Bought home, previous owner put new tile on plywood floor.

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Old 10-11-12, 07:52 AM
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Bought home, previous owner put new tile on plywood floor.

This really ticked me off. We bought a "used" home and it looks like the previous owner did a quick and dirty job in the master bathroom in an effort to sell the house.

They did a real good job tiling, nice and neat with some good quality materials...which has me baffled. it would only cost a few hundred more to simply put some wonderboard down or something. However, over the last few weeks I noticed when I got out of the shower I would hear a slight "crunching" sound which is getting worse and worse by the day. Tiles not cracking but the grout is.

We have had some other bills like private school, college tuition and car problems in the mean time and I wanted to see if there was a temporary fix...a couple of years to get bye.

I was wondering if I put an Epoxy or Urethane grout over the grout that is there will this buy me a few years? Like i said, it really looks good, tiles are level, but grout is getting hairline cracks. Any suggestions?
 
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Old 10-11-12, 02:28 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Sorry, I think this needs to be ripped out and done properly.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 02:50 PM
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I agree with Mitch, there's no substitute for doing it right. Bandaids on heart surgery seldom work. How are the tiles laid, or better yet, what were they laid on? If raw subflooring, then it is a gut and redo.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 06:44 PM
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You may end up ripping out the existing tile but it seems a little extreme as a first step without knowing exactly what's going on. If retiling isn't in the budget right now, there is nothing to be lost by removing the existing cracked grout and regrouting.

Cracked grout might be an indication of inadequate support and not a problem with how the tile was set. Are the tiles loose? If they are you could try resetting the loose ones until you have the time and resources to redo the floor.

I would probably do a little exploratory disassembly to find out how the tile was set. What is the subfloor? The underlayment? What adhesive was used to set the tile? How well are the tiles adhering to the underlayment?
 
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Old 10-12-12, 08:13 PM
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The tile seems tight but there is hairline cracking in the grout. I just need to get by for a few years then I will redo it. How do I remove the grout? A dremel? I bought closeout epoxy for $15 each. So I am ready to move forward as long as I know how to remove grout
 
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Old 10-13-12, 02:03 PM
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Mike,

I've never used a Dremel but I know they have grout removal attachments. Here's a YouTube video I found removing grout with a Dremel tool. I have a grout saw that works but it takes lots of elbow grease.

If you regrout and the cracks return come back to the forum and maybe we can help figure out what the problem is.

BTW - How do you know the tile was set directly on plywood? If it was set on plywood with thinset mortar your problem might get worse. If it was set with mastic and the underlying support is adequate the tile should be fine.
 
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Old 10-13-12, 05:34 PM
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If the grout is cracking then there is movment. Granted cbu should of been used but if the grout comes out and tile is still holding to the plywood then I would look further into the subfloor and specs, maybe not enough ply was used as well.

What's the space for grout lines?
Can you find out what your joist specs are?
 
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Old 10-13-12, 08:56 PM
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"If it was set with mastic and the underlying support is adequate the tile should be fine."

Wrong. Mastic is never to be used on ceramic floor tile.
 
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Old 10-14-12, 04:25 AM
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Samfloor - "Wrong. Mastic is never to be used on ceramic floor tile."

Why not?
 
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Old 10-14-12, 05:30 AM
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It won't work. Read the TCNA book.
 
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Old 10-14-12, 11:47 AM
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Samfloor - Your response doesn't answer the question.

Here's a link to a product that I've used to successfully install floor, shower wall and countertop tiles. Another such product is Latictete 15. Both of them are approved by the manufactuer for setting ceramic tile on floors. If you Google around you can probably find a dozen Type 1 thinset mastics that are sold as suitable for floors. The data sheets for both the linked products are very informative. The Laticrete one provides performance specifications including test results for water immersion that might surprise you.

I think part of the problem (and the confusion) arose when many confused the properties of type 2 mastic with those of Type 1.

I don't have the TCNA Handbook. Can you look up TCNA method EJ171? One of the mastic manufacturers cites that, along with the ANSI standard, as the proper way to install tile using thinset mastic.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 04:03 AM
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I can say that no flooring forum will agree that tile glue should be used on floors nor in shower ereas even if the mastic product states that its safe to use. I personally wouldn't use it on any tile floor, but I am guilty of using it on shower walls.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 07:49 AM
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Wayne

EJ171 is about guidelines for movment joints and doesnt really have anything to do with mastic.

Also, not sure where you get the term thinset mastic from. Thinset is a portland cement based product.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 12:57 PM
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I assume the tile was set on plywood when I tap on it, it sounds hollow. My old tile sounded solid... like concrete. Also, when it runs up to the carpeting, the threshold is the same height. How do I know for sure? The weird thing I recently noticed is the front part of the bathroom seems pretty solid. The shower area, especially under the shower mat, seems to "clunk" or "pop" sometimes when I step out of the shower. Nothing is lose though.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 01:03 PM
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Hollow sounds or clunking and popping are signs the tiles are not solidly adhered to the floor beneath them and that movement is occurring, respectively.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 01:35 PM
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HeresJohhny,

Thanks for the explanation about the standard. I'm assuming you have a copy of the TCNA handbook. Does it specifically exclude the use of mastic for setting floor tile? With the big tile companies now selling mastic and recommending it for floors I would think the TCNA would be on board.

I disagree about the term thinset though, sorta. I was told (by a tile guy in a real tile store) that thinset describes the method of setting tile, i.e. a thin layer of a bonding agent, be it mastic or mortar, is used to set the tile instead of a thick(er) layer of mortar associated with a "mud job." That makes sense to me and is probably the reason that some mastic manufacturers feel comfortable using the term thinset on their labels.

It's likely that over time the original meaning of the term has morphed into product instead of method.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 01:38 PM
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Mike,

Can you access the floor from below? If so you could determine how your floor is set up. You should also try to figure out if the joist structure is adequate. If you can get access determine the size, spacing and span of your floor joists. There are span tables on the internet that will allow you to determine is your floor structure meets minimum deflection for tile.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 07:15 PM
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You don't want mastic to get wet or its like bubble gum holding tile.....eeek?! It is much easier to trowel then thinset.
 
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Old 10-15-12, 07:19 PM
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Proper Setting Materials for Tile

The floor elf makes a good point on mastic.
 
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Old 10-16-12, 04:26 AM
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Isola,
The floor elf is wrong. Newer versions of Type 1 mastic have additives that make it suitable for use in "wet" areas. It is not recommended for use in areas that may be "submerged." There is an ANSI spec for Type I mastic that requires water immersion testing.

In any case why even if the floor elf's claim regarding water solubility were true why would that exclude mastic from being used for say - a living room floor. Type II mastic the other hand has little resistance to water and should not be used in any area that may get wet.
 
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Old 10-16-12, 10:34 AM
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I assume the tile was set on plywood when I tap on it, it sounds hollow.
If the tile sound hollow, then they are not properly bonded to the substrate. It doesnt mean that plywood is the underlayment. Regrouting is likely to result in more cracking in the future. My suggestion would be to live with what you have until you can afford to replace the floor and do it right.
 
  #22  
Old 10-16-12, 10:39 AM
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Wayne, manufacturers can pretty much call their products whatever they want. Many times the product name is misleading to the user and mistakes are made. Heres a link to the TCNA site and their discussion on thinset mortar.

Thinset Mortar - The Tile Council of North America
 
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Old 10-16-12, 02:33 PM
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Hre'sJohnny,

The first tiling I ever did was a vanity top many years ago. I went to the local tile store (still in business by the way) to buy some tile. I also questioned the owner (he is no longer with us) about what I needed. He sold me some tile, offered to cut any pieces that needed to be cut and he gave me a bucket of mastic.

I said "don't I need thinset?" and that's when he explained about thinset being the method not the material. So if he was wrong then I am wrong, but it made sense to me and it stuck with me.

What I found most interesting was the description of polymer modified thinset mortar. It seems like the mortar manufacturers are trying to achieve the natural elasticity of mastic.
 
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Old 10-16-12, 04:03 PM
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I have a story. When McDonald's started renovating and updating there restaurants one of these locations in NY, the management was wondering why there tiles were falling off the wall, well come to find out they took some tiles off and yes the mastic was still wet and tacky because the 14" tiles were to big for air to dry the mastic completely, so once grouted its just like putting the lid back on the bucket. After I heard this story I stopped using the stuff.
 
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Old 10-17-12, 05:40 AM
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I think most mastic manufacturers caution against using mastic for tiles larger than 12" but that too might be changing.

I too have a story. Last year, after reading posts here and in other tile forums about how mastic doesn't dry, I performed an experiment. I set a piece of 12" ceramic tile on 3/4" plywood using mastic. Several days later I tried to pry the tile from the plywood. I couldn't remove it using reasonable force. I then cored the plywood from underneath to examine the mastic under the tile. It was fully cured with a consistency similar to mastic exposed to air.

Incidentally, I accidentally left that piece of plywood outside over the winter where it was exposed to the elements, including several days under snow. When I found it this spring I tried again to pry the tile from the plywood. I couldn't.
 
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