Cracked Tile

Good Morning,

I did an inspection on a 2 story house in Mesa, AZ yesterday. The house was built in 2000 and was in great condition with very few problems. :smiley: The biggest issue was in the 2nd floor master bath floor tile. I have seen plenty of cracked tiles before but I have not seen ceramic tile with a 90 degree crack in the middle of the tile. The cracks usually extend in relatively straight lines until they terminate. this one starts under the cabinet turns 90 degrees and heads to the wall.

The floor felt very solid with no bounce and no creaking when you walk on it. Also the tiles were secured nicely to the floor with no “hollow” sounds under any of them.

Anyone seen a 90 degree crack in the middle of a ceramic tile before? Any thoughts on what might cause this? In the 2nd attached photo I drew 2 blue lines that follow the cracks in case you can’t see them.

The buyer didn’t care as she is tearing it out and redoing the tile. I’m just curious what the problem might be.

Thanks in advance for any ideas!

Just my opinion but looks to me like the outline of whatever type of subfloor material is under the tile. One sheet of the base flooring was raised and the tile cracks at the edge of this raised floor.

Did you pull a register in the floor to get a look at what type of substrate the tile was installed on? One layer of sub flooring is generally inadequate, I always verify the presence of a second layer. Could be mechanical damage from an impact or from moving somthing large, although there shouldn’t be too many large appliances being moved in and out of a bathroom.

Yep, that’s what I’d say. The subfloor may need to be reworked for new tile.

subflooring? cement board or hardiboard is required under tiles guys.

Depends upon the manufacturer of the tile what sub-strate, if any, is required. Appears to be weight fracture damage, IMO. You never know what people put in bathrooms these days. Something could have fallen from the counter, heavy chair, party, who knows. Document, recommend repairs, move on.

really Gary? what tile doesnt require a solid substrate? I have never seen any grouted tile that didnt need it.

Hi Guys,

I’ve been gone all day at another inspection. Thanks for all of your replies. The registers are in the ceiling in this home so I had no way of checking what was under the tile. Funny you mention the possibility of “something heavy” being moved in the bathroom. The room right outside of the master is the laundry room. It had brand new tile installed. But the house was empty for the inspection. So maybe at some point the previous owners hauled the washing machine in to the master bath. Long way to go but who knows. I just have not seen tile crack in a near perfect 90 degrees.

The buyer is going to replace the tile. I told her she may discover the reason when this tile is removed. She told me she would let me know what she finds. I’ll post if she tells me.

Thanks everyone!

Typical tract house installation…
Cracking indicates improper installation of the flooring.
The larger the tile, the more substantive the substrate needed.

Cracking pictured is indicative of a defective installation with crack lines following lines of sub flooring joints.

When I built my home, I used thick 1 and a half inch sub-flooring with silent-floor I-joists spaced at 16 inches. This was 8 years ago. I have no cracks in my master tile floor, or have no gaps or grout problems. No sub-strate was needed. The floor stays warm, because the furnace is directly below the master bath.

As long as the original sub-floor has proper support, little if any sub-strate is needed. Standard 1x12 joists with 3/4 inch sub floor is not enough for tile flooring (which is standard code), and extra sub-strate is then needed, of course, all by manufacturer specs.

1.5 " Sub Flooring? (double 3/4 ?)
Your Spec?

pretty rare that I house is framed for 5000 lb/ sq ft live loads though. :slight_smile:

Yeh, it is a large home, larger than I need. Thinking of selling. Just my wife and I. Built it for retirement investment, but that didn’t work. As I get older, a condo seems the way to go. My brother built a home in Reno with the same flooring. His wife has two Steinway pianos.

condo? you dont like working in the yard?

Yes, and my lawn tractor runs good. But when you turn 60, your priorities change, muscles get sore, and that TV remote becomes your friend.

you quit using those muscles and they will
stop working.

That’s what my wife keeps telling me…!!!