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Home Improvement--General/cause of interior ceramic tile floor damage


QUESTION: What is likely cause(s) of linear crack, slightly raised, found across bedroom doorway (where a door saddle was not laid)
three large tiles wide? Tiles were laid at time the rest of  room was tiled, about ten years ago.  This is a single family house situated in South Florida. Usual grout,uniformly well spaced, between all tiles. Rest of floor without crack.
No sign of moisture.  All tiles, including those tiles now
found to be cracked and slightly raised, tightly adhere to
adhesive beneath.  Nothing seems loose beneath foot.

ANSWER: Hello Michael,

What kind of tiles are they?  i.e. ceramic, etc.  Did the crack just appear or did it start small and slowly increase?  Can you send me some pictures of the area?  Did the tiles crack or just the grout between the tiles?

I suspect that it is a foundation issue - perhaps the house has shifted slightly.  What kind of a foundation does the house have?  Concrete slab or pier and beam or crawl space type.

Let me know,

PS:  Here is a really good website for just about every tile issue:

PSS:  I just noticed that it is ceramic tile (title of your question so don't worry about answering that one.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Reply from Michael:3 ft.  Linear crack too narrow, and elevation slant too small to see in a photo with my camera.  Location of crack is floor of the
doorway at entrance to a bedroom, between vertical walls of the room and hall, and doorframe.    The crack did not change, or widen, or rise,
since I first saw it last week.  I decided on watchful waiting.

The house is fine cement over cinderblock walls. Barrel tile roof.
Cement slab floor, I think. No crawl space, except in attic.  Pipes are concealed.   House is on  oolite-hard rock. No shift. Not in shift region of Florida.
Furniture was moved 2 weeks ago into that bedroom by movers, in my
absence.  The floor crack and rise was first seen, I was told,
one week ago.

I'll appreciate your opinion as to likely cause(s) and should
I continue watchful waiting.

ANSWER: I think your plan to wait and watch is prudent.  I am not one that believes in coincidences and I think it is likely there is a relatonship between the furniture move into the room and the appearance of the crack.  How it happened I'm not sure - maybe one of the pieces dropped on the tile.  I have seen some nasty floor cracks in tile grout and/or epoxy due to having something dropped on it.  
Good luck Michael and let me know if I can help out in any way.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: A month ago I wrote you, seeking likely cause of cracked floor tile.
The cracking had spread to 3 adjoining tiles. I waited until yesterday to
remove, and I replaced solely those cracked tiles. A salesperson
identified the broken tiles as porcelain, not ceramic.  
The cracked tiles came out easily. White powder was found between those
tile bottoms and a fine, so far as can be seen, solid terrazzo floor surface beneath!  The
adhesive between tiles terrazzo floor beneath had turned to mostly powder!  
Giving more thought to the cause of the original cracks, I suspect that a
heavy object was let down hard.  Q.  Does good adhesive or fresh floor-
tile- mortar turn to powder under floor tile after a decade or two?

Hi Michael,

It makes sense - if you remember my thoughts were that something had been dropped on the tile to cause the cracks.

As far as the tile adhesive turning to powder after a decade or two I don't think so.  If it did there would be a lot of tile failures.  However, there may be conditions under which it may turn to powder but that's an area I don't know about.  You may consider calling one of the manufacturers and talking with their product support people.  They can probably give you better information than I can in this case.

Good luck and let me know if I can help out in an way.


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Steve Young


I will answer questions dealing with home improvement. My specific areas of expertise are flooring (except carpeting), all types of carpentry, water treatment, and minor electrical. I have also built several treehouses and am currently considering expanding my business to concentrate on children's play areas. I love working with all kinds of wood. My favorite types of home repair/remodeling are water treatment, hardwood flooring, cabinetry, bathroom remodeling, and kitchen remodeling. I also have knowledge in residential water treatment, including filters, softeners, reverse osmosis systems and various other types of treatment systems.


I have been working in various forms of construction both personally and professionally for the past 20 years. I am currently the Owner/Contractor of a home repair/remodeling company.

I have a BS in Environmental Engineering and have done Masters work in Management Development. I have also attended various community college and fine arts classes in the Piedmont Triad area and EPA water quality certification classes.

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