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Why floor tiles crack

Tenting: the term used for the lifting of tiles.

Do you have whole floor tiles in your house that have suddenly started to crack? Cracked floor tiles can be an annoying eyesore and safety issue for many homeowners.

Whether your tiles are new or old there are many reasons why floor tiles can crack and most of them, are not because of the tile itself. We explore some of the reasons as to why this may occur.

Cause One: The concrete substrate didn’t cure for long enough

Newly poured concrete contains large amounts of water, as the concrete cures, the water evaporates and the concrete shrinks underneath the laid down tiles causing extra strain and pressure. New concrete should cure for a minimum of 28 days. Request that your tiler does a moisture test, this will tell you 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 ISO, ANSI or ASTM testing standards. You also need to ensure that the correct tiles have been used for the correct application.

For more tiling advice visit a Tiletoria near you today and speak to our friendly sales people before tiles start cracking up!

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