12 Reasons why Tiles Get Buckled or Popped-up or Tent

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The buckling or pop up tile is one of the most common defects that is observed in the floor tiles. This may happen in all types of tiles, i.e. ceramic tiles, vitrified tiles, etc. The perfectly flat tiled floor may buckle up in the different season. This problem may happen due to several reasons.

0307190002-01-Buckled-or-Poppedup-Tiles
Also Read: Why do Tiles Fade Over the Period of Time?

These problems may occur due to following reasons:

  • Tile is a permeable material, so after some time, it can swell with high moisture absorption. Due to expansion, the pressure will cause the tile to pop up and therefore the tiles may get tent, i.e. say buckled.
  • Uneven sub floor also causes the tile to buckle. The uneven subfloor will not have uniform bonding with adhesive with tiles and the subfloor. This will cause buckled tiles.
  • Improper cleaning of the floor before installation of tiles. Because of improper cleaning, the uniform bonding layer is not formed.
0307190002-02-Improper-Cleaning-of-Concrete-Floor
Improper Cleaning of Concrete Floor
Courtesy - Shutterstock
  • Large or oversized tiles need gentle sharp blow with the wooden object when being installed to set them with the adhesives. If not properly installed, tiles will pop-up from the sub-floor.
  • The tiles which have been installed without adhesives may also cause the floor buckling.
  • Incorrect installation of movement joints also lead to buckled tiles.
Must Read: Are Movement Joints are Necessary During Tiles Installation?
  • When the tiles that are fixed with the bonding agent to the floor, the underlying substance will not form a secure bond. Due to slight changes in environmental conditions like a change in temperature or humidity, the bond will lose its grip and the tile will buckle.
  • Tile heaved off the floor, or tented, it indicates that the movement joints were not used sufficiently. For tile over concrete, the curing of the concrete places the tile under compression.
  • If the area of the floor is directly exposed to sunlight and if poor quality adhesives are used, then there are chances of popping up of tiles. The direct sunlight will result in heat leading to expansion of tiles. Hence if adhesives are not strong, it may pop up and buckled tiles.
  • Use the proper bonding material. If a dry powder bonding agent is used, one should check whether it is properly mixed or not.
  • Using old tiles may also cause the floor buckling. Old tiles may get brittle. As with passage of time, they lose flexibility and are not able to withstand volumetric changes due to change in temperature.
Must Read: Precautions and Repairs of Buckled Tiles

Why Tile Tenting After a Number of Years?

According to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), tile tenting is function of three variables:

  • The rate of concrete shrinkage,
  • The shear strength of the thinset, and
  • Any extensive forces applied to the tile layer like heat

If the tile is poorly bonded, the tile can tent very quickly. If there is a strong bond, often the grout will compress before the tile will lose its bond. Obviously, the type of tile is also important. Thinset has a harder time bonding to porcelain than the other type of tiles.

When tile fails with a loud sound, it indicates that a good bond was present. Frequently, either the tile or the concrete will be without thinset residue as if the thinset was not applied correctly originally.

After many years of tiles installation, if the tile tenting, this was not the case. Had the thinset not been applied correctly, the tile would have tented long before. Rather, it is important to consider that the cleavage plane will usually occur at the thinset transition – either the bond to the concrete or the bond to the tile.

In short, every installation should allow for movement. Properly designed installations, where expansion and contraction do not create shear forces, should have no problem for the tile to stay well adhered.

Ultimately, properly laid tiles gives beautiful look to your home and also gives safety to the occupants of the house.

Also Read:

Floor or Wall Tiles: Defects and Solutions
What is a Tile Adhesive?

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Comments (4)

    1. Dear Sonia Rodry

      Thank you for contacting gharpedia & raising a query!

      Regarding your comment, as per our suggestion, if possible, please send the photos of that particular crumbled area so that we can give exact solution.

      Granite normally does not crumble unless very thin. Please let us know the thickness of your granite stone.

      If your granite floor is crumbled in the minor area, for that you can contact your local contractor to repair it. If more area crumbled than you should consider, redoing the whole work as repairing work not be possible. When you redo, exercise proper care to provide joints, using proper mortar and size and thickness of the stone.

      Further, are there any cracks in your slab or any other part of building, because if it is a large building without expansion joint, it may happen? So please send more details.

      Thank You!
      Gharpedia Team

  1. Hi. My car porch floor is not even. The contractor said that he will leveling the floor again with the tiles so that the floor will fixed. I’m so worried if he fixed the floor just by leveling the tiles.. the tiles will broken one day because of heavy load (car). Do the floor need rendering again with cement or just leveling?thank you.

    1. Dear Syam
      Thank you for contacting gharpedia and raising such a good query.
      Regarding your query, please note that you can never level the floor with tiles when the subbase is not levelled. The thickness of tiles would be hardly 8 to 12mm and mortar would be 25 to 50mm. Hence you cannot level more than 10 to 15mm by adjusting the thickness of mortar. Further, it would also be difficult to adjust floor slope and level of just adjoining tiles or he may use excessive thick cement mortar. In that case, varying mortar thickness may cause cracking in tiles in future. Therefore, it is better to first level the subfloor with the PCC or lean mortar and then install the parking tiles. You may also use paver block in parking area.

      Thanking You
      Gharpedia Team

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