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  1. #1
    James Norman's Avatar
    James Norman Guest

    Default Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    This is my first post so go lightly on me.
    I was recently in a house and the bathroom had been just been remodeled. The tile flooring was installed directly to the plywood. I have always heard you have to have the backer board because of the different expansion/contraction rates of wood vs. cement. Before I list this costly repair I would like some thing concrete to back my findings.(pun intended)

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    5,847

    Default Re: Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    Quote Originally Posted by James Norman View Post
    This is my first post so go lightly on me.
    I was recently in a house and the bathroom had been just been remodeled. The tile flooring was installed directly to the plywood. I have always heard you have to have the backer board because of the different expansion/contraction rates of wood vs. cement. Before I list this costly repair I would like some thing concrete to back my findings.(pun intended)
    Ceramic tile can be installed on a wood subfloor, but it requires specific steps and products to work. The TCNA Handbook (Tile Council of North America) list several ways to install tile on a wooden substrate.

    If you do not know how it was installed then all you can do is to inform your client that if it was not installed properly, problems could arise over time. But then this is true with just about everything we are inspecting in a home.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    Quote Originally Posted by James Norman View Post
    This is my first post so go lightly on me.
    I was recently in a house and the bathroom had been just been remodeled. The tile flooring was installed directly to the plywood. I have always heard you have to have the backer board because of the different expansion/contraction rates of wood vs. cement. Before I list this costly repair I would like some thing concrete to back my findings.(pun intended)
    I applied a 12 inch tile to a 36x16 addition directly, well kind of, the plywood.

    I used a base of a roll on latex type material. I cannot remember the name at the moment. It is, was, a great product. It was my own home. I never got any separation or moisture problems at all and no cracking or lifting. I just talked to the man recently and the floor is doing great with no problems at all, 10 years later. This is over a crawl in Neptune Beach Florida 3 blocks from the ocean. Lots of humidity but plenty of ventilation. Also sandy soil so the home moves around about zip.

    There are ways to apply tile to almost anything. There are tremendous products out there. If it were me, as in the kitchen and baths of that home, I would have installed a backer board (wonderboard, hardi board duroc etc) in those wet areas. That's just me.


  4. #4
    home london's Avatar
    home london Guest

    Default Re: Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    I think you need a water proof plywood and use flexible adhesive


  5. #5
    home london's Avatar
    home london Guest

    Default Re: Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    something like this, sorry I can't find a better picture



  6. #6

    Default Re: Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    You will need to provide more informationů As previous posts have stated it is possible to successfully install over plywood but the issue is in the details.

    How think is the subfloor? How far apart are the floor joists? What is the span? What type of plywood was used?
    Can you determine what type of mortar or glue was used.

    If you are in doubt just include the details that you can observe in your report without making judgment and if you are still concerned recommend further evaluation by a tile specialist

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  7. #7
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    The biggest thing is that the tile sub-floor can not flex at all or the tile will crack.

    Last edited by James Duffin; 01-05-2012 at 04:15 AM. Reason: spelling

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
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    1,984

    Default Re: Ceramic tile installed directly to plywood

    Too many possibilities from what you've posted.
    6x6 or smaller should be OK but it will depend on the things Jeff noted.
    8x8 or larger probably won't last.
    Plywood is Ok with mastic. However, how was it applied, was the plywood dry, was it glued and screwed or just nailed, etc.
    There are lots of products out there that claim you can apply them to plywood and allow thinset and large tiles to be Ok. As a contractor, I would not do it nor recommend it. I've seen far too many failures on other people's jobs. It's helpful to remember that we use plywood forms to pour concrete foundations. After the concrete dries, the plywood pulls right off.
    I did an inspection a few months back on a house. Nice new 12x12 tile floor. Tiles were started to come loose, grout was popping out of joints. I pulled the floor register to find thinset on top of plywood. Seller stated the floor was only a 2-3 months old.
    Tap the tiles to hear sound variances and look at grout joints closely.
    Hope that helps.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

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