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Cracked Floor Tiles in Denver Homes Sometimes Happens – Rarely is the Tile to Blame

Petra Slate

For more than 25 years, PetraSlate, has been offering the Denver area and flooring stores across the US the highest quality selection of natural stone tiles in limestone, marble, slate and travertine, to name a few. The natural stone tiles we offer at our warehouse and showroom at I-70 and Monaco in Denver are sourced from the world over and have the reputation of being the best available.

While every Denver floor tile we sell has met or exceeded ASTM standards for applied breaking force and compressibility, every now and then we hear about a tile or two that has cracked after installation. It is common, especially with the normal variation found in natural stone tiles, for the home owner to first think that the tile has somehow failed.

As a professional, and as you might suspect, the answer to a cracked tile mystery requires more than snap judgements. Natural stone tiles are extremely durable, but that durability comes with the drawback of material brittleness. In short, before identifying the tile as the culprit in its cracking, you need to eliminate the substrate as a suspect.

Concrete Shrinkage and De-bonding

When the substrate is poured concrete, if it is of recent construction, the concrete slab may still be curing and shrinking ever so incrementally. The tile, adhered to the slab with grout or thin set, attempts to maintain its original laid dimensions while adhered to a shrinking substrate. This dimensional pressure between the floor and the substrate creates what are called “sheer forces,” that can cause a separation, or “de-bonding” of the tile and the substrate.

floor tiles DenverIf the stresses accumulate enough potential energy, a phenomenon known as “tenting” can occur between two or more tiles. When the sheer force pressures the edges of the tile towards one another, the raised parts are more susceptible to damage.

Before replacing cracked tiles for a client, try to ascertain whether the entire installation is de-bonding from the concrete it rests on.

Deflection From a Wooden Floor

Cracked floor tilesLaying tile over a wood subfloor always requires some form of cement board be screwed directly to the floor sheathing. Even though these cement panels should eliminate tiles from cracking, don’t be over confident that the subfloor doesn’t have separation from the joists it sits on in various places. Walk the area completely to listen for “squeaks” – nails that are loose or missed the joist below all together and put in screws where you find deflection. In older homes that may have dimensional lumber as the joists versus the stronger, more modern I joists, you may need to add additional support to these joists to minimize any movement in the floor.  With the properly supported subfloor, natural stone tiles in Denver area homes should outlast any other floor covering, retaining its beauty, even after years of use.

For more information on our lines of natural stone tiles, please stop by our showroom or contact us.

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