Tile grout cracking - loud popping noise and crunching

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Old 02-14-10, 04:01 PM
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Tile grout cracking - loud popping noise and crunching

I moved into a newly built home this past October. I've had several problems, the latest of which is with the ceramic tile in the bathrooms and laundry room. After living in the house a week or so, I noticed a crack in the grout between the ceramic tile and bathtub. Since then, the grout has also cracked where the tile meets the walls in both bathrooms.

The other night, I woke up to the sound of loud popping or cracking noises. It was coming from the tile in the laundry room. The noises happened regularly throughout the night. The popping noise also happens from time to time when I step on the laundry room floor, and in some spots I hear a crunching noise when I walk on the floor. Today I just heard a similar popping noise when I stepped on one of the tiles in the main bathroom, and a cracked developed in the grout around that tile.

What could be the cause of this? Is it the floor flexing, or just a poor tile job? It seems like it it won't be easy to fix this. I have a feeling I might need to get the rooms re-tiled.
 
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Old 02-14-10, 04:53 PM
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Sounds as if the tile job was not up to par. Possibly no underlayment was installed. Just guessing. You won't know until exploratory surgery is done to determine if a proper underlayment was used, or if modified thinset was used to set the tiles.
 
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Old 02-15-10, 04:56 PM
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Harold

I read some of your other threads here. Sounds like you bought the house from hell. Hopefully you have some recourse against the builder.

The other night, I woke up to the sound of loud popping or cracking noises. It was coming from the tile in the laundry room. The noises happened regularly throughout the night.
It sounds like the tile are shearing from the substrate. This is typically caused by lack of movement joints. The entire perimeter of the room should have a 1/4" ungrouted gap. This should be left open, and is covered by the base moulding. Tile expands and contracts, and if this area is filled with grout, the tile have no place to move and can literally shear right off the floor in an upward motion.

The popping noise also happens from time to time when I step on the laundry room floor, and in some spots I hear a crunching noise when I walk on the floor. Today I just heard a similar popping noise when I stepped on one of the tiles in the main bathroom, and a cracked developed in the grout around that tile.
Much of the tile is probably no longer bonded to the substrate. Its just sitting there on the floor, and when you walk on it, its moving, thus the popping and crunching sounds.

Is this on a concrete slab or a framed floor. If a framed floor, do you know how the tile installation was done? How many layers of plywood? Anything over the plywood?

Remove a piece of the base moulding to see if the tile were grouted to the walls. I'm thinking they probably were. I'm also thinking that a cheapo thinset was used, thus making the problem worse.
 
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Old 02-15-10, 07:38 PM
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Yeah, it has been hard to enjoy our new home with all of these issues. I started a few threads on the major issues because I just needed some input from impartial people. We have quite a list of issues at the moment.

The tile is on a framed floor. The rooms with tile floors had a second sheet of plywood placed in them. I didn't watch the entire tile job, but I saw the guy putting the tiles in a thinset. It just looked like a thin layer of concete to a novice like me. Then he came back the next day and put in the grout.

The tiles are grouted right up to the molding, tub, etc. I'm not sure if he put in any expansion joints. The popping isn't happening regularly anymore, and the crunching kind of sounds like if you walked on tile floor with some gritty sand on it.
 
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Old 02-16-10, 07:08 AM
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Were the tile set directly on plywood? Do you know what kind of thinset was used, exact brand and product name?

If the installer grouted the tile right to the walls, you can be sure he didnt allow for any expansion. This is likely a big part of the problem. Having set the tile directly to plywood could be a bigger problem. The crunching you hear is the thinset below the tiles. They are no longer bonded to the plywood. Tap the tiles with a broomstick handle and see if they sound hollow.
 
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Old 02-16-10, 07:19 AM
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Yes, the tile was set direclty on the plywood, with a thinset. I have no idea what kind of thinset was used. I tapped the tiles with a broom handle. They didn't really sound hollow.
 
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Old 02-16-10, 07:30 AM
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Harold

I need some details.

What is the size of your floor joists, what is their on center spacing and what is their span from support to support from downstairs. Are they 2x material, I-joists or trusses. Do they have any markings on them they may be helpful in identifying them?

How may layers of plywood were used, and what is their thickness? Did you take any pictures as they were doing the installation that may be helpful?

Can you call the contractor and find out exactly what he did?
 
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Old 02-16-10, 10:09 AM
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The floor joists are 2x10s...about 16 inches from center to center. The span from support to support is about 15 feet.

I don't have any pictures, but I remember that the builder put a second sheet of plywood in all the rooms with tile flooring. I'm not sure how thick it was. When the contractor installed the tile in one of the rooms, he left a little bit to finish the next day. I could see the plywood in the area that he left unfinished.

I'm going to contact the builder and add this to the rest of my issues. He will have to deal with the contractor, since I don't have his contact info.
 
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Old 02-18-10, 05:11 PM
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And Massachusetts has some of the toughest local codes in the country, to let a contractor get away with such nonsense.
 
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