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Ceramic Tiles detaching from the floor! I live in a 10-year…

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Ceramic Tiles detaching from the...
Ceramic Tiles detaching from the floor!
I live in a 10-year old apartment which is all floored with ceramic tiles. Recently and gradually some of them begun to become loose. The seams started to shatter and you could feel the tiles move slightly under weight. I decided to check what's beyond and I scraped the seams of one of the tiles off. It was very easy to lift the tile which came out intact. I found out the tiles are glued to the floor. However, although the glue is intact the top thin layer underneath the tile looks like it has deteriorated to sand. So, the tile looks like glued on the sand. If you touch the layer beneatch the tile you can feel sand coming off even with the lightest touch. I guess I could try glueing back the tiles that shake but I feel they would come off again soon. Is there any special treatment I could apply to that substrate to make bonding with the glue more secure?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Home Improvement
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Answered in 20 minutes by:
4/7/2010
Home Improvement Expert: Rick, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
Rick
Rick, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 24,193
Experience: Licensed construction supervisor with 35+ yrs. experience.
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Hi

What you describe is often the result of the tile setter using mortar that has started to set up before the tile is set. The first thing you need to do is remove any trace of mortar that is not sound and bonded to the substrate. You can then reset the tile with new mortar that has a latex additive (it's available premixed in small batches here in the States). One other unconventional method that has worked well for me when only a tile or 2 is loose is to use silicone caulking to reset the tile. Load up the back of the tile with a heavy bead then press it in place. The trick is to use enough to bond the tile but not so much that is oozes into the grout lines. Usually holding the bead back from the edge does the trick. But whatever method you use the key is to remove any existing mortar that is unsound.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Rick,

thanks for your answer. Unfortunatelly in my case tiles aren't set in mortar. They are literaly glued with some special ceramic tile glue on the cement which lies beneath. This substrate is not exactly cement but has the same colour and texture. I asked around and they told me they don't set floor tiles in mortar any more to avoid issues with rapid temperature changes. Instead they use a method similar to what is used for tiling the walls and this is using a kind of glue (maybe glue is the wrong word here but I am not familiar with the terminology).

Does this give you any clues? I believe the key here would be some chemical (some primer maybe) to treat my cement-like substrate so that the sand in the original mixture used for the substrate is stabilized again. Then I can go on with glueing my tiles as usual.

Home Improvement Expert: Rick, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
Thin set mortar is the standard here in the States. I am unfamiliar with the system you describe. I'll have to opt out. Perhaps another expert from your side of the Pond can answer your question.
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Home Improvement Expert: Patrick, Construction Project Manager replied 8 years ago
Patrick
Patrick, Construction Project Manager
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 2,429
Experience: 30 years commercial construction and 23 years house remodeling projects
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Rick has described the proper means for setting ceramic tile on the floor. However, it sounds like someone has set your tile using epoxy on something like gyp crete or a leveling compound. If the apartment structure is not designed to handle ceramic tile, meaning no deflection, then you are going to be subject to tiles popping loose. If the bonding material is very hard on the back of the tile it could definitely be epoxy. If it is a little flexible, almost like heavy contact adhesive then it is a wall tile adhesive and should not have been used for the floor.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Thanks for the answer people. It seems the construction methods do differ here. The tiles are indeed glued on the floor and the glue is not an epoxy resin. It is a special glue similar to the one used for wall tiles but is specially made for flooring. It's like a white powder which you mix with water and then apply on the floor. You must then lay the tiles within a few minutes and they set in 2-3 hours. In any case regardless of the method what I need is to find out whether there is any chemical (something like a primer) that I could use to stop the sand in my cement-like substrate rubbing off (which I suspect is the cause of all my trouble).

Any ideas?
Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Thanks for the answer people. It seems the construction methods do differ here. The tiles are indeed glued on the floor and the glue is not an epoxy resin. It is a special glue similar to the one used for wall tiles but is specially made for flooring. It's like a white powder which you mix with water and then apply on the floor. You must then lay the tiles within a few minutes and they set in 2-3 hours. In any case regardless of the method what I need is to find out whether there is any chemical (something like a primer) that I could use to stop the sand in my cement-like substrate rubbing off (which I suspect is the cause of all my trouble).

Any ideas?
Home Improvement Expert: Patrick, Construction Project Manager replied 8 years ago
I did some research at Toppstiles in the UK for some of their products. They are rapid set cementitious based floor and wall products that you describe. Unfortunately they need a good substrate to bond to. If your substrate will not hold together you are faced with the option of removing the tile and fastening down a concrete backer board bedded to the floor in order to have something that will hold. You may have some expansion issues and you may not have any expansion or contraction joints in order to allow the tile to not compress against the other tiles over a large area, possibly causing them to pop off the substrate. Good luck. If this has proved helpful please remember to hit ACCEPT, otherwise I do not receive credit. Thank you.
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