Newly installed Ceramic Tile Creaking

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Old 02-07-10, 09:32 AM
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Newly installed Ceramic Tile Creaking

Hello,

We installed new ceramic tiles last week (on top of new, doubled up 7/8 plywood subflooring) and it looks like we somehow screwed up the mixture for a few tiles - 4 tiles next to each other did not bond to the floor at all. Now, in the same two rows as these tiles are a few others that seem to creak slightly when stepped on. I've already pulled up the 4 tiles that did not bond (any tips on cleaning off the subflooring/back of the tiles?) but will I have to remove these other slightly creaing tiles too? What's likely to happen if I don't? Is some slight creaking normal?

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 12:25 PM
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You don't install tiles directly on wood products. You must have an approved underlayment such as Ditra or concrete backer. Don't know if we can help since it was installed improperly. You will only have problems later on, even if you do fix the present problems. Others may have better news for you, so hold on and give them time to respond.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 12:39 PM
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Are you sure about that? Home Depot, a Google search, and a few former construction workers said that what we did was adequate. We laid one layer of new 7/8 inch spruce plywood, screwing it in tight. We then applied a large amount of PL and another layer of 7/8 inch spruce plywood, screwing this layer both into the plywood below and also the joists below while overlapping all the joints (except one we ended up having the same on both levels). That's a full inch and three quarters of very tightly connected plywood. It is the solidest floor in my house.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 02:01 PM
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I am sure of it. You may have the sturdiest floor in the country, but you can't install flooring tile on wood. You didn't mention any underlayment, so that is the critical layer to prevent the tile creaking and pulling loose. It is not your subflooring that is creaking, but the failure of the thinset or adhesive from doing it's job that is the culprit, and it can't do it on wood.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 02:22 PM
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The problem with installing directly onto wood is that the wood is very porous and will suck the water content out of the mastic or mortar before it has a chance to bond to the tile. This is probably the reason why a few tiles didn't bond, more than the fact that you think you mixed it incorrectly.

Also, the creaking is happening for the same reason.

what chandler has said is correct in the sense that although your floor may be solid.. installing directly to a wood floor usually means bad news.

What you could do to repair is to use a sander or angle grinder to remove the mortar from the back of the tiles (use a diamond type blade for tile or concrete for best and easiest results). Be sure to wet the wood with a sponge before re applying the mortar and the tiles. (not puddles, just moist)

however, this will most likely be just a fix. You may get lucky and have this floor wear well for a few years but you will eventually get cracks and loose tiles and have to tear it up and do it again.

depending on the traffic you get, the sq ft'age and the area of use, I would just repair and hope for the best. I don't know your tolerance of ripping it up, doing it again, and incurring the cost and labor to do so.

If you can live with it, then fine. Use it until it makes you redo.

But yes, I always use the Ditra product when installing tile. Cement backer board is just as fine, i just like the Ditra better.

Good Luck.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 03:13 PM
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Ummm...can I ask? Isn't the top layer of ply only supposed to be screwed to the 1st layer not the joist?? Or am I not remembering correctly?
 
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Old 02-07-10, 09:40 PM
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GunGuy, you are absolutely correct. the top layer should only be screwed into the bottom layer and not glued. The screws should not penetrate into the joist
 
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Old 02-08-10, 07:50 AM
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Everything you all are saying is completely different than what I was told by the peple at Home Depot and the couple others who explained how to install them (I myself did not actually do the tiles, I stopped helping after installing the subflooring, it's a small room, not a lot of room for two people tiling). The second layer of plywood is scred into the joists at the corners only in order to gain a bit more stability. The PL I was told was essential to really increase the stability of the floor.

This was an emergency reno. As I said, we recently bought this house. 4 weeks ago my girlfriend fell through the floor of our master bedroom and I put my heel through two spots in the bathroom. Turned out the guy who previously owned/renovated the house never plugged up an old stove pipe hole in the bedroom and, when he did the reno's n the bathroom, removed most of the original subflooring and then replaced it with thin plywood that met over open space. So it all had to be done, it had to be done immediatly, it all had to be done on the cheap, and it just happened that the local Rona was clearing out tiles that matched our bathroom for virtually nothing, which is why we went that route.

We're gonna repair and go on. Because the tiles were so cheap I've ordered more that I'm getting today to make the neccessary repairs and, in the future if the floor is no good I can hire someone to do it again and properly without having to worry about the cost of the tiles. If the floor stays good then I've got enough to hire someone to do the downstairs bathroom in the same tiles.
 
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Old 02-08-10, 09:34 AM
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Unfortunately, the folks in orange aprons arent always the best source of info. I'll leave it at that.

It's possible to install ceramic tile over plywood, however it really isnt the best of choices, and definitely the wrong choice for a diy.

Are you looking to patch this up and hope for the best? If you have tile that are (as you say) creaking slightly the thinset bond may not be good. Tap on the tiles with a broom handle (or something like it) to see if their is a hollow sound. If so, remove those tile as well. The adhesive you used between the 2 layers of plywood could also be the cause of the creaking, as beads of adhesive can create voids between the 2 layers.

Clean all the old thinset off of the plywood and the backs of the tiles. Add as many deck screws as necessary to quiet any creaking that you hear. The screws should be long enough to just penetrate the bottom of the subfloor plywood. 2" screws is good. Go out and get yourself a good quality dryset mortar with the proper latex additive. One that I'd recommend is Tec Full Set Plus, with their Acrylic Latex Mortar additive. There are others as well. Trowel the thinset into the plywood with the flat side of the trowel to get a good bond, then comb the thinset out all in one direction. Burn the backs of the tile with thinset as well.

No guarantee this installation will last for long over plywood, but for the cost of a good bag of thinset and additive it might be worth giving it a shot. Your call.
 
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Old 02-08-10, 10:06 AM
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Thanks for the advice, that's the route we're gonna take.
 
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Old 02-08-10, 07:47 PM
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Well, it turns out my friend who installed them really did not know what he was doing. He had done it nearly 20 times in the past but for a really cheap contractor who always cut corners, including the fact that instead of using proper mortar he used specially thickened up grout to adhere the tiles to the ground. Everything is going to have to be replaced, but after all this the plan now is to replace the ones we have up and see how long the floor lasts. As I said, this was an emergency reno so we really cannot replace everything again now.

When the time comes to replace this floor (hopefully it will be ok for many months) what can we replace it with? What is the best way to get it out? It's been suggested to use a "paint scrapper" and just go from one end of the room to the other. Can we get the subflooring cleaned off enough to put down new ceramic tiles (obviously using a different person)? Or are we down to covering the whole damn mess with linoleum?

The worst part is the floor looks so damn nice....
 
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Old 02-09-10, 07:10 AM
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When its time, you'll need to remove more than just the tile. The second layer of plywood with the construction adhesive under it will have to go as well. Come back with all the details when its time. We'll be here to help. Good Luck
 
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