Coping with a ceramic tile goof

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Old 07-24-08, 01:31 PM
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Coping with a ceramic tile goof

When I built my house, I did a lot of things myself ($$ reasons) even though I didn't have the best skills.

I laid my own 13-inch ceramic tile floor, but I either got some bad advice or misunderstood advice I got. The short story: I laid the tile directly over the subfloor believing the flooring (16-inch joists, 7/8-inch plywood subfloor newly laid by a professional) was sound and smooth enough to support the tile. Guess I was wrong. Now, five years later, three tiles have cracked.

I can chisel them out and replace the cracked ones, but is there anything I can do at this point to prevent more from breaking?

Thank you for you help.
 
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Old 07-24-08, 01:56 PM
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I laid my own 13-inch ceramic tile floor, but I either got some bad advice or misunderstood advice I got. The short story: I laid the tile directly over the subfloor believing the flooring (16-inch joists, 7/8-inch plywood subfloor newly laid by a professional) was sound and smooth enough to support the tile. Guess I was wrong. Now, five years later, three tiles have cracked.

I can chisel them out and replace the cracked ones, but is there anything I can do at this point to prevent more from breaking?
Ceramic tile needs an underlayment, its not optional. You can't set tile directly to a plywood subfloor. Replacing a few cracked tiles is just a bandaid. Over time the floor will continue to get worse. Tear out what you have and do it right. I know thats not what you want to hear but thats what has to be done.
 
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Old 07-24-08, 06:56 PM
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if you are happy with the tile color, just replace the 3 tiles and hope for the best. whats the worst that can happen ? you have to replace the whole floor. what the best that can happen ? the tiles last forever.

9 years ago, i rebuilt my mother inlaws bathroom. 50y/o house. 1 1/2" thick plywood subfloor. tile right on top of that. it still looks like the day i layed it.
 
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Old 07-24-08, 08:38 PM
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I've installed tile over plywood too, (maybe 21 years ago? That was a very common practice then to save money. Got to the point where 3/8" AC Fir started to cost about the same or more than cement backer, and so it was a no-brainer after that.

The only reason your in law's floor lasted so long is that there is little traffic and probably little dampness. It's never a good idea to install tile over wood. Plus of course the issue is he went over the subfloor...you can't do that.

Jaz
 

Last edited by the_tow_guy; 07-25-08 at 07:17 AM. Reason: Unnecessary comment.
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Old 07-25-08, 07:14 AM
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1 1/2" thick plywood subfloor. tile right on top of that. it still looks like the day i layed it.
I think you had a subfloor and you had plywood underlayment -RIGHT (1 1/2" at least 2 layers). Crona did not use an underlayment, he set tile directly to the subfloor. For the record, TCNA does have a method for setting directly to plywood. One of the requirements is 1 1/4" of plywood consisting of subfloor and underlayment. Its not often recommended for diyers because the failure rate is high, as important steps are often missed or substituted for something else.
 
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Old 08-04-08, 01:42 PM
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Thank you all for the answers. I'm hoping to go with the "just replace the cracked three" and see what happens option -- but I do realize if it gets worse I might have to tear everything up.

FWIW, yes, I did lay the tile directly on the subfloor, no underlayment. Dragging my hazy memories to the front of my brain, I recall that the people who sold me the tile said I could do this as long as 1) the subfloor was very, very even and 2) I used a special, more flexible type of mastic.

I used the recommended mastic, but as I worked I discovered the subfloor really wasn't as even as I'd thought. I think that's what later bit me.
 
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Old 08-04-08, 03:35 PM
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You had two major things which caused this failure:

1. Tiling directly onto plywood

2. Using mastic
 
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