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What Are The Causes of Cracks in Bathroom Tiles?

What Are The Causes of Cracks in Bathroom Tiles?

When properly installed, tiles provide a solid, long-lasting, and functional option for floors and walls throughout the home. However, this does not imply that they have no troubles whatsoever. For many homeowners, cracked bathroom tiles are a source of regret. In addition to detracting from the bathroom’s visual appeal, the cracks are a cause for concern that should be addressed promptly. Rather than just applying a filler to the cracks, it is essential to determine the cause of the cracks to determine if they indicate a much larger issue.

In this article, we will be going over the different causes of cracks in bathroom tiles so you can avoid any further damage in your home’s interior.

Why do bathroom tiles crack?

Cracked tiles on floors and walls are a concern since it can be challenging to determine where the crack originated. In the vast majority of situations, the crack was not caused by a substandard tile but rather by anomalies beneath or around the tile. Typically, cracked tiles result from underlying concerns, most notably improper installation. However, it could also result from drastic temperature changes, fissures in the substrate or surface the tile is put on, carrying too much weight, or even the simple act of dropping a heavy object on them.

To better comprehend how to repair broken tiles, you must determine the problem and proceed accordingly. Here are some further details on some of the most prevalent causes of cracked tiles in the home:

  1. Improper spacing between floor joists

Joists are large beams under your subfloor that hold up everything above it. They keep everything anchored in place. Having huge gaps between two joints allows the plywood to flex too much. A flexing surface under a rock-solid surface creates a gap. When the pressure hits on top of that gap, it will cause it to snap or shatter. This eventually leads to instability of the structure that causes the tiles above to crack. Adding more underlayment structures also help with restricting the flex to prevent the tiles from cracking.

  1. Issues with concrete substrate

The condition of the concrete subfloor also influences the tiles. Here are two types of issues that homeowners may have with their concrete substrate that might lead to broken bathroom tiles:

  • Cracked concrete

If there is concrete beneath your tile and you see a long fissure that runs through numerous pieces, there is likely a crack underneath. Concrete flooring frequently develops cracks over time. Despite this issue, concrete is still considered the most excellent substrate for tiles. When the concrete breaks, it shifts, and the adhesive used to install the tile requires it to shift. The tile responds to the concrete’s cracking by cracking as well.

Observing the formation of cracks is the most effective method for determining whether a fractured substrate caused the tiles to crack. Long cracks running over numerous tiles are indicative of a damaged concrete subfloor. Before replacing the tiles, the ideal solution to this problem is to install a crack isolation membrane. This membrane separates the movement of the tiles from the concrete base in order to prevent the formation of reflecting fissures.

  • Uncured concrete

When new concrete is poured over a structure, it undergoes a process known as “curing.” When laying concrete, it’s best to let it cure or harden for a month or more. During this period, the material loses moisture and shrinks. Otherwise, the concrete will deform as a result of the evaporation of the concrete’s water. The curing of concrete is a dynamic process that helps the particles in the mixture adhere closely together; putting the tiles before the concrete has thoroughly dried stresses the flooring and causes it to develop minute fissures.

  1. Direct impact

If the damage is confined to a specific area (or perhaps a single tile), it was likely caused by the impact of a heavy object. Consider the last time you could have dropped anything significant. Was the object you moved through the entryway a piece of furniture, a skateboard, or a basketball? Did you drop a frying pan when you were attempting to wash it? These things may initially reveal only a minor dent, but the damage might increase over time if the area is subjected to persistent pressure, such as foot traffic. The best course of action in this situation is to immediately repair the shattered tile without affecting the bathroom’s waterproofing system.

The presence of a large load in one area of the bathroom is still another possible explanation. Tile makers must adhere to the ASTM C648 Breaking Strength requirements. This indicates that the ceramic tiles must endure around 115 kilograms of force. Certain specialised tiles have breaking points as high as 180 kilograms. 

  1. Movement within the structure

Excessive building movement brought on by flaws with the blueprint, foundation failure, and ground movement can cause tiles in a home to compress and break under pressure. These cracks can be distinguished from those induced by a direct impact by their tendency to extend across multiple tiles and the absence of surface chips. As soon as these cracks are discovered, they must be repaired, and a waterproofing professional must inspect the bathroom to ensure that the waterproofing system is still effective.

  1. Control joint installation

The majority of homeowners assume that the tile itself causes cracked tiling. However, any flooring repair specialist may tell you that the tile flooring you are walking on is only one layer of a flooring sandwich. On concrete slabs, control joints are installed to prevent the development of cracks. They are used to alleviate tension and movement caused by concrete or masonry shrinkage or expansion. 

Due to this, your contractor should never install tiles on a surface they know will eventually crack. These fissures are strategically placed in the flooring to create weak spots on purpose. However, it is not prudent to place tiles over a concrete slab with control joints. There is a high likelihood that the concrete slab may influence the control joint, resulting in cracked tiles.

  1. Using the wrong type of adhesive

To prevent the formation of cracks, it is also vital to use the proper tile adhesive. If the incorrect adhesive is applied, the tiles will not adhere to the subfloors. Without sufficient support, the tile becomes more susceptible to developing big cracks.

  1. Changes with the weather or temperature

Temperature fluctuations within your home may be modest and should have little effect on the structural integrity of your tiles.  Extreme temperature changes, however, can render tiles more prone to breaking if they are not designed for outdoor use and do not have frost-resistant qualities.

  1. Low-quality tiles were used

Not all tiles are created equal, and certain varieties are unsuitable for particular uses. Since the tiles are the only visible components of the laid floors, most homeowners feel the tiles are at fault. Even while this is typically not the case, it is possible that the contractor installed low-quality tiles in the bathroom. Check the specifications of the tiles before purchasing them in bulk to avoid this error. Purchase tiling from reputable retailers, home improvement stores, and authorised online retailers.

Why should cracked tiles concern you

When bathroom tile cracks are discovered, they must be repaired or replaced immediately to prevent further damage. To preserve the structural integrity of the building, it is necessary to determine the source of the problem in order to prevent further cracking and repair any water damage produced by the cracked tile. Cracked tiles in a bathroom are typically problematic due to the fact that water can leak into the cracks, shorten the lifespan of the waterproofing system, and eventually enter the flooring. The water penetrates the floor and bathtub tiles, compromising your house’s foundation.

There are certainly moisture issues in areas of the home where water should not exist. Therefore, water accessing the subfloor causes the various supporting wood products to rot, impairs the foundation’s structural integrity, and can weaken the concrete subfloor. Moulds, mildew, and other dangerous organisms may also seek sanctuary in cracked tiles through which water has already seeped. This causes homeowners to treat their homes for mould, incurring extra expenses that could have been avoided with prompt tile repair or replacement.

Bottom line

Cracks on the walls, floors, and bathtub are never a good indication. We all want our bathrooms to be pleasant and secure. Whether the broken bathroom tiles are the result of improper installation or inferior materials, they must be repaired the moment you notice the cracks to prevent further damage. Now that you have a more excellent grasp of how and why tiles crack, it is time to consider how to fix them. In most cases, tile fractures may be repaired without requiring a complete remodel. In fact, you can use an epoxy filler to repair small hairline cracks in tile surfaces. For larger, more apparent cracks, you may require professional assistance. With early intervention, the combined services of a waterproofing professional can help decrease or even eliminate the risk of water damage to your home, enhance the attractiveness of your bathroom, and increase your property’s market value.
If you are in need of trustworthy bathroom tile installers in Perth, then GIB tiling is the team you have been looking for! Our considerable expertise and experience in all aspects of tiling enable us to provide a vast array of high-quality services. Whether it’s your bathrooms, kitchen, walls, or floors, indoors or outdoors, we can complete any project on time. When you entrust GIB Tiling with your tiling needs, you will discover that the opportunities for innovative tiling and innovation are limitless.