Tiles are one of the most practical, durable and robust options, however they need to be installed correctly. If your floor tiles are cracking, you are likely to be wondering why and what you should be doing to resolve the issue. In our latest blog we take a look at the reasons why floor tiles crack, and how you can fix them.
Why do floor tiles crack?
If cracks are appearing within your tiled floor and a heavy object has not the been dropped, the first step is to identify the cause. In most situations, cracks within floor tiles are a result of installation issues, however cracks can also occur when the temperature fluctuates or when the substrate below the tile cracks.
Cracks can range from single hairline cracks to severe cracks throughout the tiled area, depending on the amount of stress the area is under. The following are the most common reasons to investigate:
1. An incorrect installation
Tiles need to be installed correctly to be able to maintain their finish, with improper or unsuitable adhesion likely to lead to cracking. The adhesive needs to be applied to the entire rear of the tiles, as any gaps will cause weak spots that will increase the likelihood of cracks. The adhesive should also be flexible enough to withstand the minor movements which naturally occur between tiles and the substrate below, so cement mixes and grouts should never be used as an adhesive. In addition, a flexible membrane should be used to reduce tile fractures.
2. Heavy load placement
Although tiled floors are incredibly durable, heavy items being dropped or placed on the tiles can lead to cracks. This is a common issue when ceramic wall tiles are used within floor tile applications, as they are often not suitable for supporting items such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.
3. A cracked or uneven substrate
If the substrate below your tiles is cracked or uneven, it will eventually lead to cracks in the surface if a flexible membrane or stretchable screed is not used to level the surface. The membrane or screed will also absorb the small movements within the wood or concrete below, which will naturally contract and expand whenever the temperature changes.
4. Extreme changes in temperature
The temperature will naturally change within your home with the seasons, and while small fluctuations in temperature should not damage your tiles, extreme temperature may. This is why it is important to always choose the correct tiles, with frost-proof outdoor tiles used within external installations.
5. Tiles installed over control joints
Within large concrete floors there will be control joints that are designed to provide space for the floor to expand and contract, if tiles are installed directly over these joints without a membrane, then cracks can appear.
6. Poor-quality tiles
As we mentioned in the points above, it is important to use the appropriate tiles within the relevant applications, and to always check the quality before installation.
How to repair cracks in tiles
Tiles are designed to withstand impacts, fluctuations and degrees of stress, however as with any material, they can eventually break when put under sustained pressure. The rigid nature of ceramic and porcelain tiles means there is very little room for movement within the substrate below, and inevitably when the tiles are pulled in different directions a crack will occur if precautions are not taken.
In most situations, it is possible to repair cracks without having to replace the entire floor covering. If you have a hairline crack, it should be repaired quickly as moisture, dirt and general wear and tear will gradually make the crack bigger, and may lead to you having to replace the entire tile. To repair small cracks, clean the area with a tile cleaning solution, then once dry fill the crack with a clear epoxy and level the surface so that it is flush with the surrounding tile. Finally, apply a layer of paint which matches the colour of the tile.
If the crack is large or the tile has completely shattered, you will have to remove the damaged tile. Hopefully, you will have a spare tile that can be used to fill the gap, if not, you should try to find a close match. It is important to remove and replace the tile carefully, as a poor finish could lead to further damage to the surrounding tiles.
First, you will need to use a scraper tool to remove the grout around the damaged tile, so that the neighbouring tiles are not damaged during the tile removal. Once the grout is completely removed, lay an old towel over the cracked tile and use a hammer to smash the tile in the centre. This reduces the stress on the floor and will allow you to quickly remove the shards, with remaining pieces and adhesive removed easily using a chisel.
Once the debris is removed, adhesive can be applied to the replacement tile which should be placed in the gap so that it is inline with the existing tiles. Finally, when the adhesive is dry, grout can be applied around the tile.
Quantum Group NI – Tiles and professional tiling tools
Whether you are looking for tiling tools and equipment to prevent tiling cracks, or tools and replacement tiles to complete a floor repair, the extensive Quantum range has everything you need. To find your nearest stockist of our products, contact our team today. Alternatively, if you would like to stock any of our products in your shop, please contact our sales team and we will be happy to help.