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Thread: Tile subfloor issues

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Str8sh0otr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Buffalo, ny

    Default Tile subfloor issues

    I have a slightly different twist on the recent thread that answers the minimum thickness of sub floor underneath tile floors. In fact searching the topic lead me to this forum. I know what the hardie board instructions say versus the general consensus among pros.

    My situation is a bit different: 1967 house...old tile floor in foyer and first floor 1/2 bath on 1/2 inch plywood, then the 5/8 subfloor. The whole job is about 175 SF. Ripped up the tile and 1/2 underlayment. When to Home Depot bought 1/4 hardie board and put half of it down with unmodified mortar and a 1/4 by1/4 trowel. Green cement board screws in every mark. Now the next day I notice squeaks in that section of the floor.

    What are my options for reinforcement of the floor...hopefully without starting over? I can get to this floor from underneath although it is in a crawl space and not the most fun thing to do. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    There are two areas of deflection that need to be addressed: along the joists and in between the joists - BOTh must meet industry standards, or your installation is at high risk of failure. Any squeaks are a big red flag. The subflooring also must be well attached to the joists.

    So, to define the joist deflection, you need to know the length of the unsupported span (this is often NOT the room size), the species of wood (it DOES make a difference), the width, height, and spacing of the joists. Then, the subfloor must be a minimum of 5/8" quality subflooring material - often you can't reach the minimum standards if it is old and has lots of holes in it - the spec is for new stuff, and most people want more than the minimum.

    You need to determine if it is the joists deflecting, the subfloor deflecting, or loose ply to the joists. The use of screws to hold the subflooring down is good if you don't first glue it to the joists, but if you use construction adhesive to glue the subfloor, ring-shank nails usually work fine - once the adhesive sets, they're sort of redundent anyways.

    If the joists are deficient, you could add a couple of support piers and a beam below. If the subflooring is deficient, it's much easier to fix if you tear out what you have and add a second layer. Note, a second layer of ply is REQUIRED, if you're planning a natural stone tile verses a ceramic one. To save on height, you could use something like Ditra from www.schluter.com - it's about 1/2 the thickness of cbu, but it will NOT compensate for an improper subfloor.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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