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ggpk Tile Floors July 11th, 2018 - 18:56:15
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).
How thick is the subfloor and what is it made of? In new construction. ¾ inch plywood or Oriented Strand Board is a standard subfloor over joists that are 16 inches on center apart. We find that is almost never enough to meet the deflection standards in most homes. Other times there is old plank flooring beneath a layer of plywood. This is a wild card. since the engineering tables usually don`t include the value for planks in their calculation. but common sense says it does add some stiffness.
For tile to be successful. it needs rigid support. with very little tolerance for movement. The more rigid the substrate. the better chance the tile has of remaining crack free throughout its life. Most problems with tile floors over wood come from excessive `bounciness` of the substrate. Carpet can handle some bending. vinyl tile can flex and bend a bit. hardwood floors can bend a little too. but if tile or stone is subjected to forces that push in 2 different directions at once. it doesn`t know how to bend. Instead. it cracks. first in the grout and then in the body of the tile. Consumers who have just paid thousands of dollars for a tile floor do not find these cracks appealing. to say the least.
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.