QUESTIONMarble Wall Buckling/Debonding Failure - wondering if you had any insight as to why marble walls would buckle and bulge out after just a few years. The floor to ceiling marble tile is in a room containing a indoor pool/ritual bath. there is alot of humidity in the room and the pool itself is constantly being cleaned with strong chemicals. we've heard reasons such as oxidation of thinset, not large enough grout lines etc. we've had contractors look at the job who have said the original installation was good.the walls are cement block behind the tiles.thanks
ANSWERANSWER - If the marble tiles were installed correctly they should not be buckling/bulging from the walls even if it is installed in an interior pool and bath application.
The humidity and moisture is likely contributing to the problem, but it is likely not the primary problem. It is not likely that the chemicals are contributing to the problem, but it depends on what materials were used in the installation of the marble. Oxidation of a cementitious thin-set mortar doesn't make sense. Oxidation is the transfer of electrons from one atom or molecule to the other. If there was metal or pyrite within the mortar the term might apply. Size of grout lines should not matter unless the tiles are butted up to each other, but that would only be a contributing factor and not the problem.
If the marble tiles were bonded properly to the concrete block substrate then they should have resisted any movement and at most only cracked. The fact that they are bulging suggests they have a weak bond attachment and that is more likely the primary problem. There are a variety of reasons of why the marble tiles are not bonded properly. That type of application should have had a waterproof membrane and should have had expansion joints. We would have to perform an intrusive inspection to determine how the walls were constructed and determine the causes of the failure.
When there is a failure it generally is not due to one deficiency, but rather is due to many deficiencies compounding the situation and leading to the failure.
To determine the cause of the failure and to determine how to properly remediate the problem would require an intrusive forensic inspection. We do have an inspector in the NY area and can perform that inspection for you if it is practical for your to investigate your problem.
As expert witnesses and forensic investigators we do charge for our time during the whole process. Depending on the extent of your problem, it may or may not be practical for you to employ our full forensic and quality control services. For more information, go to our Services. Good luck.