Slab Foundations & Floor Tile

Some tile facts of life

Floor tile is a very popular floor covering. Most floor tile is very brittle and can easily fracture when subjected to foundation distortion. It is a given that most floor tile will crack even subjected to minor slab bending. I am often asked: why can’t builders make foundations stiffer so that the tile will not crack?

Part of the answer is that floor tile is not made to meet a structural specification such as fracture stress. Foundations can always be made stiffer, but only at a higher cost. If the public wanted stiffer foundations, builders would make them. The new home buying public is not interested in stiffer foundations. They are interested in expensive kitchen countertops, open construction, and handmade painted Italian tile. 

This last comment about Italian hand-painted tile is a true story. An attorney once asked me to meet him at a custom house he was having built. The floors in the kitchen and dining areas were covered with an Italian hand-painted tile that cost around $600 per square foot. Of course, there were several visible cracks in the tile. You cannot make things like this up.

Lifting floor tile

Almost all homeowners blame the foundation when they see tiles lifting up. The problem is almost not the tile or the foundation. It is the way the tiles are installed.                          


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