Cracking Tile Floors
LESLIE: Cliff in New Hampshire is dealing with a tile floor that’s showing cracks. Tell us about it. Where do you see them? How many are there?CLIFF: I have a floor that is showing hairline cracks and is nine years old. An outside inspector has said that these cracks are due to some kind of movement or stress fracture in this area. The warranty – the lifetime warranty is no good. I was wondering what I could do to ensure that these cracks don’t reappear.TOM: Now, the cracks are in the tile or in the grout lines?CLIFF: No, they’re in three places in the tile but right in the middle of the tile; it’s not on the grout line.TOM: OK. OK, and where is the tile installed? Is it a kitchen floor?CLIFF: Kitchen floor to a laundry area to a bathroom.TOM: OK. Cliff, the reason this happened is because of an installation problem. The base – whatever the tile was put on – was not solid enough. Now, do you recall what the tile was put on top of?CLIFF: It was put on top of hardy backer board. I watched the gentleman install it.TOM: And how big are these ceramic tiles? Are they like 12×12 or bigger or what?CLIFF: Yeah, I think they’re 12×12. Yep, 12×12.TOM: Yeah. So, the bigger the tile the thicker the back has to be and if this was just put on like a tile backer – it wasn’t put on any type of reinforced sheathing; it wasn’t put on a mud floor – you know, what’s happening is you’re getting movement in this floor and that’s normal. I mean hardy backer is a good product but it’s not designed to stiffen the floor. It’s designed to be a backer for the tile and as it sags with the floor, the tile doesn’t bend; it breaks and it cracks. So having these hairline cracks is a result of the way the tile was put down.You know, to say that tile has a lifetime warranty – is that what you were referring to? Tile is always going to have a lifetime warranty because it really doesn’t wear out. It’s like a toilet. A toilet never wears out. The valves wear out but the toilet is fine forever; it’s ceramic.CLIFF: Yep.TOM: But what’s happening here is the base is moving and that’s why it cracked; because tile won’t bend. It’s not supposed to.CLIFF: I see, I see. Well, thank you very much.TOM: You’re welcome, Cliff. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.