Replace Tile with Installed Thinset, or Cross Fingers?

Tile Experts:
We recently had to let a tile installer go half way through a job in our new home construction (about 1000 sq. feet total) because or poor workmanship. He didn't grout yet. We brought in a crew to do the other half, and so far they appear to be doing a very good.
However, we discovered that the original installer did not use thinset between backerboard and floor, like the new guys. Do we bite the bullet and replace all of these tiles so that they are installed correctly? We realize this is the correct way to do it, but this is costly to us (at least $5K, plus my time over a whole weekend to remove the tile/backerboard/screws).
What are the chances of us having issues (tile/grout pops and cracks) with this tile down the road? We certainly wouldn't want to replace the entire floor and incur even more costs, say because the tile might not be available at that time.
Another option is to buy a bunch of the tile now and store in basement just in case. This would be about $1500, an expensive insurance maneuver for sure.
We are losing sleep over this decision.
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snipped-for-privacy@optimal-design.com wrote:

That's really dependent on a lot of factors. What amount of deflection was the floor system designed for? How thick is the subfloor? How thick and what type of backerboard was used? What type of fasteners were used to secure the backerboard to the subfloor and how closely are they spaced?

That's dependent on the answers to the questions above. If the floor system has a 3/4" plywood subfloor, was designed for a maximum deflection of 1/360, backerboard at least 1/2" thick and attached with fasteners 6" on center or less, and the joints taped with fiberglass mesh tape embedded in thinset, you will _probably_ be okay (but keep reading). I'd still want to have a quantity of extra tile if some do crack - a good idea even with a textbook perfect installation. If any of the above criteria are sub par you will most likely have some problems down the road.

If you can show that the original installer didn't follow the manufacturer's installation instructions, you may have a claim against him. If you go ahead with the installation on the existing setup that may constitute acceptance and approval of the situation. If you haven't experienced any broken tile, you really haven't lost anything, so it's more difficult to prove damages.
You need to talk to a lawyer. Get an estimate from the new tile guys for the amount of the extra to remove the existing installation and correct it. Go the backerboard manufacturer's web site and download their installation data sheet and print it out. Determine where the original installer varied from their instructions. Contact the builder and find out from them, or their architect/engineer what deflection limit was used in the design of the floor system.
You need to get your ducks in row before you make any snap decisions.
Good luck.
R
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snipped-for-privacy@optimal-design.com wrote:

What did the original installer use ?
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He used approximately 6-10 screws per sq. foot, if I recall correctly. I will try and get specifics of actual materials. As just layman homeowner, I don't know these details off the top of my head.
He did use hardiboard, and from what I understand, if you don't use thinset, you void the manufacturer's warranty.
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snipped-for-privacy@optimal-design.com wrote:

I doubt there were anywhere near that many fasteners. 6-10/SF works out to ~90-150 per board. If all of the tile is already down, covering the backerboard that the original guy did, you may want to do some exploratory surgery and remove a section of a few square feet.

I don't use Hardie backerboard, but I do know that Durock and Wonderboard's instructions call for thinset bonding the backerboard to the subfloor.
R
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I'm sorry, I didn't mention that I removed a row of tiles (about 8) myself because the original installer used the wrong size strip between the kitchen tile and great room soon-to-be rug. That's why I recalled that there must be 6/10 per sq. foot, because for each 20"x20" tile, there was usually 2 rows of 3 screws, with some rows having an additional 2 screws, maybe to coincide with the end of the board.
That's the one great thing about no thinset: easy to remove tile! I chiseled underneath the backerboard and was able to lift the tile and backerboard together and rip it out as a whole, leaving nails in floor. I had to punch the square indentation of each screw head before I could use the drill to remove from the floorboard, to get the glue out. Once I figured it out, I could remove a 20"x20" tile in under 2 minutes. Removing the screws took much much longer because of the head-cleaning aspect.
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snipped-for-privacy@optimal-design.com wrote:

ya, wouldn't normally remove tile, most folk install with lifetime in mind, but you're right darn sho make it easier to replace and they do break. The tileman should not get all the rap for a poor designed home. fualty structure goes past laying tile.
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snipped-for-privacy@optimal-design.com wrote:

20" tile is some pretty big stuff. You need a stiffer floor with less movement for bigger tile. I think you're overestimating the number of screws. If we use an average of 8 screws per tile, each tile being ~2.75 SF, that's about 3 screws/SF in your installation.
This from the James Hardie web site:
3. Attach Hardibacker cement board to subfloor Apply a supporting bed of mortar or modified thinset to subfloor using a 1/4" square-notched trowel. Embed Hardibacker cement board firmly and evenly in the wet mortar. Use the fastener pattern as a guide. Fasten Hardibacker cement board with specified nails or screws (as listed in "Materials Required") every 8" over the entire surface. Keep fasteners 3/8" from sheet edges and 2" in from sheet corners.
The screw spacing your first guy used seems to conform to Hardie's instructions for installations _with_ embedment in thinset or mortar. So there's an obvious shortage of fasteners without the thinset. That coupled with the large tile would keep me up at night also.
I can't tell you what to do, but I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd get something in writing from Hardie's tech support voiding your warranty due to the installation of their product. I'd then rip out the faulty installation taking pictures/video of what exactly you are removing. I lay a ruler down when I take the picture so someone can see the spacing of the fasteners. I would get separate quotes in writing from the new tile guy for demolition of the existing and installation of new backerboard and tile.
I might consider getting a non-involved tile guy to give me quotes as well. Tell him exactly what you are doing and why. I would offer to pay the guy for the quotes. This would offset claims that your new tile guy was inflating his prices.

pay for the new installation only. Explain that you are trying to work this out fairly, so, for a short period, you will not be looking for money for the demolition. It will cost you some effort to do it yourself, but you seem to have gotten a handle on how to do the removal pretty quickly. If he doesn't take you up on the offer, you will then have to go through either a contracting licensing board, consumer affairs or whomever regulates contractors in your neck of the woods. If that doesn't get you anywhere, it will end up in court. In my state an incorporated company is required to be represented by a lawyer in small claims court. That would work in your favor if it comes to that and the small claims $ limit is within the general range of what you'd be looking to recoup.
R
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wrote:

Actually Wonderboard had different instructions about 20 years ago. When I installed tiles in my bathroom they recommended that construction adhesive be used to bond it to the subfloor. Later on they changed it to using thinset. I used the construction adhesive method with thinset to bond the tiles and they are still good after about 20 years.
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EXT wrote:

I remember. Makes you wonder why they changed the specifications. I can only imagine they had problems with some installations. I did two bathrooms in one house at the same time and I used thinset under the backerboard in one and not under the other. It was a test for my own edification. They both held up well for ten or twelve years until the house was sold and I couldn't go back to check. The one without the thinset I used two layers of 5/8" plywood as insurance.
R
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RicodJour wrote:

im fixing to tile whole bath, im going to add flex additive to floor adhesive and grout with all these new additives it can compensate for thinner flooring.
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So dude didn't put thinset under the backerboard eh?
I am sure he screwed the backerboard to the subfloor
thinset under backer @ floor is not std, it is subjective in my opinion sometimes I don't need it.
I only use it to level a low spot.
I don't like contractors who pussily nit pick another mans work it makes they dicks look small in doing this.
If all they have to talk about is the other contractors work then they would be what you call dialectics
my 2 cents
damn some thinset under the backer!
JUST GIT-R-DONE!
christmas is coming, Im getting tired of people running in and out of my house!
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wrote:

U R Right!
I cannot believe
Move #1, Get a lawyer.
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wannabe wrote:

How do you know this? Many use roofing nails. But then again, the nails or screws are meant to hold the sheet in place while the thinset bonds to the subfloor.

It is not standard for whom? I do not know of a backerboard that doesn't require it.

I'm sure the manufacturers were concerned with the fun of debating logical arguments when they specified the thinset bedding.
R
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you might consider using a flex additive to the grout mix (gives the grout a flexible property)
this way, if thinset shoulda been used here or there...
if the subfloor bends at a grout joint, then the flex grout will not sustain damage.
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wannabe wrote:

That would take care of the grout. But the tile will be the problem. Stiffness attracts load - it's an old saying in structural engineering circles. The tile is stiffer, brittle and much more of a problem than the grout if it fails.
R
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RicodJour wrote:

that's a good way to put it.

I hear ya! That would be the winning point in a court of law
or...get the fella who did not install the thinset...as could be expected to drive a few pounds of screws in. A big shiny flathead screw.

I tiled about a 300SF area. A 350 Lb woman lived there.
They did call me with one cracked tile. It was right in the lowest part of the house.
I told her, someone needs to crawl up under the house and put blocks under the floor joist.
One tile cracked? Im not concerned.
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