New home has leaking/cracked tiles on terrace built over garage

tracydr12January 16, 2011


We recently purchased a new home. We moved in approximately 3 weeks ago, this house was a foreclosure. We have a rather large 16x18 tiled upper terrace that is built above our lower garage and mudroom. We knew that some of the tiles were cracked. However, since we have moved in, we have found out that this upper terrace seems to be leaking water into the garage and mudroom directly below it. I have found evidence of water stains and maybe even mold on the garage and mudroom ceilings. We have siliconed up the cracked tiles, but it doesn't seem to be helping.

I am posting a link to the terrace to show photos.

We don't have the funds to hire a professional to repair this project. We have contacted 3 contractors and all 3 had different idea's of how to repair this properly.

What are some options for fixing this, short of pulling EVERYTHING up and redoing it all. We do not know the damage below the tiles, or the extent (or lack of) damage below.

Is there such a product that is like a very thick sealant for tiles that we could coat the entire patio with to protect from any leaks? We do not know where the leaks are coming from.

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There are a lot of ways to put tile on a outdoor project with a living area under it. Almost none of them work.

This subject has come up over here several times over the years.For the most part the builder put plywood over the joist then placed tile over it the same way he would do it inside a house. Weather exposure causes expansion/contraction and the project starts to leak on the day of install. Sometimes fall to the outside was not framed in and no flashing was installed.

There are several Emulsions that claim to be able to be spread over anything to form a Roof.They dont.

If I was biding the Job>>> Check the fall,or grade of the framing,it has to run away from the house. Inspect the flashing conection , or lack of it , to your house.After these rusults were in suggest a tear out fix any fall or flashing problems,put a Modified torch down or Tpo roof on, then if you plan on walking on this deck place pt stringers 16'' on center in the direction of the flow screw decking to the stringers not past them into the roof.Be sure the handrail detail was done right fix it if not. IF you dont have the money to hire a professional why did you waste three different Contractors time??? We are in Business not a Philanthropical venture.

John Hyatt

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 9:09AM
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When you buy a foreclosure, you are taking on someone else's problems. Sorry to hear about your situation. This is a major issue that requires a thorough solution. There is no easy fix. Be careful of hiring anyone who claims to have a simple solution. Be wary of any professional who claims anything different from what I'm about to tell you.

I did one of these last year. The circumstances were identical to yours: foreclosure, patio above the garage, leaks inside, mold, low budget, and many professionals with different opinions.

The patio was a thin slab poured over plywood, conventional framing, no waterproofing. It sloped toward the front wall (away from the house) but the water was entering where the slab met the wall, and pouring onto the sheetrock ceiling in the garage.

For us to fix this problem cost about $5K. It was major work but we kept the cost as low as possible. The homeowner found a skilled handyman to do much of the demolition. Here is what it took:

1. Remove all sheetrock from the ceiling below. This will allow the professionals to see the problem. Right now you are getting different answers because they are guessing about things they can't see.

2. All structural members need to dry out. Any ones with rot must be replaced. We timber-shored the upper level of the house and rebuilt 2 of the garage walls, plus some of the joists supporting the patio. The stucco had to be taken off for this. Replace the stucco promptly, as soon as the framing is complete.

3. Fix the slope of the patio. I packed a mortar bed over the slab. The tiles have to be removed, of course.

4. Waterproof the patio befor laying tile. Make sure the side where the water runs off is flashed and waterproofed to the gutter, or rain channel. If the water just runs off and down the side wall, fix this. At a minimum there should be a drip edge. Water running off a horizontal surface and down an exterior wall is likely to enter the wall cavity.

For waterproofing under tile, I use Schluter Kerdi and Ditra. I like the Schluter products because they are specifically designed for tile. Torch down roofing is also a good choice, for under a deck.

Cope the membrane at least 6" up the side walls (where the patio meets wall)

5. leave the ceiling open and check the membrane is doing its job, before laying tile.

I know you asked if there is anything you can do, other than tearing everything out. Sorry to say, the answer is "no" Anything else will be a waste of time and money.

Because your problem is identical to one we fixed last year, I thought detailed instructions may be helpful. We had some serious rain and flooding in December and I am happy to say the problem is 100% resolved. I talk to the homeowner and her handyman frequently, plus I have been back to the house for other jobs. No more leaks.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 10:28AM
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Thanks Aidan! I might have had a short fuse on that one after being out on several bids latley where the Wallet is looking for ideas with no intention of hiring me at all.

I am wondering after your tile install, and I am thinking you place the tile right over the roof membrane, how the tile holds up to the weather and being walked on? It works fine in a shower but exposed to the weather I just cant see it. Also in a shower the membrane is under a mortar bed.

Thanks ! John

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 12:39PM
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I'm with Aidan.

I do the same, pitch for drainage, then Ditra over the ply and Kerdi to seal the Ditra seams and to detail the wall flashings.

John, Ditra's a pretty slick material, it has a waffle structure to absorb any stresses that Mother Nature might want transfer to the thinset bond.

I have it on my own pool patio, 1800 sqft of slate tile over a concrete slab. Almost 10 years of New England winters, no tile pops or grout cracking.

I also have a front porch with a tiled 14' deep by 16' wide balcony on top. Part of the tiled balcony has living space underneath (weathered in vestibule, part of the house's thermal envelope), other portions are open to free air.

Again, no problems through the New England winters.

Nobel has a nice tile-on membrane for exterior use too.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 7:14PM
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Thanks Mongo!!!!!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 7:44PM
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There isn't any cheap easy way to fix leaking decks with tile on them. The waterproofing, if any, is underneath. Proper flashing, drainage, mortar bed, control joints for expansion/contraction, slope and much more all have to be considered and planned for.

You can try any number of ways to "fix" the problem, but in the end, tile comes off, down to substrate, more than likely substrate comes off, new installed and then have a professional waterproof deck coating contractor put a traffic coating down instead, because you can't afford to do a tile deck system correctly.

I've seen plenty of contractors who can make crap jobs shine for a little while before turning back to crap. Do it right once.

Tile Council of North America, Ceramic Tile Institute and ICC-Es have procedures and industry accepted standards for installing tile system.

In my business, half or more of my work comes from failed tile decks done by Craigslist contractors. It's been a very good year!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 6:21PM
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