Masonry/Brick Laying/cracking grout

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Question
I am have serious concerns about situations that have recently occurred during a remodel with a contractor. Since you are an expert my question to ask for help with please is: around one month ago a tile company (not Acme) installed a ceramic brick paver-Dan's Landing. Actually it might have been closer to three weeks ago. Two nights ago, a friend noticed a crack in the mortar of my kitchen floor. After inspecting the floor more carefully, I found more cracks. I also noticed that cracks in some of the tiles connecting to the cracks in the mortar. The largest crack is almost equal to the size of a large needle used for needlepoint-sorry, bad at smaller measurements less than 1/8. Actually, when I take a tape measurer the crack is almost as large as the line used to mark an inch (not an inch of measurement# on what a seamstress might use to measure, roughly. There were three young laborers that did the work. After they finished the job, they threw the remaining mortar in numerous areas of my yard...flower beds, brick walkways, close to my outside a/ac unit #compressor?# and more... They never asked what to do and it was odd that they threw the mortar in so many areas. When I expressed my concern, the next day, one of the workman laughed. On Friday, I told my contractor. Of course, his work has seemed unprofessional more and more. For instance, over 2 months ago, his workmen left large boards, with very large rusty nails sticking out #roughly 30 nails sticking far out,on the median, in front, of my home. When I expressed my concern for the safety of children and the trash men, my contractor refused to act. He only acted when I stated that it was his business and his choice to risk suit from a neighbor or others-not from me. I have caught other serious situations which I could relate but would make this too lengthy. I write this because it appears there has been much negligence-I checked thoroughly on him prior to hiring and am now amazed. The last bit of information: the job specs from the tile company indicated that Ardex FeatherEdge (2-10# bags# were to be used, natural gray sanded grout#3-25# bags# and Versabond gray #6-50# bags). I was not supposed to be overseeing this job! However, I never saw 6 -50# bags. If you need the square footage of the area, I can roughly provide it yet I have the feeling that possibly the manner/formula of the ingredients used was not correct. I do live in an area with clay soil and my house is pier and beam. The flooring was installed in my pantry, my kitchen, and in the hallway and up the stairs to my kitchen. The hallway and I am pretty sure-the stairs are on a slab. The cracks are in the pier and beam part of installation. Yet, I have never seen cracks occur in my walls as rapidly as these floors. My guess? The mixture of grout ingredients may have been incorrect???? Can this be repaired or will the floor need to be reinstalled? I don't believe that they even put two coats of finish on the floor, either.  Why? They did not return the day that they said that they would, water does not bead on the floor, and if it sits long enough, is absorbed into grout. It is not evaporation. This seems serious to me. My contractor paid the tile company for the product and its instillation. Help please. Your opinion about how this might have happened and your suggestion of what to do, please. Sorry about length. I am detailed.

Answer
Thank you for your question Pam.

I am not a tile expert, and their grout mixes are totally different from those used in brick and stone installations.

There are similar aspects that I can share with you. A grout mix can't be perfect, there are always minor adjustments to do after a recent install. Remember that grout always expands as it dries with time. I have seen in brick jobs many cases of micro cracks, but this does not mean the brick job is in trouble as such, these reactions are normal, even in a short amount of time after the job is completed.

If the gaps are wider that 1/8'', only minor repairs may be needed. Of course, you have to be careful with the grout recipe to make sure that it is not off batch with the original one. You may do some grout color tests before making the repairs.

Of course, I do recommend that you contact your contractor to have this job inspected, just to reassure you. If there are concerns, he will do the necessary to service you professionally.

I also recommend that you get a second opinion on All Experts Web Site with a professional ceramic and tile installer. Just to make sure you get an appropriate second opinion.

Good luck with your project and research.

Best Regards,

Joan Miller  

Masonry/Brick Laying

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Joan Miller

Expertise

Bricks and Stones have always been my passion. There are thousands of products to choose from and to learn about. If you need to know the specifics about bricks and stones, I will be more than happy to answer any questions about the masonry world as in how it is made, how to install it, specifications and quality.

Experience

I have been employed by brick and stone distributors for the past 25 years, meaning I have access to all sorts of information provided by the manufacturers that enables me to guide homebuilders and architects to make the best choice for their projects.

Publications
none

Education/Credentials
Masonry Specialist. Commercial and Industrial specialty.

Awards and Honors
none

Past/Present Clients
Major Homebuilders, Masonry Contractors, Architects.

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