What can I do about my Hollow Sounding Tiles from being Installed with a Thin-set Spot Bond Method?


What can I do about my Hollow Sounding Tiles from Being Installed with a Thin-set Spot Bond Method? - In August of 2013 we purchased 18-inch porcelain tiles for our home and contracted with a licensed tile installer recommended through the tile store. About 7 days after the installation was completed and we walked on it for the first time, I noticed hollow-sounding tiles all around the engineered wood entry by the front door, 16 tiles in all. After researching tile installations, etc., I learned that spot bonding was not an acceptable standard practice and could be the cause of the hollow-sounding tiles. We observed the spot bonding method during parts of the tile installation by some of the installers (there were 5 individuals on the job) but were not aware that this was unacceptable and could lead to installation problems down the road. In any event, I contacted the installer and described the hollow sound and requested he return to evaluate the situation. He stated that since none of the tiles in question had come loose, he did not see any problem. I voiced my concern over these hollow tiles being weaker and posing a problem in the future if something dropped on them or moved over them. I wanted all 16 tiles that I found to be hollow to be replaced. He refused and stated replacing 16 tiles is silly and he agreed to replace 3, one where the entire tile sounded hollow and the two adjacent to it. We photographed one of the tiles that came up intact, and there were blobs of thin set on each corner and a blob in the middle of the tile (spot bonding).

Since this time we have cleared the living/dining room of unpacked boxes and have discovered about 18 more hollow-sounding tiles. (The entire tile installation measures 735 square feet.)

I am very concerned we may run into a problem in the future with these hollow tiles, and we have a lot of money invested in this tile flooring.

My question to you is this….. Is our next move to contact the Registrar of Contractors?


 Answer - Hollow sounding tiles doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem, but since you noticed the installers using a spot bond method during the installation, and you have evidence of it from the removed tiles, so you do have some basis for a complaint.
The problem is you don't have any resultant damages other than not liking the hollow sounds as you walk on the tile.  It is true that the hollow areas of the tiles, where there are underlying voids, will be more susceptible to damage if they are subjected to point loads greater than what they can withstand.  Standards state that for residential interior dry applications that there has to be at least 80% thin-set mortar  contact between the tile and its substrate with full contact at all corners and edges of the tile.

Since the industry standards are only recommendations and not mandatory, the installer can claim that installing tile with a spot bonded method is considered the standard of care in your area, whether it is true or not.

You can certainly try going to the register of contractors to see what they will do if anything.  Depending on the size of your project you might consider going to small claims court if you can provide the evidence and documentation needed to convince the judge to side with you.  Or you can retain our company www.CTaSC.com to do a forensic investigation and write a professional report.

Keep in mind that the cost to replace a tile floor is a lot more expensive than the original cost to install it.  You have the cost to remove the original tile and the prepare the substrate, and then install the new tile.  Plus any burden cost of having to move and store furniture, protect adjacent areas from the dust and potential damages from the construction process, having to live away from your home for a few weeks or months, and moving everything back into the house.  Plus any costs for litigation and for your time pursuing the resolution.

It may or may not be practical for you to utilize our services depending on your circumstances.  As experts we do charge for all of our time spent on your behalf during the investigation.  Depending on the size and value of your project, and your recourses of being compensated for the problem, it may be more practical to replace the tile.   Good Luck.

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