What Should You do for Fixing Popping Floor Tile

Ahh.. Tile Popping…

Those who has old houses might have encountered this problem in their lifetime; suddenly an explosion are heard from one of your room and when you see, the tile is popping. Or when you walk, you notice that your step causing hollow feedback under the tile.

Tile popping is the most common problem in the house. It makes the owners frustrated. The popping is caused by trapped air inside the tile, which in certain weather condition, receive additional force to blow out.

Because of this reason, some deduce that small dimension tile are more prone to popping and when the next time they building houses, they opt for larger dimension tile. This solves the problem at some level.. It is not explode but still feel hollow.

So how to perfectly prevent the popping floor?

The Reasons of Popping

To answer those question, we will take a step back to see various reason of why do tiles popped? Apparently there are two main reasons; bad craftsmanship and weather. The craftsmanship problems are:

The sub floor is not level

If the contractors overall quality is low. The preparation of flooring (screeding) might be bad and very rough. If floor tilers / installers are provided with this situation. There is a chance that they are lazy and just install the tiles. This can be easily prevented by make sure that screeding process are made by top quality materials and workers. The desirable roughness is like wall plaster.

Worker didn’t clean the sub floor properly before installation

If the first problem caused by other workers, this problem is caused by the installers. The experienced and high quality installers know that the sub floor must be clean before installing the tiles. Usually they have a helper to do that for them.

However if the installer are working in hurry (maybe because they are paid based on volume, rather than hourly), they might disregard some cleanliness.

Worker using bad quality adhesive or wrong mortar mixtures

Tiles are placed with mortars (mixture of cement and sands). Bad quality of sands (i.e. lots of mud content) usually increase the chance of popping. Or if the worker use pre-mixed mortars (factory produced), they have wrong water content to mix. This is a matter of installer’s lack of experience.

The tile was not “blowed” with rubber hammer thoroughly.

On larger dimension of tile, there is a chance that the tile are unevenly pressured. It can caused air bubbles, and by the time the mortars are dried, these air bubbles will loosen the bonding. Larger dimension might solve popping problems because it might be too heavy to pop, but it doesn’t solve the fundamental issue if it is not properly installed.

Too small gap between tiles.

This is the very common issue for owners who want ceramic tile to look like marbles. On marbles it seems the gap is very small, and concealed. So they want to do it the same with ceramics.

I tell you now that you can handle ceramic tiles like marble tiles. It is two different materials with different material properties. Ceramics need more gap to breathe and have chance to expand / swell. Homogeneous tiles need at least 3 mm of gap between tiles. Ceramic tiles need more.

Unfavorable Weather

If all points before are caused by human errors and less experience, there is one absolute force that cannot be prevented; the weather.

If the area of the floor is directly exposed to sunlight, there are the chances of popping up of tiles because the direct sunlight will result in heat leading to expansion of tiles. Hence if adhesives are not strong, it may pop up and buckled tiles.

High Moisture area is also a common reason for tiles to popping. Because the tiles have risk to be swelled and pop up.

So, How to Prevent?

For bad craftsmanship, it is simple; use experience installer and high quality materials.

Floors are one of most important part of the home and will be highly inconvenient if on short term are broken and have to be fixed. So flooring works must be taken seriously.

But, flooring works are commenced on near end of the project. So the spirit and the resource are likely have been depleted. Some will tend to down-specs (change tiles and mortars to less expensive options) for economising reason. This is a bad move.

The other important factor is the installer. In Sunggiardi Construction, floor installer is regarded as one of highest class workers. Before we trust workers to install floor, they must have long hours as stone mason, and at first, we will test them on service area. With this policy, we qualify that only high quality worker do the flooring work.

For environment factor like heat and humidity, this factor usually affect outdoor area. Ceramic tiles are less durable on the outdoor, so there is no fix or prevention if you still want to use ceramic tiles on the outside.

However, we recommend you to use other materials such as natural stones (andesite, granite, or marbles).

If it already Happened, How to Fix it?

We must tell you hard truth; tile popping is like cancer. Once you have it, it have chance to spread, even if you solve the problems on the origin. On the popping floor situation. Usually, if you knock the surrounding tile, it will give you hollow feedback. So, even if you change only the popping tiles, in 3-12 months, the popping might be occurred again in the area.

When our clients have tile popping problems, we usually recommend them to change the whole floor in the area.

Other reason is that usually there is not enough spare tile to change the floor. So the replacement floor will have different colour.

Should You Change to Lightweight Roof Frame?

Nowadays, if you have an 25 years old or more home, or are building new home, you will encounter a very common decision; should you have conventional wooden truss frame as your roof structure, or using modern Lightweight Steel (LS)?

And as you search the internet, you will find many articles, encouraging you to use LS. However no one state the downside of the LS.

So, this is 5 fact that you should know before your meeting with your roof contractor:

#1 Lightweight Steel is not Always Cheaper Solutions

That’s what most contractor will tell you. However price are highly relative. Sure, Lightweight Steel is cheaper than Wood Frame, Steel Beam, or Concrete, but it is not on all condition

If your home roof has short span (less than 8 meters), LS is a suitable choice. But at longer span, the frame will need certain modification such as strengthen and careful calculation, which at certain point, using LS will be a disadvantage.

So take extra caution with the word “cheaper”

#2 Lightweight Steel is Fast to Install

This is a fact. LS will always be faster to install than other material, except, steel. However, most contractors will do a beginner mistake such as cutting the materials with wrong tools which came into fact number 3

#3 Lightweight Steel is not that Durable

Most Roof contractor will say that LS more durable than traditional wood truss. Is it? Yes, because woods are prone to wood infestation right?

Continuing from fact #2, LS is a metal, and metal will corrode in time. The LS are coated to make it more durable to corrosion.

However, if you cut with wrong tools, you remove the coating and it is exposed. And in 10 years, if it is stood on humid area, the corrosion will spread and weaken some point.

So in conclusion LS is more durable than Wood truss with termites infestation, but less durable than termites-proof wood truss or the area without termites.

#4 Most every Lightweight Steel Contractor don’t know what they are doing

Most LS contractors are opportunist who see that there is rising demand due to . Then they have someone; a worker who have a little experience in roof construction and then work together as roof contractor service.

Most project will have short span (i.e. shorter than 8 meters) and their work will be okay. But on complex problems, they will use guesstimates, not scientific calculations as their base. And this is highly unsafe.

Since they do not know how to calculate, they will heavily use standard tables without understand the concept behind the standard. When they have competitors, they will try to win with reducing the price, and reducing the specs into minimum requirement regardless how unique the project is, sacrificing client safety on longer term.

So when hiring roof contractor, be sure that they can show you the scientific calculation of the roof.

#5 And did you know that Lightweight Steel is not a Steel?

Yes. You heard it right. Even if it has steel as its name, LS is not steel. LS is made from Zinc and Aluminum. It has the same composition with Zincalume Roofing (if you have heard Spandex or Bondek).

As it is not a steel and it is lightweight. Do not think that it is as strong as steel. In fact to hold the same weight, LS will need bigger dimension than wooden or steel.

Bonus – Should you change your Roof into Lightweight Steel Truss Frame?

With that 5 facts, Let us conclude whether you should use LS for your home:

  1. For new home, use LS with proper calculation. Have your architect or contractor to keep roof pattern simple.
  2. If your home have termites infestation, change into LS
  3. If you want to build new home or have existing home which have tropical design with exposed roof frame, you should still wood. If you are using LS, you should change the overall design of your home as well.
  4. If your home have been around for 20 more years and has no indication of termites, have professional to check your roof condition, make decision based on the inspection. If it still good, you can call pest control to prevent termites instead.
  5. If your home requires a roof with 10 meters span or more and you are using ceramics or concrete tile as roof cover, you can use LS with proper calculation and work method. Our standard for ceramic and concrete tiles are 80cm per frame with using C75 with 1mm coated finish thickness, while the frame are subject to calculation.
  6. For rare cases where your home requires a roof with more than 10 meters span, consider using real steel profile.

Why There is no Quality Post in Construction?

If you are googling for construction related articles regarding construction in Indonesia, e.g: What is the difference between concrete and steel for structure? Chance is you get very low quality articles who do not answer your question.

Furthermore, if you are searching down the google search result, you can find several website offering the exact same, low quality articles that you read minutes ago. Why is that?

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