When you remodel your bathroom, the outcome can be a huge improvement to the value of your home.
Yet one of the main focuses of your new room – the tile flooring – can quickly go from beautiful to nightmare if the installation process wasn’t correct.
In the flooring profession, the word “tenting” is one of the most feared words. If a bathroom tile is installed incorrectly, tiles can press up against one another until they pop up from the floor, causing a tent shape. And while tenting can occur anywhere in your home – almost every material in your home expands and contracts with time – the bathroom tends to be one of the worst places because of the temperature variation its subjected to.
As a homeowner, the risk factors can be reduced simply by knowing what choices to make when selecting tile.
To start, avoid large format tile. The larger the tile, the less room available for movement. The smaller the tile, the more grout joints will be in place, the more minor spreading out and movement can take place.
Look at your color choices. Darker tile absorbs heat, which means it will expand and contract more than light tile.
If you are completing the project yourself, make sure you have space between the tile and the wall. Using mortar to fill in the space between the tile and the wall can lead to tenting as you are decreasing the spacing for movement.
Upon completion, walk across every tile in the room. If you hear a hollow noise, it could be an early sign of tile bond failure. A hollow sound begins to form from poor mortar or thinset coverage, allowing space to begin to form under the tiles. You can also use a rubber mallet and gently tap tiles to find exactly where the hollow noise begins.
If you have a large bathroom – any room larger than 15 feet in one direction – an expansion strip inlayed into the tile can also help deter movement. There are also specialty thinsets and grouts to increase expansion and combat mortar fatgiue.
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