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Old 03-27-2012, 04:58 PM   #1
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Popping Tiles


I had a contractor install some tile on the first and second floor of a building. The contractor essentially had to put new subfloor in. I'm not sure what he did or materials used. The first floor tile is fine, but the second floor tile has issues. The grout was disintegrating the now the tiles are popping. He came back and essentially regrouted but 6 months later same problems. I don't want to use this guy again and I would like to see if I can fix it.

1) What is causing this problem?
2) Can I simply remove the broken tiles, remove the grout and regrout the area?

I'm surmising the problem is the subfloor was not attached to the joists properly or he did use the right material or did not let the plywood cure to the room temperature and humidity etc...

If I were to remove and repair tiles and regrout, will I have the same problem? If that is the case, is the only way to fix it is remove the whole floor and start over? That would obviously suck

The area is in the kitchen with cabinets and baseboards already installed. So please keep that in mind. I'm also contemplating that I should cut my losses and just install vinyl tile squares or some type of flooring which will be flexible with the subfloor. This is going to be a rental eventually so that option is fine with me.

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Old 03-27-2012, 10:55 PM   #2
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I'm afraid you'll have to call the guy and ask him what he did.

You can pull up a heat register boot or something else on the floor and look and see what the floor is made of. There should b some plywood or OSB, then some tilebacker, then the tile. There could be a couple layers of plywood, then the tile.

It's difficult to say what you have. But there must be some major problems. I imagine he laid the tile over some inappropriate underlayment.

Did you see him install a new layer of subfloor? If so, what was it?

Was it yellow, was it pink, did he carry it with one hand, did he nail it on or unroll it?

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Old 03-27-2012, 11:39 PM   #3
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I do know he installed a new subfloor. Its an old house but I'm guessing what happened was he installed new plywood and hardiebacker but the floors were uneven when he started laying tile. I'll find out this week to confirm what he used.
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:46 PM   #4
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Otay.
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Old 03-28-2012, 09:41 PM   #5
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I see a complete rip out in your future. Sorry.

If you supply a detailed account of what you've got and how everything was done we might be able to figure out why this happened. If nothing else but to correct the structure for attempt #2.

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Old 03-29-2012, 02:55 PM   #6
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Probably just got lucky on the 1st floor,

Is there a hollow sound when you knock on the tiles?...

Could be so many things that could have gone wrong.

The tools are only as good as the person who knows how to use them...... Wrong trowel size and or made crappy lines could cause the tile to not adhere to the mortar therefor become loose cracking the grout, grout cracks then tile pops out.
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Old 03-30-2012, 01:23 PM   #7
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I doubt luck had anything to do with it. I bet the construction of the subfloors and conditions is the key. Hopefully the OP will return with info so we can find the likely reason for the failure.

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Old 04-04-2012, 12:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleveman View Post
I'm afraid you'll have to call the guy and ask him what he did.

You can pull up a heat register boot or something else on the floor and look and see what the floor is made of. There should b some plywood or OSB, then some tilebacker, then the tile. There could be a couple layers of plywood, then the tile.

It's difficult to say what you have. But there must be some major problems. I imagine he laid the tile over some inappropriate underlayment.

Did you see him install a new layer of subfloor? If so, what was it?

Was it yellow, was it pink, did he carry it with one hand, did he nail it on or unroll it?

I got some more info. Apparently the floor joists were in bad shape and there was a 6 inch difference between one side of the kitchen to the other. The way he fixed it was he ripped out the old plywood sub floor to expose the joists put wood pieces underneath the new plywood sub floor to level out the sub floor. He then put hardie backer cement board and then he tiled. I'm not sure why the joists were tilted but the building is brick and when I look at the exterior the walls and roof are straight and square so it doesn't appear the foundation is settling awkwardly.

So I think what is happening is the wood shims if you want to call them that are being compressed resulting in movement underneath the tile causing the grout to disintegrate and tile to pop.

Based off this I'm leaning more toward placing vinyl tile squares since they will be more flexible than retiling and a lot less work.

Any suggestions on fixes??
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JazMan View Post
I see a complete rip out in your future. Sorry.

If you supply a detailed account of what you've got and how everything was done we might be able to figure out why this happened. If nothing else but to correct the structure for attempt #2.

Jaz
I got some more info. Apparently the floor joists were in bad shape and there was a 6 inch difference between one side of the kitchen to the other. The way he fixed it was he ripped out the old plywood sub floor to expose the joists put wood pieces underneath the new plywood sub floor to level out the sub floor. He then put hardie backer cement board and then he tiled. I'm not sure why the joists were tilted but the building is brick and when I look at the exterior the walls and roof are straight and square so it doesn't appear the foundation is settling awkwardly.

So I think what is happening is the wood shims if you want to call them that are being compressed resulting in movement underneath the tile causing the grout to disintegrate and tile to pop.

Based off this I'm leaning more toward placing vinyl tile squares since they will be more flexible than retiling and a lot less work.

Any suggestions on fixes??

It does look like a complete rip out in the future though

Thanks.
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:33 PM   #10
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A six inch difference across a kitchen is enormous, it is hard to imagine you were not aware of such a slant previous to the tiling effort. Shimming six inches, while not unheard of, seems extremely unusual, I personally have never seen it done for more than one inch. Regardless, it seems very unlikely that compression of the shims accounts for your issues. With that much of a dip, if in fact your figure of six inches is correct, there must be a major structural problem, else the framer who put the joists in had a massive hangover.

I would start the forensic process by performing a very careful, accurate survey of the elevation of the kitchen floor joists. Then I would perform an analysis of the stiffness of the joists. If you really have six inches of elevation difference, you need to understand why such a large difference, then you can begin to evaluate the cause of the tile popping problem. I doubt that shim compression is the cause of the issue, wood is not very compressible (it certainly can settle a large amount under load, but settlement and compression are different, and your shims would compress, not settle).
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:49 PM   #11
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I would think if its a structural issue then I would see cracks in the brickwork on the outside? Or the building would slant or slump when looking at it from the outside. I don't see any of these signs from the outside. And wouldn't I also see the same popping and cracking of the tiles on the first floor? I'm starting to think the joists were installed bad.
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
I would think if its a structural issue then I would see cracks in the brickwork on the outside? Or the building would slant or slump when looking at it from the outside. I don't see any of these signs from the outside. And wouldn't I also see the same popping and cracking of the tiles on the first floor? I'm starting to think the joists were installed bad.
Not at all true.

Typically a second floor of a structure is built and structured of a lessor nature than the first floor. That's the way it is done typically. If scabbing onto existing lessor floor joists was his way of addressing the issues that wasn't the way to do it.

A second-floor tile installation is always a concern over a first-floor tile installation. Not all structures are suitable for a tile installation.

Your problem is "MOVEMENT" and all of the scabbing-on joists and re-grouting in the world won't fix the problem. The installer was not qualified to make your installation apparently.

You need to provide some details and dimensions if you want anyone to provide you with some accurate suppositions of what is causing the problem and the movement.

How about installing some nice carpet?
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:47 PM   #13
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I would say the kitchen was an exterior porch at one time.

Secondly, it must have drained quite nicely.

Thirdly, if you were sitting on a rocking chair looking out, you would have had to rock fairly hard to go back.

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