Bathroom tile less than a week, popping loose?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by whtdove3, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. whtdove3

    whtdove3 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    We just had our bathroom floor tiled and I'm already seeing one of the tiles showing cracks in the grout and the tile is "bouncy" in one corner. We can't be without our bathroom for ANOTHER week. Suggestions? (Besides insisting on a refund!) :mad:
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    tile

    You probably need a new tile installation, whether by someone else after you HOPEFULLY get a refund, or by the original installer doing it correctly this time. ANd it would be a pitiful tile installer who would take an entire week to do it.
  3. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    Floor tile installation should last upwards of 50 years if installed properly.

    You need to first make sure your floor structure meets the proper deflection requirements.

    If it's stone installation, you need two layers of plywood subflooring. Unless you are installing on slab.

    Floor must be perfectly level and the right amount of thinset applied.

    I'm just guessing, but sounds like not enough thinset was used. If you lift up one of the tiles while installing, there should be complete coverage. The person installing does not know how to do it right. You would never have had a problem like that if this was done professionally.

    If they tiled on wood structure, then you have to first check deflection of floor to make sure it meets requirements. For stone tile it's double the requirements than for ceramic or porcelain.
  4. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Please post some pictures of the both the floor and the tile that popped off.

    Tom
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,180
    Location:
    New England
    A few more things that can mess up a tile install: letting the thinset skin over (i.e., let it sit too long - spreading too much at one time) before setting the tile; walking on the tile too soon after setting; poor thinset coverage; a kiln release film on the tile that wasn't cleaned or thinset not 'burned' into the back; dirty tile; grouting tight up to the wall or baseboard (needs a gap at the room edge).

    But, the biggest one is probably inadequate prep of the structure. As already mentioned, if there is a failure there (subfloor not strong enough, joists too bouncy, improperly attached subfloor), it can cause failures. While it is possible to install tile directly on a properly prepared plywood floor (requires two layers, installed in a very specific manner), most people use a cement board (cbu). If the installer did not embed the cbu in thinset or tape the seams, that can cause failures, too. Yes, you need thinset both under and over the cbu. The thinset underneath isn't to hold it down (the screws or nails do that), but to fill in any imperfections to give 100% support. Neglecting that, and you will have problems.

    Another, unfortuneately common, problem is what is sometimes referred to as a Jersey mud job. This is where they install lath on the floor, then spread thinset on top and set the tile. This is not an approved method and has been shown to be unreliable, but some people continue to insist on using it. It rarely lasts more than a few years, and can fail quickly.

    Lots of ways to mess up. There is more than one approved method to ensure a reliable install, but skip a step or poor workmanship can doom an install quickly.

    So, some details on how they prepared the floor for tile might point to why it failed.

    If you take something like a golf ball, or a baseball bat and tap the tiles, they should sound solid. If any are loose, they'll make a different sound and sound hollow. You're likley looking at a tearout and redo. More info would be needed to confirm, though.
  6. whtdove3

    whtdove3 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Hi all,

    Thanks for the replies, I appreciate your time.
    There's no tiles actually popped out...yet. But one tile does have a little "give" to it and when you press down on it, you can hear that it's not sealed completely by the quikset. So that tells me he didn't use enough. Plus, the grout itself is chipping away in that same corner that is bouncy, so maybe a bad mix of grout?
    On top of that....despite my asking him to use a whole new sheet of plywood, he insisted it wasn't necessary and used "filler" to try and even the floor before installing the new tile. I knew this wouldn't work and told him I disagreed with this decision, but he insisted he's done this before and had no problems.

    Genius is coming back in a week or two to try and right this wrong. My gut tells me someone else will end up being hired to do it right (tear out and redo!) The thing is, he and his dad are always hired to do various remodeling/repairs where I work. I know he USUALLY does VERY good work, and I'm shocked and very discouraged that he was so sloppy on this job. I guess I should have hired his dad, instead, but I was trying to help him get work and trusted him. My bad!

    I guess I was hoping someone might have a fairly simple solution or suggestion, but it sounds like you're all confirming my worst fear. Start over!

    Thanks again!
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,180
    Location:
    New England
    Was the tile installed directly on plywood or did he put something else down first?
  8. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,362
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    My not-too-wild-guess is that your installer was not a licensed professional. You may have to sue him to get your money back, but I would not let him touch the floor again. You need a real professional installer, not a handyman.:(
  9. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Dumb question alert!

    Is there a license for laying tile?


    To the homeowner,

    Next time you disagree with a professional and they insist, you need to insist that they leave until either you get another professional to do it or you get a second opinion.

    Just a thought.

    Tom
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