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Old 10-07-2010, 01:35 PM   #1
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


My wife and I recently moved into a new home and are in the process of changing all of the flooring in the main level. With the help of a contractor friend, I laid hardwood floor in the living room, dining room, and den. Due to some time restraints, however, I hired another contractor to lay porcelin tile in the kitchen, breakfest nook, and mud room.

When removing the carpet to lay the hardwood, I discovered that there was a layer of chipboard beneath on top of all the subflooring on the main level. At the direction of my friend, I replaced the chipboard with OSB before laying the hardwood (which turned out very well).

After the other contractor had finished tiling, I discovered that he did not remove the chipboard. Instead, he simply laid the backerboard on top of the chipboard.

I've been told by several contractors, including my contractor friend who helped me with the hardwood floors, that the chipboard shold have been remove and that a layer of OSB should have been laid before the backerboard was placed down. I have also had other contractors tell me that everything is fine so long as he placed backerboard over top of the chipwood. I've scowered the internet for answers, and they seem to be as divided as the contractors I've talked to.

Can anyone give me any advice on whether it was appropriate for the contractor to have laid backerboard directly on chipboard instead of first replacing the chipboard with OSB?

There are plenty of other problems with the tile, but those are general workmanship problems, like not properly using spacers and not centering a tile medalian to ensure that the tile pieces laid around it are symmetrical.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 10-07-2010, 07:40 PM   #2
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


don't know the exacts on this but i bet bud or jaz will chime in. i never would lay backer board over osb or particleboard. always exposure1 grade plywood. i could almost swear i've read articles on any chip board being too unstable for tile.

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Old 10-08-2010, 09:24 PM   #3
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


HI guys,

It is an industry practice that any "flake board" aka "chipboard" and several other types of underlayment, not be included in a tile installation. It is very obvious that it not be tiled on to direct, but it should not be anywhere in the "sandwich" regardless if it's covered with a cement backer or tile matting. The stuff is very unstable, especially as the temps and humidity levels change causing problems. It also does not give good "tooth" for fasteners. What is under the chip board? I would have recommended underlayment grade plywood, not OSB.

No one knows if it'll last a long time, (any hairline grout cracks yet?), you may never have a problem due just to this mistake/shortcut.

How come you didn't know whether the chipboard was to be replaced or not? Did he not know what the substrate was made of? If not, why not? If he knew, he should have charged you the added costs and done it by the book. Removing the chipboard involves a bunch of extra costs, it's not automatic to just replace it.

Did he install the backer board into fresh thin set mortar, then screw and tape per directions? Is this person licensed? Is a license required in your state? Would like more info.

Jaz
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Old 10-11-2010, 09:48 AM   #4
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


I haven't been able to find any cracks yet, but the work was only done during the last week of June and it has seen very little traffic, changes in temperature, changes in moisture, etc. since then. There are several titles that are raised, either entirely or on one end. I haven't done anything yet to determined whether the tile is raised because too much cement had been used, whether the backer was not level, or whether it was due to something else. There are at least 7 tiles where this occurred. Is this a common problem seen when someone tries to tile over chipboard?

The issue over the chipboard is merely one of several issues regarding the tiling work that was done. I'm meeting with the contractor, who is in fact licensed, to look at the work. To answer some of your questions, yes, the contractor is licensed and is required to be licensed in my state. I expected that the chipboard was going to be replaced. As I noted in my original post, I had done the work on the hardwood and replaced the chipboard. I expected the contractor to do the same. However, it was not until I was getting several receipts in order in preparation of actually moving into the house that I realized that I had not been charged for and subflooring.

As I indicated above, there are several problems with the tile, the most obvious of which is that they failed to properly tile around a tile medalian int he kitchen area, the result of which a 2" piece of tile on one side and nearly a 10" piece of tile on the other side. Also, they failed to use corner spacers, so several corners are completely messed up. Apparantly, the contractor never actually came to the job, and it just so happens that the men he had working on the job has been fired since then.
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Old 10-11-2010, 10:48 AM   #5
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


Quote:
and it just so happens that the men he had working on the job has been fired since then.
Ah-h-h-h-h! So your tile contractor is running a tile installation school at your expense then! Have they really been terminated or is he appeasing you in hopes that you won't shove the job down his throat?

There may be some confusion in the term "chip-board". Is this in fact chips or is it particles as in particle board?

All makers of cement board (I am aware of) allow the use of their cement board over OSB (oriented strand board) but also specifically exclude its use over particleboard. Particleboard is never acceptable anywhere in the process, OSB is.

Exterior grade plywood underlayment (Exposure 1) is the correct product to use but OSB is also allowed but not the best.

Any qualified tile installation contractor would raise these issues with you BEFORE doing the installation I would hope. To simply assume the installation would be by-the-book is a mistake these days but how would a typical homeowner know that?

Spacers aren't a requirement so that argument is out the window.

Total "balance" of a room also isn't always the way to do things for many reasons. Tile is to be more eye-pleasing than anything and balance isn't always the thing to do in all cases.

I can however see where a 2" tile compared to a 10" tile wouldn't necessarily be appealing, just depends on why it was done like that.

Quote:
There are several titles that are raised, either entirely or on one end.
This condition is typically known as lippage. Some slight lippage is acceptable. The amount of acceptable lippage is based on the type of tile and the natural warpage of that tile. In your case it sounds as if the occurring lippage is not necessary and may be the result of poor workmanship and nothing else.

Tiling over "chipboard" (whatever that is) wouldn't necessarily cause lippage.

A contractor that is "licensed" isn't necessarily qualified to perform the work he is licensed to do. A license these days is a governmental taxing device and does not mean an individual company is fully educated about the services they are performing for you. Don't think the license requirement in your area and a contractor holding a license is a sign of competence. It is not.
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Old 10-11-2010, 12:36 PM   #6
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


Thanks for all the advice. You've confirmed much of what I already thought and been a tremendous help.
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Old 10-13-2010, 04:39 PM   #7
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


I'm about to do a bathroom floor that currently has carpet. I thought if i find plywood under the carpet, I would just do thin set and tile directly over that. Should I use cement board over the plywood? And do I put thin set between the plywood and cement board and again between the cement board and the tile?
Thanks for your help.
Diane
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Old 10-13-2010, 05:22 PM   #8
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Is it proper to tile over chipboard if backerboard is first laid?


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Originally Posted by Dianebc View Post
I'm about to do a bathroom floor that currently has carpet. I thought if i find plywood under the carpet, I would just do thin set and tile directly over that. Should I use cement board over the plywood? And do I put thin set between the plywood and cement board and again between the cement board and the tile?
Thanks for your help.
Diane
yes yes yes, use cement board over the plywood. what type of tile you use also is effected by how thick the plywood is and what the joist spacing comes out to be.

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