examined, several tiles cracked because water had leaked onto the floor, and had remained there for several days. Apparently the water caused dimensional changes to the grout, leading the tile failure in a localized area. The apparent cause of the failure was that the grout was stronger than the tile, thus when the grout expanded, rather than cracking the grout, the tile cracked.

I don't see any evidence of slab failure in your case. Due to the length of the crack, and the linear nature, there may be a pipe of some sort embedded within the slab.

I like the use of Ditramat as a bond breaker between the slab and the tile, it certainly is a good product and will minimize the potential for future cracking, but may not eliminate the potential entirely. There are other products that purport to act as bond breakers, however I am not familiar with them, and cannot comment on their effectiveness.

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