Why is my tile or grout cracking?

Cracked tile or grout can be frustrating and an eye sore to any home owner,but is an easy fix.  The source of the problem could a few things.  Knock on the tile where the grout is cracking.  Does it sound hollow?  If so, the tile has either come loose from its bond with the thinset or there wasn’t enough thinset or mortar applied during the tile installation.  Simply replacing the tile and reinstalling will solve this problem.  Matching the grout color could prove to difficult if the tile has been down for a while, so you want to use a grout cleaner.  Be sure to seal the grout after you have reinstalled the new tile.  If the grout is cracking or crumbling, it is probably caused by poor installation.  Most likely, too much water was used when the tile installer mixed the grout or the sponge he used contained too much water and diluted the grout when he was wiping the excess grout from the tile surface.  If this is the case, re-grouting will be the solution, and a costly one.  If you are noticing cracking where the grout meets a doorway, this is very common.  This tile installer should have used caulking instead of grout because not only is there constant door slamming, but caulking should be used anytime you have two different material joining together (like wood and tile).  Most manufacturers make a color matched caulk for every grout color out there.  If you are noticing cracks in a stand up shower in the corners, then problem is most likely that they installer used grout instead of caulk.  The same could be happening where the tile meets the tub.  If you are not sure and live in San Antonio, Texas, give us a call and we’ll diagnose the problem for you.

If the the tile is cracking in several places, then you could have a problem with your foundation.  Look for cracks on your walls at the top of door frames and window frames.  Do you see any cracks?  If so, then this could be due to your foundation needing to be leveled. If you have one or two cracked tiles, this could be the result of someone accidentally dropping something heavy on those tiles.  Simply replacing them will solve this problem.

What is grout?

Grout is generally composed of a mixture of water, cement and sand. It is used on tile flooring to help keep the tile from moving.  Grout is applied as a thick liquid and hardens over time, much like mortar.   There are two type of grout used in home remodeling and home building:  sanded or unsanded grout.   Sanded grout obviously contains sand. It has sand added to it to increase the strength in a larger grout joint. It stops the grout from shrinkage and adds strength so that the grout will not crack. Unsanded grout is used in many wall applications because of it’s non abrasive texture. If the grout joint is going to be more than 1/8″ you need to use sanded. The only time an un-sanded grout is used on the floor is with the installation of marble.