Cracking your floor tiles is one of those things in life you don’t always account for but can end up being a major inconvenience. By learning what causes them to crack, you can avoid any mishaps and simply enjoy your beautiful flooring.
Here are 10 Reasons Your Floor Tiles Crack:
Cause 1: The Concrete Substrate didn’t cure for long enough
Freshly-poured concrete contains large amounts of water and as the concrete cures, the water concrete shrinks underneath the laid down tiles causing extra strain and pressure. New concrete requires a minimum of 28 days to cure. Request a moisture test from your tiler which will help you identify whether your tiles cracked due to the concrete or not.
Cause Two: The concrete substrate has cracked
While concrete seems to be a suitable base to lay tiles down, due to age, most concrete eventually cracks. When concrete substrate cracks underneath tiles, it is transmitted to the tiles and causes long, continuous reflective cracks that extend across multiple tiles. To prevent this situation from occurring, install a crack isolation membrane over the concrete during installation.
Cause Three: Hard, sharp knocks
If you have a crack that is only located and isolated to one area on one tile, then it is likely that something hard was dropped on the floor. This is especially common in areas such as the kitchen, where heavy objects, such as cans, pots or pans often get dropped. It is advisable to always buy 10% extra in spare tiles for your home. These occurrences are considered normal wear and tear.
Cause Four: A very heavy load
The breaking strength of a tile is regulated within the industry, and most tiles meet and exceed these standards. Commercial equipment, such as fridges, do not exert enough ground pressure to exceed the breaking strength of tiles. However, industrial machinery or commercial sliding security filling racks might be too heavy. Tiles are not the right flooring to use under industrial equipment.
Cause Five: Tiles installed over a concrete control joint
Control joints are essentially pre-planned cracks aimed at controlling where and in which direction the crack spreads. By catering for heat expansion and cold contraction of the concrete, this can usually be contained to a straight crack line. It is not good practice to use tiles to bridge a line that will knowingly expand in future.
Cause Six: Lifted tiles and cracks
‘Tenting’ is the term used for the lifting of tiles, which is primarily caused by poor installation, improper use of adhesives or inadequate grouting and expansion joints at the edges of the room, room entrances or in very large or long rooms, such as passages. Due to lifting, this makes the tile more prone to cracking as it is no longer firmly bonded to the substrate. Furthermore, the force created from tiles expanding against each other may be enough to make a tile crack.
Cause Seven: Sub-standard tiles
While it is possible to buy sub-standard tiles, if you buy tiles from a respected professional supplier it is unlikely that this is the cause. However, ensure that the tiles that you have bought are compliant with the proper testing standards. You also need to ensure that the correct tiles have been used for the correct application.
Cause Eight: Subpar Mortar
Ceramic tiles, especially larger ones need an even distribution of mortar underneath them when installed. Any voids in the mortar underneath the tile allow room for flexibility and ultimately cracks. There needs to be an adequate amount of mortar applied to the back of larger tiles as well to ensure there’s enough coverage.
Cause Nine: Improper Subflooring
Having plywood as a base for tiling is never a good idea as it is a flexible material, meaning the tiles are more susceptible to cracking. The most suitable subfloor for ceramic tiles is a mud bed or a cement backer board over plywood in the case where a mud bed cannot be used.
Cause Ten: Missing Underlayment
If tiles are installed directly over concrete floors, it will mirror any cracks that exist on the floor i.e. if the floor cracks, it will radiate up to the tile. In order to tackle this, apply an uncoupling membrane to the concrete before installing your tiles as it bonds the two. The membrane allows for movement in the floor without having it radiate through the cracks.
For more tiling advice visit a Tiletoria near you today and speak to our friendly salespeople.