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Tiles Falling off Shower Walls, no Signs of Moisture?

Postby fpmc123 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:28 pm

Hi, wondering if anyone has had this problem and what you think of the tiler's explanation(s). Any advice gratefully received! My bathroom is tiled with 600x300 white diamond quartz tiles, they were tiled about a year ago but we didn't move in and use the bathroom until 5 months ago. A few weeks ago we noted a few tiles in the bottom 2 rows of the shower tiles had horizontal cracks in the grouting and if you pressed one tile in the 2nd row you could see it move. The tiler suggested over the phone it was down to moisture as the shower walls were tiled on skimmed moisture resistant plasterboard. I asked if he had tanked the walls before tiling, he said no. He came out to look at the tiles and offered to redo the 2 rows if I purchased the tiles and he would do the labour for free. I asked if he was going to take any tiles off so he took one off. The grout was tough to get through but the tile then literally fell off the wall, the adhesive was all stuck to the back of the tile but none at all on the walls and you could see the other tiles surrounding were exactly the same, ready to drop. The adhesive also looked thinly applied. There were no signs of moisture at all, the walls were dry, perfect plaster, no cracks, no stains and were actually dusty when you ran a hand across the plaster. He said maybe he should have keyed the plaster (he hadn't). I asked if it could be weight, he googled and found the tiles and adhesive were nearer 40kg than the recommended 20kg limit, he admitted he had thought skimmed plasterboard could take more weight than unskimmed. I was concerned if weight then the other tiles in bathroom could start failing at any time (skimmed solid walls) The next day he said he had spoken to other tilers and he was sure it was moisture but he could either pay me for the wall tiles (£1200) and I could purchase tiles under 15kg in weight which he would re-fit but not the quartz tiles I had wanted from the outset. Later he said as no signs of problems anywhere except shower how about he just redo the entire shower area on tanked concrete boards and at his own cost. I asked for a guarantee that if he only put right the shower but the other areas of the bathroom began to crack that he would put those right. He will not guarantee that, today he now believes a mixture of heat and water has caused the tiles to pop off in the shower and if it happens again then it's not his work but the tiles. He said BAL say heat and water causes movement and that is why tiles have come off. He believes it's the tiles, not his tiling. The tiling company say it sounds like the wrong adhesive or primer was not used. The tiles I purchased are for bathrooms and suitable for shower areas, every bathroom has heat and water but I've never heard your tiles will fall off because of it. Needless to say all the varying explanations and offers have left me totally confused and worried what to do. Contact with the tiler is tense now. He said he used primer and flexible powder adhesive from topps tiles and flexible BAL grout. If primer had been used would the walls be dusty? Has anyone else had tiles fall from dry walls with all adhesive on tile and none on walls? Sorry this post is so long, any help much appreciated.
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Simply Build It

Postby welsh brickie » Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:56 am

there has always been a contention debate about priming walls before tiling, I have always painted pva on the walls before hand, other people say its a no no, In this case I don't think the tiler did prime the walls whether right or wrong, I have never seen or heard of such a large tile used on walls, He sounds like a genuine guy who is trying to do the right thing, and his explanation of what the cause is, is probably what happened.
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Postby plumbbob » Thu May 08, 2014 9:26 pm

I don't think there is any question about using pva on skimmed walls. Not doing so means the tiles will fall off and you might be surprised to discover new plaster gives less adhesion than old plaster.

New plaster takes months or even years to reach its full strength, and that combined with the surface being very smooth means tile adhesive gets very little key on to the surface.

I am constantly surprised how few trade professionals realise tiles can be stuck directly on to unplastered boarding and that skimming walls first reduces the overall weight carrying capacity of the wall.

fpmc123 wrote: The tiling company say it sounds like the wrong adhesive or primer was not used.

I would agree with this.
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