Tile cracked (again)

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Old 12-16-10, 09:15 AM
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Tile cracked (again)

1st post here, hoping I can get some opinions:

I have a small entry-way (~5'x4' plus a small closet) that I tiled in our townhouse. During the first winter, a crack grew straight down the middle of three tiles. This fall, I replaced those tiles (leaving the backerboard underneath) and everything looked good until the last couple days, when it got down around 0F and one of the tiles cracked all the way through again, in exactly the same place.

It looks like this crack lines up exactly with a joint in the subfloor. In addition, it lines up with a line of screws through the backer-board. Finally the backerboard is a bit patch-worked, with three smaller pieces (~2'x 4') where there should be one larger piece (blame it on me being tired and lazy by the time we got to the entryway).

So, given all of that, what's the likely-hood that if I tear out half the tiles and the smaller pieces of backerboard and redo it that it will last this time? It kind of makes me sick to think of doing all that only to have a tile break a 3rd time, so the other option is to abandon tile and just put in linoleum in that location.

Anyone have some thoughts or similar experiences?

Thanks!
 
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Old 12-16-10, 12:27 PM
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Hi Pontiac,

Could be several problems with the subfloor system and the way the backer board and/or tiles were installed of which you gave no details.

There is obviously movement in the framing and/or subfloor sheets and/or backer board.

How is the framing built? Size of lumber and spacing from joist to joist? What is the span of the joists?

What type and thickness subfloor sheet (s)?

Was thin set mortar spread under the backer board? How was board fastened, type of screws/nails? How long, did any penetrate into the joists? Did you use the correct mesh tape for the seams?

What specific kind/type of adhesive for the tiles, spread with what?

More after your reply.

Jaz
 
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Old 12-16-10, 12:35 PM
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Your issue could be several things. Tell us how you did the installation. How thick is the plywood subfloor, is it t&g or square edged plywood, is it glued and nailed/screwed to the joists? Are the plywood subfloor sheets properly gapped to allow for movement as temperature and humidity conditions change? What size are the floor joists, what is the on center spacing of the joists and what is the unsupported span of the joists from support to support from below? Did you bed the cement board in a fresh bed of thinset before you screwed it to the subfloor? Did you mud and tape the cement board seams? What kind of tile is this, ceramic or natural stone.

Wow Jazman is quicker than me. Beat me to it.
 
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Old 12-16-10, 02:27 PM
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Hey, thanks for the responses! See my answers in bold...

Originally Posted by JazMan View Post
Hi Pontiac,

Could be several problems with the subfloor system and the way the backer board and/or tiles were installed of which you gave no details.

There is obviously movement in the framing and/or subfloor sheets and/or backer board.

How is the framing built? Size of lumber and spacing from joist to joist? What is the span of the joists?

Unfortunately, I don't know, as the construction of the townhouse far predates my ownership and I've never had any cause to break into the floor. I suppose I could have been able to tell spacing when I first pulled off the linoleum that was there, but I didn't pay attention to it, and it was about 3 years ago.

What type and thickness subfloor sheet (s)?

I'm pretty sure it is plywood, although I'll have to look when I get home, to make sure its not OSB. Same as above, I don't know the thickness.

Was thin set mortar spread under the backer board?

Yes.

How was board fastened, type of screws/nails?

Screws, just regular sheet-rock looking screws (black finish). I think I've still got a partial box at home if I should be looking for more info.

How long, did any penetrate into the joists?

About 1-1/4". I'm pretty sure at least a few would have hit joists, although I don't remember specifically aiming for that.

Did you use the correct mesh tape for the seams?

I'm pretty sure I got something specifically for backer board, but I couldn't tell you any details, any more.

What specific kind/type of adhesive for the tiles, spread with what?

I will check when I get home tonight.

More after your reply.

Jaz
And a couple more...
Originally Posted by HeresJohnny
Your issue could be several things. Tell us how you did the installation. How thick is the plywood subfloor, is it t&g or square edged plywood, is it glued and nailed/screwed to the joists?

As above, unfortunately I don't know and can't find out very easily (that I know of).

Are the plywood subfloor sheets properly gapped to allow for movement as temperature and humidity conditions change?

There is a small section of subfloor visible just past the tiles were I took off a transition/trim piece there is a small (~1/8") gap between sheets. I assume that continues under the tile.

What size are the floor joists, what is the on center spacing of the joists and what is the unsupported span of the joists from support to support from below?

Unknown.

Did you bed the cement board in a fresh bed of thinset before you screwed it to the subfloor?

Yes.

Did you mud and tape the cement board seams?

Yes.

What kind of tile is this, ceramic or natural stone.

Ceramic.

Wow Jazman is quicker than me. Beat me to it.

If its not obvious, this was our first attempt at such a project. We call this house our practice house. At least the stuff we put in our kitchen has held up fine.
 
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