Ceramic Tile

I’m asked by Farmer’s Ins Co to make an inspection of a ceramic tile installation from a year ago. This floor is a replacement for a hardwood floor flooded by a clothes washer whose water shutoff/fill level switch failed. They only removed the hardwood and three weeks later began a three week installation of the tile. Underlayment is the 1/4 inch concrete type, nailed not screwed.

I’ve only put in three such floors in my life, first with a master mason/tile person, and, therefore, am not an “expert.” I believe I know the basics on how it’s supposed to be done.

My question: what is the “professional” way to check for voids, proper mortar, proper underlayment, properly attached to the floor, etc.

North Witcher

the proper installation for that would be that the concrete backer board should be first set in mortar, then nailed or screwed (dealers choice) then more mortar at the appropriate rate dictated by tile size…the best way to check this type of installation is on you hands and knees…crawl around looking for cracks in the grout lines…that is the first sign of trouble…then knock on the tiles like you were knocking on a door…the should have a dull and uniform sound all over…any hollow sounds are not usually good…
hope this helps…jim

There should be a subfloor of about 1-1/4"

Cement board should be screwed in with special screws made for cement board. Nails can work loose and crack the tile.

Also see if there are any buckets of the mortar used, the pre-mixed stuff off the shelf doesn’t hold well.

Thank you Jim, Bobby.
There are no buckets available for viewing. I do recall how quickly the mortar set up after mixing when I was doing the tile work. Unbelievably quick.
The tiles are the 12-13in size. I did crawl around and did check each tile – about 20-25% of them either were hollow or had hollow areas. Several corners were elevated and sounded hollow. The “concrete backer board”, in one exposed area, was shattered, pieced together with 1/2in gaps, and nail heads were obvious (about two inches from the corners and one mid-length – which looked alright and I believe I recall that was about the correct spacing and location for fasteners). IAW what I’ve been able to research, there should have been a build up of various ways to create a 1-1/4" floor (as Bobby mentioned), or a 5/8" plywood floor, and/or floor joists reinforced (2x2 blocking (8 inches on 16 in centers) or double bridging) on which to place the tile. I believe I’ll report that, “At best, it is probable “best practices” were not followed. At worst, substandard installment occurred.”
Again, thank you for your invaluable guidance.

What information was the Insurance Co. looking for?

Did they have something specific they were looking for? Be careful of giving your stamp of approval on something you can’t see. Wording of the report is the issue. There could be a petri dish under the backer board!

A 1/2" wood dowel rod about 4’ long makes a good sounding rod so you don’t have to be on your knees and can cover more area. The rod is a good sound transmitter and also focuses a force to a small area which may rattle a loose tile.

I have installed more ceramic tile floors than I can remember. I have provided Expert Witness testimony in the judicial systems of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
**I have never lost a court case. **

**It sounds like there are some serious issues at this location. **
The information that you need is too extensive to cover on this BB.

**Please feel free to call me. **

Your inspection starts ion the basement where if at all possible you can get a look at the supporting floor joists and or sub floor.

**1. You need the ANSI manual for the installation of ceramic tile. **

**2. I strongly recommend that you find out who made the tile, go to their website and get an “Installation” manual / PDF file. **

**Good Luck!:stuck_out_tongue: **