Will a Salt Water Flood Damage my Tile?


My porcelain tile floor was flooded with 3 feet of saltwater by Hurricane Ian in Naples FL. There is no visible damage but general contractors have recommended replacement of the tile. Can you help me to evaluate the condition so that I can make an informed decision? Thanks


ANSWER - Porcelain tile is impervious and cannot absorb more than 0.5% to meet the standards for a porcelain body tile.   If the tile was installed correctly and if the substrate is not moisture sensitive, then the tile installation should not be damaged by being submerged in salt water for a temporary time.

Although if you have a plywood subfloor that is subjected to excessive moisture for an excessive amount of time, it is possible it can be affected by the moisture and warp, but you would see damage to your tile.  APA rated plywood is resistant to moisture, so it can get wet and dry out.   Over a concrete substrate it isn't a concern.

Normally for floods they classify the water quality into 3 categories.  Class 3 is the worst classification and is grossly unsanitary as it supports bacteria growth.  Class 2 is gray water, which salt water might fit more into, but it can't be used for irrigation like gray water can.  The IIRC Water Quality standard doesn't refer to salt water.

The only adverse possibility that I can think of is it could be that when the salt water evaporates it might leave a white mineral residual referred to as efflorescence in the grout joints.   Possibly when the floor is later washed it might draw up more minerals.




3 thoughts on “Will a Salt Water Flood Damage my Tile?

  1. John Sheehan says:

    Will the efflorescence go away after repeated washings? Thanks for your response and for your website–it is the best!

    • Donato Pompo says:

      You might not get any efflorescence or you might get some not only from the source of the salt water minerals, but naturally from the underlying cement based materials. In theory once the minerals are gone they can’t cause efflorescence, but no way to tell what is there. In order to get efflorescence you have to have moisture as the transporter of the minerals. The minerals dissolve in the moisture and the moisture is driven to the surface of the stone or grout through evaporation. So if you don’t have moisture you won’t get efflorescence.

  2. bob the robber says:

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