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HELP! Almost every tile sounds hollow



"HELP! Almost every tile sounds hollow," in the Ceramic and Stone Q&A forum, begins: "Hello. We just had a contractor friend install 20x20 Bedrosian Roma Porcelain Tile throughout our downstairs. It was put on ..."

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Old June 29, 2013, 06:21 PM   #1
LIZ
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HELP! Almost every tile sounds hollow


Hello. We just had a contractor friend install 20x20 Bedrosian Roma Porcelain Tile throughout our downstairs. It was put on a concrete slab. He leveled the floor using Bedrosian's thinset. 1/2" trowel. He buttered the back of the tile with 5 globs; one on each corner and one in the middle. He did an amazing job keeping the floor level with such large tiles and 1/16" grout lines.
Buuuut, 90% of the tiles are really loud. When my dog walks across it sounds more like cheap laminate. When he was dragging his leash it sounded like he was dragging across an elevated surface or dinner plates.
The front entry sounds great. He swears he didn't change how he was doing anything from one tile to the next so he thinks it is weird that one section is good but the rest is "tingy".
He thinks it will sound different and better once furniture is in but I still don't think that would help the hollow sound. Maybe make it echo less but come on!
We decided to pull up a few tiles to check the back. There were a few spots where the back of the tile did not make an imprint in the thinset. It looks like perfect trowel marks still. So, we took up a tile and injected epoxy into the surrounding tiles where we could. You could go under the tiles 1->3" in places. The epoxy did help to deaden the sound.
I really dont want to deal with pulling up the whole floor but I don't know if I can handle the noise.
He also noticed that the tile now says made in China vs Italy and has an arrow on the back and it didn't use to. He says he has laid this tile many times without this problem. We're not sure how to determine if it's the tile being made differently, bad thinset or bad workmanship. Any thoughts? Should we bring our furniture in before deciding what to do? Would that really change how it sounds in the kitchen???
Thank you sooo much for any tips/advise.

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Old June 29, 2013, 07:29 PM   #2
Mike Antonetti
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How many square feet, please say under 300!

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Old June 29, 2013, 07:48 PM   #3
LIZ
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No. Unfortunately it's 700sqft

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Old June 29, 2013, 08:08 PM   #4
Mike Antonetti
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What radio station do you like? Ok I'm done, I don't know what to say, shall I tell you it was installed incorrectly?
I just looked at your profile , you posted 25 times, and joined may 25, thought I recognized the name, I just wanted to check if you just googled this problem and arrived here.
You may want to look up a product called injecta floor system, I don't know who will pay for product or labor, but will save from ripping up.
Proper installation calls for 85% coverage or more for interior, nowhere have I read coverage shall be 5 dots.

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Old June 29, 2013, 08:18 PM   #5
Mike Antonetti
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You will probably want soft joints every 15-20 ft color matched acrylic latex caulk in the grout joints, the shear strength is reduced and expansion will lead to possible tenting of tile.

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Old June 29, 2013, 08:21 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Mike Antonetti;
You may want to look up a product called injecta floor system, I don't know who will pay for product or labor, but will save from ripping up.
Proper installation calls for 85% coverage or more for interior, nowhere have I read coverage shall be 5 dots.[/QUOTE]

I know he used large dollops. He says then those are pushed down when you're leveling the tile and it spreads across. Well, some if the tiles didn't do that. I guess I'm trying to figure out if, when the majority of the floor sounds "thingy" if it seems to be more likely bad tile or bad workmanship?
Ill look up the product. Thank you.

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Old June 29, 2013, 08:51 PM   #7
Mike Antonetti
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Do you have a concrete slab or a wood subfloor?

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Old June 29, 2013, 09:17 PM   #8
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Concrete slab
Can thinset be too thick? Some spots on the floor are 1.5" thick to make the floor level

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Old June 29, 2013, 09:19 PM   #9
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Mike, she said it was concrete. Just not enough coverage with 5 blops of thinset on the back to get good coverage to not have hollow sounding tile.

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Old June 29, 2013, 10:23 PM   #10
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Not a tiler here but ain't you meant to back butter the tile AND apply the adhesive to the floor ?. Didn't know it was an "either/or" thing.

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Old June 30, 2013, 12:35 AM   #11
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I'm not a tile guy either, but I do know that thinset is not a floor leveler. Sounds like the installation was not done right. Was he a tile guy, or just a building contractor who has done a little tile before?

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Old June 30, 2013, 06:09 AM   #12
Mike Antonetti
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The term thinset "may" be up to 3/4" thick, but I'm not sure it's even that high.
Sorry I missed the concrete part.
Depending on what was purchased it could have been medium bed mortar, not sure of maximum thickness, may vary by product.
"Thinset" looses its bond strength thicker than 3/8" after placement,
This is a picture of hardwood with good coverage, and basically is what the thinset should look like after pulling up a tile.
Attached Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
imageuploadedbytapatalk1372597733.606159.jpg   imageuploadedbytapatalk1372597762.020397.jpg  


Last edited by Jim McClain; June 30, 2013 at 10:33 AM.
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Old June 30, 2013, 07:01 AM   #13
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"Back buttering" I don't like the term, but if you know me by now "that's me". Flat troweling thinset on the back of the tile, "keying in" to the pores of the back of tile and filling in the "grid" or rough surface. Trowels spread and gauge material onto floor, the thinset on the floor now doesn't have to fill the contours of the tile, it only has to fill the rows where the teeth of the trowel rode across the surface of the slab.
It's bond strength is improved in that it only has to re-attach to thinset versus the tile backing. Setting large tile or any tile for that matter, ridges should be "knocked down" with a side to side motion while applying pressure downward.
Keying in the thinset to the slab also improves bond, usually I wet sponge the slab due to dust and concrete pulling water out of thinset prematurely and drying up thinset prior to setting tile.
Visual water on the slab or back of a tile after a wet saw cut also decreases bond strength, damp is fine so you should wipe the free standing water off with a cloth.
1/16" grout lines are small, maybe too small for the injection system.
I find it hard to believe 1&1/2" thick "thinset" unless minimum is approx. 1" throughout.
What does the word "expert" mean,? Is it a disclaimer when we say "I'm no expert" but even I know that wasn't installed correctly. These guys on this site have been around a while and if not for Jim McClain wouldn't be here at all, so they know what they're talking about, don't let em Kidya!

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Old June 30, 2013, 09:24 AM   #14
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Workmanship?

5 globs on the back of the tile instead of a thin, even smear (back butter) probably did more harm than good.

I believe I've seen guys glob wads of thin set or mortar on the back of VERY large exterior stone work in courtyards, patios and such.

Ceramic or porcelain tiles over 12" call for just enough mud on the back of the tiles to IMPROVE and complete the bond to the notches on the floor, avoiding air pockets and voids.

Sounds to me like your guys methods INCREASES air pockets and voids between the tile and the thin set applied to the floor.

..........one of the subtle things an inexperienced installer misses.

It always reminds me of my kids when they were 2-3 years old "reading" a book just like Mommy, Daddy or their brother.

the book is upside down but there they sit happily reading away

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Old June 30, 2013, 10:37 AM   #15
LIZ
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Incognito said View Post
Workmanship?

5 globs on the back of the tile instead of a thin, even smear (back butter) probably did more harm than good.

I believe I've seen guys glob wads of thin set or mortar on the back of VERY large exterior stone work in courtyards, patios and such.

Ceramic or porcelain tiles over 12" call for just enough mud on the back of the tiles to IMPROVE and complete the bond to the notches on the floor, avoiding air pockets and voids.

Sounds to me like your guys methods INCREASES air pockets and voids between the tile and the thin set applied to the floor.

..........one of the subtle things an inexperienced installer misses.
Ug. thanks guys. We asked him if he was comfortable doing such a large area or we would hire someone else. I think what's sad is that he really thought he was doing it correctly. He says he used to trowel the back of the tile but the tiles popped up. Then his tile guy told him to use blobs instead. Then when you push the tile down, the blobs spread across the tile to create a bond. When we pulled up some tiles, many had 75% bonding with the tile not even touching the thinset that was placed on the slab. He did such an amazing job with keeping the tiles even and hardly any lipage.
So, since the thinset should not be used to help level the floor, do we grind or use self leveling?
So, its best to place a even layer of thinset on the back of tile or trowel it on?
Who pays for the additional labor and materials? I would think he should pay for all and we only pay what the original cost was. Right?

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