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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I inspected this house for a client on Monday. It was built in 2002.

It has a hydronic heated floor system throughout, with pex pipe over the subfloor and likely embedded in lightweight concrete. (It's Uphonor Pex).

The hardwood areas are engineered and glued down. All hardwoods appear to be in great condition with no movement.

The tiled areas are another story.

The entry is tiled in travertine, and have cracks everywhere. The master bath is tiled in limestone, and also has numerous cracks.

I'm thinking improper prep/sealing of the concrete and/or the wrong mortar was used. If I were tiling this I'd have installed an iso membrane first. I pulled several floor vents and didn't see any signs one was used.

Anyone else have other thoughts?
 

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Is it possible the concrete wasn't cured properly before installing the tile? Also, the entry seems kind of long. The cracks look to run across the width. Is it long enough or enough exposure that expansion joints would be needed in that area?
 

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Check for expansion joints, looking at the size of the floors each should have 4 or so.

Being natural stone the floors have to be at least L/720.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here's another tile area off the garage/mud room entry. It's a ceramic/porcelain and also has no cracks. You can see the entry hall travertine abutting it, with numerous cracks.
 

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To be clear———floor joists, total load bearing of the floor.

With stone you have to check between floor joist deflection, it needs to be L720 also.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Check for expansion joints, looking at the size of the floors each should have 4 or so.

Being natural stone the floors have to be at least L/720.

Tom
No control joints and yes likely needed as the end to end run from the stairs down the hall is at least 35 to 40 feet.

Deflection doesn't look to be an issue. They used i-joists that feel very very solid--owing I'm sure to the weight of the hydronic system and concrete. It almost feels like walking on a concrete slab floor. Hardly any movement.

The area inside the front door does have that long, linear crack--but the others are a lot more scattered and angular.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
When did the cracks develop? And is this over a slab or wood framing with light weight concrete?
No idea. The house was built in 2002 by the current occupants. My client is purchasing the house and this was part of the inspection response process.
 

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No control joints and yes likely needed as the end to end run from the stairs down the hall is at least 35 to 40 feet.

Deflection doesn't look to be an issue. They used i-joists that feel very very solid--owing I'm sure to the weight of the hydronic system and concrete. It almost feels like walking on a concrete slab floor. Hardly any movement.

The area inside the front door does have that long, linear crack--but the others are a lot more scattered and angular.
Have the floor tested.

With I joists they probably went 19.2” O.C. With the 19.2 you’d need at least 1-1/4” Advantech Sturdi Floor to get close to L720 between the joists.

Again you need to meet the L720 for between joist deflection also.

Both sides of the floor have sagged where from where the long crack is.

Tom
 

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Given the additional info, I'm going to agree with Tom that deflection is likely the problem along with lack of expansion joints in the entry.
 

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One other thing, large windows allowing sunlight on a stone floor can crack it if expansion joints are not honored.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
As sturdy as the floor feels I hadn't really considered deflection but that's a valid point.

The owner will likely swap the tile to hardwood in the entry. The master bath is another story.
 

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As sturdy as the floor feels I hadn't really considered deflection but that's a valid point.

The owner will likely swap the tile to hardwood in the entry. The master bath is another story.
Stone is very sensitive to any flexing. Travitine will crack just looking at it.

Go to a stone/tile supplier, almost all of the products for floors inside a home have fiberglass mesh epoxied to them now. They know they’re going to crack.

Tom
 

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I like your original idea of differential expansion due to the hydronic heating and lack of isolation barrier. The natural stone tile is very weak compared to the porcelain in tension.


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When I was at a Schluter class a few years ago I remember a tile guy saying Travertine should only be installed on a slab, wood framed floors move too much and the Schluter guys saying Ditra helps solve that issue

I have never seen it used here in NJ
 
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