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ggpk Tile Floors July 25th, 2018 - 08:17:15
Is there an unfinished ceiling below to look up and measure the distance between joists and the condition of the wood below and how long the unsupported span is? A few minutes in the basement with a flashlight and tape measure can let you know if you have a winner (thick and deep joists. spaced closely together. in good condition. with a narrow span). or a loser (thin and shallow joists. irregularly spaced or spaced far apart. in bad condition. with a long span).
There are formulas used in the industry to determine if the subfloor has excessive `deflection` [bounciness. lack of rigidity]. The most cited one is the Tile Council of North America standard for deflection. which is stated as L/360 as a minimum. before tile underlayment is installed. L/360 means that the floor should not bend under weight more than the length (expressed in inches) of the unsupported span divided by 360. For example. if the span between supports runs for 20 feet then the deflection should not be more than 2/3" between the center and the end. L=20 x 12" = 240". L/360 = 240"/360 or 2/3". So 2/3" is the maximum amount of movement the center of the span should be allowed to move.
For plywood subfloors. be sure that the wood is at least 1 and 1/8 inches thick and is supported by an equally strong underlayment. Otherwise. your ceramic tiles will dislodge easily. or worse. break and need replacing. Concrete floors are the most ideal subfloor surface to work with. But before you can start installing ceramic tile flooring over it. it must be cleaned thoroughly. For dust and other debris. sweep and then mop your concrete subfloor surface. and allow it to dry completely. Smooth concrete surfaces must be rough sanded just like vinyl floors to allow the tiling mortar some grip.
If a subfloor displays excessive deflection. it can usually be remedied by installing more plywood on top of it before tile is laid. and by reinforcing the joists from below. While it may make the floor higher than before. think of it as a sort of `insurance policy` against flooring failure.