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Old 03-05-2014, 01:17 PM   #1
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


This might be a stupid question, if so...my apologies.

We had our kitchen and dining room tiled about 4 years ago with 18" square porcelain tiles. The installer - well lets say I wish we'd done it ourselves to begin with. He made the grout joints 1/2" at least and we didn't see it until he was nearly done. I'd wanted thin grout lines. He assured us it would look great. Well fast forward a few months and the grout is cracked. (We did seal it.) less than nine months later and there were three tiles that are cracked. (He did put down cement board.) He said he'd come take a look...never did. Today you can actually see subfloor in places where the grout has come out. Our dogs dig it out and eat it if we're not careful!

We have extra tiles and I'd really like to see if we could just take the whole floor up, make the grout lines smaller and redo the whole thing. But I don't want to buy all new tile!

Any chance of taking up those big tiles and resetting them? If so, what would you suggest we use to do it?

Thanks!


Last edited by Lilion; 03-05-2014 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:30 PM   #2
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


There's a about .99% chance of that happening.
Would not do any good anyway, if the tiles and the grout are cracking then something's wrong under the tiles.
Under sized floor joist.
To long a span.
Damaged joist.
Undersized subflooring and or underlayment.
No thin set under the tile board.
Particle board under the tile.
He did not back butter the tiles.
Wrong trowel used.

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Old 03-05-2014, 02:05 PM   #3
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I'm sorry, I don't understand completely. Did you mean "99% yes you can" or "no freakin way"?

Most of the floor is fine. There are 3 broken tiles. In his defense, I think someone dropped a cast iron skillet on one but just wont fess up. Couldn't he have just done a crappy job of grouting and had a bad mortar job under the ones that broke?

I saw him put down the cement board. So it's not on partical board. I did not see him set all the tiles, so I don't know if he back-buttered them, as opposed to just slapping on thinset and placing them. Are you supposed to do both? The floor in question is partly over unfinished basement and the joists we can see look fine. Our floor where the carpet is is squeeky though. Could it be that he used 1/4" cement board and it needed something more?

But I guess the real question is: Am I just screwed?

We want to sell this house in the next year or two and I really didn't want to buy new flooring first.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:13 PM   #4
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


Squeaking floors means there movement. There can be no flex under a tile floor.
Tile board adds almost no strength to a subfloor it's just there to give the tile something to stick to. 1/4 is the right thickness for a floor.
Does not matter how the joist look really it's how wide and how far the spacing and spans where.
Undersized joist or over spanned and the floors will bounce.
Larger tiles need to be back buttered to insure there a full coverage of thin set.
It you tap them with the handle of a screw driver do they sound hollow?
Wide grout lines do not cause cracks. Weak floors cause cracks.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:39 PM   #5
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I think Joe meant .99% of 01% of success. Or something. Anyway, unless all the tiles are just sitting there because of gravity, you're not gonna save many when you pry them up.

You can try to just replace the few that are broken and hope. The cracked grout is inadequate framing, bad substrate prep and/or poor workmanship. Maybe all three. Grout doesn't crack unless there's movement. However a few grout cracks isn't necessarily a total failure to some people. If the grout came out in chunks, it's more than a small crack.

If you wanna attempt to fix or replace the floor yourself, let us know and we can walk you through it.

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Old 03-05-2014, 02:40 PM   #6
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I thought squeeks were basically just because the subfloor wasn't attached properly, or nails had come loose. Isn't that why they sell those "squeek stopper" things that you use to screw the flooring down more?

Please don't think I'm arguing...I just need to fully understand how bad this is so I can explain it properly to my husband. (I have free reign on a computer at work - he doesn't.)

So the floor joists I can see are 2 x 8 I believe - possibly 2 x 6, but I think 2 x 8. That's not undersized - right? I don't know the width between them - I haven't measured. Are they supposed to be 16" like wall studs? As for the span...Do you mean the length they run before they are resting on something? The house isn't that wide, maybe 25 - 30 feet? There is a big center I beam in the basement that supports the center of the structure and the floor joists rest on that. And that's about all I know about construction.

We haven't tapped them, so I can't tell you about that. All I know is some of them feel loose.

If it matters, this is a 1970's split foyer home, built about 1974. There was linoleum and subfloor under the cement board.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:44 PM   #7
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I thank you both. Like I said, we really, really don't want to sink a ton of money into the fix...but we're hoping to sell in the next couple years and I can't just wait until a month before listing and regrout the whole thing and sell it pretending there isn't a problem. That's just wrong. So I'd rather fix it if possible. Unfortunately, it sounds to me like my chance of fixing it is slim to none, unless I just tear it all out and start over.

And yeah, the grout - not everywhere but in a lot of traffic areas, came out in chunks. Literally, my dogs will hook a nail under it and pull it out and eat it. Apparently it won't kill them since that's been happening for ages. There are places where you can see clear to subfloor...the grout is just gone. You can still walk on it, but it looks like hell.

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Old 03-05-2014, 02:48 PM   #8
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


A 2 X 8 will measure about 7-1/2" A 2 X 6 will be about 5-1/2"
Both would be considered under sized for even a 12' span.
Most modern homes would have at least 2 X 10".
They would even allow 2 X 8's on a deck 12+ feet wide under modern codes.
Big difference in deflection between the two.
Would have been fine for carpet or linoleum but not for tile.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:52 PM   #9
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
A 2 X 8 will measure about 7-1/2" A 2 X 6 will be about 5-1/2"
Both would be considered under sized for even a 12' span.
Most modern homes would have at least 2 X 10".

I'll have to go home and measure. I truthfully don't know...I just know they look bigger than 2 x 6. We had a home inspection before we bought it in 2002...you'd think if it was not to code they'd have said.

So I'll do some measuring tonight and post if you gentlement would be kind enough to tell me if we need to just rip it out and put down something else - Always wanted hardwood - just not to sell to other people.

All I can say right now is .
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:23 PM   #10
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I doubt you can save that many tile ........floor is flexing causing movement and cracking of grout and tiles...ben sr....sad to say floor and sub floor need addressed to prevent movement...
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:27 PM   #11
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I'll look it over tonight...

We had origially bought laminate to put down and changed to tile. We still have the laminate. Maybe we can just take out the majority of the tile and put the laminate down, leaving the tile as a border? I don't know how that would work though, giving the "floating" nature of laminate and the inability to affix it to the tiles because of that. All in all - poop.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:32 PM   #12
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


Tell us the; size of the joists, if at all possible look for stampings that tell you the species and grade too, the on center spacing of the joists, and measure the span down to the inch as you described. Then tell us what type of material and number of sheets the subfloor/underlayment is.

You said you have concrete backer, verify there's thin set mortar under the concrete backer if possible. This is just to get a clearer picture of your situation. I'm pretty sure the floor will need to be replaced unless you wanna try another way.

If you try to remove all the grout, you might be able to add screws to make the floor stiffer. You might also try to stiffen the floor from below subject to your answers tonight. How about some pics too?

Did you ever mention when the home was built?

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Old 03-05-2014, 03:42 PM   #13
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I'll do the measuring tonight and see what I can see and take some photos. There's no way to see if there's mortar under the cement board without tearing up the floor...so I can't do that just yet, but I really don't think he did that. I suspect he just screwed or nailed it down. The house was built in about 1974...so it's pretty old. I doubt I'll be able to see any marking on any joists - I never have.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:11 PM   #14
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilion
There's no way to see if there's mortar under the cement board without tearing up the floor...so I can't do that just yet, but I really don't think he did that.
Got a floor heat register? A removable carpet bar in one of the doorways?

For the sake of others, how did you find this person and did he present any qualifications about tile at all? The labor price is immaterial, but I'll bet it was lower than what a real tile guy would have to charge to do it right.

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Old 03-05-2014, 05:03 PM   #15
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Can you remove large floor tiles without destroying them?


I didn't think of the registers...I'll see what I can see.

As for where I found him...He is the husband of a former coworker. In my defense here - he's always worked for companies doing flooring installation - all the time I knew her which was several years. He had started working as an independent contractor about a year before he did our work. She had changed jobs, but kept in touch with the office folks. When we decided to have tile done, we called him for a bid. Yes, it was cheaper to buy the tile from Lowe's (on sale) and have him do the install than to have it done by one of the local flooring companies, but we still paid him over $1000 for this and our bathroom...so it wasn't that much cheaper. I knew he had lots of experience. I've seen his house; the tile work there is lovely. Anyway, they have three kids and I thought, "Throw Jason the business. They need the money."

Never again.

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