Why Ceramic Tiles Crack

Ceramic tiles.

Installing ceramic tiles can provide you with a beautiful and durable floor for any room in your house. However, these tiles have been known to crack in many situations. Here are a few potential reasons that your ceramic tiles might be cracking.

Construction Problems

One of the most common reasons that tiles crack is because they are not constructed properly. When a ceramic tile is made, it is made of a clay base and then a protective finish is baked onto it. In this process, mistakes can be made. The clay might not be completely uniform. It could potentially get an air pocket somewhere in the clay or between the clay and the glaze. When this happens, there can be weak spots in the tile. After a certain amount of time, these spots tend to manifest themselves in the form of cracks in the tile.

Adhesive Gaps

Another reason that tiles can crack is because the installer did not make sure that there were no gaps in the adhesive under the tile. Tile adhesive is a lot like concrete when it hardens. It is going to provide a lot of support for the tile once it hardens. If the adhesive is not uniformly distributed under the tile, you can run into serious problems. If there is a gap under the tile, the tile could start to break when someone walks on it. The only way to know if this is a problem is to take up the tile and see if the adhesive is uniformly distributed underneath it.

No Concrete Board

If you are installing tile on a wood subfloor, you have to first install the concrete board. Concrete board is necessary to give the tile the support that it needs on top of a wood subfloor. Sometimes, installers will take a shortcut and put the tile directly on top of the wood subfloor. After a very short amount of time, the tile will start to crack. When you walk on the tile, the wood subfloor is going to flex a bit. This movement causes the tile to crack and break. The only way to fix this problem is to take up the entire floor and reinstall it the proper way with concrete board.

Concrete Slab Issues

Another reason that ceramic tile can crack is because of the concrete slab below it. It is acceptable to install tile directly on top of a concrete subfloor. However, in certain cases, the concrete can cause the tile to break. Concrete likes to break apart over time. It can experience hairline cracks and when tile is installed on top of it, it will usually crack the tile as well. This is very common when you are working with a new slab that was not given enough time to cure before installing the tile. If you are installing tile on top of a concrete subfloor with cracks in it, you should use a crack isolation membrane that is designed to protect from further damage.