10 year old Ceramic Tile floor popping up..Help!

rodcoMarch 3, 2011

I need some help from a Floor pro if possible. I have a customer who has a 10 Year old ceramic tile floor installed over concrete in a semi basement. The tiles are 12x12 and have been perfect for the past 9 1/2 years. In the last few month they noticed the tiles heaving up about a 1/2 inch or so. The tiles are NOT individually lifting up, but whole areas of the floor. The tiles are all still held together perfectly with the grout. No cracks at all.

I chisled away the grout lines on one tile and the thinset was firmly attached to the bottom of the tile, but was cleanly pulled up from the floor. There was evidence of old black mastic on the back of the tile.

My questions are as follows:

1- Why did it take so long for the tile to loosen its grip?

2- Should the installer had laid the floor over the previous VCT floor adhesive directly?

3- If a new floor is installed over the concrete again, how is the old VCT adhesive removed?

4- Would moisture from recent rains have caused this? The cement appeared dry under the removed tile.



Pittsburgh, PA

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1.Conditions were finally right for tenting to occur.
2.Cutback adhesive is a poor substrate to bond to.
3.Scrape away as much as possible. You can test it for asbestos and if it comes back clean you can mechanically abrade or scarify it. If it's asbestos you either abate it or you just have a poor substrate to bond to.
4.Moisture can have alot to do with it. It makes stuff expand and contract.
Was the floor cut/grouted tightly to the wall?
Stud or masonry walls?
Expansion joints in the feild?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 5:59PM
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If you cover the concrete with cememnt board forst the problem should no recur.

It CAN be a major pain to get the borard down tight though.

I use plastic water 'bladder tanks' designed to fit in a pick up truck bed (flexible plastic).

After lying down thin set and cement board, the plastic bladder tanks are put on the cement board and filled up.

They provide a nice uniform compression to hold the cment board down tight.

If you fill the bladders up so they are about a foot thick you have ~60 pounds per square foot holding everything down.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 2:42PM
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Cement board is not approved to be set over concrete - if your installation fails you will be out of luck because no manufacturer will back it. The only correct way is to completely remove the VCT floor adhesive.

Have you had unusually wet weather? Your floor may simply contain too much moisture, a problem that would have to be addressed first in order for any flooring material to be laid without problems.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 6:15PM
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"Cement board is not approved to be set over concrete"

According to who?

Cement board has been used over concrete for a LONG time to provide the isolation layer and prevent defects in the concrete from moving into a top layer if tile.

Most of the warranties are hardly worth the paper they are printed on.

Material replacement (a common warranty remedy) does not cover labor to remove or install.

There is actually no way to completely remove VCT adhesive from a concrete surface.
It has soaked into the concrete and contaminated the surface.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 8:52AM
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According to the manufacturers. It is to be set in thinset and screwed down. Of course, as with any item, the purchasers may misuse the product as they see fit - they just lose the right to complain if it goes badly. Advising a clearly inexperienced person to misuse a product seems unwise.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 2:44PM
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